This week's premieres

photo: SPI International

Dirty Pretty Things (Pekné svinstvo) - Thriller by Stephen Frears. Accomplished British filmmaker Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity) turns his camera towards London's illegal immigrant community. The film has probably received most of its attention for being the English language debut of French actress Audrey Tautou, who won over a significant part of the world with her sublime performance in Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie). In Dirty Pretty Things she plays Senay, a Turkish refugee who works at a hotel and shares a room with a Nigerian immigrant, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played Keira Knightley's charming husband in Love Actually). After Okwe makes a disturbing discovery at the hotel, the two of them are unwittingly pulled into London's dangerous underworld.

photo: Itafilm

Gothika - Horror/Thriller by Mathieu Kassovitz. Halle Barry (Monster's Ball) plays a criminal psychologist who, after a rather frightening experience, wakes up one day to find herself committed in the asylum where she works. Unsure of how she got there, she tries to piece together her most recent memories after strange and disturbing things begin happening to her. Also starring Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky) and Robert Downey Jr (Wonder Boys), who used some of his precious time not spent behind bars making this movie, instead of the sort of small, off-beat, comedic films he is so perfectly suited for. Let's hope it was worth it.

Other movies playing

The Haunted Mansion (Strašidelný zámok) - Family comedy by Rob Minkoff. Following Pirates of the Caribbean, this is the second film in a year adapted from a Walt Disney theme park ride; unfortunately, Eddie Murphy proved long ago that he does not possess Johnny Depp's ability to lift a movie above questionable source material. But, who knows? Maybe it's good fun - the presence of Terence Stamp (The Limey) and Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) certainly never hurt anybody.

The Four Feathers (V mene cti) - Adventure by Shekhar Kapur. The fifth cinematic adaptation of AEW Mason's novel about a young British officer who loses his best friend and fiancée after he resigns from the military on the eve of a war in the Sudan. Little do they know that he plans to go undercover in the highly volatile North African country. Australian heartthrob Heath Ledger (The Patriot) plays the military defector, Wes Bentley (American Beauty) plays his friend, and Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) plays his fiancée.

photo: Continental film

The Rules of Attraction (Pravidlá vášne) - Comedy/Drama by Roger Avary. After the film version of Bret Easton Ellis' extremely controversial novel American Psycho, about a homicidal Wall Street broker in the 1980s, became a cult hit, perhaps it seemed safer to adapt one of his earlier novels for the screen. And so comes The Rules of Attraction, which details the sexual exploits of a drug dealer and the young people of varying degrees of corruptness that surround him at a small, elite US college. James Van Der Beek of Dawson's Creek fame leads a cast of pretty young people.

Paycheck (Výplata)- Sci-fi/Thriller by John Woo. Hong Kong genius turned fairly boring Hollywood filmmaker, Woo adapts a short story by cult novelist Philip K Dick, whose work has already been adapted for the screen as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report. The good news: Uma Thurman. The bad news: Ben Affleck.

photo: Saturn Entertainment

Cold Mountain (Návrat do Cold Mountain) - Romantic epic by Anthony Minghella. The gossip surrounding this film - about its excessive costs and its being shunned by the Oscars (except for Renée Zellweger's Best Supporting Actress win) - seems to have obscured its quality. Though not flawless, it is a beautifully shot and acted, well-paced, compelling, and accomplished piece of filmmaking. And Nicole Kidman and Jude Law sure are purty.

Torque (Zbesilosť na dvoch kolesách) - Action by Joseph Kahn. The debut film of a highly successful music video director who has worked with Destiny's Child, Eminem, U2, and many more. It has something to do with biker gangs, but it basically looks like the obnoxious younger brother of The Fast and the Furious. Hopefully the presence of Ice Cube makes it at least somewhat palatable.

Underworld- Action/Fantasy by Len Wiseman. The plot details some sort of epic battle for the underworld between a band of vampires and a band of werewolves. It seems that the werewolves have come upon an evil scheme that threatens the vampire race and the rest of the world. So a vampire bounty hunter (Kate Beckinsale) sets out to save her race and humanity from those pesky werewolves. Or something like that. Mostly, it is an excuse for moody, stylized action set to a pounding soundtrack and, most importantly, for Beckinsale (Cold Comfort Farm, Pearl Harbor) to run around in a dominatrix outfit while wielding a gun and showing off her best Matrix-inspired moves.

Prepared by Jonathan Knapp

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