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The Spotlight

Kiss the Girls
I Know What You Did
The Rainmaker
One Night Stand
Titanic
The Jackal

Kiss the Girls*

Kiss the Girls turns out to be one high-profile serial killer movie too many after The Silence of the Lambs, Copycat and Seven - adding little to a genre, which, even at its best, can be queasy and exploitative. Even those engrossed by the build-up here are likely to kiss off the rest after suffering through Girls' groaner of a wrap-up. Morgan Freeman and Ashly Judd are well-cast, but this adequately assembled thriller is more clinical than emotional, limiting even its better actors to establishing their competence and little more.


I Know What You Did*

Predictably, the derivative title here is a jumping-off point for another derivative slasher-revenge pic, and if one victim just happens to be another blond beauty queen, the box office won't suffer, will it? Kevin Williamson knows a lot about observing genre conventions, having parlayed his Scream script into a notably strange Christmas season release with lots of repeat business. Like Scream, this melodrama about the gory aftermath of a hit-and-run accident is aimed at that segment of the viewing public that can often be seen near the 7-Eleven Slurpee bar.


The Rainmaker*

Like author John Grisham's page turners in any form, this often-broad comic view of the legal profession takes a fast train out of the brain once the end credits begin to roll. Yet it's probably the most enjoyable adaptation of a middling six-movie bunch, thanks in part to an apt choice of villains being pilloried here by a rookie Memphis attorney (Matt Damon). Playing Tennessee hardball against him are a crooked insurance company and a giant law firm that bills about a grand an hour. The point of contention is life-saving surgery the company refused to bankroll, sparking a lawsuit prosecuted by Damon and (before its dissolution) a firm of ambulance-chasers so cheesy that Mickey Rourke plays Damon's boss. In one of his best roles, Danny DeVito plays a frequent bar-exam failure helping Damon "work" hospitals for clients.


One Night Stand*

Mike Figgis, whose big career payoff came with the 1995 bittersweet serenade to self-destruction Leaving Las Vegas, is a regular one-man band when it comes to stylish, moody moviemaking. In One Night Stand, the British director/writer/co-producer/composer jazzily riffs on a familiar theme - the cheating spouse - with the hypnotic ease of a Miles Davis trumpet solo. The acting hits all the right notes, especially too-often-coasting Wesley Snipes as a married man drawn into a fling with a stranger (Nastassja Kinski). The standout is Robert Downey Jr.'s stripped-down portrait of a gay man dying of AIDS. Eyes that usually burn with prankish energy are sadly imploring.


Titanic*

Though ship and ice don't meet until 100 minutes in, Titanic is the one long movie in recent memory that you can easily sail through with a minimum of wristwatch checks. Once all hell and not a few wood chunks break loose, the script shrewdly contrives a way for the lovers - actors Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio - to be both topside and below deck in the flooding, where Winslet's first-class traveler wouldn't otherwise be. Titanic won 11 Oscars, including "Best Picture," tying Ben Hur for the most ever.


The Jackal*

Bruce Willis shows up in his first scene with a shave and a conventional haircut, but don't let the sight of a spruce Bruce fool you. His character is a master of disguises (and despite good grooming, amoral scum) in this loose, handsome and only functional variation on 1973's The Day of the Jackal. Willis does a lot with a little, with Richard Gere playing it straight in an appealing character role as a flawed IRA activist turned unlikely hero. The movie's saving point may be the chance to savor Sidney Poitier's still commanding presence in his best big-screen role in two decades or more.


Film Legend: (*) - Original Version (D) - Dubbed (SC) - Slovak/Czech (ET) - English Titles
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