New Releases

ANNAPOLIS (PG-13) This predictable drama chronicles the tale of a working-class kid (pretty boy Spiderman star James Franco) who just barely makes it into the United States Naval Academy. Defiant but determined, he proves himself by boxing his way to respect. There aren't too many surprises here: the comic relief is handled by the fat guy (played by Vicellous Reon Shannon), the hero gets the girl (a too-tan Jordana Brewster) and every student at the Naval Academy could moonlight as a model. Perfectly timed to inspire young bucks to trade in their baggy jeans for starched white sailor suits, this family-friendly film is Rumsfeld-approved. Justin Lin directs; also stars Tyrese Gibson and Donnie Wahlberg. Opens Jan. 27 in local theaters. 2 stars

Erin Rashbaum

THE MATADOR (R) Director Richard Shepard's new movie is nothing if not image conscious, with Pierce Brosnan chewing the scenery as an eccentric professional assassin who takes the piss out of his famous 007 persona at every opportunity, and Greg Kinnear. who seems to have found his niche in the movies playing straight men, doing just that in grandly bland style. A half-humorous, half-serious study in contrasts, The Matador features Brosnan as a seedy, burnt-out hitman who meets up with a thoroughly average businessman (Kinnear) and can't resist rocking his world by telling him what he does for a living. What ensues is an inconsequential but mostly appealing odd-couple buddy movie bolstered by likable performances from Brosnan and Kinnear. The movie strains a bit mixing its black humor with some thoroughly sudsy dramatics, but it all looks very nice, with vibrant pop-py colors and lively editing, and some fine chemistry between its leads (which, in movies like this, is at least half the battle). Also stars Hope Davis. Opens Jan. 27 at local theaters. 3.5 stars

TRANSAMERICA (R) Felicity Huffman, who just snagged a well-deserved Golden Globe for her performance here, is the main reason to see Transamerica, but the rest of the film isn't too shabby either. Huffman stars as a woman trapped in the body of a man, and whose long-awaited sex change surgery is put on hold when a troubled teenaged son (Kevin Zegers) appears out of the blue and demands rescuing. Father/mother and son pack up their belongings into a beat-up car and head for the coast, as Transamerica becomes an episodic and pleasantly eccentric road movie (is there any other kind?) in which the characters eventually reveal themselves to each other. The film strains a bit to work out the correct balance of sweet and sour, and nothing in the movie even begins to measure up to Huffman's tour-de-force performance, but Transamerica is a trip well worth taking, filled with moments both whimsical and penetrating. Also stars Graham Greene and Fionnula Flanagan. Opens Jan. 27 at Sunrise Cinemas in Tampa and Burns Court Cinemas in Sarasota. 3.5 stars


AEON FLUX (PG-13) Based on the popular MTV animated series of the '90s, Aeon Flux takes us 400 years into the future to the last city on Earth. Charlize Theron, making her debut in the sci-fi action genre, stars as an underground operative leading the rebels against totalitarian rule of a seemingly perfect society. Also stars Martin Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller and Frances McDormand. (Not Reviewed)

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (R) As nearly everyone in North America has probably heard by now, Ang Lee's new movie is the epic tale of two rough and tumble cowboys who discover, to their great amazement, that they only have eyes for each other. A delicate study in repressed emotions, Brokeback Mountain follows the star-crossed Jack and Ennis (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) over the years, through loveless marriages, failed attempts to forget one another, and covert reunions where passions are quickly reignited. Heath Ledger's mush-mouthed Ennis is a classic western hero, a strong, silent type who barely says anything, but who manages to communicate worlds of conflicted pain and longing with a minimum of dialogue or actorly fussiness. Several of the movie's performances are outstanding, but Ledger's sublimely understated, heartbreakingly physical performance is as much a force of nature as the Wyoming landscapes that dominate the film, calm and tender one moment, exploding in pent-up fury the next. Also stars Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid. 4.5 stars

CAPOTE (R) Anyone who has read In Cold Blood or seen the 1967 movie version will be basically familiar with the raw material here — a pair of drifters reveal themselves to a reporter while awaiting execution for the senseless slaughter of a Kansas family — but Capote yanks the focus away from the killers and puts it squarely on the writer and his process. That writer is Truman Capote, portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in a performance that gives us traces of all the Capotes that we think we know — the narcissistic dandy, the sensitive artist, the twee fop with the whiney baby voice, the literary powerhouse — and fuses them all into a character too complex and human to be pigeonholed by any of those descriptions. Also stars Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr and Chris Cooper. Currently playing at Sunrise Cinemas in Tampa. Call to confirm. 4.5 stars


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