By STEVE PERSALL
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001
Recent releases recommended by Times film critic Steve Persall
1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- Ang Lee's martial arts fable was the best film of 2000, a dreamy saga of flying warriors, feminist politics and the sheer joy of making fantasies become real on-screen. Golden Globe winner for best foreign language film and best director.
2. Traffic -- Steven Soderbergh's engrossing biopsy of the cultural cancer of narcotics, from the lowest dealers to Washington lobbying parties. An excellent cast includes Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle. One of the 10 best films of 2000.
3. O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- George Clooney, John Turturro and marvelously dumb Tim Blake Nelson escape from a chain gang and become Depression-era country music stars. Another weird, wonderful comedy from the Coen brothers.
4. Pollock -- Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden are Oscar-nominated for this occasionally brilliant biography of abstract painter Jackson Pollock. Channelside 9 in Tampa only.
5. Hannibal -- Ridley Scott's sequel to The Silence of the Lambs should satisfy fans of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins with grand style and menace. Julianne Moore co-stars as Clarice Starling, ably subbing for Oscar winner Jodie Foster.