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Eugene Weekly : Movies : 06.24.04



.MOVIE LISTINGS | NEW VIDEO RELEASES | MOVIE REVIEW ARCHIVE | THEATER INFO

Evolution

Cuaron directs maturing Harry and gang.

BY LOIS WADSWORTH

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN: Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Written by Steve Kloves, based on the book by J.K. Rowling. Produced by David Heyman, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe. Executive producers Michael Barnathan, Callum McDougall, Tanya Seghatchian. Cinematography, Michael Seresin. Production design, Stuart Craig. Editor, Steven Weisberg. Composer, John Williams. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, with Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Tom Felton, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Fiona Shaw and Richard Griffiths. Warner Bros., 2004. PG. 136 minutes.

Alan Rickman (center) and Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe

Finally, a Harry Potter movie for adults as well as younger audiences. I liked almost everything about the movie, although I am considerably less enamored of magic wands, broomsticks and Quidditch than the kids. The computer-generated special effects are kept to a reasonable level, and they are quite amazing. The killer tree is terrifying, and the Dementors, who suck their victims' souls, are nothing to sneeze at.

Alfonso Cuaron is a much edgier, darker and deeper director than Chris Columbus, whose first two adaptations were far too faithful to the book and not inventive as films. Columbus, however, did shepherd the young lead actors — Daniel Radclife as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger — through their steep actors' learning-curve. Bolstered by self-confidence, they can do more character-developing, introspective work here.

Returning to the smashing lineup of Hogwarts teachers from the other films are Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid, who here has a pet Hippogriff named Buckbeak he uses in class, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape and Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall. Michael Gambon steps in for the late Richard Harris as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and makes the transition feel painless. Devid Thewlis plays the complicated Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Remus Lupin. Emma Thompson is Professor Trelawney, who teaches Divination, has a trance scene that scares the pants off Harry and the audience as well.

The new plotline centers around an escaped-from-Azkaban convict, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), now thought to be after Harry. Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) is also a new character, as is Pam Ferris as Harry's Aunt Marge. Richard Griffiths returns as Uncle Vernon, Fiona Shaw is back as Aunt Petunia, and Tom Felton plays Harry's arch enemy among the students, Draco Malfoy.

Naturalistic performances by most of the students help raise the film above the whiz-kids level of the earlier films. Now we begin to see changes in how Hermione, the best witch of her generation, relates with her best friends, Ron and Harry. We see the very beginning of her awareness she may have to make a choice between them down the road. They're all still just pals, but the hormone dance is beginning, and each of the three turns inward a little more as they grapple with their own evolving physicality and psychology.

Cuaron's skills have illuminated this juncture in The Little Princess, which is one of the best film adaptations of all time. It is a complex, dark portrait of a young child left to work out her fate with no adult to help her, only the redemptive power of the imagination. Harry, Ron and Hermione have exactly the opposite problem: how to get out from under the power of the magical and find a place in the real world of human nature. Cuaron has taken his charges down that path, and as moviegoers we must hope that the next director of the series understands where to take them next.

I can heartily recommend Harry Potter 3, whatever your age. It's one of the better movies of the season, and it's playing at both Cinemark and Cinema World.

 

Waiting is Boring

Limbo

BY LOIS WADSWORTH

THE TERMINAL: Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Sacha Gervasi, Jeff Nathanson, based on a story by Andrew Niccol and Sacha Gervasi. Produced by Walter F. Parkes, Laurie MacDonald, Steven Spielberg. Executive Producers, Patricia Whitcher, Jason Hoffs, Andrew Niccol. Cinematography, Janusz Kaminski. Production design, Alex McDowell. Editor, Michael Kahn. Music, John Williams. Costumes, Mary Zophres. Starring Tom Hanks, with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka Henley and Kumar Pallana, Zoe Saldana. DreamWorks Pictures, 2004. PG-13. 128 minutes.

Stranded.

Being trapped in an airport terminal for an indefinite time is one version of contemporary hell, primarily experienced by those unfortunates whose plane is too late to make a connecting flight, whose flight is canceled or delayed, who are stranded by bad weather, or who are flying on a day when all flights are canceled, as has happened only once, memorably, on Sept. 11, 2001.

But Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) has a potentially even more frustrating and angst-producing dilemma: His country disappears. A revolution occurs in his fictional homeland, Krakozhia, and Viktor's passport is useless, and his U.S. visa is revoked. Worse yet, he has repeated encounters with a snarky Homeland Securities twit, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), whose arrogance is abundantly clear to all the customs agents who work for him at John F. Kennedy Airport.

It's not hard for me to believe that weasles like Dixon exist, because I recently had the pleasure of returning to my native land after a week on an island paradise. I stood in a series of lines for more than an hour before being welcomed back by a Homeland Securities agent. This unpleasant little man apparently could not resist telling me a tasteless, unfunny, dirty joke about his 88-year-old uncle who'd married a 16 year-old girl as he handed me my passport. I really needed to chase this nasty encounter out of my mind as I hurried to my departure gate, so I imagined John Lennon singing "Back in the USSR" right in his slack-jawed, ignorant face, which cheered me up.

But Spielberg doesn't even give Navorski (or the audience) the solace of Lennon's healthy contempt, offering instead a steady diet of pop strings until later in the film. So the poor immigrant has to suck it up. Perhaps Viktor had developed the ability to put up with bureaucratic blowhards back home. He is resourceful, but every time he figures out how to survive in this plastic, consumer-driven mini-city of the airport, Dixon finds a way to spoil his plans. The agent's unrelenting obsession with Navorski becomes tiresome after the first few times, but the film plows ahead, undeterred by doubts.

OK, so I don't love Spielberg's take on Viktor's plight. The filmmaker's sentimentality is suffocating. And Hanks plays Navorski a little too close to the edge of Forrest Gump for me. Why must Viktor shamble instead of walk upright? Why the blank look in his eyes? He's obviously an intelligent guy, even before he learns English. Why does he only appear smart after he's mastered enough of the language to order a meal at Burger King? But, back to Spielberg: Why is the film so damn long? Why do we, the audience, need to suffer? There's a better, 90-minute film hiding in here, but the director, writers and editor didn't find it.

Even Catherine Zeta-Jones as Amelia Warren, a stewardess, is stifled by the film's lack of subtlety. She's a comedienne, and it seems weird that Spielberg doesn't know that. So Zeta-Jones is stuck playing a beautiful woman, period. Her talent is wasted here.

Likewise, the supporting cast doesn't go beyond predictability. Customs officers Ray Thurman (Barry Shabaka Henley) and Dolores Torres (Zoe Saldana) have to think about their jobs. The others are skeptical — baggage handler Joe Mulroy (Chi McBride); food service worker Enrique Cruz (Diego Luna); and janitor Gupta (Kumar Pallana) — but eventually become Viktor's allies.

If you've seen enough Spielberg movies, you know things will turn out all right in the end, so there's no real suspense. Hanks puts as much talent as he has into making Viktor come alive, but it's not enough to save the film from being too long and too safe. Maybe Hanks and Spielberg should break up for awhile and take separate vacations. Hey, I know this island paradise …

Now playing at Cinemark and Cinema World, The Terminal is marginally recommended.

 

 



OPENING OR RETURNING:

Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted. See archived movie reviews.

Bill's Run: A Political Journey in Rural Kansas:. Doc. filmmaker Richard Kassebaum spent seven weeks on the campaign trail chronicling his brother's first run for political office. "Exciting outcome shows…that every vote counts." On "POV" at 10 pm on 6/22 on OPB.

Dance Craze '80s: Documentary on Britain's 2-Tone Ska era (late 1970s-80s) featuring live performances by the Specials, the Selected, Madness, the Beat and more. Bijou LateNite.

Envy: Ben Stiller, Jack Black in Barry Levinson's film about kooky inventor (Black), who suddenly becomes wealthy from a spray that makes dog poop disappear. Neighbor (Stiller) grows murderously envious. Christopher Walken co-stars. PG-13. Movies 12.

Fahrenheit 9/11: Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes 2004, Michael Moore's nonfiction opinion piece is the most highly anticipated, politically toned film scheduled to open this summer. R. Bijou. Cinemark.

Home on the Range: Disney animated film features voices by Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly, Cuba Gooding Jr., Randy Quaid, Steve Buscemi, Carole Cook and Governor Ann Richards., while singing comes from k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Tim McGraw and The Beau Sisters. PG. Movies 12.

