Crush

Andie McDowell is charming as an American headmistress at a British school, whose romance with a former student hammers a wedge between her best friends. McDowell shines as Kate, who gets together every week with her best friends (Anna Chancellor, Imelda Staunton) for a little smoke, a little drink, and a little gossip. Okay, a lot of all three.


It’s a ritual all three wait for, but all that changes when Kate falls into the arms of a hunky former student (Kenny Doughty). Director John McKay turns what could have been a chick flick into a thoughtful exploration of women and their opinions of men. It’s part drama, part comedy, but it all comes together thanks to the talented cast and director. (Columbia-TriStar)

HIGH CRIMES (PG-13)

“High Crimes” may be based on the popular novel by Joseph Finder, but the film is hardly a page turner. Directed with style but little conviction by Carl Franklin, “High Crimes” has all of the cohesiveness of a ransom note constructed from cut out newspaper headlines. Sybil was less conflicted than the screenplay by Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley, which stretches credibility farther than the elastic band in Louie Anderson’s pants. We’re asked to forgive so much that I felt I was sitting in a confessional at church rather than a movie theater. Please click title for complete review. (Fox)

BLADE II (R)

Filled with gratuitous gore and rivers of blood, “Blade 2” devours the screen with a ferocious appetite. You can’t make a good vampire film without spilling a lot of the red stuff. As anyone who has ever ridden the elevator at the Overlook Hotel can confirm, you can’t get from here to there without getting soaked. Unlike the more recent and anemic “Queen of the Damned,” “Blade 2” not only gets it right, but actually improve upon the original. Based on the Marvel Comic about a half-human, half-vampire hero, “Blade 2” benefits from a change of director and location, giving the franchise a fresh, gothic look. Please click on title for complete review. (New Line)

JERICHO (PG-13)

Like the Donny and Marie duet where one was “a little bit country” and the other was “a little bit rock and roll,” “Jericho” is a little “western” and a little bit “mystery.” Too bad the film wasn’t a little bit better, then all of this effort wouldn’t have gone to waste. After being left for dead and being saved by Joshua, a former slave, Jericho wants nothing more than to remember his past. As a man of God, Joshua helps Jericho back on his feet, even though Joshua suspects he’s the man who killed a sheriff during a robbery. The film delivers a modicum of hope as both men move forward with their lives, even though Jericho’s past keeps calling. Good idea, but the direction is pedestrian, and the acting is by-the-book. Strictly for fans of westerns with nothing but time on their hands. (Monarch)

THE ROOKIE (G)

Once again the folks at Walt Disney Pictures prove you can make a smart, engaging and endearing drama and still get a “G” rating. Sound impossible? It’s not. Directed by John Lee Hancock and starring a winning Dennis Quaid, “The Rookie” is based on the true story of high school baseball coach Jim Morris, whose dream of playing in the big leagues is realized. From the dreamy, symbolic opening that sets up the story, to the final moments where Morris takes to the mound, “The Rookie” is an inspirational, charming, heart-tugging and honest drama. It’s hard to fault the cliches in the film because they are part of the overall tableau. These events actually happened, so instead of allowing them to become cliches, director Hancock and Mike Rich turn them into minor distractions. They instead focus on the winning performance of Quaid, who is excellent as Morris, a minor league pitcher sidelined by an injury. Then his high school players make him a bet: if they win the championship, he has to try out for the majors. It’s pretty obvious where the film is headed, but what makes the film so special is that we enjoy the ride there. Rachel Griffiths shines as the concerned wife who gives her husband the support he needs. This is one film you will want to add to your collection. Available for sell-through at $22.99 for video, $29.99 DVD. (Walt Disney)

STRICTLY SINATRA (R)

Strictly entertaining is the best way to describe this gangster drama set in Glasgow. Ian Hart stars as Toni Cocozza, a third-rate entertainer with dreams of becoming famous. Toni’s nowhere career finds him warbling Sinatra tunes in smoky lounges, desperate to find a friendly ear. He finds plenty in a group of gangsters who like his style. Looking for a better gig, Toni helps them pull off a robbery, only to learn that you should be careful what you wish for. A lovely Kelly Macdonald co-stars as a casino worker who knows trouble when she sees it. Director Peter Capaldi knows when to pump up the action and when to allow the actors their moment in the blazing gunfire, I mean sun. Anyone looking for a gritty import with lots of bite will appreciate the film’s style and pacing. (Universal)



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