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At the movies: Still showing.

The Art of War (18) Wesley Snipes adds to his string of action movie bombs with this violent but lame conspiracy thriller as a UN undercover agent on the run, accused of an assassination and trying to nail the bad guys (the Commie Chinese) responsible.

Being John Malkovich (15) Spike Jonze 's genius comedy in which puppeteer John Cusack finds a portal that enables him to take control of Malkovich's body and experience the world through his eyes. Double bill with Sophie Coppola's The Virgin Suicides. (Tue-Thu, Electric)

Billy Elliot (15) Emotionally powerful story of a striking miner's young son who wants to become a ballet dancer. Flashdance meets Brassed Off via Educating Rita with an Oscar-touted debut by Jamie Bell.

Bless the Child (15) Satanist Rufus Sewell wants Kim Basinger's young niece because he thinks she may be Christ Two and wants to turn her to the dark side. Supernatural-religious hokum that feels like the Bible Society version of Rosemary's Baby.

Bounce (12) Bland romance as guilt-driven adman Ben Affleck falls for Gwyneth Paltrow whose husband was killed when he took the plane ticket Affleck was supposed to use. He just can't bring himself to tell her the truth.

Cast Away (12) Fed Ex inspector Tom Hanks is in a plane crash and winds up doing a Robinson Crusoe (and winning a Best Actor Golden Globe) on a desert island. The largely dialogue-free hour on the island has its moments, but the love story framing sequences don't come off and too much is just long and rather dull.

Cecil B Demented (18) John Waters' underachieving film-buff satire on the film industry as a bunch of cinema guerillas kidnap a Hollywood actress (Melanie Griffith) and, Patty Hearst-style, force her to star in their subversive new movie. Griffith does fabulous self-mockery, but otherwise it's a flaccid affair. (From Fri, Electric)

Charlie's Angels (12) Cheesy popcorn screen version of the tongue in cheek 70s TV series with Lucy Lui, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore as the three undercover female agents who work for the mysterious, never seen Charlie. More Our Man Flint than James Bond, it keeps the fun pumping.

Chopper (18) Blackly comic biopic of best-selling Aussie author and the country's most notorious criminal, Chopper Read, a man who'd stab someone to death and then contritely apologise as the blood flowed and who had his own ears razored off in order to get a prison transfer.(Tue-

Thu, Mac)

Coyote Ugly (15) Shy small-town girl songwriter gets job in raunchy big city bar and finds fairytale dreams can come true with the help of a good-hearted guy, karaoke machine and lots of butt-thrusting bar-top dancing. Showgirls meets Cocktail in an excuse to have scantily clad big-breasted babes dousing themselves in water.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (12) Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh star in Ange Lee's Oscar tipped martial arts romantic melodrama about a mystical swordsman, the female warrior he loves, his arch enemy and an aspirant female protege. Convoluted but astonishing with some amazing balletic stunts.

Les Destinees Sentimentales (12) Olivier Assayas' lavish period drama follows Charles Berling over 30 years from 1900, abandoning priesthood, divorcing wife (Isabelle Huppert) and re-marrying (Emmanuelle Beart) to live in rural bliss before family duty calls him to take charge of the porcelein business, pressures putting a strain on the marriage. A rich, melancholic but wearily long celebration of enduring love. (From Fri, Electric)

The Family Man (12) It's A Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Carol as self-absorbed, workaholic yuppie Nicolas Cage is given a chance to see what his life would have been had he married his college sweetheart. Initially horrified to discover he's got kids and a lowly sales job, he grows into his new existence and finds the love he'd lost. But then it's

time to go back. A sweet relationship renewing date movie.

Flawless (15) Joel Schumacher wallows in the world of drag queens as wannabe transsexual Philip Seymour Hoffman gives bigoted strike victim Robert De Niro singing lessons to help his speech. Guess what, both men come to learn about each other's pain and vulnerabilities. Funny, sometimes touching but always overwrought. (Wed, Odeon New St)

The Grinch (PG) Ron Howard's noisy, frantic but family-friendly and very funny live action adaptation of Dr Seuss's children's classic with Jim Carrey born to play the green-furred, hairy-fingered Christmas-hating grouch who comes to learn the true meaning of the season.

Hamlet (12) Set in corporate Manhattan with Ethan Hawke's melancholic Hamlet a wannabe film-maker who suspects dad was the victim of a hostile takeover by brother Kyle Maclachlan. As inspired as it's flawed, the use of modern technology surveillance and communication systems a particularly clever touch. (Electric)

Harry, He's Here To Help (15) Harry proves only too keen to help his old schoolfriend get over his 20-year writer's block. Even if it means removing such obstacles as his parents, his brother or wife and kids. An intelligently twisted French Hitchcockian comedy-thriller that pits the creative urge against domestic responsibility. (Electric)

High Fidelity (15) Faithful adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel, relocated to Chicago with John Cusack as the self-absorbed record store owning music trivia freak trying to figure why women always dump him by getting in touch with his Top Five break-ups while attempting to get back with his latest ex. Double bill with This Is Spinal Tap. (Tue-Thu, Electric)

Images of a Dictatorship (tbc) Documentary built around the footage of Chilean cameraman Paul Cuevas's record of life under the Pinochet dictatorship. A powerful study of the fight for freedom. (Wed, Mac)

The Kingdom (18) Lars Von Trier's over the top, weird four and a half hour Copenhagen cocktail of hospital soap, occult horror and social satire. (Until Tue Electric)

Lost Souls (15) Supernatural thriller with Winona Ryder as a Catholic with first-hand experience of demonic possession who sets out to save Ben Chaplin's disbelieving crime writer from becoming the Anti-Christ. Word says good effects sequences but risible narrative and dialogue.

