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By Times Staff Writer
Published June 12, 2003


DIRECTOR: Julie Taymor

CAST: Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Roger Rees, Edward Norton, Antonio Banderas

SYNOPSIS: Hayek stars as Mexican artist and sexual pioneer Frida Kahlo in an atmospheric biography. Molina co-stars as Frida's lover and inspiration, muralist Diego Rivera. Hayek was nominated for the best actress Oscar, and the film won an Oscar for best original score.

WHAT WE SAID: "What is missing from Julie Taymor's sumptuous yet superficial biography is a sense of the late artist's creative process, the moment at which her suffering was channeled through her brush and onto the canvas," Times film critic Steve Persall said in his November review, giving the film a B. "Hayek retains a bit too much glamor for the role, but her devotion to the artist's burden never wavers. . . . Molina has (a) bearish sensuality, making Rivera more sympathetic and alluring than his actions and physical appearance deserve.

MPAA RATING: R (sexual situations, profanity, violence, nudity)

RUNNING TIME: 118 min.

DVD FEATURES: Two discs. Theatrical trailers, commentary by Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal, a conversation with Hayek, interviews with Taymor, Chavela Vargas interview, features on the design, music and vision of the film, Hayak's recording session, Frida Kahlo facts, widescreen.

Tears of the Sun

DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua

CAST: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Cole Hauser, Eamonn Walker, Johnny Messner, Nick Chinlund, Charles Ingram, Tom Skerritt

SYNOPSIS: Special-operations officer Willis leads U.S. troops into Nigeria to rescue a doctor (Bellucci) and dozens of refugees.

WHAT WE SAID: Times correspondent Philip Booth gave the film a B- in his March review. "Cringing is probably the proper response to the sight of attractive Italian Bellucci, photographed for maximum cleavage exposure, running around in the jungle with Willis. It seems so out of context in this work of fiction derived from the real wartime deaths of nearly 7-million Africans from 1960 to 2000, the result of ethnic cleansing in Nigeria. . . . Maybe Willis' tough but tenderhearted character, a suddenly converted man of conscience whose background and motivations go almost entirely unexamined, is merely trying to impress the hottie."

MPAA RATING: R (graphic violence, rape, nudity, profanity, mature themes)

RUNNING TIME: 118 min.

DVD FEATURES: Commentary by director Fuqua, theatrical trailers, writer's observations, Journey to Safety: Making Tears of the Sun featurette, deleted scenes, Africa fact track, interactive map of Africa, widescreen format.

Biker Boyz

DIRECTOR: Reggie Rock Bythewood

CAST: Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Brendan Fehr, Kid Rock, Lisa Bonet, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Meagan Good

SYNOPSIS: Fishburne leads a motorcycle club composed of African-American businessmen who swap their suits for leathers after work. Fishburne tries to defend his drag racing title against upstart Luke.

WHAT WE SAID: Times correspondent Marty Clear said the film, which he gave a B- in January, "has more in common with High Noon than The Wild One. . . . It's the basic plot of a dozen 1950s Westerns. Hotshot youngsters try to prove they can outdraw the Fastest Gun in the West. In vain, the long-suffering womenfolk beg their men not to fight. . . . Biker Boyz is at its best when Bythewood allows his characters and his situations to develop naturally. It's the small, quiet, personal story, not the loud, high-tech action sequences, that give Biker Boyz its punch, at least until a surprisingly wimpy ending."

MPAA RATING: PG-13 (violence, content, language)



Old School

DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips

CAST: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Craig Kilborn, Leah Remini, Elisha Cuthbert

SYNOPSIS: Three wanna-be adolescents (Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn) open an honorary fraternity house off campus.

WHAT WE SAID: The film was not reviewed by the Times.

MPAA RATING: R (sexual content, nudity and language)


DVD FEATURES: Available in widescreen and unrated versions.

The Jungle Book 2

DIRECTOR: Steve Trenbirth

CAST: Voices of John Goodman, Haley Joel Osment, Tony Jay, Phil Collins, Jim Cummings, Bob Joles

SYNOPSIS: This sequel to the 1967 Disney classic sends Mowgli (voice of Haley Joel Osment) back to the wild for more fun with Baloo the bear (John Goodman) and menace from Shere Khan the tiger (Tony Jay).

WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the film a C in his February review. "The Jungle Book 2 is essentially a carbon copy of the original, to the point of hiring sound-alike actors to replace classic voices . . . The story picks up a few days after the first film's conclusion, with nature boy Mowgli living in the village where he followed a girl at the end of the first movie. But he misses the jungle. . . . The movie is a decent diversion for children who love the original and don't complain about repetition."

MPAA RATING: G (mild tension)


DVD FEATURES: Mowgli's Jungle Ruins Maze game, deleted scenes, The Legacy of The Jungle Book, original movie recap, three music videos, Weblinks, widescreen format.

Wes Craven Presents: They

DIRECTOR: Robert Harmon

CAST: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry, Dagmara Dominczyk, Jon Abrahams, Jessica Amlee

SYNOPSIS: A psychology student believes her childhood fears are coming back to haunt her.

WHAT WE SAID: The film was not reviewed by the Times.

MPAA RATING: PG-13 (for terror/violence, sexual content and language)


[Last modified June 11, 2003, 10:53:38]

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