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(R; 97 min.) Richard T. Jones stars in a tale of hip-hop.

Full text review.

Gadjo Dilo
Full text review.

Galaxy Quest
Full text review.

Gambling Ship
(1933) During the 1930s, permanent gambling ships operated off the California shore; this melodrama about the little-known legal loophole stars Cary Grant as a gambler who gets tangled up with the ocean-going racketeers. Benita Hume and the hard-boiled Glenda Farrell co-star. (RvB)

The Game
Full text review.
(R; 128 min.) In his latest film, David (Seven) Fincher shuffles a series of false endings—and then chooses the cheapest, the easiest and the most nonsensical. And yet, as in all of Fincher's movies, there are passages of deep suspense, fright and shocking black comedy. The premise is something Rod Serling would have handled in 30 minutes: the comeuppance of Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a vicious, isolated San Francisco billionaire, at the hands of a company that plays dangerous games for hire with human beings. The tale unfolds episodically, with Van Orton fleeing from one trap to another. The action sequences are often tired and don't have any integral connection to the mood of invasive dread that Fincher's trying to establish. On the plus side, there is blonde Mongol Deborah Kara Unger (last seen in Crash), an outstanding fatale; her voice is so throaty that it seems to rumble subsonically. (RvB)

Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People)/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(1989/1939) Satyajit Ray's version of Ibsen's play. Here, the poisoned well is in a Hindu temple. Soumitra Chatterjee stars in the title role as the crusader. BILLED WITH Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. A Boy Ranger leader (James Stewart) goes to Washington to clean up the Senate, with only his secretary (Jean Arthur) for help. Meanwhile, a chorus of cynics observe and predict doom. On the bright side, director Frank Capra has an all-star lineup of cynics. The great character actor Thomas Mitchell, an expert at portraying unstable but likable drunks, co-stars with Claude Rains, Eugene Pallette, Guy Kibbee and Edward Arnold (Avarice, Gluttony, Sloth and Wrath—that's four of the Seven Deadly Sins right there). The film was thundered against by Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley. Sen. James Byrnes of South Carolina was more specific: "Here is a picture that is going to tell the country that 95 out of 96 senators are corrupt; that the federal, state and municipal governments are corrupt; that one corrupt boss can control the press of a state; that the newspapers are corrupt; the radios are corrupt; reporters are corrupt. ... The thing was outrageous ..." (quoted in Joseph McBride's essential Capra book, The Catastrophe of Success). Today's viewers may be less than shocked by these conclusions. The film's intimate moments—such as the drunk scene between Mitchell and Arthur, supposedly coached by Howard Hawks—outdoes the big patriotic heartstring-pullers: Stewart's filibuster, a vague blob of populism. Still, there's real bravery in this film, and it was Capra's highlight, before the coda of It's a Wonderful Life. (RvB)

Gang Related
(R; 111 min.) Davinci and Rodriguez (James Belushi and Tupac Shakur, respectively) are two crooked, coke-dealing detectives who smoke an undercover DEA agent looking to buy. The duo then frame a homeless man, who turns out to have a hidden past and a famous attorney (James Earl Jones). The movie offers a fair share of entertainment until the filmmakers start adding more plot enhancers—the stripper girlfriend as a key witness, a bedraggled bail bondsman, two goons following Rodriguez for past gambling debts. Why bother? Shakur leaves his fans with a good performance—alas, there will be no sequel to Gang Related. (TSI)

Gangs of New York
Full text review.

Gangster No. 1
Full text review.

Garage Days
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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Full text review.
(R; 95 min. ) In Vittorio De Sica's 1971 drama, the Finzi-Continis of Ferrara live in a walled estate. Their daughter, Micol (Dominique Sanda), exerts the same fascination on suitors that Daisy Buchanan held for Jay Gatsby. The poorer Giorgio (Lino Capolicchio) pines for her—as does the camera, searching out the riddle behind her enigmatic face. The strange languor of the Finzi-Continis continues even as the Mussolini government restricts the behavior of non-Aryans—for there is one thing the gilded family and the struggling Giorgio have in common: They are all Jews. De Sica delivers this lovely and evocative story as nostalgia in the best taste. This past is a garden we can't enter again—the last image is of a padlocked gate. (RvB)

Garden State
Full text review.
(R; 106 min.) Zach Braff's modest shoegazing love story ought to be a summer hit. Braff plays Andrew "Large" Largeman, a depressed actor come back to Jersey to bury his mother. While he's there, he meets Sam (a charming Natalie Portman); she's a girl-child with a touch of illness and a touch of sadness. It should be clear that Garden State is studiously like The Graduate, with Simon and Garfunkel on the soundtrack, yet it's still a funny, idiosyncratic movie. Braff's Large is as richly anhedonic as the comedian Steven Wright, and Braff makes the jungly summer in New Jersey look as verdant as a week in Costa Rica. (RvB)

Garfield: The Movie
(PG; 75 min.) The last time I heard anyone speak openly about Garfield was 1986. That makes this movie nearly two decades too late—I understand he hates Mondays and all, but that still leaves 3,744 business days between then and now that they could have used to make this movie while someone still cared. OK, you're right, I'm blowing things out of proportion. No one ever really cared about Garfield. (Capsule preview by SP)

