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Film Openings 

Week of December 4, 2002

Analyze That. Harold Ramis. Opens Friday, December 6, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Bloody Sunday. Paul Greengrass. Opens Friday, December 6, at the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.

Empire. Frank Reyes. Vic (John Leguizamo), is trying to escape his life as a drug dealer in the South Bronx. Enter Jack (Peter Sarsgaard), a Wall Street investment banker with a business proposal that has Vic's name (and money) written all over it. Opens Friday, December 6, at multiple locations. NR

Equilibrium. Kurt Wimmer. This adolescent but earnest sci-fi hybrid is equal parts Star Wars (evil patriarch, stormtroopers, lone hero), The Matrix (bullet-time stunts, fetishized machine guns, techno-thrash jams, icy badass chic) and, most obviously, Fahrenheit 451 (torching the human spirit). In writer/director Wimmer's routine postapocalyptic world, the Master Clerick (Angus MacFadyen) commands Clerick John Preston (Christian Bale) to snuff out all human emotion -- the cause of war, y'know -- until Preston changes his tune and attempts to save humanity. In support, Emily Watson has another hissy fit and becomes a martyr, Sean Bean dies horribly (again) and Taye Diggs shifts gears from his romantic-comedy work to battle the movie's thesis that black men are turncoats. Filmed in Italy and Germany, where fascism has sucked up life before, Equilibrium pulls a couple of genuine fear triggers. Unfortunately, from the slick stunts to the puzzling motivations (Preston takes his biggest risk to save a dog), it's also hard to take as seriously as Wimmer clearly intended. Opens Friday, December 6, at multiple locations. (GW)

Satin Rouge. Raja Amari. It's a family affair when widowed, repressed Lilia (Hiyam Abbas) and her spunky daughter, Salma (Hend El Fahem), just can't get enough of a suave drummer, Chokri (Maher Kamoun). This bold and lyrical first feature from Amari expands the pat notion that middle-aged women just wanna have fun into a rousing treatise of sensual empowerment. Abbas is magnetic as Lilia, trapped in a dire rut until she explores a cabaret of raqs sharqi -- belly dancing -- where the robust dancer Folla (Monia Hichri) takes her under her bouncing, bulbous wings and teaches her to fly. The nuances of the performances -- in dialogue and dance -- and the rich, organic feel of the locations mark Amari as a director of significant promise. Her stridently feminist tone is a little iffy, though, from random derision of blondes to a presumptuous leap of logic about male behavior. That aside, it's strong work, so let's hope Hollywood plans a few remakes and she gets to do it again. Opens Friday, December 6, at the Tivoli. (GW)

Welcome to Collinwood. Anthony and Joe Russo. The most dramatic elements in this old neighborhood-caper flick are William H. Macy's sideburns -- they'll give you nightmares -- but the feature debut from the Cleveland-based Russo brothers starts off not with Macy's charmingly glum, struggling new father but with a clumsy con (Luis Guzman) who's in the clink when an old lifer reveals a perfect crime -- a "Bellini" -- just waiting to be hatched. The setup's basically a formality allowing us to hang out with a motley gang (including Sam Rockwell, Isaiah Washington and Michael Jeter, plus molls Patricia Clarkson and Jennifer Esposito) striving to eclipse one another with wacky tics. Collinwood is full of surprise twists and outrageous free-form dialogue ("I will shit in you!"), plus a potpourri of awesome ethnic music by Mark Mothersbaugh and two freaky cameos from producer George Clooney. What's strange is that this baby, delivered by fellow producer Steven Soderbergh, is actually much more fun than his stiff, largely joyless remake of Ocean's 11. (GW)

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