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GLITTER Or, A Star Is Stillborn. If there's one positive thing to say about Glitter (and believe me, there really is only one), it's that, unlike their overreacting peers, its makers elected to keep the fleeting shots of the World Trade Center in the picture. The current rush to erase the buildings' presence in all modes of entertainment is just plain wrong: Besides chalking one up for the terrorists, it dishonors the memory of not only the victims but also of the architectural wonders themselves. Glitter made me glad to see there were some folks who didn't go along with this questionable edict (my belief that people want to see the twin towers was validated by New York Times critic Lawrence Van Gelder, who, in his Glitter review, wrote that "the only sight that aroused the [audience] to applause was the World Trade Center"). But aside from offering shots of the WTC, there's absolutely nothing of interest in a vanity piece so self-absorbed, it makes Prince's Under the Cherry Moon look like a model of modesty and restraint. Mariah Carey, displaying all the acting ability of a Chia pet, stars as Billie Frank, who goes from being a struggling back-up singer to landing a major label contract, putting out a hit album, recording music videos and attending awards shows -- all within a span of about six months! Drained of all vitality and refusing to embrace a single original notion, Glitter does offer several unintentionally funny moments -- enough, anyway, to make it a future camp classic.

GREENFINGERS By all appearances, Greenfingers appears to be veddy, veddy British, coming from the same well that sprung forth The Full Monty, Billy Elliot and other quirky, uplifting comedy-dramas from the other side of the pond. Go figure, then: The movie's writer-director, Joel Hershman, hails from Brooklyn and LA, and he based his picture on a New York Times article. All this really proves, however, is that this undemanding sub-genre has been ironed out to the point that anyone can join the party. Like most recent films of this sort, this one's the equivalent of a Sunday afternoon stroll through the park: pleasant, cheery, and forgotten by the following Sunday. Clive Owen, whose terrific performance in last year's Croupier should have won him an award or two, has such an incredible screen presence, it's a wonder he isn't already a star (many scribes, myself included, have noted that he should be the one playing James Bond). He brings that smoldering intensity to this otherwise featherweight feature about a group of prisoners who find a form of freedom through their newly gained interest in gardening. While serving time, the five men (including Owen's character) are encouraged to cultivate the compound's first garden, and it's not long before their achievement comes to the attention of noted horticulturist Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren). In true Hollywood style, the convicts are about as threatening as the Backstreet Boys, but the movie's charms nearly outweigh its narrative complacency.
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HEARTS IN ATLANTIS With the passing of John Gielgud last year, the greatest voice in cinema now belongs to Anthony Hopkins, whose dulcet tones lend a degree of reassurance to his heroes and a sense of seductive menace to his villains. Above all, his voice suggests a world-weary intelligence (it's questionable whether this excellent actor could effectively play an imbecile), and it's this quality that juices his character in the latest screen adaptation of a Stephen King bestseller. Set in 1960, the film casts Hopkins as Ted Brautigan, a mysterious figure who moves into a boarding house also occupied by struggling single mom Liz Garfield (Hope Davis) and her young son Bobby (Anton Yelchin). Liz is suspicious of Ted, but Bobby develops a friendship with the soft-spoken man, who, in between providing valuable life lessons pertaining to compassion and self-esteem, asks the lad to keep an eye out for shady characters he insists are after him. Hearts In Atlantis isn't the smoothest King adaptation out there -- scripter William Goldman has minimized the supernatural aspects of the tale so that their erratic appearances feel jarring and intrusive. But in addition to providing Hopkins with a formfitting role, the movie does an exquisite job of conveying the flush'n'blush of that first childhood romance: The scenes between Bobby and his sweetheart Carol (Mika Boorem) are beautifully handled, thanks in no small measure to the late Piotr Sobocinski's luminous cinematography and the wonderful performances by the two young actors.