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Slavish Reproduction
The trouble with Harry, Two.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

HARRY POTTER (DANIEL RADCLIFFE), DEEP INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) hasn't heard from his friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), all summer long. Now that fall is coming, Harry's eager to get back to his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But Harry's Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw) and Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) — the muggles family that raised him — have decided that Harry won't return to Hogwarts. Suddenly, Dobby, a strange looking house-elf, appears in Harry's room to warn him of danger. Then when Dobby has made a real mess of things, the Weasley brothers appear at Harry's bedroom window in a magic flying car to rescue him.

Other interesting adventures befall Harry and Ron before they even make it back to school, but once there, they are caught by their least favorite teacher, Professor Snape (Alan Rickman). The intrepid trio is united at last, only to discover that a terrible secret terror has everyone on edge. And in this adventure story, two girls are in the most danger — Hermione and Ginny (Bonnie Wright), Ron's younger sister who fairly worships Harry.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

Directed by Chris Columbus. Written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Produced by David Heyman. Executive producers, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan, David Barron. Cinematography, Roger Pratt. Production design, Stuart Craig. Editor, Peter Honess. Music adapted by William Ross. Music by John Williams. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. With Kenneth Branagh, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Richard Harris, Jason Isaacs, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2002. PG. 161 minutes.

To the millions who have read J.K. Rowling's novels, it's no secret that Harry and Ron must overcome a gruesome array of gigantic arachnids who mean to harm them. Nor will readers be surprised at Harry and Ron's alternating courage and fear when they must defeat a sinuous serpent of stupendous size, who is the longtime guardian of the Chamber of Secrets. From within the chamber itself, a mysterious malady now stalks Hogwarts campus, demanding a blood sacrifice.

Several other new characters make their appearance as well. Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) is a pompous, self-absorbed teacher of the Dark Arts. Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson) is the ghost of a former student who haunts the girls' bathroom. Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) is Draco's father, even more jealous and competitive than his son. And at the 11th hour, the film introduces the character who embodies the evil spirit now seeking revenge, Tom Riddle (Christian Coulson).

Not to ruin things for young people who will love every minute of this movie, but introducing such an important character in the last half-hour of a 161-minute film is bad timing and a cheap trick to play on viewers who deserve better. While it may work in print to bring in Riddle at the last moment to tie up all the loose plot lines, here it simply looks like a lame device to do exactly that. I joined other restless viewers eager to leave the theater after this dis-spiriting turn of events.

This is a better movie than the first Harry Potter, in part because moviegoers are now familiar with the characters, setting and general direction of the story. But the film's last-act gaffe is the direct result of slavish devotion to the book. Cinema requires different skills, foremost the desire and creativity to take risks. Compare filmmaker Peter Jackson's vividly re-imagined Lord of the Rings trilogy to this tame (and tiresome) venture.

Director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Steve Kloves play it safe. Their plodding pacing and the literal-mindedness of J.K. Rowling haunt the film. I only hope Alfonso Cuarón (The Secret Garden), who will direct Harry 3, is not constrained by loyal fans or studio suits from stirring some go-juice into the plot. This lucrative franchise needs to surprise us. Please! And you kids: Keep an open mind and learn that movies aren't just books translated for the screen but an art form worth relishing for its own sake. Now playing at Cinemark and Cinema World.

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High Camp
A glamorous gathering.
BY LOIS WADSWORTH

EIGHT WOMEN: Written and directed by François Ozon. Co-written by Marina De Van, freely adapted from the play by Robert Thomas. Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier. Cinematography, Jeanne Lapoirie. Set design, Arnaud de Moléron. Costumes, Pascaline Chavanne. Sébastien Charles. Editor, Laurence Bawedin. Original music, Krishna Lévy. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard. Focus Features, 2002. R. 113 minutes.

The opening sequence make it clear that this movie by filmmaker François Ozon (Under the Sand) will not be based on reality but on make-believe. It is a musical, a farce, a melodrama, a whodunit from generations past, but most of all, it is a stage show. Large faux snowflakes fall from above as the camera comes to focus on the door to a large country estate. Painted trees laden with snow show that the setting is fake. The characters assemble, and action takes place inside the house. The camera does not follow characters when they exit the stage, and whatever happens offstage remains mysterious.

SPITEFUL AUGUSTINE (ISABELLE HUPPERT) ACTS OUT IN A FAMILY SQUABBLE.

