The Spotlight

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


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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