Gaslight/A Double Life
(1944/1947) Ingrid Bergman stars in Gaslight, the famous melodrama about a woman being driven slowly insane by her husband (Charles Boyer); Angela Lansbury (debuting) and Joseph Cotton co-star. BILLED WITH A Double Life. Unfair, isn't it, that the passing of Garson Kanin got so little attention vis-à-vis the passing of Stanley Kubrick—but that's the nature of the game. Cosmic thunderers get all the attention, and a real master of sophisticated drama and comedy barely rates a newspaper mention. Fortunately, most of Kanin's best work is coming up in the next few weeks at the Stanford Theater: Adam's Rib, Pat and Mike and Born Yesterday. The Kanin-scripted A Double Life features Ronald Colman as an actor who has played Othello one too many times and begins to imagine his own wife is Desdemona. (RvB)

The Gatekeeper
(R; 103 min.) A poor man's life seems like a rich man's melodrama, so this indie film, shot in 18 days on a $200,000 budget, deserves slack despite its occasional thickness. John Carlos Frey directed this drama about illegal aliens enslaved on the California side of the border. Frey stars as Adam Fields, a bitter rogue migra agent who originally plans to lead a group of immigrants into a trap run by vigilantes, "The National Patrol." When Fields ends up wounded and forced to work in a meth lab, he learns compassion for the immigrants' struggle—and comes to terms with his own Mexican heritage, which he's tried to forget. Frey deserves great credit for tangling with this controversial subject in his maiden film; it's technically proficient and good looking for a low-budget picture. The scenes of Fields, irreconcilable at his mother's deathbed are particularly well done. With Luis Valdez regular Anne Betancourt as the healing woman and Joel Brooks as the beguiling, show-stopping villain Vance. (RvB)

The Gate of Heavenly Peace
(Unrated; 190 min.) The events of spring 1989 in Tiananmen Square, or "the Gate of Heavenly Peace," are followed (at length) by documentarians Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon. The story that emerges of the failed protests against the Chinese government surprises in its similarities to the fate of the 1960s youth movement here—and also in its roots with earlier Chinese student uprisings. The death of Hu Yaobang, Chairman Deng's purged former successor, stimulated the beginnings of the action in 1989 (public mourning for a dead reformer being a way of protesting when protests are forbidden). Soon, the students occupied the world's largest square for a series of demonstrations and hunger strikes, against which the Chinese government blustered but at first did nothing. As one student puts it, "We were begging, and the government virtually crumbled under our knees." Protest leader Chai Ling emerges from the masses as the figure most changed by the events: first energetic and confident of victory, later worn down from within and without by both government pressure and the increasing factionalization of the protesters. Ling symbolizes both the bravery of the students and the confusion of their goals. (RvB)

(PG-13; 112 min.) Like Mystery Science Theater 3000, Gattaca is also about a janitor with a boss who doesn't like him. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) longs to be shot into space, but he's prohibited from space travel by bad DNA. This dysfunctional society of the future is a hierarchy of the physically perfect over the rest of us. Vincent schemes to buy the identity of an embittered upper-class paraplegic so that he can go into space, but a murder case threatens to exposes Vincent just as he's about to go to Titan. Certain parts of Gattaca have personality. These include scenes of astronauts traveling to the orbit of Saturn in gray-flannel suits and another nice-try use of the Marin Civic Center as a spaceport. The cheap, unbelievable, coincidence-riddled murder plot; Uma Thurman's undue remoteness; Gore Vidal as Vincent's boss, barely containing his contempt for the script—all make this a chore to watch. Gattaca presents a repressed society as a frame for the usual winner-take-everything plot of a young guy pressing on with his career against all opposition. (RvB)

The Gay Divorcee/After the Thin Man
(1934/1936) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in their wittiest film comedy. It was the team's first starring vehicle and is an excellent introduction to the voodoo that they did so well. Aboard an ocean liner, Fred is mistaken by Ginger for a professional divorce "co-respondent" (see Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust for a detailed description of that occupation). Later come the immortal dances: "Night and Day" and "The Continental." BILLED WITH The Thin Man. William Powell and Myrna Loy star as the cool husband-and-wife team Nick and Nora Charles. Between rounds of martinis, Nick goes looking for a missing husband. It's based on a story by Dashiell Hammett and directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It is generally ranked as the best of the six films in the Thin Man series. (RvB)

The Gay Divorcee/42nd Street
(1934/1933) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their wittiest film comedy, The Gay Divorcee—an excellent introduction to the voodoo that they did so well. Aboard an ocean liner, Fred is mistaken by Ginger for a professional divorce "co-respondent" (see Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust for a detailed description of that occupation). Later come the immortal dances, particularly the acme of elegant romanticism onscreen, "Night and Day." For comedy relief from the romantic tension: Erik Rhodes' pre-Roberto Benigni performance as the original tasseled Italian loafer; also Alice Brady, Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton, and Betty Grable (in silk pajamas) doing "Let's K-nock K-nees." BILLED WITH 42nd Street. "The backstage musical par excellence," wrote Tony Thomas and Jim Terry in their book The Busby Berkeley Musical. Here's the dialogue to prove it: (to Ruby Keeler's Peggy Sawyer, the understudy who takes over after the mean star breaks a leg) "Sawyer, you listen to me and you listen hard. Two hundred people, 200 jobs, 200,000 dollars, five weeks of grind and blood and sweat depend on you. It's the lives of all these people who've worked with you. You've got to go on and got to give and give and give! They've got to like you, got to! Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" The focus on the hard work of musical-making was Warner Bros.' province, and it fit in with the other socially conscious films they were creating at the studio ("Inaugurating a New Deal in Entertainment," said the poster, emphasizing the political side of escapism like 42nd Street). The backstage musical theme worked so well that it was reprised a dozen times in different Warner Bros. films—powered with choreographer Berkeley's wheeling, marching and military drilling of chorus girls, and sweetened with the adorable but never cloying Ruby Keeler and her swain, Dick Powell. Directed by San Jose's own Lloyd Bacon. (RvB)