Early on we meet the family. Mamy (Danielle Darrieux) is a somewhat frail older woman, who lives in the house with her brittle, unmarried daughter, Augustine (Isabelle Huppert). Mamy's other daughter, the glamorous Gaby (Catherine Deneuve), arrives with her spirited daughter, Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen). Gaby's younger daughter, Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier), lives here with her father, whom we never see.

The servants include Madame Chanel (Firmine Richard), who cooks and cares for the household, and Louise (Emmanuelle Béart), the maid, a knowing coquette who only cares for the absent paterfamilias. Eventually Pierrette (Fanny Ardant) joins the others, bringing a whiff of family scandal with her.

These beautiful, individually powerful women are dressed to the hilt in designer fashions of the 1950s, when mediocre plays such as this one by Robert Thomas were produced in high schools across the country. If you are familiar with the naive detective genre, you can get right into it as the plot begins to unravel.

EIGHT WOMEN

Written and directed by François Ozon. Co-written by Marina De Van, freely adapted from the play by Robert Thomas. Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier. Cinematography, Jeanne Lapoirie. Set design, Arnaud de Moléron. Costumes, Pascaline Chavanne. Sébastien Charles. Editor, Laurence Bawedin. Original music, Krishna Lévy. Starring Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard. Focus Features, 2002. R. 113 minutes.

Early in the first act, Louise discovers that the man of the house is dead in his bed, a knife in his back. Then one of the women finds the phone dead, the wires cut. Then the car won't start. And by now, the snow is too deep for anyone to walk out. And so it goes. And when Pierrette arrives, it is clear to all that the culprit must be in the house, and Suzon begins questioning each person in turn.

Secrets tumble out, surprising bonds are formed, and all the somewhat pejorative implications of the word "melodrama" are brought to bear. Nothing about this slender thread of a story would hold together except that these very extraordinary actors have long known every trick in the book, and their antics are endlessly charming if somewhat hollow.

But alas! This is also a musical, so from time to time one of the characters breaks into song (in the actor's own voice) or song-and-dance. The first time, it's fun to see Deneuve dancing and singing with Sagnier and Ledoyen. But thereafter, the musical interludes interrupt whatever forward momentum the movie has achieved. They fall flat, except Ardant's fabulous stripper homage to Rita Hayworth in Gilda from the late 1940s, which sizzles.

If you love this kind of pastiche, you'll love this movie. If you adore the sensibilities of French movies, come and get it. If you just want to glory in the sight of eight brilliant stars of French cinema in one package, this one's for you. If you enjoy high camp on its own terms, here it is. The movie's delicious moments include a great cat fight between Deneuve and Ardant that ends in a kiss, and a rewarding sense that these eight feminine souls will manage very well without a man, thank you. But if you need a movie to be sensible, rooted in reality, logical and above all, a meaningful experience, forget it.

Eight Women opens Friday, Dec. 13 at the Bijou, probably just for one week.

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OPENING OR RETURNING:
Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted. See archived movie reviews.

Circuit: Uneven fiction film about secret LA gay parties has found a cult following in other cities. NR. Bijou.

Drumline: Directed by Charles Stone, this tale of a talented street drummer from Harlem who goes to a college in the south, expecting to lead its marching band stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones. PG-13. Cinemark.

Eight Women: French director François Ozon brings a star-studded cast to this confection: a farcical, melodramatic whodunit set at a villa in the 1950s. Stars Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant, Viginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard. R. Bijou. See review this issue.

Hot Chick: Verbally abusive cheerleader wakes up in the body of Rob Schneider. Yikes! Directed by Tom Brady. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Directed and re-imagined by Peter Jackson, part two of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy follows the ring-bearer Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) deeper into enemy territory, with Gollum (Andy Serkis) as their guide. Meanwhile Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John-Rhys Davies) try to rescue Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). Many new characters, a surprise return and battles against the forces of evil. PG-13. Opens Wed. 12/18. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Maid in Manhattan: Ralph Fiennes is a well-off politician staying at a swank New York hotel. Jennifer Lopez is a single-mother maid working there. He sees her dressed in a guest's clothing and falls for her, like Richard Gere fell for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Not too enlightened nor original an idea. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Star Trek: Nemesis: Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise face an alien race, the Remans. Picard takes a diplomatic mission to the Romulans, but a surprisingly personal nemesis appears, and all is at stake. Stars Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Ron Perlman, Tom Hardy. Dir. by Stuart Baird. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Trapped: Luis Mandoki (Angel Eyes) directs this by-the-numbers thriller. Charlize Theron is the mother of a kidnapped child, Stuart Townsend is the diabetic girl's father, and Courtney Love and Kevin Bacon are the criminals. R. Movies 12.

