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Landing in Virginia in 1607, Smith (Farrell) is intoxicated by the land's abundance and awestruck by the grace of Pocahontas (Kilcher). In their sylvan rapture they could be the American Adam and Eve. Or is he, as the envoy of European civilization, the snake in her Eden? She may need another, steadier gallant, John Rolfe (Bale), as her heart's compromise.
This is no breathless film fantasy; its pulse is stately, contemplative. But anyone who has keen eyes and an open heart will surely go soaring and crashing with the lovers lost in Malick's exotic, erotic new world.
THE PRODUCERS Starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell. Directed by Susan Stroman. Opens Dec. 16
In case you didn't notice, The Producers, in its several incarnations, basically benignly blesses the low-business heart of anything-goes show business. The film-from-a-musical-from-a-film is a hard-driving hymn to crooked producers, manic sight gags and a complete indifference to questions of good taste and large meaning.
Stroman's transfer of her direction of Mel Brooks' Broadway musical about a lunatic producer (Lane) and a neurotic one (Broderick) trying to put on a musical so bad it will be a flop is quite literal and jolly. There's no attempt to address the show's endemic weak spots--a slow start and a contrived end. Mostly Stroman just lets it rip. But in some respects the movie is an improvement on the show. Thurman and Ferrell bring a winning naiveté to their parts; Gary Beach is unimprovable, repeating his role as a sweetly inept director-star; and the movie gives Stroman, who also choreographed, an apt setting to honor Hollywood dance masters from Busby Berkeley to Fred Astaire. A good time is had by all, and the spirit is infectious.
CACHE (HIDDEN) Starring Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche. Directed by Michael Haneke. Opens Dec. 23
Someone is trying to scare a decent family: TV host Georges (Auteuil), his wife Anne (Binoche) and their 12-year-old son. And doing a fine job of it. The surveillance videotapes of their home, dropped through a mail slot, announce a threat both pernicious and patient. It's time for Georges to show grace under pressure. But unlike the standard film hero, Georges is a flawed, troubled soul. Pressure brings out his shakiest instincts. As the clamp tightens, he is reminded of a long-repressed shame. Could his tormentor's motive be not simple sadism but righteous revenge?
Haneke, an Austrian who now works in France, is a master of elegant film pranks. (He called one of his movies Funny Games.) Hidden is a creepy, complicitous thriller that ratchets up the tension even as it asks us to study the mechanics of film fright. Haneke's camera, so quietly predatory, is the herald of disaster. And we the viewers are its beneficiaries, watching and waiting for something awful to happen. Here it does, first subtly, then spectacularly. The twist is not revealed until the last shot--if you keep your avid eyes open.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE Starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton. Directed by Andrew Adamson. Now playing