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"Snatch," "The Gift," "O Brother Where Art Thou?" "State and Main"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Snatch"!B! "The Gift"!B! "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"!B! "State and Main"

"Snatch" — Mr. Madonna, aka Guy Ritchie, revisits the milieu of his cult-face "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" for yet another trip into the British underworld. Peopled with Runyonesque crooks and misguided yobbos, this dizzy bit of violent razzle-dazzle features a jewel heist. Franky Four Fingers (Benecio Del Toro) steals a flawless, 86-carat diamond for his boss (Dennis Farina). But Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia) sets Franky up, offering him a sure bet on a bare-knuckles boxing match. Which is where boxing promoter — and the movie's narrator — Turkish (Jason Stratham) and his mate Tommy (Stephen Graham) enter the tale. They're trying to break into the gangster big-time, but all their plans go awry when they team up with "The Piker" (Brad Pitt as an Irish gypsy with an accent so muddled not even the British can understand him). Successfully playing violence for laughs, this crazed bit of larceny is often a riot. "The Gift" — Directed by "Evil Dead" creator Sam Raimi, this latest from the pen of "Sling Blade's" Billy Bob Thornton wants to be Tennessee Williams meets "The Sixth Sense." And several times it comes close. But mostly this thriller about a widowed mom who happens to be a psychic follows a plot so predictable it undermines the big scares. Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth") is the movie's saving grace as psychic Annie, a caring gal from the Deep South who's trying to befriend both tortured auto-mechanic Buddy (Giovanni Ribisi in another scary, crazy role) and battered-wife Valerie (a wasted Hilary Swank). Surprisingly, besides Blanchett, the movie's other top-notch performance comes from Keanu Reeves, playing a psychotic Southern boy and wife-beater. This Southern Gothic thriller has its priorities wrong — it's too gory but not scary enough. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" — The brothers Coen are at it again, spinning a story that never seems to know where it's headed. But that's par for the Coen's course and just one of the reasons their work is so watchable. Even when they don't quite hit their mark, the two talented sibs are always good for a laugh. More a string of funny bits and set pieces than a cohesive whole, this reworking of Homer's "The Odyssey" is set in circa 1930s Mississippi. George Clooney is a smooth-talking criminal named Ulysses who convinces two manacled partners to escape their chain gang and retrieve some buried treasure. John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson have no idea what a journey they've agreed to. Fraught with misadventure after misadventure, "O Brother," will keep you entertained and befuddled. "State and Main" — When a group of cellphone-toting West Coast film types are forced to switch location for their movie, the unsuspecting town of Waterford, Vt., has no idea of the plague that's about to beset their sleepy little burg. But when director Walt Price (William H. Macy) arrives with crew in tow, he discovers the town's water mill is no longer standing. This presents a problem since the mill is an essential part of this film-within-a-film. Price springs into action, telling screenwriter Joe White (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to write "around" this setback. Comic hijinks ensue as cast, crew and townsfolk clash, fraternize and bedazzle each other in this surprisingly delightful little comedy from David Mamet.

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