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Film Clips

CL's capsule reviews are rated on a four-star rating system.

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NEW RELEASES

DAREDEVIL In the introduction to the 1975 compendium Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee admitted that of all the superheroes he ever created (including Spider-Man and the X-Men), his favorite was the blind crimefighter who practiced law by day as attorney Matt Murdock and donned the red tights by night as Daredevil. Yet even though Lee himself makes a cameo appearance, I'd be hard-pressed to believe that Daredevil will emerge as his favorite Marvel movie. Like Green Lantern over at DC Comics, Daredevil has always been more a favorite of the cultists than the general public, and it's a shame this film version doesn't honor that distinction by serving up something truly unique. Instead, this live-action epic, written and directed by Grumpy Old Men scripter Mark Steven Johnson, is all over the map -- it's by turns affecting, exciting, contemplative, heavy-handed, cheesy, and downright ludicrous. Ben Affleck, hardly the Matt Murdock of the printed page, fares better than expected, and he establishes a nice rapport with Alias star Jennifer Garner, cast as feisty love interest Elektra. And while Michael Clarke Duncan is merely serviceable as the imposing Kingpin, Colin Farrell (The Recruit) adopts the right manic tone to play the egocentric assassin Bullseye, thereby running away with the film. But although there's plenty to like in Daredevil, there's almost as much to dismiss, including a heavy dependence on subpar CGI effects, reams of lead-footed dialogue, and a climactic showdown that's about as exciting as a documentary on aglet production. 1/2

CURRENT RELEASES

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Jean Cocteau's 1946 classic Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bete), playing as part of this month's Charlotte Film Society program, has long been revered for its dreamlike state, which continues to mesmerize even in this age of $100 million computer-generated effects. Cocteau, a French poet who made a handful of films over the years, took the basic tale of the lovely woman (played here by Josette Day) who comes to see the hirsute creature (Jean Marais) for his soulful interior rather than his frightful exterior, and embellished it with his own brand of visual reverie: In this film, the candelabrums on the castle wall are held by living human arms, the doors open and close by themselves, and an enchanted glove allows Beauty to magically move from one locale to another, appearing on a luxurious bed with her dress billowing around her as if she were a flower in full bloom. This B&B isn't a children's film per se (don't look for Cogsworth or Mrs. Potts), but it might be an apt way to go ahead and provide the kids with an early lesson about the vagaries of love. 1/2

DELIVER US FROM EVA When constructing a romantic comedy, it's usually not a good idea to make your central character so odious that audience members won't care whether he or she finds romance or not. Yet that's the case with Deliver Us From Eva, a clumsy effort in which an intelligent, beautiful woman named Eva (Gabrielle Union) rules over her three younger sisters with an iron fist, much to the consternation of the siblings' male companions. In an effort to get Eva's nose out of their daily affairs, the three guys decide to hire a smooth-talking ladies' man (LL Cool J) to woo her, but matters become complicated once the player falls in love with his mark. Clearly, we're meant to thaw toward Eva as she thaws toward the idea of romance, but as harshly written by writer-director Gary Hardwick and his co-scripters -- and as broadly played by Union -- the character doesn't smack of The Taming of the Shrew's Katherine (the obvious inspiration) as much as such unrepentant characters as Alice In Wonderland 's wicked Queen or one of Bette Davis' ice queens. Not that any of the other characters present humanity at its finest: The sisters can't think for themselves, their men are ineffectual weaklings, and the women's local hangout, a beauty salon, is run by a foul-mouthed, sex-crazed manhunter ("I can't keep my legs together!" she declares after ogling a hunk). Only LL Cool J's considerable charisma keeps this from completely sinking. 1/2

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS Julia Roberts had her Pretty Woman, Sandra Bullock had her While You Were Sleeping, and, if it becomes a box office hit, Kate Hudson will have her How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days to turn her into America's latest A-list sweetheart. Yes, she received an Oscar nomination for Almost Famous, but there's always been something a little unformed about Hudson, who has repeatedly failed to locate the same sort of sparkle that propelled mom Goldie Hawn to stardom back in the late 60s. But this one marks the first time that Hudson has been able to truly command the screen: She's utterly winning as a women's magazine columnist who, for the sake of a story on what females shouldn't do when dating, hooks up with a guy with the intent of driving him away within... well, check the film's title. She settles on a slick ad man (Matthew McConaughey, easier to take than usual), unaware that he's made a bet that he can get any woman to fall in love with him within the same time period. For a film that wallows in the usual male-female stereotypes, this one's surprisingly light on its feet, thanks in no small part to its well-matched leads. Alas, the third act follows the exact pattern as almost every other romantic comedy made today (most recently Two Weeks Notice and Maid In Manhattan): The deceptions become unearthed, the pair breaks up, some soul searching takes place, and bliss arrives after a madcap chase. Leave before this excruciating finale and you should have an OK time. 1/2

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