Compiled by VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian


"A Knight's Tale" Heath Ledger, who burst onto the screen in "The Patriot," gets his first starring role in this Medieval tale set to rock 'n' roll. Buzz says it could be a hit. PG-13.

"Traffic" Steven Soderbergh directs this adaptation of a British miniseries, a set of interrelated stories illuminating the workings of the drug trade. Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle star. R.

BOTTOM LINE: A smart, sincere and engaging movie that, despite its missteps, rises majestically above nearly all major releases of the last year. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" An Oscar nominee for Best Picture, Director and Foreign Film. Ang Lee's epic martial arts romance has won a treasure trove of advance raves. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Wears its big heart on the sleeves of its lavish costumes. It is soulful and completely sincere; it doesn't have a trace of irony or cynicism. - Mike McInally

"Bridget Jones's Diary" Lots of people scoffed when Renee Zellweger was chosen to play a young British heroine. But buzz indicates she pulls it off. Hugh Grant plays the boss she's got a crush on, and Colin Firth is the somewhat snooty barrister her mother wants to set her up with. R.

BOTTOM LINE: A movie of delightful comic proportions, clever timing and social wit - a movie from which you emerge cheered up. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Enemy at the Gates" A Soviet propagandist (Joseph Fiennes) turns a Russian peasant (Jude Law) into a national hero during the Nazi siege of Stalingrad in World War II, only to find out that they love the same woman (Rachel Weisz). This is a throwback to the old-fashioned epic. R.

BOTTOM LINE: A serious and worthy depiction of the Battle of Stalingrad. I kept wanting to like it more, but it is, in the best sense, a good old-fashioned wide-screen work. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"Faithless" Liv Ullmann directs a tale of love and betrayal written by her former lover, Ingmar Bergman. Not rated.

BOTTOM LINE: Few films of recent memory have captured the psychic devastation, the emotional abyss, of adultery and divorce as completely as "Faithless." Given this movie's pedigree, we expect a certain sort of emotional depth, and it does not disappoint. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"In the Mood for Love" This lushly romantic ode to 1960s Hong Kong focuses on a journalist and an office worker who live in quiet desperation until they realize their spouses are having an affair with each other. PG.

BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful, haunting. This movie is so effective at conveying the moods, emotion and atmosphere of a personal crisis that it barely needs dialogue. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Memento" From the British writer-director Christopher Nolan, this is a taut, tricky, reverse-drive thriller in which a guy (Guy Pearce) with no short-term memory tries to figure out who killed his wife, and why. R.

BOTTOM LINE: Swift and clever, a well-executed trick. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Spy Kids" This action-packed comedy looks like it could be fun for all ages. A couple of parents seem boring to their kids, but they're really topnotch spies. And when they're captured, it's up to the kids to save 'em. PG.

BOTTOM LINE: Packed with enough visual juice and ingenious gadgets (my personal favorite: acid crayons) that it's easy to enjoy. – Mike McInally

"Along Came a Spider" When a couple of children are kidnapped from an exclusive school by a psychopath, detective Alex Cross is called upon to solve the case. Morgan Freeman reprises his role as the stoic detective first seen in "Kiss the Girls." R.

BOTTOM LINE: Solid and watchable. You don't need to ask much of it to enjoy its dependability, its rainy-day entertainment value. But it's not a smart movie, not a particularly suspenseful thriller. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Blow" Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz star in the story of a high school football star who becomes America's primary importer of cocaine from Colombia's Medellin cartel. Ted Demme directs. R.

BOTTOM LINE: Wan and brittle and gilded at the same time. It has its moments, but ultimately is as hollow as a politician's promise. - Bryan Di Salvatorelmmaker and gives us a charming little picture for a winter afternoon. The only thing it is lacking, is originality. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Chocolat" A provocative woman brings food and liberation to a provincial village. Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp star. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Director Lasse Hallstrom is establishing a firm reputation as the gentlest filmmaker and gives us a charming little picture. The only thing it is lacking, is originality. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Heartbreakers" Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play a mother/daughter con team that targets wealthy men, including Gene Hackman. It's a broad comedy, no pun intended. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Both enjoyable and unremarkable. At its best in the middle of the movie, when Hackman joins the farce. - Vince Devlin

