AGENT CODY BANKS (PG) TV's Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) stars as a typical teen living a not-so-typical secret life as a CIA agent, complete with cool spy gadgets, dangerous missions and hot babes at the ready. Also stars Hilary Duff and Darrell Hammond. (Not Reviewed)
A MAN APART (R) Vin Diesel and Larenz Tate star in this action movie revolving around the drug underworld. (Not Reviewed)
BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY (PG) In April and June of 2001, 81-year-old Traudl Junge, who served as Adolph Hitler's secretary from 1943 to the end of the war, broke a 50-year silence and granted the series of interviews that became this film. Traudl is both articulate and infinitely remorseful, so much so that the film sometimes has the feel of an extended penance for sins both real and imagined (it should be noted that Junge died the morning after the film's premiere at the Berlin Film Festival). Still, Blind Spot is considerably less than it should have been. There's not much more to the movie than Junge sitting in her apartment and talking for 90 minutes — Austrian filmmakers Andre Heller and Othmar Schmiderer don't even bothering to cut away to any archival footage — and what is revealed isn't exactly revelatory. Most of what Junge has to say is far too general, with little of the personal details that might have actually revealed something new or significant about Hitler or the phenomenon surrounding his appeal. There are moments of interest here, but, in all, the film is far too flat and dry. Plays April 6, 8 and 10 at Tampa Theatre. Call theater to confirm.
BOAT TRIP (R) Cuba Gooding Jr. and Horatio Sanz attempt to end a run of bad luck with women by going on a cruise, but they're unaware that their vengeful travel agent has booked them on an all-gay voyage. (Not reviewed)
THE BREAD, MY SWEET (PG) Director Melissa Martin's low-budget romantic comedy about Italian-Americans has all the depth, originality and ethnic authenticity of a commercial for canned spaghetti sauce. Scott Baio stars as a corporate ax man with a heart of gold (he really just wants to bake bread) who decides to marry the wildcat daughter of his terminally ill surrogate mother. Baio is surprisingly good, but most of the other performances are amateurish. The indisputable highlight of the film is actress Rosemary Prinz, who though not given much to work with, lights up the screen like Giulietta Masina every time she smiles. Also stars Kristin Minter and John Seitz. 1/2
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (PG-13) Steve Martin and Queen Latifah star in what the previews reveal to be the standard Hollywood comedy that starts with a wacky Internet match-up but winds up with Ms. Latifah as helper-to-the-rescue a la Mrs. Doubtfire. (Not Reviewed)
*THE CHECKIST The Tampa International Film Festival continues its tribute to Russian director Alexandr Rogozhkin with The Cuckoo, a bird of a much different feather than many of his other films. This is a sometimes overly sweet charmer bursting with life, humor and mild eros, about an earthy young peasant woman tending to a couple of soldiers on opposite sides of a conflict. Plays April 6, 8 p.m., Channelside, as part of the Tampa International Film Festival.
CITY OF GOD (NR) We've seen this story before, more or less — the blood, psychopaths, the budding psychopaths, the all-too-young victims of urban decay — but never quite like this. City of God is a movie bursting with life in all its nuances, often entwining beauty and ugliness in complex ways that are going to make a lot of audience members somewhat less than comfortable. The movie covers several decades in the lives of various low-level gangsters who inhabit a seedy housing project on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and takes its shape from a series of tales as richly drawn as anything from Faulkner's Okefenokee County. The stories flip back and forth through the years, giving the film a fluid, elastic sense of time, recalling the postmodern playfulness of Pulp Fiction or Amores Perros, and the style is frequently dazzling. Director Fernando Meirelles' movie comes off as a compelling social history as eccentric and epic in scope as P.T. Anderson's Boogie Nights, but it also succeeds on a very personal level. This is a comic tragedy about people who appear to change and to speed along at the speed of sound while, in actuality, they're standing absolutely still. Stars Alexandre Rodriguez, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge and Leandro Firmino da Hora. Held over at Burns Court Cinema in Sarasota. Call to confirm. 1/2
THE CORE (PG-13) See Rome's Coliseum destroyed by freak lightening! See the Golden Gate Bridge melt and collapse! See the space shuttle skid to a landing in downtown L.A.! All that really does take place in The Core, but you'll have to wade through a lot of excruciatingly boring pseudoscience and predictable plot "twists" to get to the good old-fashioned disaster flick lurking within. The movie also owes considerably to Fantastic Voyage, although the journey taken by our heroes here is not into the human body, but into the earth itself. See, it seems the Earth's core has stopped spinning (don't ask), resulting in a disintegrating electromagnetic field, resulting in the impending end of the world. That means it's up to hunky genius-boy Aaron Eckhart, pixie-cute astronaut Hilary Swank and a team of disposable sidekicks to hop into what looks like a giant drill bit and get on down to the planet's center to make things right. The special effects and dialogue are often cheesy enough to generate a smile or two, but the movie is mostly just too long and tedious to really be much fun. Also stars Delroy Lindo and Stanley Tucci. 1/2