Notebook, The: Nick Cassavetes directs Gena Rowlands and James Garner, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in the screen adaptation of Nicholas Spark's best-selling romantic novel. With Sam Shepard and Joan Allen. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Punisher, The: Marvel comic book character Charles Bronson (Thomas Jane) pursues with a vengeance after his family is murdered. Also stars John Travolta and Laura Harring. R. Movies 12.

Scooby Doo 2 Monsters Unleashed: Some scary action, rude humor and language. PG. Movies 12.

Sleepover: Teen comedy adventure pits two rival groups of girls against each other in an all-night scavenger hunt. PG. Sneak. at 7:30 on 6/25. Cinemark.

Two Brothers: Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear) directs this adventure story about the power of friendship between twin tiger cubs. Stars Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus and Phillippine Leroy-Beaulieu. PG. Cinema World. Cinemark.

White Chicks: Comedy about FBI agents who go undercover as high school debutantes to investigate a kidnapping ring. Stars director Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn and Marlon Wayans. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Films open the Friday following EW publication date unless otherwise noted. See archived reviews at www.eugeneweekly.com

 

CONTINUING:

Around the World in 80 Days: Jackie Chan stars in this remake that follows an eccentric London inventor, Phineas Fogg (Steve Coogan) who makes a very public bet then has to come through. Also stars Jim Broadbent, Cecile De France, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates, Rob Schneider. PG. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Chronicles of Riddick, The: Riddick (Vin Diesel) ends up on a multicultural planet invaded by a despot planning to subjugate everyone with his non-human warriors, the Necromongers. (Named for a bad rock band?) Also stars Thandie Newton, Alexa Davalos, Colm Feore, Linus Roache and Judi Dench. PG-13. Cinemark.

Day After Tomorrow, The: Directed by Roland Emmerich, starring Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward. A climatologist (Quaid) tries to figure out a way to save the world from abrupt global warming. He must get to his son (Gyllenhaal) in New York, which is being taken over by a new ice age. PG-13. Cinemark.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: Can social rejects save their small local gym from gentrification? Only director Rawson Thurber and his stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor and Rip Torn know for sure. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Ella Enchanted: Anne Hathaway is a perfectly obedient girl. She does what she's told, literally. Based on Newberry-winning novel. PG. Movies 12.

Fifty First Dates: Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in a romance with a catch: she has no short-term memory recall, so she forgets him every night. Also stars Rob Schneider, Sean Astin and Dan Aykroyd. Directed by Peter Segal. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Garfield, The Movie: The poster promises "frisky business" as Garfield, the smarty pants kitty, makes his film debut. PG. Cinemark.

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban: Alfonso Cuarón directs the third film based on the series by J.K. Rowling. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), now teenagers, return to Hogwarts, where they face their darkest fears. Sirius Black (Gary Oldham) poses a great threat to Harry. The three friends must also contend with the Dementors, who are sent to protect them from Black. PG. Cinemark. Cinema World. See review this issue.

Hellboy: Based on Mike Mignola's Dark Horse Comics series, this supernatural action adventure stars Ron Perlman, John Hut, Selma Blain and Doug Jones and is directed by Guillermo del Toro. Highly entertaining, sweet film. See it. Movies 12. PG-13. Online archives.

Hidalgo: Based on autobiography of distance rider Frank T. Hopkins, played by Viggo Mortensen, this epic action-adventure takes place during a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian Desert in 1890. PG-13. Movies 12.

Jersey Girl: Written and directed by Kevin Smith, film's about a music publicist (Ben Affleck) trying to balance work and fatherhood as a single parent. Also stars Jennifer Lopes, George Carlin, Liv Tyler, Jason Biggs. Raquel Castro is his independent daughter. PG-13. Movies12.

Kill Bill Vol. 1: Quentin Tarantino's first of two films was called the most violent film ever made in Hollywood. Stars Uma Thurman as the Bride, a woman with a mission: Kill Bill (David Carradine), her former boss and lover who betrayed her and murdered her family. With Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, LaTanya Richardson, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen and Samuel L. Jackson. R. Latenite Bijou.

