quick flicks 

Unfaithful, The New Guy, Spider-Man, The Cat's Meow

Literally blown into the arms of a younger, handsome stranger (Oliver Martinez), Connie soon finds herself engaged in a wildly sexual relationship. Ironically, considering Lyne's track record, these interludes are less erotic than your average car commercial. Hubby Gere, of course, gets suspicious and soon discovers Connie's afternoon delights. Equally expected, that discovery has dire consequences.

Unfortunately, Gere's near-somnambulistic performance coupled with Martinez's vapid appeal makes "Unfaithful" turn progressively more preposterous.

"The New Guy" — Welcome to the "dumb" season, when pre-college teens are inclined to plunk down big bucks for this kind of crude fantasy about a nerd's quest to be cool. DJ Qualls plays geeky weakling Dizzy Gillespie Harrison, who gets a crash course on "how to be hip" from prison inmate Luther (Eddie Griffin), after an incident at a local mall lands Dizzy in jail. (Don't ask, trust me.) But this twisted take on "the ugly duckling" never hits the right note — naughty, ironic or even gross. Girls will wince at the hypersexualization of females; gay-friendly people will be uncomfortable; and a few enlightened males will wistfully become nostalgic. But when push comes to shove, "The New Guy" is cinematic junk food for hetero high-school boys.

"Spider-Man" — Move over George Lucas, the new summer movie-muscle at the box office belongs to Sam Raimi, who fearlessly directs this latest big-screen adaptation of Marvel Comics superhero. Mixing mainstream tastes with above-average wit, Raimi's "Spider-Man" is fantastical fun.

But Raimi's visual storytelling prowess would be for naught without actor Tobey Maguire. As geeky Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, Maguire and his trademark soulful expression are perfect for the role. And who could ask for a better girl-next-door to pine away for than Kirsten Dunst? Or a more over-the-top villain than Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin? Firmly rooted in comic-book sensibility and fantasy, Raimi's "Spider-Man" is no itsy-bitsy movie: It's a blockbuster.

"The Cat's Meow"

Peter Bogdanovich returns to directing with this period purr-fect mix of glamour, murder and salacious speculation. Set in 1924, "The Cat's Meow" attempts to solve one of Hollywood's longstanding, real-life mysteries. We watch as a bevy of the rich and infamous arrive for a floating party on publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst's (Edward Herrmann) private yacht. But the leisurely weekend takes a nasty turn when one of the guests turns up at death's door. As Hearst's prodigy, starlet Marion Davies, Kirsten Dunst crafts a bewitching portrait. At first her Davies is a lovely specimen, a butterfly adorned in the gorgeous, period-perfect costumes. By movie's end, Dunst has turned Davies into a complex, tormented woman.


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