Film Clips THE BIG HIT. Hong Kong director Che-Kirk Wong directed this slam-bang action/comedy/parody slush, providing yet another reason for ending our love affair with tongue-in-cheek violence. Mark Wahlberg plays that new breed of comic hero, the Funny Hit-Man. Hopelessly insecure and yet super-competent when it comes to killing, Wahlberg's character is about as funny as a whimpering Doberman that occasionally mauls babies. One minute he's cute and soft-spoken, the next minute he's chopping off somebody's leg. --Woodruff

CITY OF ANGELS. Meg Ryan plays a doctor who operates on human hearts, but is--oh so ironically--unsure of the nature of her own. Nicolas Cage plays Seth, a creepy angel of God who falls in love with her. Though reportedly inspired by Wim Wenders' wonderful Wings of Desire, City of Angels has none of the intelligence or charm of its predecessor. Instead, Cage follows Ryan around Los Angeles in a late-eighties trench coat, striking poses as though in an Aramis commercial. Who wants a guardian angel if all he does is stare at you, and touch you all the time? Not surprisingly, annoying drone/chant music is featured throughout. --Richter

HE GOT GAME. Spike Lee can't help himself--he's always taking on the grand themes, with varying levels of success. Here, he takes on The Game, i.e. Life, i.e. Basketball--and he scores! We Got Game is a long, ambitious movie about the country's best high-school basketball player negotiating the difficult terrain of success. Somehow Lee pulls it all off with aplomb. His filmmaking style is as fresh and wonderfully visual as ever, and the story has some of the heart-stabbing tension of Hoop Dreams. The score is by Aaron Copeland and Public Enemy--which gives some indication of Lee's territorial range. --Richter

SLIDING DOORS. Suppose that at a crucial moment, your life branched in two directions: In one, you become Gwyneth Paltrow with a bad haircut, and have to support your cheating, lay-about husband by working two jobs in the food service industry. In another, you become Paltrow with a great haircut, and fall in love with that cute guy who played "Matthew" in four weddings and a funeral. Now imagine that every line of dialogue you and everyone else utters sounds exactly like the way people really talk, which is to say largely without wit or charm. Now imagine that for 99 minutes. An eerie, disturbing experience, to say the least. --DiGiovanna

THE WINTER GUEST. This slow moving film follows four couples through a largely uneventful day in an English coastal town. A mother and her adult daughter walk the icy beaches arguing about everything; two schoolboys smoke cigarettes and play with fire, two elderly women attend a funeral, and a teenage girl taunts and then falls in love with a teenage boy. Lensman Seamus McGarvey has a sense of composition that could only be compared to John Toland's. Each shot has the balance and sensitivity of an Ansel Adams photograph, with objects interacting by virtue of shape and position to produce pleasing geometries. Unfortunately, the interactions of the characters are often much less interesting, though the story of the teenagers finding love is compelling--if frustratingly limited and interrupted by the other three scenarios. --DiGiovanna

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