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MOVIE REVIEWS

Reviews by Chris Honore

The depth of C.S. Lewis revealed

C.S. Lewis, author of the classic fable, &

Chronicles of Narnia,&

writes in the first of seven volumes, &

And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away from where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off ... She found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at nighttime with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air. ...&

And so begins in earnest the tale, &

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.&

Lucy, along with her two brothers and sister, has been transported, during World War II, out of London and its deadly air raids to the rural estate of a mysterious professor. It&

s there that the sibliings discover, during a game of hide and seek, that by entering a magnificent wardrobe they can exit out the back, finding themselves inexplicably in a magical place, a parallel universe that all but defies description. It is stunning in every respect: fauns, centaurs, dwarfs, talking animals and giants. They soon learn that they are in Narnia, a fabled realm of enormous beauty, dominated by the sinister White Witch, Jadis, an icy sorceress, who has ruled during one hundred years of winter. She is opposed by Aslan, a mystical (some say messianic) and wise lion. And it is in Narnia that they are drawn into in a mythic struggle between the forces of good and evil, a battle that will test their character and their courage again and again.

It is a world that demonstrates the depth and breadth of C.S. Lewis&

imagination, a world that every child gladly, eagerly becomes a part of (more than 100 million copies of the books have sold worldwide). But so rich is the series that it has taken until now for movie technology to finally catch up with Lewis&

vision, allowing filmmakers to bring this endlessly wonderful and complex tale to the screen. Certainly this film will take its place alongside &

The Wizard of Oz,&

&

Lord of the Rings&

and &

Harry Potter.&

&

145;Shopgirl&

is rich story of three intermingled lives

It's usually the English who make these small, character-driven movies, not the Yanks. But "Shopgirl" is a gem. Based on the novella by Steve Martin, it is a film that allows three people, who are a study in contrasts, to develop fully. Clare Danes, a remarkable actress, portrays Mirabelle, a young woman transplanted from Vermont to Los Angeles, who is working for Saks Fifth Avenue in the glove department. She seems a bit melancholy, standing behind the counter, waiting not only for someone to stop and buy a pair of gloves, but waiting for someone to come into her life, offering even a modicum of hope that things will change, that her life will be, can be, more than it is now.

Unexpectedly, she meets two men. The first is Jeremey (Jason Schwartzman), a scruffy artist, strange and charming and broke. But he shines a light into the dim corners of Mirabelle's life and she finds him irresistable. The second man is Ray (Steve Martin), a fifty-something dot-com millionaire, who appears at the glove counter and ends up buying a pair of expensive gloves. He begins to court her, though he makes it clear that he is not looking for a commitment. Mirabelle hears him, but doesn't. She is ready to open her life to love, to a relationship, and assumes that Ray will, of course, come around.

"Shopgirl" is a wistful, insightful study of the human heart, reminiscent of "Lost in Translation" with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, only better. Though there is an undercurrent of sadness to the film, it is also hopeful, capturing the simultaneity of optimism and pessimism that so often characterizes even the first few hours of any given day. In a year of far too many mediocre films, "Shopgirl" stands out.

NOW PLAYING:

Editors Note:

Rumor Has It

A young woman who has finally agreed to marry her boyfriend learns her grandmother

may have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate".

Directed by Rob Reiner ("When Harry Met Sally") Jennifer Aniston, Shirley MacLaine, Kevin Costner, Mark Ruffalo, Mena Suvari, Richard Jenkins.

PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference, 97min.

Producers

The hit Broadway musical based on Mel Brooks' 1968 film finally comes full circle. A scheming

theatrical producer and his mousy CPA hit upon the perfect plan to embezzle a fortune: Raise far more money than needed to produce a sure-fire Broadway flop and then (since no one will expect anything back) pocket the difference.

Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell.

PG-13 for sexual humor and references, 133 min.

Wolf Creek

Two British backpackers and an Australian they've just met go

sightseeing at Wolf Creek National Park. When their vehicle breaks down and they accept help from a friendly local, they come to

realize the guy has no intention of ever letting them leave. Loosely based on a true story, a very intense backwoods survival/horror film.

John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi, Guy Petersen, Nathan Phillips.

R for strong gruesome violence, and for language, 99 min.

Memoirs of a Geisha

A sweeping romantic epic set in a mysterious and exotic world, the story begins in the years before WWII, when a penniless

Japanese child is torn from her family to work as a maid in a geisha house. The girl eventually blossoms into a legendary geisha,

captivating the most powerful men of her day, but haunted by her secret love for a man who is out of her reach.

Directed by Rob Marshall ("Chicago").

PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content, 145 min.

King Kong

An expedition searches for a mythic monster on a far away island, and a playwright becomes an unlikely hero in a romantic adventure story that will test both his physical courage and his heart. Directed by Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings" trilogy) Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Colin Hanks.

PG-13/180 min.

Family Stone

A man brings his ice-queen girlfriend home for Christmas to meet his eccentric family. Overwhelmed by a hostile reception, the girlfriend begs her sister to join her for moral support, resulting in further problems and romantic complications. Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes.

PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, and drug references/103 min.

Chronicles of Narnia

A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help break the spell. When four siblings&

150;Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter&

150;enter the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions. Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes.

PG for for battle sequences and frightening moments/140 min.

Syriana

A political thriller that tracks several characters with different backgrounds across the globe as they find their lives impacted by ruthless competition for the incalculable power and wealth that drives the energy industry. Written and Directed by Stephen Gaghan (writer "Traffic"); suggested by the book "See No Evil" by Robert Baer George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, William Hurt, Michelle Monaghan, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Tim Blake Nelson, Max Minghella, Chris McDonald, Greta Scacchi.

R for violence and language, 126 min.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's classic tale of love and misunderstanding unfolds in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century. Five sisters have been raised well aware of their mother&

s fixation on finding them husbands and securing set futures. The spirited and intelligent Elizabeth, however, strives to live her life with a broader perspective, as encouraged by her doting father.

PG for some mild thematic elements/128 min.

Fun with Dick and Jane

When the company Dick works for becomes involved in a scandal, and he and his wife are confronted

with the prospect of losing everything, they are forced to beg, borrow and steal to get it all back.

Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Alec Baldwin.

PG-13 for brief language, some sexual humor and occasional humorous drug references, 90 min.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2

On vacation, the Baker family find themselves in competition with an over-achieving family headed by Tom's long-time rival.

Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Hilary Duff.

PG for crude humor and mild language, 94 min.

Capote

In November of 1959 Truman Capote, author of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and a favorite figure in what is soon to be known as the "jet set", reads an article on the back page of the New York Times about the murders of four members of a well-known farm family in Kansas. The story presents an opportunity to test his long-held theory that in the hands of the right writer, non-fiction can be as compelling as fiction.

R for some violent images and brief strong language/114 min.

Good Night and

Good Luck

In the mid-1950&

s, Edward R. Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly, helped bring an end to the tyranny of the blacklist and Joseph McCarthy, who had the power to destroy careers and lives by accusing people of being or aiding Communists. Filmed in black and white.

PG for mild thematic elements and brief language/100 min.

Shopgirl

Mirabelle, a shopgirl who sells gloves and accessories at Neiman Marcus, feels useless in her job and unfulfilled by a romantic relationship. Then Ray, a rich older man enters her life. Eventually she must choose between the older, wealthy divorcee and the younger, struggling musician.

R for some sexual content and brief language/106 min.