"Traffic"; "Finding Forrester"; "Wes Craven's Dracula 2000"; "You Can Count On Me" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "Traffic"!B! "Finding Forrester"!B! "Wes Craven's Dracula 2000"!B! "You Can Count On Me"




"Traffic" — Director Steven Soderbergh offers this incredible ensemble piece about the seductive world of illegal drugs. Highlighting both sides of the war on drugs, "Traffic" boasts not only a daring subject but a visual style as potent as the movie's performances. Although there are a score of speaking parts, the action centers on three major characters: Benecio Del Toro as a Mexican police officer caught in a power struggle between two drug cartels; Michael Douglas as the newly minted U.S. drug czar whose own daughter falls victim to heroin; and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who has no idea she's married to a drug lord until he's arrested in a raid. By employing different filters and techniques, Soderbergh gives each locale — and each set of characters involved — a distinct look and flavor. More than just cinema egotism, these visual flourishes help the audience keep up with the ever-changing story line as it crisscrosses the borders and time zones. Add a rich, tightly woven plot, and you've got one tense, terrific two-and-a-half-hours of thought-provoking entertainment. "Finding Forrester" — Yes, this is a conventional reworking of the age-old tale of experienced mentor and talented young pupil who learn more from each other than they ever dreamed possible. What makes it so enjoyable are Sean Connery as the legendary, reclusive writer of the title and newcomer Rob Brown. Although reminiscent of his "Good Will Hunting," director Gus Van Sant lays off the schmaltz enough here to let the two leads strut their stuff. He also knows enough to exploit the terrific chemistry cooking between 70-year-old Scotsman Connery and 16-year-old Brown from the Bronx. Predictable, but oh so polished and sincere. "Wes Craven's Dracula 2000" — Despite having the horrormeister's name in the title, this movie shows nary a scary hint of Craven's creativity anywhere. Laughably bad, this modernized vampire flick cannibalizes a dozen other horror flicks without ever getting it right. Set in New Orleans, the tale introduces us to an antiques dealer ("Trainspotting's" Johnny Lee Miller) who decides to pursue ol' Drac (Gerard Butler) after being sprung from a maximum-security tomb by Omar Epps et al. When Drac sets out to reunite with a young woman who has no idea of her past with the vampire, the Bram Stoker story line kicks in with few surprises. "You Can Count On Me" — Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year, this Ken Lonergan film is a heartfelt gem with terrific performances from Laura Linney (as the movie's sweetly uptight heroine) and Mark Ruffalo (as her free-spirited, pothead brother). She's Sammy Prescott, a detail-oriented single mom who persuades her wandering brother Terry to come home and look after her son. But Terry's idea of babysitting isn't endorsed by anyone, causing lots of conflict, soul-searching and musings on the inherent pitfalls of unconditional sibling love and family ties. Though, from time to time, they sound a bit like a staged play caught on tape, these characters remains a pleasure to watch.

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