The Gay Divorcee/Swing Time
(1934/1936) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in The Gay Divorcee, their wittiest film comedy. It was the team's first starring vehicle, and it's an excellent introduction to the voodoo that they did so well. Aboard an ocean liner, Fred is mistaken by Ginger for a professional divorce "co-respondent" (see Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust for a detailed description of that occupation). Later come the immortal dances: "Night and Day" and "The Continental." For comedy relief from the romantic tension: Erik Rhodes' pre-Roberto Benigni performance as the original tasseled Italian loafer. Also: Alice Brady, Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton and Betty Grable (in silk pajamas) doing "Let's K-nock K-nees." BILLED WITH Swing Time, a more demure vehicle for Fred and Ginger. Ginger is a dance instructor at the Gordon Dancing Academy who encounters a gambler named "Lucky" Garnett (Astaire), who is trying to ditch an inconvenient fiancée (Betty Furness). Songs include: "A Fine Romance," "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Pick Yourself Up." (RvB)

The Gay Divorcee/Trouble in Paradise
(1934/1932) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their wittiest film comedy—an excellent introduction to the voodoo that they did so well. Aboard an ocean liner, Fred is mistaken by Ginger for a professional divorce "co-respondent" (see Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust for a detailed description of that occupation). Later come the immortal dances, particularly the acme of elegant romanticism onscreen, "Night and Day." For comedy relief from the romantic tension: Erik Rhodes' preRoberto Benigni performance as the original tasseled Italian loafer; also Alice Brady, Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton, and Betty Grable (in silk pajamas) doing "Let's K-nock K-nees." BILLED WITH Trouble in Paradise. Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis star in one of the most fondly remembered of Ernst Lubitsch's comedies—a movie all the more beloved for the fact that it was impossible to see for decades. In it, a pair of jewel thieves find that love complicates their business endeavors; don't turn up late and miss the beginning, which sums up the splendor and rot of Venice in one memorable image. (Plays Nov 3-6 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theater.) (RvB)

The Gay Falcon/The Naked Spur
(1941/1953) The Saint's creator, Leslie Charteris, sued after he saw this movie about the Falcon, probably because the Falcon was the Saint with the serial numbers filed off. This debonair detective is played (as the Saint had been) by George Sanders. He plays Gay Lawrence, a gentleman sleuth in search of jewel thieves. Wendie Barrie is the leading lady, Allen Jenkins provides the comedy relief, and for what it's worth, this Gay Falcon happens to be a heterosexual. BILLED WITH The Naked Spur. The title refers to greed. While he was fighting the Civil War, Howard Kemp (James Stewart) had his ranch sold by his wife, who took the money and left with another man. Now in the bounty-hunting trade, Kemp aims to make $5,000 bringing in a murderer (Robert Ryan). His partners in this business: a washed-out prospector (Millard Mitchell) and a thuggish Army vet (Ralph Meeker; Brando's understudy in the Broadway version of A Streetcar Named Desire). One of the best-regarded, most morally complex Westerns, directed by Anthony Mann. (RvB)

The General
(1927) Buster Keaton, as the engineer Johnnie Gray, is tricked out with a feathery coiffure and a huge cravat, like a caricature of a romantic poet. Johnnie has two loves in his life. One is a girl, Annabelle (Marion Mack); the other is his locomotive, The General. It is considered Keaton's masterpiece, possibly because it's the most sturdily plotted of his films. The General is based on the true-life story of Captain Anderson, a Civil War spy who stole a locomotive from the Confederates. The comedy of war is Keaton's theme here—the gun that misfires and kills the wrong man, the officer's wrongheaded command—all summed up in the sequence in which Buster is chased by a huge, blunt cannon with almost-human malignance. Weirdly, The General didn't make it onto the AFI's top-100 list; what were they thinking? Silent. (RvB)

The General (1998)
Full text review.

General Chaos
Full text review.

The General/The Mollycoddle
(1926/1920) Buster Keaton, as the engineer Johnnie Gray, is tricked out with a feathery coiffure and a huge cravat, like a caricature of a romantic poet. Johnnie has two loves in his life. One is a girl, Annabelle (Marion Mack); the other is his locomotive, The General. The film is considered Keaton's masterpiece, possibly because it's not just about love but about the comedy of war: the gun that misfires and kills the wrong man, the officer's wrongheaded command—all summed up in the sequence in which Buster is chased by a huge, blunt cannon that's alive with almost-human malignance. That this is a Civil War film made when the war was still in living memory is one thing that recommends it; on a baser level, this is something you absolutely want to take your kids to see. Watched on a large screen with live music and a huge audience makes all the difference. BILLED WITH The Mollycoddle. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. stars as the son of a good western family who's had his blood thinned from living overseas in Europe. Fortunately, he's restored to virtue when a diamond smuggler (Wallace Beery) attacks the woman he loves. Dennis James at the Stanford's Wurlitzer. (RvB)

The General's Daughter
Full text review.
(R; 115 min.) John Travolta plays Paul Brenner, a CID investigator vested with the authority to arrest any officer in the Army. Madeleine Stowe plays Sarah, a rape investigator. The pair are assigned to investigate the murder of the daughter of a revered general (James Cromwell). The fishiest of red-herring suspects is psychiatrist Col. Moore (James Woods), who is such a mad doctor that he listens to classical music in a silk gown. The General's Daughter would be tragic if you could believe a minute of it. At one point, Travolta is bludgeoned by shovels, only to pop up in the next scene dabbing the back of his head daintily with a clean handkerchief. In telling a story that would scare any woman out of enlisting, director Simon West displays both a point of view and a provocative subject. But he undercuts them with the usual beauty shots of the helicopters and planes. (RvB)