Ladykillers, The: Based on the 1955 British comedy starring Peter Sellers and Alec Guiness, Ethan and Joel Coen's adaptation stars Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayons. When these bank robbers move into "no hip-hop" house of a Southern church-going woman, anything goes. R. Movies 12.

Man on Fire: Denzel Washington as a security guard for a child who is kidnapped on his watch. He will have revenge. R. Movies 12.

Shrek 2: Mike Myers returns as Shrek, Cameron Diaz is his new wife, Princess Fiona, and Eddie Murphy's his sidekick, Donkey. Now the newlyweds face Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) and King Harold (John Cleese). Fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders), Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and the ferocious Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). So-so sequel. Cinemark. Online archives.

Starsky & Hutch: Ben Stiller is uptight Starsky, while Owen Wilson is laid back Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson in this remake of TV's undercover crime-fighters. With Vince Vaughn, Snoop Dogg, Juliette Lewis. PG-13. Movies 12.

Stepford Wives, The: Frank Oz directs Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill and Glenn Close in this updated comedy-thriller about a perfect, 1950s-era community in Stepford, Connecticut. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark. Online archives.

Super Size Me: Morgan Spurlock's documentary features snappy graphics, talking heads and the slow decline of Spurlock's health as he eats only at McDonalds for three meals a day, 30 days. Highly recommended. NR. Bijou. Online archives.

Terminal: Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks as a tourist who has to live at Kennedy airport because his homeland disappeared in a civil war, so his passport is no good. Then he falls in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World. See review this issue.

Van Helsing: Monster killer Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) teams up with Kate Beckinsale in Transylvania to bring down Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). PG-13. Movies 12..

What the Bleep Do We Know? Through interviews with cutting-edge scientists and spiritual teachers, a brand new way of thinking about consciousness, intentionality and the ability to make a difference in the world emerges. But it begins with Amanda (Marlee Matlin). Highly recommended. NR. Bijou. Online archives.

 

MOVIE THEATERS

Use the links provided below for specific show times.

Bijou Art Cinemas

Bijou Theater686-2458 | 492 E. 13th

Regal Cinemas

Cinema World342-6536 | Valley River Center

Springfield Quad726-9073 |

Cinemark Theaters

Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall

Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.

Cinemark 17741-1231 | Gateway Mall

 

NEW RELEASES ON VIDEO

Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of EW publication, sometimes sooner. See archived movie reviews.

Barbershop 2 Back in Business: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer and the barbers are back at Calvin's Barbershop, with hair stylist Queen Latifah next door. PG-13. Online archives.

Blazing Saddles 30th Anniversary Special Edition (1974): Directed by Mel Brooks, who also stars, this comedy classic also stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman. DVD includes Brooks' commentary, cast/crew reunion documentary, Madeline Kahn featurette, 1975 TV pilot inspired by the movie, and deleted scenes.

Cold Mountain: Anthony Minghella's adaptation of Charles Frazier's Civil War best-seller stars Jude Law as a wounded Southern soldier who walks 1000 miles to get home. Nicole Kidman is his pre-war sweetheart, and Renee Zellweger teaches her to farm and survive. Very highest recommendations. Academy Award to Rene Zellwegger. Nominations: Jude Law, actor; cinematography; original score; two original songs; film editing. R. Online archives.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995): Mel Brooks comedy stars Harvey Korman, Leslie Nielsen, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck. DVD extras include commentary by Brooks.

English Patient, The (1996): Anthony Minghella's WWII deeply romantic love story based on Michael Ondaatje's novel is set in a bombed-out Italian villa. A young Canadian nurse (Juliet Binoche) takes care of a burned man who remembers the tragic love affair between a married English aristocrat (Kristen Scott Thomas) and a titled European desert buff (Ralph Fiennes). Nurse falls in love with an Indian sapper (minesweeper) in British army (Naveen Andrews). Best film of the year. R.

Perfect Score, The: Erika Christensen and Scarlett Johansson in tale of six high-school students who band together to heist the SAT. PG-13.

Ragtime (1981): Milos Forman's influential screen adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's groundbreaking novel stars James Cagney, Elizabeth McGovern, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Mary Steenburgen, Brad Dourif, James Olson, Kenneth McMillan.

Next Week: The Asphalt Jungle, the Butterfly Effect, Monsieur Ibrahim, My Voyage to Italy, Six Feet Under Second Season.