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| Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (PG)

Cars fly, trees fight back and a mysterious elf comes to warn Harry Potter of danger - all at the start of the second year of his amazing journey into the world of wizardry. This year at Hogwarts, spiders talk, letters scold and Harry's own unsettling ability to speak to snakes turns his friends against him. From dueling clubs to rogue Bludgers, it's a year of adventure and danger when bloody writing on a wall announces: The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Kenneth Branagh, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, and Julie Walters.

Spirited Away (PG)

A wonderfully imaginative animated story by Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Princess Mononoke." And, like those previous outings, "Spirited Away" is a heady mix of realism and fabulism, sure to please adults and youngsters alike. Here a 10-year-old girl and her family wander into what first appears to be an abandoned theme park but turns out to be a spirit world. When her parents eat some food and are turned into pigs, it's up to Chihiro to rescue them by dealing with weird spirits and unearthly - yet not scary - situations.

Castle in the Sky (NR)

Miyazaki's "Castle in the Sky" takes viewers on a fantastic voyage to a mythical retro-future full of amazing landscapes and wonderful flying machines.

Drumline (PG-13)

Upbeat kids film about a hot-shot drummer from Harlem who quickly learns that talent, passion, discipline and teamwork are required to cut it on the drumline of a College marching band. Stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana, and Orlando Jones.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (PG)

Director Phillip Noyce has made a disturbing yet uplifting film that examines the plight of Australia's Aborigines during the 1930s when the government saw fit to wrench Aboriginal children from their families "for their own good" to be assimilated into white society - typically as domestic servants. The film follows the lives of three such girls who chafe at the repression they encounter when sent to a mission to be trained to serve the upper class, and subsequently escape to the outback on a 1,500 mile journey home, hotly pursued by the authorities. Stars Evelyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, and Kenneth Branagh.

Evelyn (PG)

Heart-felt and heartwarming true story of Dubliner Desmond Doyle (Pierce Brosnan), whose wife runs off one fine holiday season, leaving him alone with their three children - beloved daughter Evelyn and two young sons. The year is 1953, and the Irish government social workers - abetted by the Irish law that decreed that a father cannot raise children by himself - come round and take the kids to orphanages. Enlisting the help of loyal friends (Julianna Margulies, Stephen Rea) and a feisty American lawyer (Aidan Quinn), he takes his case to Ireland's Supreme Court and in a history-making quest topples the iron-clad law and wins back the custody of his children.

The Transporter (PG-13)

Fast-paced actioner set against the breathtaking backdrop of the French Mediterranean. Frank Martin (Jason Starham) is the best at what he does: Transporting dangerous or illegal goods with no questions asked. But his latest shipment, a beautiful young woman kidnapped by international slave traders, brings deadly complications to his delivery plans: he breaks the rules and must kick into overdrive to fight to save his cargo, and his life.

Henry IV (NR)

Marcello Mastroianni delivers one of his finest performances in this powerful adaptation of the play by Luigi Pirandello. Tango legend Astor Piazzolla provides the musical score. Mastroianni stars as a modern aristocrat. After he falls off his horse, he believes himself to be Henry IV, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. For years, everyone around him adapts to this fantasy. Then, one day, some old friends try to cure "Henry." Also stars Claudia Cardinale.

Recent Releases

Far From Heaven (PG-13)

It's 1957 in the bedroom community of Hartford, Connecticut. Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) has it all - a lovely home, two wonderful children, and a handsome husband, Frank (Dennis Quaid), who is successfully climbing the corporate ladder at a television company. But Cathy's idyllic existence is just an illusion, and as forbidden desires threaten to tear her world apart, she is faced with choices that spur gossip within the community and change several lives forever. Also stars Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson, Viola Davis, James Rebhorn, and Celia Weston.

Secretary (R)

Demented, weird and offbeat are words to best describe this delight of a film about a young woman, Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal), just released from a mental hospital to the bosom of her dysfunctional family, who gets a job as a legal secretary to sexually repressed Mr. Grey (James Spader). In short order Grey takes charge of Lee's sexual yearnings (she wants to be bossed around), resulting in Lee wearing a dog collar and engaging in spanking and other S&M practices with her boss. Also stars Leslie Ann Warren and Jeremy Davies.

The Truth About Charlie (PG-13)

An homage to and remake of Stanley Donen's 1963 "Charade" starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. In this version, Thandie Newton admirably takes on the Hepburn role as the damsel in distress, and Mark Wahlberg is her knight in shining armor (he plays a modern Cary Grant, more streetwise than sophisticated but never-the-less appealing). Also stars Tim Robbins, Joong Hoon Park, Ted Levine, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Christine Boisson, and Stephen Dillane.

The Wild Thornberrys Movie (PG)

Kid-savvy producers Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo bring "The Wild Thornberrys" to the big screen in a big, satisfying way. In their first movie, the venerable Thornberrys take on important issues involving the evils of animal poaching that are nevertheless carefully tempered with humor and optimism to keep them manageable for young audiences. Stars the voices of Lacey Chabert, Tom Kane, Tim Curry, Jodi Carlisle, Michael Balzary (aka Flea), Danielle Harris, Lynn Redgrave, Rupert Everett, Marisa Tomei, and Brenda Blethyn.

Red Dragon (R)

Remake of Michael Mann's splendid 1986 "Manhunter," keying in more on the delightful Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) who played second fiddle in the original version. Here Edward Norton plays a retired FBI agent called back to action to consult with the incarcerated Lecter to solve a baffling serial killer case in which the murderer - dubbed The Tooth Fairy by the press - bites, maims and kills entire familiies. Also stars Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Crime of Padre Amaro (R)

Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a newly ordained priest sent to work in a small church community in Mexico by the Bishop. Moral dilemmas abound and Father Amaro's idealism is put to the test by personal, political and church pressures.

Waking Up in Reno (R)

Comedy about two couples who embark on their dream vacation: A road trip to Reno for a monster truck show. Going in style in a brand-new SUV, they check into a two-bedroom suite and live it up, but soon discover that they're sharing more than just room service. Stars Billy Bob Thornton, Charlize Theron, Patrick Swayze, and Natasha Richardson.

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