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This week's premieres

photo: Warner Bros

Mystic River (Tajomná rieka) - Drama/Mystery by Clint Eastwood. Since its initial public release about a month ago, Hollywood's latest entry in the American tragedy genre, an adaptation of the novel by acclaimed crime writer Dennis Lehane, has received ecstatic, seemingly universal praise. And who better to explore this genre than Eastwood, perhaps the clearest cinematic symbol of the violent American male? In working class Boston, three childhood friends - Jimmy, Dave, and Sean (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon, respectively) - are reunited after Jimmy's daughter is brutally murdered. When police detective Sean takes over the case, the three men are forced to explore the meanings and complications of friendship, family, anger, and revenge. Having already won a directing award at Cannes, the film is frequently mentioned in the same breath as the Academy Awards, particularly with respect to Eastwood and Penn, whose performance has already been called a classic of American

photo: Itafilm

cinema by some critics.

S.W.A.T. (Jednotka rýchleho nasadenia)- Action/Thriller by Clark Johnson. In Los Angeles an inexperienced Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team, headed by a tough SWAT veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), must transport a dangerous criminal who has offered a large sum of money to anyone who can free him from police custody. Also starring Hollywood's latest bad-boy heartthrob, Irishman Colin Farell, Michelle Rodriguez (from the surprisingly fun girl-power surfer movie Blue Crush), and LL Cool J, the once relevant hip-hop star turned completely irrelevant actor.

Other movies playing

photo: Saturn Entertainment

Desperado 2: Once Upon a Time in Mexico (Vtedy v Mexiku) - Action by Robert Rodriguez. The guitar-wielding hitman El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) comes out of hiding to help a corrupt CIA agent (Johnny Depp) prevent the assassination of the Mexican president. With the title's reference to Rodriguez's hero, spaghetti western auteur Sergio Leone (the director of such films as Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America), expect plenty of lovingly stylized violence.

Love Actually (Láska nebeská) - Comedy/Romance by Richard Curtis. There is a lovely, charming, smart romantic comedy to be found somewhere in this movie, the directorial debut of the screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones' Diary.

photo: Tatrafilm

The film is apparently comprised of a number of half-finished screenplay ideas - and it shows. Unconvincingly held together by the truism "love actually is all around us", the film simply tries to take on too much. With so many different characters and storylines, some of which are clearly more engaging than others, Love Actually fails to effectively explore its subject; instead, it provides a series of vignettes - some of which beg to be expanded, some of which beg to be reduced or abandoned. Having said that, there is enough good stuff in here to lift it above the average contemporary romantic comedy, but Curtis, as a writer, had already established himself as one of the genre's best. He receives strong support from most of his cast, some of whom are among the best in the world, comedic or otherwise, and he benefits from a few memorable cameos. But, surprisingly, even in the company of Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson (to only name the film's biggest stars), the actor who completely steals the show is the relatively low-profile Bill Nighy, who plays a delightfully jaded aging rock star. He is ultimately the best thing about this film, which truly does have a lot to offer. Love actually is to be found here; it's just not actually all around.

photo: SPI international

View from the Top (Letuška 1. triedy) - Comedy/Romance by Bruno Barreto. Inexplicably cast against type and reason, the statuesque Gwyneth Paltrow plays a simple small-town American girl who becomes a flight attendant so she can see the world. But, when she meets a seemingly perfect man along the way and must decide between love and her dreams of escape, she cannot make up her mind. Apparently, neither can Barreto, the director of this inept mess of a movie. Is it a hip, retro romantic comedy? Is it a mean-spirited farce (courtesy of Mike Meyers and an incongruous cat-fight)? Is it a poignant story about betrayal and, ultimately, the redemptive powers of love? Actually, it's just bad.

photo: Continental film

Boat Trip (Plnou parou vzad!) - Comedy by Mort Nathan. Hollywood producers seem to be taking note of the mainstream's newfound obsession with homosexuality. No longer are homosexual people simply relegated to the background or for simple comic relief; now there can be whole movies or television series devoted to how funny they are! And it's even funnier when straight guys pretend to be gay! And so comes Boat Trip, which stars Cuba Gooding, Jr and Saturday Night Live's latest overweight clown, Horatio Sanz, as two heterosexual bumbling idiots. Apparently, during one of their bouts of bumbling idiocy, they manage to offend a homosexual travel agent who is helping them book a singles' cruise. In retaliation for their offensive behaviour, he plays the ultimate joke on them: he books them on a gay cruise! To fend off the hungry hordes, they must pretend to be lovers. This plan works out smashingly... until the ship receives an unexpected visit from Swedish bikini models. Oh, what is a boy to do? Come out of the closet and embrace his heterosexuality, or keep pretending that he's something he's not? What a dilemma!

Prepared by Jonathan Knapp

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