Genghis Blues
Full text review.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
(1953) The larger-than-life CinemaScopic Marilyn in a delightfully brash musical. A pair of ex-Little Rock gold diggers, including the dumb-like-a-fox Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and her shrewder pal, Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell), hit an ocean liner in pursuit of millionaires, diamonds, etc. (RvB)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes/Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
(1953/1957) Howard Hawks' brash musical about "two little girls from Little Rock": half-bright golddigger Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and her shrewder pal Dorothy (Jane Russell). Sexy, campy and always funny, it's a different movie on the big screen than it is on TV. BILLED WITH Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? "I had just discovered the difference between living and earning a living"—Frank Tashlin. Ad man Tony Randall finds his life upended after he signs up the greatly-bosomed Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield) to shill for his lipstick company. Troubles by the score descend on the couple, particularly in the form of the starlet's large, muscular boyfriend, "Bobo Branigansky" (Mickey Hargitay). Director Tashlin claimed this was his best film; few directors topped the anarchic qualities of Tashlin's satires of American mania. (Plays Aug 26-27 in Palo Alto at the Stanford Theater.) (RvB)

George of the Jungle
(PG; 92 min.) A disappointing, low-class comedy based on one of Jay Ward's lesser cartoons. What was really memorable was the theme song—heard here in a weak version by the Presidents of the United States, when it needed a Tito Puente or a Pete Escovedo (this is the first movie ever based on a drum solo). The story is a letter-by-letter parody of Tarzan. Rather than play it straight, a narrator explains many of the jokes—some of which are easy to grasp, to say the least (such as the villain Thomas Haden Church falling face-forward into elephant dung). As George, Brendan Fraser almost pleads for direction; he doesn't find it from director Sam Weisman (Bye Bye Love, D2). The film squanders a beloved plot, expensive effects and locations, the voice of John Cleese as Ape and a marvelous stunt on the Bay Bridge—not to mention the goodwill of people who remember the cartoon fondly. This coarse, clumsy picture represents the ugly side of Disney: cheapening a good story and selling it relentlessly. (RvB)

George Washington
Full text review.

Full text review.
The age-old battle of the intellect versus the passions, fought to the age-old standstill: It's like watching therapy. Georgia (Mare Winningham), a folk-rock warbler of the Emmylou Harris academy, contends with her punk-rock-croaker sister, Sadie (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Fine acting, especially by Leigh, despite the heavy shading drawn by director Ulu Grosbard and writer Barbara Turner, both of whom have less feeling for punk life than Tom Snyder. If one sister is Apollo and the other is Dionysius, both are, ultimately, really bad in concert, as one hears in extensive performance scenes. Leigh's painful, emotion-packed assault on Van Morrison's "Take Me Back" is a real nightmare; you'd have to have a heart of stone to be moved by it. (RvB)

Georgia Rule
(R; 113 min.) Domineering grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda) has driven her daughter Lilly (Felicity Huffman) to drink. Worse, Lilly's second husband (Cary Elwes) may or may not have molested Lilly's daughter, Rachel (Lindsay Lohan). Rachel, a hellraising San Francisco bad girl, is forced to spend the summer with Georgia in small-town Idaho, where the truth comes out. Written by Mark Andrus (As Good As It Gets), the movie is quite a bit smarter than some of director Garry Marshall's other weepies (Beaches, The Other Sister), and Marshall's comic touches make the material bearable, but his big, happy, clumsy style ultimately isn't suited for finely tuned melodrama. The performances are fine, though Fonda has surprisingly little to do. Dermot Mulroney plays the hangdog local doctor. (JMA)

Full text review.

Get Bruce
Full text review.

Get Carter
(R; 102 min.) The visual equivalent of fusion cuisine, Get Carter mixes crime, redemption, Stallone and trance music into a dog's breakfast. Get Carter is based on Michael Caine's tough, understated 1971 film portrayal of a Newcastle spiv. Stallone's Carter is a terse, shiny-suited Vegas enforcer returning home to Seattle to avenge his brother's death. Stallone's performance is workmanlike, however, director Steven Kay gamely glosses over a punch-drunk script by using extravagant post-production tricks such as stop-action fight scenes and oblique camera angles lifted from David Fincher's Se7en. The film looks like a well-dressed WWF match punctuated by slick BMW ads. Stallone deserves better; so does the audience. (DH)

Get on the Bus
Full text review.
(R; 122 min.) The title refers to the long ride across country from L.A. to Washington, D.C., that 15 African American characters make on their way to the Million Man March. Spike Lee's latest film is distinguished by its exceptional ensemble cast. Black-film's grand old man, Ossie Davis, is particularly poignant as a man who has kowtowed to white folks all his life only to find himself down and out and, as it turns out, dying. Charles S. Dutton's role as a level-headed bus driver fits him like a glove; the former star and executive producer of Fox television's Roc deserves wider recognition. Lee's ride is singularly bumpy; there's plenty of dissension, discord and straight-up dissin' among these 15 brothers. In an attempt to reflect post-MMM realpolitiks, Get on the Bus offers no quick and simple solutions to fix the mess blackfolk are in, but like the event it circuitously documents, Get on the Bus is a trip well worth taking. (NB)

Get Over It
(PG-13) With their kick-ass tunes and wacky characters flowing through tales of PG-13 love, a good teen comedy can get you high. Energetic, sweet, and occasionally funny, Get Over It pulses with enough originality and heart to counteract a script that often turns to the trash for laughs. Freshly dumped Burke (Ben Foster) is a mess. His ex-girlfriend (Melissa Sagemiller) has hooked up with an obnoxious exchange-student hunk. Burke will do anything to win her back—even try out for the school play. Along with his goofball friends and the charming, kind Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), Burke sets a plot in motion that includes tender renderings of Shakespeare and a recurring dog-humping joke. Director Tommy O'Haver (Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss) and his likable cast generate a fun, funky vibe that fuses dance-party energy with moments of genuine emotion. (BP)

Get Real
Full text review.

