Originally created 06/04/06

Capsule reviews of new films



Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"The Break-Up" - The problems here have less to do with the break-up than with the initial hook-up. Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston - who've hooked up in real life, for those of you who haven't gone through a grocery-store checkout line lately - each have more than enough presence and comic timing to sustain the movie. But together their characters are so vastly different, it's hard to believe they'd be compatible long enough to sustain a two-year relationship and share a Chicago condo. He's an infinitely fun guy (the protracted riffs from Vaughn, who shares a story-by credit, are some of the film's strongest parts) but he's also incorrigibly selfish with his nonstop "SportsCenter" and video games. Meanwhile, she comes off as a shrill nag: a sophisticated art gallery manager who's constantly trying to drag him to the ballet. So when they break up, which happens pretty early in this self-professed "anti-romantic comedy," it doesn't seem tragic. And their subsequent attempts to drive one other from the condo play like an anemic version of the much meaner "War of the Roses." Vincent D'Onofrio, Judy Davis and longtime Vaughn pal Jon Favreau give stand-out supporting performances, though. PG-13 for sexual content, some nudity and language. 105 min. Two stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"Cavite" - The story of how this movie got made is better than the movie itself. Best friends and aspiring filmmakers Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana bought a couple of digital cameras and scrounged up the money for plane tickets to the Philippines. They couldn't find an actress to play the lead in the terrorist thriller they'd concocted so Gamazon ended up starring besides co-writing, producing and editing. Once they finished shooting, they sold the cameras on eBay to pay their bills and edit the film. All that low-budget, indie-minded resourcefulness, though, has resulted in a movie that would have been a rather standard Hollywood action flick if it had had a bigger budget. Gamazon plays a Filipino-American who gets caught in a web of kidnapping and violence when he returns to his homeland for his father's funeral. It's a compelling premise - one that doesn't need all the film-school trickery (jump cuts, strobe effects, body-mounted shots) that the duo repeatedly employs, often to headache-inducing effect. The visual aesthetic seems especially incongruent with the stirring realism they've achieved through images of urban squalor. Not rated. 80 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"District B13" - A major caffeine rush from producer and co-writer Luc Besson and protege Pierre Morel, making his directing debut after years as a cinematographer. The action is so nonstop, even the hardest-core martial-arts fans might need to pause for a breath. Unfortunately, much of it is so repetitive, the film feels like a rerun of itself at times, while the story lapses into simple-mindedness. The premise also strains credibility - sections of Paris turned into a lawless walled ghetto just a few years from now. The story follows a cop and an inmate (veteran stuntmen Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle) who team up to retrieve a neutron bomb in the walled district. As lead actors, these guys don't exactly ooze dramatic charisma, yet each is a whirlwind of liquid motion with his own distinct action style in fight and chase sequences. R for strong violence, some drug content and language. 85 min. Two stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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"Peaceful Warrior" - Who knew that behind all the befuddlement Nick Nolte projects, there actually lurked the wisdom, patience and virtue of a Zen master? This tale of an injured gymnast forging an impossible comeback might have succumbed to its bumper-sticker philosophizing if not for a potent, even-keeled performance from Nolte as the athlete's mysterious mentor. Adapted from Dan Millman's semi-autobiographical book "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," the film follows the spiritual awakening of a talented but arrogant gymnast (Scott Mechlowicz) guided by a service station attendant (Nolte) who's really a poet of the soul. Director Victor Salva's film occasionally veers from the mystic to the vapid, but Nolte's conviction lends weight to the story's self-help cliches. Amy Smart, Ashton Holmes and Paul Wesley co-star. PG-13 for sensuality, sex references and accident scenes. 120 min. Three stars out of four.

- David Germain, AP Movie Writer