Top Picks: By all means, run to the theater
The Horse Whisperer
Robert Redford's sharp directing turns Evans's mawkish best-selling novel about a teenage girl's recovery from a horseback-riding accident into a poignant, beautiful film. When a gruesome accident leaves the girl (Scarlett Johansson) and her beloved horse physically and psychologically injured, her careerist mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) hauls both across the country to a mystical horse healer (Robert Redford) in Montana. Life on the range proves therapeutic for horse, girl and mom, who has fled an ailing marriage and starts staring at the "horse whisperer" real gentle and nice-like. Breathtaking footage of the Montana landscape.
The Last Days of Disco
Director Whit Stillman completes his troika of high-minded, talky films with all the energy and charm of Barcelona and the pretentiousness of Metropolitan. The film follows a group of twentysomethings recently transplanted to the social hotbed of Manhattan during the early 1980s. Shallow party girl Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), a perfect personification of the "Me" decade, looks out on the packed dance floor of the club and informs her friend Alice (Chloe Sevigny) "We have a lot of choices." This sense of youthful freedom and controlled hedonism are intoxicating to Charlotte and Alice's circle of friends who frequent the club. From Des (Chris Eigman) the hilariously sardonic club manager who dumps former girlfriends by claiming "he might be gay," to Jimmy (Mackenzie Astin), the poor uncool young advertising exec who tries desperately to get his clients into the club, Stillman creates an ensemble of wonderfully entertaining neuroses.
Finally, Disney gives us a modern woman as a heroine: Mulan is brainy, courageous and doesn't have a Barbie-like figure. Cross-dressing becomes wholesome family fun in this animated Asian epic fable. Mulan (voice of Ming-Na Wen) is a spunky young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to help the Chinese army defend the Great Wall from despicable huns. Eddie Murphy is amusing as the fast-talking miniature dragon who becomes Mulan's sidekick. The best output from the Mouse House since The Lion King.
The Truman Show
The praise for The Truman Show has ranged from the "best movie of the decade" to "the best film of the century." No doubt, the film is a brilliant must-see, but Jim Carrey doesn't deliver the truly dramatic performance the film requires. Indeed, he seems busting to break out into his trademark goofy, elastic shtick. He plays Truman, an insurance salesman who lives in the idyllic community of Sea Haven, where the cookie-cutter houses look like a Disney resort and the neighbors are as chipper as tourists. Everything is dandy, until a series of strange mishaps makes Truman question the reality of his experience. The audience knows what Truman doesn't: cameras follow him everywhere, broadcasting his life 24 hours a day, Sea Haven is a giant studio, and his family and friends are actors. He tries to escape, but everyone conspires to keep him there.
The X-Files: Fight the Future
Perhaps one of the most intriguing, well-written TV shows of our time makes the transition to the big screen in fine form, satisfying die-hard fans and neophytes alike. After a terrifying prologue involving some very nasty prehistoric aliens, the film shifts to the present day in which the X files have been closed and FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are attempting to find a "terrorist" bomb planted in a strangely Oklaholma-esque Federal building. After one of many near brushes with death, Mulder and Scully learn that the explosion was deliberate – set off to destroy damning evidence of extra-terrestrial contamination. From here the plot takes off as Mulder and Scully race to discover both the true nature of the infection, and the machinations behind its seemingly inevitable release. Yes, the cartel of evil white men is here (Cancer Man included) to provide their share of nebulous menace, but amidst all the action, what is most captivating about this film (and the series) is the chemistry between its two protagonists. Chris Carter reveals some, but not all, of the mysteries that have been plaguing Mulder and Scully throughout the series, leaving next season rife with possibilities.
A Guide to Summer Movies
Other Noteworthy Releases
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