Get Rich or Die Tryin'
(R; 134 min.) Roughly based on 50 Cent's crack-to-riches story, the film stars Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as Marcus—a young man navigating his way through Jamaica Queens with a dime bag and a dream. In the absence of a moral center, he takes to selling sniffables on the boulevard before graduating to the local drug-running crew overseen by Majestic (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, the scheming prison thug Adebisi in Oz). 50 climbs up the corporate coca ladder, does a bid, gets shot, works on his raps in prison and promises to trade the crack game for the rap game. Director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In America) doesn't spare audiences the violence—a prison shower scene with flailing naked men, numerous bodies catching bullets and beat-downs, a snitch getting an emergency tooth extraction. Yet Sheridan is able to soften the rapper's steel exterior, coaxing a tear from 50's eye during one poignant scene. Get Rich is similar to 8 Mile—rapper beats hard odds to get to the top. It's also a little like Kurosawa's Yojimbo; Marcus is a flawed character, very flawed, and unsure of what is right and wrong, but audiences can't help pulling for him anyway. People may mistake the sentimental 50 for the real 50, a man of multiple beefs and a separatist streak. And in his transition to film, Get Rich has its share of groanable moments. It's no 8 Mile, but it's no Cool As Ice either. (TI)

Get Shorty
Full text review.
(R; 105 min.) It would be easy to hate the hugely entertaining commercial contrivance that is Get Shorty—except for the fact that it works, like its hero, Chili Palmer (John Travolta), on several different levels. For one thing, it's based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, our foremost practitioner of crime fiction. Leonard takes his small-time loan shark Palmer and puts him in Hollywood, where he thrives by pitching his own saga to a horror-movie producer (Gene Hackman). Chili is the only hustler in the story who genuinely loves movies, and he becomes a Hollywood player with dazzling speed. Travolta strides through the Hollywood of Get Shorty like a bemused camp counselor, amazed that such penny-whistle tough guys could have maneuvered themselves into positions of power. (RvB)

Getting to Know You
(96 min.) Jimmy and Judith (Michael Weston, and Heather Matarazzo, the "Wiener Dog" from Welcome to the Dollhouse) wait for a bus and tell about their lives. This omnibus film is based on a trio of stories by Joyce Carol Oates. 1: Judith and her brother (Zach Braff) live on the road because of their itinerant parents who are ballroom dancers (Bebe Neuwirth, Mark Blum) 2: Two women (Tristine Skyler and Sonja Sohn) meet a gambler (Chris Noth) in Atlantic City. 3: A childless woman (Mary McCormack) endures her marriage to her God-besotted husband (Leo Burmester). Lisanne Skyler previously directed a documentary about pawnshops, No Loans Today.

GFest Film Festival
(NR) A traveling film festival of extreme outdoor pursuits, the GFest this year takes a look at windsurfing, mountain biking and avalanches among other daring and dramatic sports in seven short films.

Ghare Baire (Home and the World)/Tagore
(1984/1961) 1912: a maharajah (Victor Bannerjee) seeking to modernize his realm urges his complacent wife (Swatilekha Chatterjee) to education. Her emergence out of purdah is "the home" part of the story. Outside in "the world" is violence, violence orchestrated by her husband's new friend: a nationalist and terrorist (Soumitra Chatterjee), who enthralls the wife. Satyajit Ray's story is about the first results of the Indian partition into Hindu and Muslim states, those ripples which seem so likely to lead to the next nuclear war. Tagore's elegant metaphor for the rough introduction of India to the outside world is illustrated in glowing color. BILLED WITH Tagore. Satyajit Ray's documentary about Rabindranath Tagore commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Tagore was a towering figure in the cultural history of India—as a young man Ray attended Tagore's funeral, barefoot, as is the custom to show respect in India. (RvB)

The Ghost and the Darkness
(R; 105 min.) The two lions who terrorized the railway camp of Tsavo in East Africa in 1896 are said to have killed more than 100 humans. In the movie version of the tale, a construction engineer, J.H. Patterson (Val Kilmer), finds his camp under siege by the seemingly unstoppable cats. The workers are on the verge of revolt when a famous hunter, Remington (Michael Douglas), shows up, and everyone sets out to beat the bush looking for two very big and fearless lions. It's a natural story for the movies and works well in a B-movie way. Audiences, justly sentimental about lions, aren't easily led to appreciate the killing of them, but the action sequences are effective in proving that these particular lions ought to be shot. Still, director Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2) doesn't manage to fix the problem of attitude, and the story shifts between a ripping adventure yarn and an expose of colonial squalor. (RvB)

(1984) Pro: Sigourney Weaver, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Rick Moranis, and Bill Murray's blissful sneakiness. Con: Ernie Hudson, practically wearing a T-shirt that says "Black Sidekick," Ray Parker's criminally repetitious theme song. (RvB; 1997)

