"The Widow of Saint-Pierre"; "Amores Perros"; "Evolution"; "Swordfish" 

Quick Flicks

!B! "The Widow of Saint-Pierre"!B! "Amores Perros"!B! "Evolution"!B! "Swordfish"

"The Widow of Saint-Pierre" — Ah, now this is the French movie worthy of the praise heaped on the overly sweet and sentimental "Chocolat." Also starring Juliet Binoche, this haunting tale based on a true 1850 incident celebrates genuine moral conviction and courage.

Set on the bleak French island off the coast of Newfoundland, "Widow" revolves around the murderer Auguste (portrayed by Sarajevan filmmaker Emir Kusturica) who has been condemned to death, but who must wait to die until a guillotine (or "widow") can be shipped to the remote spot. As the town awaits "the widow's" arrival, the wife (Binoche) of the provincial army commander (Daniel Auteuil) undertakes to rehabilitate Auguste. Slowly, the townspeople take to the new Auguste, especially after he puts his own life in danger to save others'. But what will happen when the guillotine finally arrives? That is the moral dilemma director Patrice Leconte wants us to explore, on-screen and in our hearts.

"Amores Perros" — This biblically textured tale by first-time director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu offers a triple helping of characters in Mexico City whose lives intersect through the forces of fate and circumstance. From out-of-work teens to spoiled TV stars, the movie's characters ebb and flow between beauty and brutality. Inarritu's direction flows similarly in a graceful arc, often in contrast to the brutal altercations depicted on-screen. Sprawling, violent and often brilliant, "Amores Perros" — whose title loosely translates to something akin to "Love's A Bitch" — succeeds, thanks to the passionate conviction of its director and actors.

"Evolution" — A likable cast and repartee that swings wildly between witty and goofy keep this sci-fi farce from tumbling into extinction. But just barely. Although it will make you smile often enough, real belly laughs are an endangered species in this Ivan Reitman spoof.

"X-Files" star David Duchovny once again finds himself battling alien life-forms. But this time, the redhead standing next to him is Julianne Moore, not Gillian Anderson. Moore gets to show off her comic chops as a bumbling civilian biotech expert here, but then again, who cares?

Orlando Jones plays Duchovny's co-worker who was in on the discovery of a meteorite loaded down with an alien microorganism intent on speed-of-light reproduction and taking over the Earth.

"Swordfish" — Loud, flashy and violent, "Swordfish" is the quintessential summer action flick, giving its targeted male audience exactly what they crave — lots of high-dollar detonations, computer-generated special effects and high-profile nudity. John Travolta stars as the enigmatic Gabriel Shear, a former spy planning an electronic heist of covert government funds. But first he has to convince down-on-his-luck superhacker Hugh Jackman to help him hack the account.

Halle Berry is the comely bait.

It's obvious "Swordfish" wanted to be the next "Matrix."

Although it falls way short of that goal, it does succeed in offering pure escapist entertainment.


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