This Week at the Movies

Upcoming Releases

HALLOWEEN (R) Dedicated gorehound and horror-flick fanboy Rob Zombie in what, for better or worse, should be his element. John Carpenter's '70s slasher prototype gets remade by someone who cares, but will we? Stars Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane, Daeg Faerch, Sheri Moon, Brad Dourif, Udo Kier and Scout Taylor-Compton. Opens Aug. 31 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


ARCTIC TALE (PG-13) A documentary that's tempting to describe as March of the Penguins with global warming and farts, Arctic Tale chronicles the lives and times of Nanu and Seela, a polar bear and walrus who struggle to survive at the top of the world and whose destinies eventually become entwined. The movie falls all over itself trying to be as family-friendly as possible, ascribing names and simplified human attributes to its animal subjects and providing an ingratiating narration by Queen Latifah that frequently reduces the on-screen action to homespun homilies and quasi-jive talk. Nanu and Seela eventually find their footing in the world, but it's a task made even tougher due to melting polar ice caps upsetting the creatures' ecosystem — a global warming angle that shouldn't come as much of a shock considering Arctic Tale was produced by Al Gore's daughter, Kristen. The movie's not exactly subtle about hammering home its agenda, though, and as documentaries go, it's also just a tad disingenuous, in that "Nanu" and "Seela" don't in fact exist (they're actually composites cobbled together to support what the movie wants to say). Still, only a fool or a captain of industry would argue that Arctic Tale's environmental message is less than sound, so if it takes a few doctored facts and a Morgan Freeman-lite voice-over to do the job — well, any port in a storm. Directed by Adam Ravetch and Sarah Robertson. 2.5 stars

BECOMING JANE (PG) A very Miramaxian-sounding mish-mash of period-drama fact and fiction, zeroing in on a young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) becoming involved in a romantic encounter that shapes the books she'll eventually write and the writer she'll eventually become. Also stars James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith and Joe Anderson. (Not Reviewed)

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (PG-13) The third and supposedly final installment of the popular Bourne franchise is by far the best of the batch, a relentless barrage of sheer adrenaline that more than compensates for any shortcomings in the material. Matt Damon returns for one last go-round as the memory-challenged super-spy/assassin trying to piece together the truth of his lost identity; the villains, appropriately enough, are the only ones who ultimately matter — the CIA goons who turned him into the horribly efficient killing machine he is. The Bourne Ultimatum refines and relies upon all the elements that have made the series so successful and so appealing . Also stars Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn. 3.5 stars

EL CANTANTE (PG-13) Jennifer Lopez doesn't quite go for the throat as Puchi Lavoe, longtime mistress and eventually wife to legendary salsa singer Hector Lavoe, but you can occasionally see those chiseled nostrils flaring at the sweet smell of blood. Hector (Lopez's off-screen husband, Marc Anthony) is the nominal star of this music biopic, but behind every dysfunctional, drug-gobbling man is a dysfunctional, drug-gobbling woman, and Puchi functions not only as her superstar husband's wife and confidante, but also as his mother, whore, nurse, supplier, nemesis and boss. Structured much like one of those VH-1 retro-pop featurettes, El Cantante begins with its subject's peak moment of creativity and/or popularity, then flashes back, as these things must, to his humble beginnings. Lavoe's inevitable slide begins almost before his rise has kicked into gear, and El Cantante depicts Hector's abrupt immersion in drugs without much fanfare or even context as one long, largely unexplained blur of bad behavior. Also stars John Ortiz, Manny Perez, Vincent Laresca and Federico Castelluccio. 2 stars

EYE OF THE DOLPHIN (PG) Sweet, handsomely mounted coming-of-age meanderings with troubled teen Alyssa (Carly Schroeder) hooking up with her long-lost father (Adrian Dunbar) and eventually finding a reason to live. Dad's a disheveled but dedicated dolphin researcher and, after the obligatory period of initial resistance, daughter Alyssa casts off her black eyeliner and throws herself mightily into her father's work, grooving on his sleek aquatic pals and helping him thwart the greedy city fathers trying to rain on his parade. The film was shot mostly on location in the Bahamas and it often looks beautiful, but the story here doesn't amount to much more than a well-meaning but lazy gathering of bonding clichés, at best. Also stars Christine Adams and George Harris. 2.5 stars

GOLDEN DOOR (PG-13) Harking back to an earlier, artier Euro-cinema far from the megaplex crowd, Golden Door (known as Nuovomondo in its native Italy) unfolds as a series of long, slow and thoroughly enigmatic episodes of the sort that certain critics love to call "meditative." The film is, on the surface, yet another drama about poor huddled masses making the perilous trek to prosperity and freedom, but the story here takes a back seat to poetic rhythms and the astonishing images of cinematographer Agnes Godard. Golden Door begins at the dawn of the 20th century in the rocky soil of Sicily, where illiterate peasant Salvatore Mancuso, seduced by doctored photos of giant vegetables and trees sprouting money, yearns to bring his family to America. The first half of the film mesmerizes us with scene after scene of mysterious, largely unexplained rituals and customs, sequences that seem timeless and take on a feverish, hallucinogenic intensity that blurs the fertile ground between folklore and fantasy. Stars Vincenzo Amato, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Aurora Quattrocchi, Francesco Casisa, Filippo Pucillo and Don Luigi. 3.5 stars

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