The Man Who Cried (12) Sally Potter's romantic fable with Christina Ricci as a Jewish refugee who fetches up in Paris just as Hitler puts in an appearance. Cate Blanchett's the Russian showgirl who befriends her, Johnny Depp the gypsy horseman she fancies, and John Turturro an arrogant Italan opera singer. An uneven, sentimental and shallow melodrama, but with an affecting bittersweet touch. (Mac)

Meet Me In St Louis (U) Vincent Minelli's classic musical with Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and The Trolley Song in the story of a family who find they have to leave the past behind and relocate to New York when dad gets a new job. A nostalgic lament for the end of an innocent age. (Tue , Mac)

Meet The Parents (12) Intelligently funny comedy with Ben Stiller visiting his girlfriend's to ask for her hand in marriage only to run foul of her over protective father, Robert De Niro, a former CIA profiler who's never quite lost the habits of his job.

102 Dalmatians (U) Shrill, charmless sequel to the live action remake of the animated classic, this finds Cruella released and temporarily reformed until her old dognapping ways kick back in with a vengeance. The animals are fine but Gerard Depardieu's furrier is an embarrassment while Glenn Close's frenzied mugging makes pantomime look like high drama.

O Brother Where Art Thou? (12) The Coen brothers put a spin on the Odyssey, retelling it in the depression hit Deep South of the 40s, with Ulysses in the form escaped con George Clooney (who beat Jim Carrey to the Best Comedy actor Golden Globe) trying to get back home, accompanied by his two fellow dim bulb escapees who think he's leading them to buried loot. Double bill with Blood Brothers. (From Fri, Electric)

Pay It Forward (12) Haley Joel Osment comes up with the idea that if someone does you a good turn you repay them by doing one for three other people. He decides to fix up his disfigured teacher Kevin Spacey with his alcoholic mother Helen Hunt. Tragedy looms. There's no faulting the acting but it gets carried away on the sentimental tearjerking side in the final stretch.

Pokemon 2000 (PG) No classic, but a vast improvement on the first scrappy incoherent movie, it even has a plot of sorts. Kids will love it, naturally but parents might find it surprisingly not completely unbearable.

Sexy Beast (18) Mannered Brit gangster drama more in tune with Nic Roeg than Guy Ritchie with Ben Kingsley in ferociously vicious form as the hardman recruiting for a big job who refuses to take retired Ray Winstone's no for an answer.

The 6th Day (15) The new toned down Arnie continues to tread water with this run of the mill cloning thriller in which he's literally beside himself taking on Tony Goldwyn's geneticist bad guy. Partial Recall.

Traffic (18) Steven Soderbergh's multi-narrative panorama of America's fight against the drugs trade. Michael Douglas is the newly appointed drugs czar who discovers his daughter's a smackhead, Catherine Zeta Jones finds she's the wife of a drugs baron runner and Benicio Del Toro is the Mexican cop immersed in a world of treachery and corruption. A gripping but downbeat observation of an unwinnable war.

Unbreakable (12) M Night Shyamalan's follow up to The Sixth Sense reteams him with Bruce Willis in another complex thriller with a twist about a man apparently impervious to harm. A thinking person's superhero movie.

Under Suspicion (15) Millionaire lawyer Gene Hackman is key witness to the rape and murder of two girls. Old friend and ambitious police chief Morgan Freeman wants him to iron out a few wrinkles in the investigation. But what begins as a friendly chat turn into a psychological confrontation with Hackman the prime suspect and Freeman tearing his alibi to shreds. A two hander, it's a claustrophobic affair that, while never quite flaring to the intensity it promises, twists knots of sweaty suspense before its final kick in the head.

Vertical Limit (12) Braindead mountain rescue yarn in which you're expected to take bland Chris O'Donnell seriously as an action hero capable of rallying an expedition to rescue his trapped sister and an arrogant billionaire from within a K2 chasm. Nice snow.

What Lies Beneath (15) Fatal Attraction meets Stir of Echoes as Michelle Pfeiffer starts having weird visions of a dead woman who may be the ghost of a student with whom husband Harrison Ford once had an affair. A stylishly made but otherwise routine supernatural shocker.

Woman On Top (15) Dreary magic realism romantic comedy with Penelope Cruz as a woman who leaves her unfaithful husband and becomes a San Francisco celebrity TV chef, pouring her passion into her food. Nothing Like Water For Chocolate.

Cinema Contacts

ABC Hagley Road: 0121 422 2562

Cineworld Wolverhampton: 01902 306922

Cineworld Shrewsbury: 01743 240350

MAC, Cannon Hill Park: 0121 440 3838

Odeon Birmingham: 0870 505 0007

Odeon Sutton: 0121 355 0663

Showcase Birmingham: 0121 382 9779

Showcase Walsall: 01922 622123

StarCity, Warner Village: 0121 326 0246

Stratford Picture House: 01789 415511

UCI Merryhill: 0870 603 4567

UCI Solihull: 0121 608 7090

UCI Tamworth: 01827 51555

UGC Broad Street: 0121 643 0631

UGC Rubery: 0121 453 0465

UGC Arcadian: 0541 555177

Electric Cinema: 0121 643 7277

Warwick Arts Centre: 024 7652 4524

Lighthouse Cinema: 01902 716055

The Birmingham PostSaturday 3.02.01 Page 11


Bland romance as guilt-driven adman Ben Affleck falls for Gwyneth Paltrow whose husband was killed when he took the plane ticket Affleck was suppose to use. He just can't bring himself to tell her the truth. Bounce 12
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 3, 2001
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