Two Weeks Notice: Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock star in this romantic comedy by Marc Lawrence in his directorial debut. Grant is a wealthy man, and Bullock is his lawyer. Sneak at 7:30 pm on 12/14/ Cinemark.

 

CONTINUING:
Abandon: Directed by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic writer) and starring Katie Holmes as a co-ed whose boyfriend disappeared two years earlier, and Benjamin Bratt as the detective who turns up surprising new facts about her friend. PG-13. Movies 12.

Analyze That: Sequel reunites crazy-as-a-fox Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) and Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal), but Sobel's wife (Lisa Kudrow) is not happy about having Vitto around. Has he really lost his mind, or is it just a ruse to get out of the slammer? Directed by Harold Ramis. R. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Die Another Day: Pierce Brosnan returns as James Bond for a new mission that takes him to Iceland in this action adventure yarn directed by Lee Tamahori. Costars Halle Berry, John Cleese and Judi Dench, with Rosamund Pike. Evil enemies played by Toby Stephens and Rick Yune. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Eight Crazy Nights, Adam Sandler's: Animated holiday musical stars Adam Sandler as a basketball coach and a publicist for the New York Knicks, who put together a wild and crazy deal. Other voices include Jon Lovitz, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider and Tyra Banks. Directed by Seth Kearley. PG-13. Cinemark.

Eight Mile: Set on the gritty streets of Detroit, Curtis Hanson's greatly anticipated film stars Eminem in his first screen role, Kim Basinger as his mom. Also, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer and Taryn Manning. R. Cinemark. Online archives.

Emperor's Club, The: Kevin Kline plays a dedicated prep school teacher and Emile Hirsch, the son of a powerful senator, is his student. Twenty years later, they meet again. PG-13. Cinemark.

Empire: John Leguizamo stars in this tale of a drug dealer getting out of the life for a straight job on Wall Street. But of course it's not simple to live down the past. Great supporting cast includes Peter Sarsgaard, Denise Richards, Ruben Blades, Sonia Braga and Isabella Rossellini. Directed by Franc Reyes .R. Cinemark.

Far From Heaven: Director Todd Haynes and cinematographer Edward Lachman deliver an exceptionally beautiful, emotionally resonant film. Excellent performances by Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert and Patricia Clarkson. Very highest recommendations. PG-13. Bijou. Online archives.

Femme Fatale: Brian De Palma's thriller stars Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the mysterious wife of the American ambassador to France. Antonio Banderas plays the freelance photographer who learns about her past. R. Movies 12.

Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets: Again directed by Chris Columbus, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) try to uncover a dark force terrorizing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. G. Cinema World. Cinemark. See review this issue.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding: It's about the 30-year old, unmarried daughter (Nia Vardalos) in a passionate but demanding Greek NY family, who meets the man she to marry (John Corbett), but he isn't Greek. This sweet romantic comedy entertains. Run-away independent hit of 2002!. Recommended. PG. Cinema World. Online archives.

Red Dragon: Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal, serial killer, while Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman flesh out the cast. Directed by Brett Ratner. R. Movies 12.

Ring, The: Gore Verbinski finds a solid cast in Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive), Chris Cooper and Brian Cox for this remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese horror film. PG-13. Cinemark.

Rules of Attraction: Roger Avary writes and directs James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder and Jessica Biel in what The New York Times calls "a high-octane adaptation" of Bret Easton Ellis's novel. R. Movies 12.

Santa Clause 2: Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) begins looking for the perfect Mrs. Claus, because if he doesn't get married by Christmas Even, he'll stop being Santa forever. G. Cinemark.

Secretary: Totally original story of a mutually satisfying but offbeat workplace relationship stars the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal as a troubled but game secretary and James Spader, whose E. Edward Grey is not the right boss for just anyone. Sexual hijinks from the dark side, Steven Shainberg's non-traditional sex comedy is highly recommended. R. LateNite Bijou.

Signs: Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix in this supernatural thriller about crop circles. Also stars Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin. PG-13. Movies 12. Online archives.

