Outtakes

Short reviews of recent flicks

New Releases

DATE MOVIE (PG-13) A couple of the screenwriters behind the Scary Movie movies (as the ads and trailers so gleefully point out) are on hand to apply their patented spoof-and-burn formula to the romantic comedy genre. Stars Allyson Hannigan, Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard. Opens Feb. 17 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

EIGHT BELOW (PG-13) Human thespians play second fiddle to a pack of furry critters in Eight Below, a Disney adventure that succeeds nicely as family entertainment and maybe a touch more. Paul Walker is the nominal star here, but the bulk of the movie is devoted, happily so, to the trials and tribulations of a sled team of dogs stranded and struggling to survive in the Antarctic winter. Don't expect March of the Penguins, but you will find an unexpectedly satisfying sense of authenticity to this project, with moments that are both exciting and (yes, you knew this was coming) inspirational grounded in events that feel not so far removed from real life. There are a few false notes (including an awful CGI misfire) but the story has a nice, Jack London-esque feel, and the film's cinematography is almost as gorgeous as its husky and malamute heroes. Also stars Bruce Greenwood. Opens Feb. 17 at local theaters. 3 stars

A LOVE TO HIDE (UN AMOUR A TAIRE) (NR) The first act of A Love to Hide is so absurdly top heavy with cinematic archetypes and holy cows — The Holocaust! Forbidden same-sex love! Brother versus brother! — that it's easy to fear the worst. Luckily, most of the elements simmer down and eventually come together in satisfying ways in director Christian Faure's handsomely produced period piece. Jeremie Renier stars as Jean, a closeted gay Frenchman in Nazi-occupied Paris who attempts to save the life of a young Jewish girl named Sarah (Louise Monot) by concealing her identity from the Germans and their collaborators. Meanwhile, Sarah loves Jean (even though she's quite aware he's gay), Jean's low-life brother has the hots for Sarah, various minor characters have the hots for both of them, and Jean's fondness for the boys remains as closely guarded a secret as Sarah's Jewishness. A few convenient twists of fate later, and Jean himself comes under Nazi scrutiny as well, causing all hell to break loose during the movie's later sections, which play out, for better and for worse, as a queer-cast Schindler's List. Faure's film crams an awful lot of material, both sociological and soap-opera-esque, into too tight a narrative space, and the movie comes off as perhaps a touch over-eager to make parallels between oppressed peoples everywhere (what is Jean ultimately if not a mensch, and can Sarah be anything other than a gay man stuck in a Jewess' body?), but it does frequently come close to achieving the powerful effect it clearly strives for. Also stars Bruno Todeschini and Nicolas Gob. Plays one time only at 7:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 17, at Sunrise Cinemas in Tampa. This is a special presentation in association with the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. 3 1/2 stars

Recent 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. 2 stars ­­

—Erin Rashbaum

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. If it's subtext you're after, there's subtext aplenty here; American iconography inevitably takes on interesting new shapes while the whole movie occasionally feels like a vintage Douglas Sirk melodrama-cum-social-critique, gently massaged into a realm where men and women have so little interest in one another that they can't even be bothered with the so-called war of the sexes. At root, though, Brokeback is a deliriously romantic and deeply elegiac tale of a love that dares not speak its name. Also stars Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid. 4.5 stars

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