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LOGGERHEADS The best regional filmmakers are able to capture the nuances of their home turf in ways that would be impossible for an East or West Coast film crew to manufacture. In the case of Carolina moviemakers, that translates to pictures that are slowly paced but not slow-witted, leisurely but not lethargic, pensive but not pretentious. Like David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls and Phil Morrison's Junebug, Monroe native Tim Kirkman's Loggerheads is about mood as much as movement, creating an authentic environment in which ordinary events will feel right at home. Jumping between three years (1999 through 2001) as well as between the Carolina towns of Kure Beach, Eden and Asheville (with a brief side trip to Charlotte; hello, city skyline), Loggerheads follows a trio of stories that all prove to be interconnected. At Kure Beach, an HIV-positive drifter (Kip Pardue) camps out on the beach so he can study the area's loggerhead turtles; he makes the acquaintance of a motel manager (Michael Kelly) who offers a helping hand. In Eden, a minister's wife (Tess Harper) misses the son she and her husband (Chris Sarandon) shunned once they had learned he was gay. And in Asheville, a perpetually distraught woman (Bonnie Hunt) decides to search for the child she gave up for adoption approximately two decades earlier. The film's deliberate pace is sure to make certain viewers fidget, but I was struck by how quickly Kirkman was able to make me care about his aching individuals. All of the performances are noteworthy, though I was especially drawn to Hunt's change-of-pace turn as a tortured woman who seems incapable of forming a smile on her face. HHH

Current Releases

CAPOTE Anyone heading into Capote expecting an exhaustive expose on the literary lion and social raconteur might be disappointed to learn that this focuses exclusively on the period when he researched and wrote his nonfiction masterpiece In Cold Blood. In a way, it is an odd choice for a film: Almost everything you need to know about this incident -- and, therefore, Capote's viewpoint -- can be found in Richard Brooks' superb 1967 screen version of In Cold Blood. But the selling point is the excellent performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman: As much as Jamie Foxx channeled Ray Charles to such a degree that it was impossible to tell where the spirits of the two men separated, likewise does Hoffman tackle the persona of Truman Capote and make it his own. Constantly punctuating the air with his whispery wit and entertaining other people as if to the (diva) manner born, Capote is as original on screen as he was in real life. HHH

DOOM Stating that Doom is probably the best of the numerous flicks based on a video game ranks as the feeblest praise imaginable. It's akin to noting that benign genital herpes is the best sexually transmitted disease to acquire, or that strawberry is the best tasting Schnapps flavor. Still, in a sub-sub-genre that has subjected us to the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Resident Evil, we'll take our favors where we can get them. Doom rips off Aliens at every turn (at least its makers steal from the best), as a group of military grunts find themselves combating vicious creatures at a manned outpost in outer space. For a good while, director Andrzej Bartkowiak actually attempts to make a real movie rather than just a video game simulation, but eventually the movie runs out of creative steam and turns increasingly daffy. HH

DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY Taking a well-worn formula and adding some flavor through the rich characterizations of its leading players, Dreamer centers on the circumstances that transpire when horse trainer Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) and his young daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) elect to nurse an injured race horse named Soñador (Spanish for Dreamer) back to health. Many child stars are either sloppily sentimental or coldly calculating, and while Fanning has occasionally veered toward the latter, she delivers her warmest and most natural performance in this picture. There's a heartwarming family dynamic between father and daughter, and the scenes between Russell and Fanning are especially good -- so memorable, in fact, that they almost make us forget that we've seen all this before. HH 1/2

ELIZABETHTOWN Always a personal filmmaker, Cameron Crowe here seeks to honor the memory of his father, who died of a heart attack in 1989. It's a noble endeavor but a disappointing movie, as engaging individual scenes fail to disguise either the slackness or superficiality of the piece. Orlando Bloom, nothing special but getting the job done, stars as a failed shoe designer who temporarily shelves his own demons in order to attend his dad's funeral back in the title Kentucky town; along the way, he meets a chatty flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst) who stirs him out of his stupor. Too often, Crowe employs his personal CD collection in place of a story. Dunst is passable as Bloom's kooky, life-loving confidante, though I preferred Natalie Portman in the role in the similar (and superior) Garden State. HH

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