David Ansen

A LAST DANCE

At the age of 86, decades after he'd announced he was done making movies, Ingmar Bergman--the brilliant, angst-ridden Swede who virtually defined and ruled the art film in the 1950s and '60s--has given us one more.

SNAP JUDGMENT: MOVIES

Hustle & Flow Directed by Craig BrewerGritty on the outside, soft in the center, this tale of DJay (Terrence Howard), a pimp who finds redemption as a rapper, is another "ya gotta have a dream" crowd-pleaser.

IS ANYBODY MAKING MOVIES WE'LL ACTUALLY WATCH IN 50 YEARS?

She was "America's sweetheart." For 10 years in a row she appeared on the list of the top-10 Hollywood stars, and in 1943 she was the most popular star in the world, her pinup a keepsake accompanying American soldiers to war.

WITCHY WOMAN

Instead of doing a straight- ahead remake of the popular ' 60s TV show "Bewitched," Nora Ephron came up with an ingenious spin: she's made a movie about other people making a new TV series of "Bewitched." The twist is, the producers unwittingly hire an actual witch to take the role of the nose-wiggling Samantha, the part originally played by Elizabeth Montgomery.Isabel (Nicole Kidman), the witch in question, has never acted in her life, which is just fine with her leading man, Jack Wyatt (Will...

SNAP JUDGMENT: MOVIES

My Summer of Love Directed by Pawel PawlikowskiOn a sweltering Yorkshire day, two girls, one on horseback and the other pushing her scooter, meet in a field.

REVIEW: THIS MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR WILL SPIRIT YOU

I can't imagine anyone who saw "Spirited Away"--the most wondrous and mysterious of animated films--wanting to miss "Howl's Moving Castle." Hayao Miyazaki seems to be one of those artists (and there aren't many) who just can't fail to make magic.

THE BRIDE WORE LITTLE

Off-screen chemistry does not necessarily translate onto the screen. Kidman and Cruise? Ben and J. Lo? Enough said. As for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in "Mr.

TRANSITION

Ismail Merchant, 68Renowned for producing lavish and literary period movies ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day") that looked many times more expensive than they cost, the Bombay-born Merchant was a master at charming investors.

AGAINST THE ROPES

Ron Howard's depression-era boxing saga "Cinderella Man" has one thing in common with "Revenge of the Sith": just about everybody knows how the story will turn out.

THE END OF THE EMPIRE

The Faithful (and quite a few of the Unfaithful) have been waiting a long time, enduring the bitter disappointment of "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones," to get to this pivotal moment: to see how and why Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), the Chosen One, abandons his Jedi legacy, embraces the Dark Side and turns into Darth Vader.Almost 90 minutes of the sixth and concluding film--"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"--go by before Anakin's final metamorphosis actually...

THE FAMILY GOES NUCLEAR

To those Jane Fonda fans who have been eagerly awaiting her return to the screen, my condolences. It's not that she's bad in "Monster-in-Law." She seems to be having a high old time as Viola Fields, an alcoholic TV diva.

Blockbusters? Who Needs 'Em?

The big summer movie season was supposed to begin with the fireworks of Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven," but the big bang turned out to be more of a whimper.

Asking Why

Before seeing "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," I'd read enough about the Enron scandals to know I'd never want to be seated at the same table as Ken Lay.

SHANGHAI SURPRISE

Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle," which is set in a make-believe Shanghai of the '30s, tips its hat to the Hong Kong martial-arts movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan while zooming into the 21st century via "Matrix"-style digital effects.

PARADISE RE-LOST

When we first meet the title characters in Rebecca Miller's stunning "The Ballad of Jack and Rose"--the intense, rail-thin Jack (Miller's husband, Daniel Day-Lewis) and the ethereally beautiful young Rose (Camilla Belle)--their devotion to each other is as palpable as their relationship is ambiguous and unsettling.

THE SOLDIERS' STORY

Gunner Palace," an intimate portrait of the soldiers serving in 2/3 Field Artillery in Baghdad, defies any expectations you bring to it. There are sights in Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein's eye-opening documentary that will confirm and confound both right and left.

SNAP JUDGMENT: MOVIES

ConstantineGreat-looking gobbledygook, this feverish slice of supernatural Roman Catholic film noir sends demon buster Keanu Reeves--a chain-smoking psychic who can spot the half-breed demons and angels in our midst--on a mission to save the world, and his own soul, from Lucifer, who has broken his detente with God.

TRAPPED IN A VIPERS' NEST

It's impossible to turn your eyes away from Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Downfall," a meticulous, spellbinding, provocative depiction of the final days of the Third Reich.

COURTSHIP FOR DUMMIES

Will Smith has spent the better part of his extremely successful career charming the pants off movie audiences. Until "Hitch," however, he's never gotten to charm the pants off a leading lady.

NEWSMAKERS

Since you're such a high-tech guy, I'm forgoing the tape recorder for this talk and going digital.Oh, a recording stick? Cool. I'll talk a lot.The best part of "Aliens of the Deep" is watching how gee-whiz excited you get down there.Yeah--how I get, how the scientists get.

Four Days in Utah

Those days are long gone. Now the first thing I do is avoid Main Street, a furiously compacted avenue of traffic snarls, celebrity gawkers, marauding party kids who don't mind standing in freezing, roped-off lines to gain entry to overcrowded parties and corporate-sponsored way stations offering goodies to wannabe and actual movers and shakers in The Biz.

EVE OF SELF-DESTRUCTION

Shortly after pretty, 23-year-old Sibel (Sibel Kekilli) meets dissolute, 40-year-old Cahit (Birol Unel) in a psychiatric ward, she asks him to marry her. They may be utter strangers, but they have several things in common.

OR NOT TO BE: ONE MAN'S FIGHT TO DIE

Alejandro Amenabar's "The Sea Inside" arrives garlanded with festival prizes, Golden Globe nominations and strong indications that this Spanish entry is the movie to beat for the foreign-film Oscar.

A HERO WILL RISE

Dapper, meticulous and obsequious, Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) is perfectly suited to his job as hotel manager of the elegant Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

THE AVIATOR: 'SCUSE ME WHILEI KISS THE SKY

Howard Hughes envisioned by Martin Scorsese and embodied by Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Aviator" is the ultimate can-do American, a ruthless, shoot-from- the-hip capitalist not afraid to gamble his fortune buying TWA or spend four years and a record-breaking budget to produce and direct his airborne World War I epic "Hell's Angels." He's a charming vulgarian, a lanky Texas shark with a voracious appetite for fame, fortune, aviation, beautiful women, the picture business--and the sheer pleasure of...

SPANGLISH: LANGUAGE OF LOVE

Under its sitcom setup--beautiful Latina housekeeper who speaks no English goes to work for rich, dysfunctional white family in Bel Air--James L. Brooks's "Spanglish" has a lot on its mind.

MILLION DOLLAR BABY: CLINT DELIVERSA KNOCKOUT

As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote, there are no second acts in American lives. Somebody forgot to tell Clint Eastwood, who, at 74 and well into his third act, is doing the best, most assured work of his career.

HOTEL RWANDA: A HERO WILL RISE

Dapper, meticulous and obsequious, Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) is perfectly suited to his job as manager of the elegant Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: INTO THE NIGHT

In Joel Schumacher's "The Phantom of the Opera," it's sometimes hard to tell the characters from the candelabra. This lavish screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is so chockablock with decorative detail the human figures are often competing with the decor for attention: Baroque balustrades, flower-strewn dressing rooms, a chandelier to end all chandeliers, and the title character's murky subterranean grotto, which, depending on your point of view, evokes either a brooding...

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