Unwrap the gift of film

    12.06.02

    Courtesy of Warner Bros.

    “”Analyze That””

    Stars: Robert de Niro, Billy Crystal.

    Story: Mob boss Paul Vitti (De Niro) winds up in Sing-Sing, and his loony behavior in prison has the FBI wondering whether it’s all an act to get released early or whether the big guy has finally cracked. As a result, Dr. Ben Sobel (Crystal), Vitti’s trusted psychotherapist, is brought in. It turns out that Sobel could use a little couch time himself; he’s dealing with his father’s death and a serious identity crisis. His life becomes even more stressed when Vitti is released into his care, becoming his patient (again) and houseguest.

    Outlook: The sequel to “”Analyze This,”” “”Analyze That”” will definitely do very well at the box office with its great acting and witty script. Expect this movie to be one of the best of the year.

    12.13.02

    “”About Schmidt””

    Stars: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis.

    Story: With no job, no wife and no family, Warren Schmidt (Nicholson) is desperate to find something meaningful in his thoroughly unimpressive life. During this darkly comic and painful odyssey, Schmidt details his adventures and shares his observations with an unexpected new friend and confessor: Ndugu Umbo, a 6-year-old Tanzanian orphan whom he sponsors for $22 a month through an organization that advertises on TV. From these long letters filled with a lifetime of things unsaid, Schmidt begins — perhaps for the first time — to take a glimpse of himself and the life he has lived.

    Outlook: What’s “”About Schmidt”” about? It is rumored that it is about to garner Nicholson a Best Actor nomination. With phenomenal acting and great directing by independent filmmaker Alexander Payne, no one should think twice before shelling out for this tragicomedy.

    12.18.02

    “”The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers””

    Stars: Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler.

    Story: The sequel to “” Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings”” follows the continuing quest of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship that has joined to destroy the One Ring and stand against the evil of the dark lord Sauron. The Fellowship has divided and finds itself taking different paths to defeat Sauron and his allies. Destiny leads them to the two towers: Orthanc Tower in Isengard where the corrupted wizard Saruman awaits, and Sauron’s fortress at Barad-dur, deep within the dark lands of Mordor.

    Outlook: Although the rumored running time is 179 minutes, a true fan should not be deterred from seeing this film (it is only a minute longer than the previous LOTR film). Gorgeous cinematography and a fast-paced plot should keep the audience from getting bored, translating to another box office success.

    12.20.02

    “”The Antwone Fisher Story””

    Stars: Derek Luke, Joy Bryant, Denzel Washington, Salli Richardson

    Story: Washington’s directorial debut involves the touching story of a sailor (Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Washington) for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through the guidance of his doctor, he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.

    Outlook: “”The Antwone Fisher Story”” just might turn out to be one of the year’s hidden masterpieces. A true drama, this film will deliver in every sense, proving Washington’s directorial capabilities.

    12.20.02

    “”Rabbit Proof Fence””

    Stars: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Mongahan, Kenneth Branagh.

    Story: The setting is Western Australia in the early 1930s, where the law decrees that Aboriginal children of mixed caste have the dubious honor of answering to Chief Protector Mr. A.O. Neville (Branagh) as their legal guardian. It is from the infamous Moore River Settlement that three determined young girls escape, with no objective other than to return to their mothers at Jigalong, some 2,000 kilometers to the northwest. Guiding Molly (Sampi), Gracie (Monaghan) and Daisy (Sansbury) toward home (and helping them to evade police and trackers) is a tatty wire fence that stretches endlessly across the outback.

    Outlook: Either you’ll love it, or hate it. If you’re in the mood for subtle political and racial commentary, along with a vaguely troubled mind about the state of the world when you leave the theater, this is your film.

    12.25.02

    “”The 25th Hour””

    Stars: Edward Norton, Philip Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox

    Story: About to start a seven-year jail term for dealing drugs, a man (Norton) attempts to make the most out of his last day of freedom. While roaming around New York City with his two best friends (Seymour Hoffman and Pepper) and his girlfriend (Dawson), he takes a closer look at his life.

    Outlook: Spike Lee’s latest project holds lots of good prospects. Norton delivers a brilliant performance, and the story is very unusual. Bottom line: definitely worth checking out.

    12.25.02

    “”Gangs of New York””

    Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Reilly.

    Story: Martin Scorsese’s sweeping tale follows the rise of Irish and Italian gangsters in 1860s New York. While elsewhere in the country the Civil War ensue, residents of Manhattan’s Five Points are also engaged in fierce battles. DiCaprio plays Amsterdam Vallon, the son of a murdered gang leader who swears vengeance upon William Cutting, aka Bill the Butcher (Day-Lewis), the gang leader who killed his father.

    Outlook: Attention DiCaprio fans: This film might actually be worth your money. With a great cast and engaging storyline, “”Gangs of New York”” is bound to make lots of money and delight audiences around the world.

    12.27.02

    “”Chicago””

    Stars: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John Reilly, Christine Baranski.

    Story: Velma Kelley (Zeta-Jones) is a nightclub sensation who shoots her cheating husband and retains a smooth lawyer, Billy Flynn (Gere), to set her free. In the center of the town’s most notorious murder case, her fame only increases, while Roxie Hart (Zellweger) dreams of singing and dancing her way to stardom. When Hart’s abusive lover tries to walk out on her, she too ends up in prison. Flynn recognizes a made-for-the-newspapers story and postpones Kelley’s court date to take on Hart’s case. The two performers then begin a relentless pursuit of celebrity and fortune.

    Outlook: Dripping with glamour, “”Chicago”” will reel in the audiences, and make fans out of most of them. This entertaining adaptation of the musical is one of the most anticipated films of the year, and will prove so in the box office.

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