Samuel L. Jackson and Toni Collette in Shaft

SHAFT and FANTASIA 2000

For about a month now, when friends have asked me what new movies they should see, I've come dangerously close to drawing a blank. I'd mention Gladiator (which, naturally, most of them had already seen) and Small Time Crooks (which, sadly, most were uninterested in). Then I'd generally guide them in a different direction altogether, like Paul Thomas Anderson's magnificent Magnolia, which recently returned to Moline's discount cineplex. Or video and DVD, with the recent release of two extraordinary documentaries: Chris Smith's hilarious and touching American Movie, probably the best film of 1999 that wasn't seen locally, and Errol Morris' disturbing but brilliant Mr. Death: The Rise & Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

Jim Caviezel in FrequencyFREQUENCY

All tearjerkers, in one way or another, focus on death. Tearjerkers for Guys, however, focus on the death (or impending death) of one's father. For my money, the crème de la crème of this genre is Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner's love of baseball (another Tearjerkers-for-Guys staple) leads to the resurrection of his long-deceased dad, and which is so shamelessly manipulative and contrived and romantic about its supernatural and spiritual possibilities that it's irresistible.

Chloe Sevigny and Christian Bale in American PsychoAMERICAN PSYCHO

Do you know what movie I was reminded of during American Psycho? The Bridges of Madison County.

Minnie Driver and David Duchovny in Return to MeRETURN TO ME

There's so much goodwill built into Return to Me - the promise of an audience-pleasing romantic comedy, the likability of the cast, the presence of director/co-writer/co-star Bonnie Hunt, the prospect of David Duchovny smiling - that I feel like something of a heel for saying that the movie itself is pretty crummy.

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