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"Monster's Ball"; "Collateral Damage"; "Rollerball"; "The Mothman Prophecies" 

Quick Flicks

"Monster's Ball" — If you can get past the opening shot of Billy Bob Thornton barfing, "Monster's Ball" will reward you with an exquisitely understated sense of hope and two powerful performances. Gritty and grim, this tale moves from that opening shot to a dizzying array of human suffering. But this is no hearts & flowers interracial romance. There's also explicit and unprettified sex, racial epithets and a disturbing, meticulous depiction of death by electric chair. Thornton's racist prison guard Hank and Berry's Leticia, a struggling waitress whose husband (Sean Combs) sits on death row make for the unlikeliest of lovers. Director Marc Forster shoots everything in browns and washed-out grays. As off-putting as its plot sounds, "Monster's Ball" is a movie worth making that extra effort to catch. Simply stated, it gets under the skin.

"Collateral Damage" — This latest actioner from the Big Guy — Arnold Schwarzenegger — is leaden and predictable. Schwarzenegger plays an L.A. firefighter whose wife and son are killed in a terrorist bombing. As fate — and the script — would have it, the feds won't help the grieving father, so Arnold must seek revenge and wreak havoc on the terrorists of the world, as he seeks the one who killed his family. Shelved in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, Warner Bros. should have kept it shelved.

"Rollerball" — This louder, dumber remake of Norman Jewison's thought-provoking 1975 cult classic is about a futuristic society and its mania for the blood sport rollerball. John ("Die Hard") McTiernan seems to have forgotten the tenets of good, basic action flicks. Chris Klein, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and LL Cool J play the sport's best and most popular athletes, but there's little they can do to rise above the lackluster plotting. Do yourself a favor: Rent the original and skip this mess.

"The Mothman Prophecies" — Playing like an extended riff on an "X-Files" episode, but without the humor or the satisfaction, this supernatural thriller does have its share of goose-bumpy moments. Based on a true account of a series of recorded premonitions leading up to a late '60s disaster in a small West Virginia town, director Mark Pellington's film makes us squirm in anticipation of a scary payoff. Richard Gere keeps his twinkly charms in check as a Washington Post reporter baffled by the dark entity his late wife was preoccupied with sketching. But Pellington doesn't know when to stop the foreplay and deliver the
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