MOVIE REVIEWS: FRACTURE

The name of the character may be Ted Crawford, but Anthony Hopkins is really back playing Hannibal Lecter again in Fracture, many critics suggest. "There's that same hissing arrogance, that same cunning squint, the same dare to all listeners: Catch me if you can," writes Michael Booth in the Denver Post. That's not necessarily a bad thing, some critics indicate. And (together with costar Ryan Gosling), Hopkins is garnering some of his most laudatory reviews since Silence of the Lambs. As Elizabeth Weitzman writes in the New York Daily News: "Although Hopkins could surely portray a charismatic killer in his sleep by now, he's clearly having a ball, while Gosling, gliding through every scene with deceptively casual confidence, seems determined to prove himself the best actor of his generation. Together, these two turn a mediocre movie into a must-see." Likewise, Lou Lumenick concludes in the New York Post: "Fracture breaks no new ground, but with these two around, you'll never be bored." Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel says that Fracture "gives us Anthony Hopkins the way we like him: cunning, arrogant, sinister, a killer playing games with the lesser mortals who would trap him." Eleanor Ringel Gillespie in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution expresses surprise that the studio is releasing "a smart thriller, and it isn't even fall."

MOVIE REVIEWS: HOT FUZZ

The British action-movie spoof Hot Fuzz comes from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the creators of the 2004 zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. For those who saw the earlier film, s'nuff said. "Hot Fuzz is one of the cleverest movie parodies to come along in some while," writes Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News, adding, "In fact, the last satire of this ilk that was nearly as good was Shaun of the Dead." Claudia Puig in USA Today remarks that the film has "some of the same engaging nuttiness" as the earlier one. Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times notes that the filmmakers don't simply string gags together as their American counterparts did with such films as the Scary Movie series. Instead, he says, they're "storytellers who weave their naughty bits into genuine characters and a plot. It's a ridiculous plot, but one that's absolutely in the spirit of the films they're satirizing." But Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post suggests that the movie may be ill-timed. "Blacksburg is still numb. The rest of us are still reeling. And Hot Fuzz, which pokes fun at America's fetishistic gun culture while deliriously wallowing in it, now arrives on screens striking a tone of antic overkill that, from its giddy lock-and-load sight gags to its climactic shootout on a placid village green, right this minute seems oddly tone-deaf and tasteless."

MOVIE REVIEWS: IN THE LAND OF WOMEN

The critics don't hold out much hope for In the Land of Women, starring Adam Brody and Meg Ryan. Writes Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News: "Despite its desperate attempts to appeal to every possible age group, there is no obvious audience for this movie." Evan Henerson begins his review in the Los Angeles Daily News this way: "Stupid title, misleading poster, unmarketable premise despite the presence of an O.C. heartthrob. We're talking a movie that stands to gross about 50 cents." Nevertheless, he advises his readers to see it anyway. So does Carrie Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer, who calls it "fresh, funny and perceptive." Susan Walker in the Toronto Star, remarks, "This potentially saccharine weepy has an authentic ring."

MOVIE REVIEWS: VACANCY

Horror films rarely receive much praise from critics. Vacancy, starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, is getting quite a lot of it. Gene Seymour in Newsday writes: "The movie executes its every borrowed, nerve-bruising plot twist with such gruesome efficiency that it makes you feel as grimy, wasted and worked-over as its prospective victims." Scott Bowles in USA Today comments that "it's welcome to see another movie that relies more on apprehension and suspense than torture chambers." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post concedes that the film may appeal more to his fellow critics than it will to the target audience for such movies. "The filmmakers don't linger over the nasty stuff anywhere near long enough to satisfy gorehounds, but for the first time in quite a while you actually care about the victims -- who are not, as usual, horny teenagers," he observes. ""Vacancy feels like it was made by people who love movies and perhaps have seen a lot of them," Ty Burr concludes in the Boston Globe. But Bob Strauss in the Los Angeles Daily News remarks that the film isn't much of anything. "Its main virtue is modesty, but that's also its downfall." And Manohla Dargis in the New York Times dismisses it as a "banal horror retread."

Brian B.