Film Capsules |

Film Capsules

Josh Hartnett needed a comedy after playing brooding teens and brooding soldiers. But he didn’t need this comedy, which falls apart as it grows increasingly absurd. As a San Francisco dot-commer who gives up sex for Lent, Hartnett, and his chemistry with co-star Shannyn Sossamon, are about the best things in the movie; the two actors are likable and great-looking and they look great together. (R for strong sexual content, nudity and language. 90 min.)

Appallingly manipulative, baldly contrived and finally foolish romantic tale of a Chicago emergency room chief (Kevin Costner) who becomes convinced that his dead wife is trying to reach him from beyond the grave. (PG-13, for thematic material and mild sexuality. 1:45)

Actor Todd Field’s impressive directing debut deals with what can happen when there are three in a bedroom, or even two. An unadorned, unflinching film about fierce and terrifying passions, with exceptional acting, tells a story of anger and grief, of grappling with the unthinkable. Based on an excellent short story by Andre Dubus. (R, for some violence and language. 2:02)

Made with intelligence, imagination, passion and skill, propulsively paced and shot through with an aged-in-oak sense of wonder by director Peter Jackson, the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy’s first film so thrillingly catches us up in its sweeping story that nothing matters but the vivid and compelling events unfolding on the screen. What a story it is, overflowing with invention, character and event, with hairbreadth escapes and heroism in the face of terrifying evil and violent battles. (PG-13, for epic battle sequences and some scary images. 2:58)

The latest incarnation of H.G. Wells’ classic tale is barely science fiction; it’s more of a love story with special effects. Guy Pearce stars as a scientist who builds a time machine to go back to 1899 and prevent his fiancee’s death, but he ends up 800,000 years in the future. He finds two groups: people who live above ground, and the monsters who prey upon them from below, who aren’t scary. The worst part is the self-referential cutesiness that pervades throughout; it rips you from the reverie of watching a fantasy and drops you into back into reality. (PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence. 96 min.)

It’s hard to knock Denzel Washington’s earnestness in “John Q,” the story of a man who takes over an emergency room at gunpoint to force doctors to give his dying son a heart transplant. The preposterous excess of zeal the overall film oozes is another matter. Director Nick Cassavetes repeatedly bashes viewers in the head with a socially conscious hammer as he trashes all things related to health care. The script is inane, most of the characters are stereotypes and “John Q” hits one of many low points when captor and hostages sit around the ER condemning the inadequacies of the health care system.(PG-13 for violence, language and intense thematic elements. 1:56)

Reporter Richard Gere and police officer Laura Linney ferret out explanations to bizarre sightings and prophetic occurrences in a small West Virginia town. A few decent goosebumps to be had in this inspired-by-actual-events chiller, but it’s a long, gloomy schlep from one to the next. (PG-13, for terror, some sexuality and language. 1:59)

As directed by Michael Rymer and with the late rock star Aaliyah in the title role, it’s a muddled limp biscuit of a movie, a vampire soap opera that doesn’t make much sense even on its own terms. Though the previous film based on Anne Rice’s popular novels, the Tom Cruise-starring “Interview With the Vampire,” was far from a success, this brain-dead venture makes it look like a masterwork by comparison. (R, for vampire violence. 1:41)

A disappointing animated sequel to the 1953 classic “Peter Pan.” Wendy is now the mother of two, including daughter Jane, who dismisses all this Peter Pan nonsense until she gets mixed up with Peter, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys. (G. 72 min.)

A war movie at war with itself, it’s a film about Vietnam with the patriotism of a World War II propaganda flick. The juxtaposition is jarring, yet it’s hard to fault the filmmakers, whose intentions are noble.Mel Gibson stars in the role John Wayne would have played 30 years ago. (R for sustained sequences of graphic war violence, and for language. 2:15)

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