While watching last week's midnight movie, Stripes, I thought, "Oh duh, this is how Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis ended up being the Ghostbusters," since this was director Ivan Reitman's next movie after his 1981 military spoof. (Hey, I was, like, prepubescent when these movies were coming out, so forgive me if I'm a little slow.) But then it turns out that, no, Venkman was originally written for John Belushi, and the movie was originally built around him, Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. John Candy was supposed to be Tully, Gozer was written for Paul Reubens and Sandra Bernhard was going to be Dana. Wow! In some alternate universe somewhere, I bet that movie got made. It'd be a cool place to visit, but I don't know if I'd want to live there. (SP; 2005)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir/Laura
(1947/1944) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is one of the best and smartest Hollywood romances—tangy in a way that few of them are. A Victorian lady novelist (Gene Tierney) rents haunted Gull Cottage by the sea, only to find it visited by the dashing and irascible ghost of a sea captain (Rex Harrison). As he dictates his memoirs to the widow, he falls in love, but she's lured by all-too fallible flesh and blood in the form of one of George Sanders' most dreadful men, "a perfumed parlor snake" who writes bestselling children's books. ("Lord knows, I loathe the little brutes.") The score is by Bernard Herrmann. BILLED WITH Laura, a beloved but overpraised mystery about a detective (Dana Andrews) who falls in love with the picture of a dead woman. Clifton Webb provides rich fun as a fancy critic. (RvB)

Ghost Dog
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Ghost in the Shell
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(1996) Japanese anime about a socialized medicine scheme gone worse than even Harry and Louise could imagine. A cybernetic machine designed to tend, nurse and diaper "wrinklies"—as senior citizens are referred to—becomes inhabited with the spirit of an old man's late wife. When the heartless HMO of the future tries to unplug it on financial grounds, the machine goes haywire, turning into a transformer robot that duels with the police. The film has more heart than the average anime, but the vocal acting is still flat as the average imported cartoon. (RvB)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
(PG-13; 100 min.) They still shoot first and ask questions later, but now the questions are intricate philosophy 101 paradoxes about the nature of humanity: what separates man from machines, and machine-driven dolls from men. Be warned, this talkative anime is as full of hot air and Bartlett's Familiar Quotations as What #$*! Do We Know!?. In the cybernetics-laden future, Batou, a cyborg cop with steel buttons, for eyes teams up with a mostly human cop named Togusa; the two investigate the murder of shady businessmen by "sexaroids"—sex-bots—which apparently is the work of a mysterious outside-the-pale robot company, protected by a virtual-reality maze. This very cryptic movie is recommended for rabid Matrix fans, who are still swooning over the possibility that our world is all an illusion (if so, it's a far better illusion than the ones I see in the movie theaters). The animation is often quite lovely and dramatic—especially in the villain's palace, centered around a macabre four-story-high music box. And the tender depiction of Batou's one love in life—his basset hound—gives this sequel to the 1995 anime milestone some emotional heft. At the same time, the film stalls out over its own effects; it's prone to flashing golden holographic banners, gears, spindles and electronic dingbats familiar from the computer-animated titles on a sports event on network television. Swallowing some of the plot was hard, particularly the detail about the sex-bot murders being hushed up because of familial embarrassment. Wouldn't expensive sex-bots be status symbols in the future? When Betamax home video first came out, it was an open secret that the beauty part of it was being able to bring porn into the home, and out of the scary dingy theaters where it customarily showed. Yet the future here is governed by the same moral law as the present. What good's a future, if people aren't going to be more loose? (RvB)

Ghost Rider
(PG-13; 114 min.) A distinctly minor comic book gets its big-screen debut. To save his father, teenager Johnny Blaze sells his soul to Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda). Years later, the grownup Evel Knievel-like star (Nicolas Cage) is called back into service. Writer/director Mark Steven Johnson may have learned something from his previous duds Simon Birch and Daredevil, since this film is noticeably cleaner and lighter. But though it may feel effortless, it also feels as if it is not trying at all. Every plot turn is slavishly predictable, certain lines of dialogue telegraph themselves, and the cheap-looking CG ghost-head effect is off-putting rather than heroic. However, Eva Mendes adds a bit of warmth as the traditional love interest. (JMA)

The Ghost Riders
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Ghost Ship
(R; 85 min.) A haunted ocean liner terrorizes a crew of treasure seekers. Stars Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies.

Ghosts of Mississippi
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(PG-13; 123 min.) Nineteen ninety-three was the year white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith finally received a life sentence for the murder of Medgar Evers. Nineteen ninety-six will stand as the year Hollywood dared to engage the topic of racial injustice by crediting a few good white men with doing the right thing. Reiner's film puts a white knight in the center of the action—Bobby DeLaughter (Alec Baldwin), the Mississippi assistant DA who reopened the case—although the actor getting the bulk of Reiner's attention is James Woods, as the 73-year-old De La Beckwith. It's perhaps inevitable that a vicious monster would make the most striking impression, but that doesn't let Reiner off the hook—a formulaic happy ending isn't much reward for two hours of KKK-style venom. (RN)

Ghost World
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(1956) Three hours and 18 minutes about Texas, in a drama wrought as huge as humanly possible by director George Stevens. It's all about the coming of big-oil money to hard-bitten cattle ranchers, and it is based on an incredible story (check Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson to see how ragged the Texans were, and how rich they became). Yet the movie survives not as an example of 1950s gigantism but because of something smaller and more intimate: the performance by James Dean as the weakling who snaps under the stress of the transition. It was his last movie, and he was already dead and on his way to legend by the time Giant was released. (Plays Aug 12 at sundown in downtown Campbell; see; free.) (RvB)

The Gift
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(1958) An elderly French roué (Maurice Chevalier) thanks heaven for little girls, particularly the fresh schoolgirl Leslie Caron, groomed for his embrace. The unlikely story (from Colette) was the source of one of the most honored of all screen musicals by Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot). Louis Jourdan and Hermione Gingold co-star. (RvB)

