Film Openings

Week of April 27, 2006

Stick It. (PG-13) This thing sucks it in comparison to the charming Kirsten Dunst cheerleading movie Bring It On, which was also penned by Stick It writer-director Jessica Bendinger. That film was charming in its exploration of teenage-girl athletics; too bad this one shares all of Bring It On's flaws while lacking most of its appeal. Some of the gymnastics footage is fun to watch, and those interested in the politics of the pommel horse may be enthralled. But the rest is populated by cardboard characters and creepiness — Jeff Bridges can't transcend the ick factor of a male gymnastics coach — and there's nothing at stake for the girls before the final scenes arrive. The message? Gymnastics is hard. Girls, be yourselves. And stick together in the face of outmoded, arbitrary sports judging. Any other questions? Go seek the answers in Bring It On. (Harper) ARN, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, GL, J14, KEN, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL, WO

Stoned. (Not Rated) In July 1969, Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool, at a house that once belonged to Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. This movie documents the last three months of Jones' life, as well as his business relationship with builder Frank Thorogood, hired to renovate the place after having done work for Keith Richards. On his deathbed, Thorogood (played by Paddy Considine) apparently confessed to murdering Jones (Leo Gregory), but the movie doesn't give us much of a clue why. Yes, Jones as depicted here is thoroughly unlikable — an arrogant rocker far less important than he thinks he his, and contemptuous of all others. But Thorogood could have left Jones' company at any time and chose not to; Considine and director Stephen Woolley (a regular producer on Neil Jordan's films) fail to make it clear what would have pushed him over the edge. As Jones' dream girl Anita Pallenberg, Monet Mazur undoubtedly draws on her own firsthand experience with Dave Navarro's junkie years. (Luke Y. Thompson) TV

United 93. (R) Paul Greengrass' September 11, 2001 movie uses the hijacking of one plane to tell the story of what happened to all four aircraft seized that morning, and it may be the most wrenching, profound, and perfectly made movie nobody wants to see. Those who view United 93 as a case of too much way too soon are right to say that none of us needs to be told once more what happened that day; we're reminded of it each time George Bush invokes the date to explain or excuse his actions. But that is precisely why United 93 needs to be seen: Even as a work of fiction, it wrests from politicians' sweaty hands the cynical battle cry that date has become and shrinks September 11 down to a human-sized tragedy. Those killed are eulogized here — mourned over, cried for, at last considered. You will feel something during every single second of United 93 — anger, fear, hate, hope, and most of all grief, which is all anyone can ask of an endeavor such as this. (Robert Wilonsky) CPP, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, WO

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