"Josie and the Pussycats" Josie dreams that her garage band will hit the big time, but after being discovered and having a No. 1 single, she begins to suspect foul play. Expect a lot of teens at this flick, based on the 1970s TV cartoon. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: A really lightweight movie that is not without its charms. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"The Mummy Returns" Two summers ago, "The Mummy" became a surprise mega-hit, guaranteeing that Brendan Fraser wouldn't be remembered only as "George of the Jungle." In the sequel, Fraser and Rachel Weisz are married and parents of a 9-year-old who's coveted by a mummy. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: The movie makes no sense, but it is a mind-bending visual extravaganza. Have fun. I did. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"The Wedding Planner" Romantic comedy stars Jennifer Lopez as an efficient wedding planner whose own personal life is a mess, and Matthew McConaughey is an eligible bachelor who makes it even messier. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Lopez has traded in her Madonna gig for a tasteful Meg Ryan ensemble, but the rest of the cast lacks her show-biz discipline. - Rob Chaney

"The Mexican" Star power burns brightly in this tale of a reluctant bag man (Brad Pitt) who's caught between a rock - his mob boss, who wants him to travel to Mexico to retrieve an antique pistol known as the Mexican - and a hard place - his girlfriend (Julia Roberts), who wants him to give up the mob. Things get even muddier with the arrival of a hit man with kidnapping on his mind ("The Sopranos' " James Gandolfini). R.

BOTTOM LINE: An endlessly unraveling road movie, chase movie, lost-object movie that begs for an ending which never comes. It has the stars, it needed a better script. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"O Brother Where Art Thou?" A fantastic soundtrack of roots tunes supplements this slapstick comedy about three prison escapees in Depression-Era Mississippi. From the masters of dark humor, Joel and Ethan Coen, who were nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: It may simply be that I don't get the Coen brothers. Or maybe, sometimes, the Coen Brothers miss their mark, which may be the case here, although I have no idea what their mark even was. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Cast Away" Red-hot buzz surrounds this tale of an urban workaholic (Tom Hanks) stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. The ubiquitous Helen Hunt is the woman left behind. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Thunderingly obvious, filled with banal detail and marked by random incoherence. Blame writer William Broyles Jr. and director Robert Zemeckis. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Driven" Action hero Sylvester Stallone plays a seasoned race car driver with a past. He's also been hired to tutor an up-and-coming racer (Kip Pardue). But there are lots of problems, and it looks like everyone is headed for a wreck. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: If you can put aside the murky, tangled subplots, the stilted, cliched language, the patronizing exposition delivered by "race announcers" and Burt Reynolds' grotesque face, there are some good moments. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"Joe Dirt" Oh boy! Another comedy featuring a former member of "Saturday Night Live"! Well, don't get too excited. David Spade stars as a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: Minimally better than the usual "SNL" movie spin-offs, but it still feels like a series of skits and impersonations without much of a link, certainly without a story. The best you can say is that it's not as awful as you might expect. - Susanna Sonnenberg

"One Night at McCools" Liv Tyler plays a femme fatale who stirs up several guys at the same time. Michael Douglas, Paul Reiser, Matt Dillon and John Goodman co-star. R.

BOTTOM LINE: Director Harald Zwart's chosen to take one of cinema's great genres (noir) and play it for broad laughs. It doesn't work. - Vince Devlin

"Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles" Some people think the charm of this Paul Hogan character is wearing thin. Others still find him amusing. This time his wit is directed at the City of Angels. PG-13.

BOTTOM LINE: I've always liked Mick Dundee, but there's nothing here. Not wit, no laughs, no nothing. - Bryan Di Salvatore

"The Forsaken" Brendan Fehr and Kerr Smith battle vampires who stalk America's lonely highways. The studio is declining to screen the movie in time for opening-day reviews. So beware. R.

BOTTOM LINE: Certainly answers the question, can a movie bite and suck at the same time? - Jamie Kelly

"Freddy Got Fingered" Comedian Tom Green, who's cultivating his slacker image, tries to carry this feature about a man who moves back in with his parents - and intends to stay. R.

BOTTOM LINE: Green grabs a horse's erect penis. Green eviscerates a dead deer. Green tongues the exposed bloody bone of a friend's leg injury. Green canes a paraplegic's bare legs. The question is simple: Is this funny? - Susanna Sonnenberg

"Town & Country" Critics have been waiting for this questionable romantic comedy to appear since 1998, and such delays usually indicate big problems. Stellar cast includes Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. R.

BOTTOM LINE: In the male midlife crisis genre, no one has made anything as jaw-droppingly embarrassing and just plain awful as "Town & Country." - Susanna Sonnenberg

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