A Beautiful Mind. Ron Howard. Now playing at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
In the Bedroom. Todd Field. Now playing at the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.
Kate and Leopold. James Mangold. The tricked-up charms of Mangold's urban fairytale may be precisely what the moment demands -- as long as you accept the existence of chivalry, the possibility of time travel and the stream of bubbles emanating from Meg Ryan. Having slipped through a crack in time, a 19th-century British duke (Hugh Jackman) takes 21st-century Manhattan by storm, civilizing and improving everyone around him while changing Ryan's all-business, seemingly magic-proof career woman into a hopeless romantic. Mangold (Girl, Interrupted) gets stuck in the gooey, sweet spots of the tale, but there are some bracing jolts of perversity, too. But the best of them, the kinky implication that Liev Schreiber's character, who discovered the time portal, has had sex with his own great, great grandmother, was yanked at the last minute. With Breckin Meyer as the heroine's goofy brother, an out-of-work actor who thinks Leopold's British-duke act is perfection. "You're soooo method," he exults. Now playing at multiple locations. (BG)
The Shipping News. Lasse Hallström. Masterfully adapted for the screen by director Hallström (Chocolat) and screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, this film takes some liberties with author E. Annie Proulx's coarse, haunting work but in the main succeeds as one of the finest films of the year. Front and center is lumbering Quoyle (Kevin Spacey), busily falling prey to a horrid hustler named Petal (Cate Blanchett), who basically jumps his bones, takes him for what he's worth and accidentally gives him a daughter. A newspaper ink-setter by trade, Quoyle can't even afford a rear-view mirror for his car, so he's actually somewhat relieved when his father dies, attracting his quirky aunt Agnis (Judi Dench), who sees the passing as an ideal opportunity to rethink the family against the rugged coast of Newfoundland. The story would work simply as a psychological excavation -- goodness knows the damage of bad fathering is always a popular theme -- but fortunately we're offered plenty of local color (Julianne Moore, Scott Glenn) to keep things engaging. Hallström has leavened the story's bleakness with great warmth, and Quoyle's quest takes on a rich depth, signaling that with manhood comes the horror of history, but also, we can hope, the fortification. Now playing at multiple locations. (GW)