Film Openings

Week of August 13, 2003

Open Range. Kevin Costner. Costner's Charley Waite and Robert Duvall's Boss Spearman pull into a town and find themselves in a showdown with the cattle baron, Baxter (Michael Gambon), who wants them off his land, and the sheriff who's on his payroll. Charley and Boss are "free-grazers," cattlemen who still think a land without fences is a land without rules; they'll sleep where they want, feed where they want, live where they want. We already know everything about Charley and Boss and the two young men who ride with them, Mose (E.R.'s Abraham Benrubi) and Button (Y Tu Mamá También's Diego Luna). Their backstory lives in every western ever made and in every audience member who's seen one. The film is beautiful to look at, well-acted and well-executed (this is no abominable Postman). But it takes forever to get to where we've been before -- way out west, where the sun set on the western a long, long time ago. Opens Friday, August 15, at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)

Uptown Girls. Boaz Yakin. With its ominously square title suggesting a feature-length Billy Joel video, Boaz Yakin's latest sellout movie arrives in theaters smelling a bit spoiled, and not only because annoyingly precocious Dakota Fanning plays a pampered eight-year-old going on 58. Everything about it, from after-school-special premise (Fanning teaches Brittany Murphy how to act like an adult, Murphy teaches Fanning how to live like a child) to plot point (Murphy lives off her father's pop-song royalties) to overwrought finale (musical production number on school auditorium stage), seems far too familiar for comfort. About a Boy, anyone? Yakin, who once appeared as street as concrete, has abandoned filmmaking for fantasy-making, and a promising young director further loses his identity; Uptown Girls could have been made by anyone. Opens Friday, August 15, at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)

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