Gigi/The Reluctant Debutante
(Both 1958) An elderly French roué (Maurice Chevalier) thanks heaven for little girls, particularly the fresh schoolgirl Leslie Caron. The unlikely story (from Colette) was the source of one of the most honored of all screen musicals by Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot). Louis Jourdan and Hermione Gingold co-star. BILLED WITH The Reluctant Debutante. Vincente Minnelli's comedy about an American stepdaughter getting the works in London society. Stars Rex Harrison and his wife, the ill-fated comedienne Kay Kendall, and Sandra Dee—the 1950s' answer to Reese Witherspoon? (RvB)

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G.I. Jane
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Gilda/The Reckless Moment
(1946/1949) Man-killer Rita Hayworth prowls a South American casino and puts the make on Glenn Ford, who has—as this movie suggests—a previous romantic commitment to George Macready, who happens to be married to Hayworth. The bisexual story made this a notorious hit. Hayworth (sublime in her shoulderless gown) is hard to argue with. BILLED WITH The Reckless Moment. Here it is: the best Valentine's Day movie in town. It's Max Ophüls' poignant film about a reluctant assistant blackmailer named Martin Donnelly (James Mason) and his prey, Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett). What starts as a crime drama becomes a doomed love story. Mason is a seriously brooding romantic lead who, as seen in North by Northwest, gave even Cary Grant a rival to worry about. The Reckless Moment was not a hit, due, Mason said, to a preview where the soundtrack went out of sync; the experience shortened Ophüls' already short life, Mason guessed. Inconsequentially remade as The Deep End (2001). (RvB)

The Gilded Lily/The Whole Town's Talking
(Both 1935) A pair of rarities. Wesley Ruggles (I'm No Angel, No Man of Her Own) directs this light romance about a woman (Claudette Colbert) torn between a married Duke (Ray Milland) and her chum, a feisty reporter (Fred MacMurray). BILLED WITH The Whole Town's Talking, starring Edward G. Robinson as a meek little man who's the spiting image of a notorious gangster. Directed by John Ford. (RvB)

Gimme Shelter
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The Gingerbread Man
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Ginger Snaps
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The Girl at the Monceau Bakery
(1963) Barbet Schroeder and Claudine Soubrier star in the first of French New Wave director Eric Rohmer's "moral tales." (AR)

Girl Crazy
(1932) "I Got Rhythm" and "Embraceable You" ornament this George and Ira Gershwin musical about a playboy (Eddie Quillan) exiled to Custerville, Ariz., at his parents' command. He ends up turning the family's ranch into a cowboy-themed cabaret with the help of his buddies, the vaudeville comedians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey. Later remade with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. (RvB)

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Girl From Jones Beach/Million Dollar Baby
(1949/1941) Ronald Reagan stars as an artist who creates a pinup girl out of a composite of several models; reporter Eddie Bracken is on the trail, trying to discover who she is, and mistakes Virginia Mayo for the muse in question. It was a solo writing effort by I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder's partner. Bracken later claimed that he broke a few of Reagan's vertebrae with the slapstick here. BILLED WITH Million Dollar Baby. Priscilla Lane finds that money can't buy happiness when she inherits a fortune from her cranky old aunt (May Robson). Ronald Reagan plays her boyfriend, a composer. (RvB)

The Girl From Paris
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Girl, Interrupted
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The Girl Next Door (2000)
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The Girl Next Door (2004)
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Girl on the Bridge
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Girl Shy
(1924) A stuttering small-town virgin (Harold Lloyd) writes a bestselling love manual. Though Lloyd is best remembered as a stunning physical comedian—pantomiming a stutter is no easy work—this was his most sophisticated comedy, parodying the movie-fed imagination of sirens and sex goddesses. Lloyd also had a delicately funny leading lady in Jobyna Ralston. The final chase scene is Lloyd's most flabbergasting; circumstances lead up to him dangling from the antenna of a speeding streetcar. (RvB)

Girl 6
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Girls Town
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(Rated R; 90 min.) Best friends Patti (Lili Taylor), Angela (Bruklin Harris) and Emma (Anna Grace) test out methods of fighting the power. Where the girls of Kids got only token scenes of dishing about sex before becoming one-dimensional prey, Girls Town is constructed entirely around improvised scenes created by the three lead actors and director Jim McKay (and co-writer Denise Casano) during workshops prior to the shooting. Another of the film's unique elements is its vision of a racially integrated girls' clique—a deliberate tactic that the New York Times' reviewer interpreted as a weakness of the script. Maybe so, but this quality reflects the movie's intent to communicate to adolescents rather than about them. The unfashionable greatness of Girls Town stems from its belief that being real isn't enough these days. (RN)

Girls Will Be Girls
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Girl With a Pearl Earring
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The Glass House
(PG-13; 111 min.) Throwing stones at this glass house is justifiable. The Glass House is a rickety structure. The plot is vintage Daphne Du Maurier melodrama: 16-year-old Ruby (Leelee Sobieski) and her younger brother lose their parents in a car crash. They're fostered by her parents' friends, the Glasses, played by Stellan Skarsgaard and Diane Lane. The pair are wealthy and they live in a blood-freezing modernist glass house in Malibu. Since this house and supporting walls are mostly transparent, and because Ruby is shy about her body, there's a possible subject for youth-appeal drama here. Surely most teenagers today feel badly over-monitored, spied upon by their parents. But immediately, the Glasses show their rotten side. Leelee Sobieski's face made me risk seeing this one. When later on, some director uses Sobieski's asymmetry—those pale Florentine features opposed to a large Roman nose—for treacherousness instead of superficial sweetness—maybe then the actress has a chance to make a serious impression on the world. (RvB)