Solaris: George Clooney stars in Steven Soderbergh's remake of 1972 sci-fi movie by Russian master, Andrei Tarkovsky, about scientists who fall under the spell of a strange planet that they are orbiting. Costars Natascha McElhone and Jeremy Davies. Highest recommendations. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark. Online archives.

Spirited Away: Latest film from legendary Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke) follows adventures of 10-year old girl, Chihiro, who discovers a secret world and must take care of herself after her parents undergo a mysterious transformation. Newly dubbed by John Lasseter (Toy Story), this film is not just for kids. Critics are correctly calling it a masterpiece. Very highest recommendations. PG. Bijou. Online archives.

Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams: Robert Rodriguez says his sequel has lots of action, is fun and nobody dies. Stars Antonio Banderas, Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega. PG. Movies 12.

Stealing Harvard: Tom Green, Jason Lee, Leslie Mann and Megan Mullaly star in this tale of a clean-living, hardworking guy who dabbles in crime and gets caught. PG-13. Movies 12.

Stuart Little 2: Stuart goes to school now, and he has big brother George and baby sister Martha to play with. But a mysterious bird named Margalo involves everyone in an adventure. Voices of Michael J. Fox, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Geena Davis and more. PG. Movies 12.

Treasure Planet: Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure set on a spaceship that runs into hazards like black holes and supernovas. Animated film directed by Ron Clements and John Musker includes voices of Emma Thompson and Martin Short. PG. Cinemark.

Tuxedo, The: PG-13. Jackie Chan's a limo driver who borrows his boss' tux only to discover that it's a high-tech killing machine. With Jennifer Love Hewitt and Peter Stormare. PG-13. Movies 12.

White Oleander: Peter Kosminsky directs the film adaptation of this best-seller about a young girl (Alison Lohman) who moves through several foster home after her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) goes to prison. Also stars Renée Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn, Billy Connolly, Patrick Fugit and Noah Wyle. R. Movies 12.

XXX: Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson star in this athletic spy thriller directed by Rob Cohen. PG-13. Movies 12.

MOVIE THEATERS
Use the links provided below for specific show times.

Bijou Art Cinemas
Bijou Theater 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th

Regal Cinemas
Cinema World 342-6536 | Valley River Center
Springfield Quad 726-9073 |

Cinemark Theaters
Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.
Cinemark 17 741-1231 | Gateway Mall

 



New Releases on Video
Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of EW publication, sometimes sooner. See archived movie reviews.

Back to the Future: Robert Zemeckis's complete trilogy - three films from 1985, 1989, 1990 — digitally remastered and available together for the first time. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd star in all three films. PG.

Beach Boys: An American Band (1985) and Brian Wilson: I Just Wasn't Made for These Times (1995): Both documentary films on one disc for the right price. The 1985 doc directed by Malcolm Leo includes performances (including Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney among others) and backstage interviews with the band. The 1995 Brian Wilson doc, directed by Don Was, is an honest reflection by one of the geniuses of pop music and a brilliant documentary portrait. NR.

Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie: Ernest Dickerson directs the drama based on a true basketball point-shaving scandal of the 1990s. Stars David Krumholtz, Tory Kittles, Nicholas Turturro and Jennifer Morrison. R.

Happy Accidents: Brad Anderson directs this Independent Film Channel's unclassifiable romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei as a contemporary New Yorker and Vincent D'Onofrio as a man who claims to have come back from the 25th century just to love her. R.

Minority Report: Steven Spielberg directs Tom Cruise in this sci-fi where killers are arrested and convicted before they commit murder. In 2054, Cruise heads the Pre-Crime unit until he's accused of the murder of a man he hasn't yet met. Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, it's one of Spielberg and Cruise's best. Highest recommendations. PG-13. Online archives.

King of Comedy, The (1982): This strange stalker drama by Martin Scorcese features top-notch performances by Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro. With Sandra Bernhard. DVD also includes the "making of" documentary and deleted scenes. PG.

Secret Society (2002): Quirky British comedy about an overweight woman who joins a club of sumo wrestlers, without telling her husband. NR.

Unfaithful: From director Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction) comes a film that plays on the fears of married people. Diane Lane plays a married woman who has a steamy affair (Oliver Martinez) that leads her husband (Richard Gere) to become suspicious. Violence lurks. Critics lauded Lane's performance. R.

Next week: Adventures of Pluto Nash, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever, Trapped and Blood Work.


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