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Angel Eyes (R) Much more and much better than those misleading and terribly trite trailers would indicate. Jennifer Lopez is a convincing presence as the tough but vulnerable Chicago cop who finds herself falling in love with a mysterious stranger who saves her life (Jim Caviezel). Angel Eyes doesn't resolve things in a particularly interesting way, but the film is watchable chiefly on the merits of its heaps of atmosphere and Lo's and Caviezel's performances. Also stars Sonia Braga and Terrence Howard.


The Animal (PG-13) Rob Schneider stars as Marvin Mange, a wannabe cop who develops animal urges after an experimental operation. Don't ask for details on the switch; there are none. But then again, this isn't the kind of movie where you really need scientific explanations. What you would hope for, though, is some better jokes. The movie meanders through roughly 80 minutes of Schneider's slapstick animal impersonations, with a shoestring plot tied in loosely. Former Survivor loser Colleen Haskell takes her first stab at the silver screen and comes up empty. Her spotty performance makes Schneider look like an Oscar candidate. Also look for John C. McGinley (Platoon, Office Space) and Guy Torry (American History X), two respectable actors who really don't belong in such a ridiculous flick.

—Dustin Dwyer


Along Came a Spider (R) Morgan Freeman returns to the role of Dr. Alex Cross in this follow-up to Kiss the Girls (1997). Cross is a renowned profiler, or psychological detective, chosen by a serial killer who wishes to gain crime-of-the-century status for his kidnapping of a senator's daughter by luring Cross into the case.

—Cooper Cruz


Blow (R) A rise and fall yarn about an ordinary guy who avoids poverty by selling pot in the '60s, graduates to dealing coke and then winds up falling as far as he can fall, while getting screwed by pretty much everyone on the planet. Johnny Depp delivers yet another outstanding performance as our contraband-dealing hero.

Bridget Jones's Diary (R) An English everywoman in the limbo between youth and middle age, Bridget Jones is single (although not by choice), slightly overweight, smokes and drinks too much, doesn't get on that well with her nagging mum, and finds herself constantly falling for the wrong sort of man (like her sexy scoundrel of a boss, impeccably played by Hugh Grant), while soundly rejecting the ones who might just turn out to be Mr. Right. There's an undeniable charm to this pleasantly droll comedy, but for all the humorous winks, nudges, quirks and buffoonery, there's an inescapable blandness to it all, something formulaic and compromised that makes it difficult to completely give ourselves over to Bridget Jones's Diary.


The Brothers (R) Four successful black men ponder life, love and friendship while on the brink of marriage. Sound familiar? It should. This is the third in a string of such films (including The Wood and The Best Man) and is by far the worst of them. Morris Chestnut (The Best Man, Boyz 'N the Hood) plays the compassionate one who thinks he's finally met the right woman — until he discovers that she used to date his father (Oops!). Also stars Bill Bellamy, Shemar Moore and D.L. Hughley.


—Dustin Dwyer

Chocolat (PG-13) Free-spirited Juliette Binoche opens a chocolate shop in a repressed village, setting up a didactic conflict of indulgence vs. denial. The French locales, food and faces are lovingly photographed (the disarming ensemble includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Alfred Molina), but the film cannot equal the comparably themed but richer Babette's Feast. Chocolat melts in your hands, not in your heart.

—Curt Holman


Chopper (NR) This award-winning and extremely controversial Australian film tells the story of Mark Brandon Read, a.k.a. Chopper, a hulking, mad dog killer who — and this is where things really get weird — actually exists in real life (the real Chopper, as it happens, is not only one of Australia's most notorious lowlifes, he's also the best selling author of nine books — including one called How To Shoot Friends and Influence People — in which Mr. Read gleefully chronicles a lifetime of abominable behavior). Much like Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, a film that's impossible to avoid mentioning in this context, Chopper makes no bones about the fact that it's a freak show. Like NBK (or A Clockwork Orange, Badlands et al), Chopper doesn't attempt to preach or pass judgment: it simply pushes buttons by allowing us to spend some quality time with a publicity-hungry, self-mythologizing criminal. And like Stone's film and all those other modern day horror shows, the fact that there's something weirdly likable, even endearing, about this murderous creep ensures that the public and private debate on Chopper is unlikely to end any time soon. None of this obviously makes for a very pretty picture, but it's almost always a pretty engaging and provocative one — and frequently quite funny as well, in an outlandish and deliberately absurd sort of way.

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