The Glass Key/Pitfall
(1942/1948) The Glass Key is based on Dashiell Hammett's tricky novel about the right-hand man of a bent politician, caught between the law and the lawbreakers. Alan Ladd stars with Veronica Lake; Brian Donlevy, Joseph Calliea (the Maltese opera star who played Orson Welles' hero-worshipping pal in Touch of Evil) and William Bendix. Nitrate print from the UCLA archives. BILLED WITH Pitfall, a gripping, neglected and quite modern drama about adultery. Dick Powell plays a bored dad who works for the Olympic Mutual Insurance company. Since he won't stop complaining about how dull the routine is, the gods send him something to make his life interesting. She's Lizabeth Scott, a model who was the fiancee of a convicted embezzler who is being audited by the company in order to recover the money. The job was already begun by "Mac," a private detective—"a weird one," rasps the husky-voiced Scott. That's an understatement; Mac (Raymond Burr, who's as big as an armoire) is a disgustingly lecherous stalker. When the married Powell goes in for a tryst, violence isn't far away. Director André De Toth (working from a script by Karl Kamb) makes Powell's steps into a lethal mess (which is somehow logical from beginning to end), with understated acting and crisp dialogue: "What did you do in the war?" "Whatever I was told." In the always difficult role of Powell's betrayed wife, Jane Wyatt is excellent. She excels in depicting the gruff side of married life, as well as the way a husband and wife can work together to contain a bad situation. (RvB)

The Glenn Miller Story/Song of the Thin Man
(1953/1947) Jimmy Stewart stars in the biopic of the bandleader, with real-life musicians Louis Armstrong, Gene Krupa and Cozy Cole as guests. Heavily fictionalized, of course. One of the rare onscreen appearances of Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger. At 6-feet-5, Ravenscroft should be easily visible as the baritone singer in the Mellotones; he's also earned his place in the Hall of the Deathless as the singer of everybody's favorite Christmas carol, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." BILLED WITH Song of the Thin Man. The sixth in the series, with Nick, Nora and Nick Jr. hunting a killer in the world of the nightclubs. (RvB)

The Glimmer Man
(R; 91 min.) In a fictional Los Angeles, where parking places are abundant and cops live in big houses, a New Age detective (Steven Seagal) joins up with an all-American flatfoot (Keenen Ivory Wayans) to catch a psycho-killer with a thing for crucifixions. Wayans gets off a couple of jokes, but he spends most of his time trying not to upstage Seagal—a difficult task, as Seagal has about as much personality as a rock. There's a side plot involving the Russian mafia, but even the main storyline doesn't make enough sense to be worth following. The important thing is that Seagal kicks butt vigorously and often. (BC)

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Global Lens Film Festival (2006)
This week's screenings include: Almost Brothers. In Rio de Janeiro, a government employee and a drug kingpin find common ground through music. (Plays Sep 20 at 7pm and Sep 21 at 9pm.) Max and Mona. In South Africa, a professional graveside mourner becomes involved with his rascally uncle. (Plays Sep 20 at 9pm.) The Night of Truth. On the eve of a truce-signing in a war-torn imaginary African republic, trouble breaks out. (Plays Sep 21 at 7pm.) Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures. An unlikely pair become friends in a remote quarter of Brazil in 1942: a German trying to dodge being drafted into the wartime army, and a farmer whose livelihood is affected by a bad drought. Together, the two get into the picture business—taking movies from hamlet to hamlet by truck. (Plays Sep 22 at 9pm.) Thirst. Tawfik Abu Wael's penetrating drama of a man's stubbornness takes place in an abandoned village in an Israeli Army patrolled zone, where a Palestinian elder squats with his family. He has money to live in the city, but his daughter's unmarried pregnancy has made him an exile. Keeping himself alive with hijacked water and stolen wood, he sells charcoal, and insists that his family stay with him, despite his son's increasing frustration and longing to leave for school. (Plays Sep 22 at 7pm.) (The festival runs Sep 20-22 in San Jose at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock.) (RvB)

Gloomy Sunday
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Gloria (1999)
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Glorifying the American Girl
(1929) A revue movie starring Eddie Cantor, Rudy Vallee, Florenz Ziegfeld, Ring Lardner, Noah Beery and lots of chorus girls. (AR)

Glory Daze
(Unrated; 104 min.) Under the title Last Call, this repellent independent film played Cinequest. For all the good it'll do, they might as well have changed the name to Citizen Kane II. Five drunken UC-Santa Cruz students face the inevitable shutting down of their group house—"El Rancho Grande"—with much beer drinking and trash talking. "Do you ever wonder what happens to the overeducated rich kids the art colleges turned out?" is the first line—in a word, no. The female characters are, pretty much as one character puts it, "disease-free harbors in which you can park your genitals." For conflict, there's the war with adults. Spalding Gray plays the hero's dad who tries to force the hero into a job at the shipping and receiving dock—right where he belongs, as far as I could tell. The traditional deference shown to local independent filmmakers is, I think, easily tossed out the window in the face of nearly two hours worth of this expensively photographed but crude, self-pitying and stupid vanity production. Someday, Matthew McConnaughey (A Time to Kill) will probably not want to be reminded that he played the "rental truck guy." (RvB)

Glory Road
(PG; 106 min.) From the producer who brought you Remember The Titans comes ... exactly the same movie! Only for basketball! And with different actors! But with the same message! Winning is awesome! There was once discrimination in sports! But you know what overcomes discrimination! Winning! At sports! It's awesome! (Capsule preview by SP)

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