June 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Theaters

ALONG CAME A SPIDER (105 mins., R) Dr. Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) tracks a kidnapper who has abducted the daughter of a U.S. senator. Freeman once again plays a man incapable of acting without thinking first. (This is a compliment.) B (#591, April 13) — LS

ANGEL EYES (107 mins., R) Sticky genre murk. Jennifer Lopez, as a tough-babe cop, is rescued from an ambush by a mysterious stranger who continues to follow her around. Tall, dark, and unshaven, the winsome stalker (Jim Caviezel) appears to mean well, but he’s also monosyllabic and a little creepy, like a rumpled, nice-guy version of Norman Bates. We’re meant to wonder whether he has been sent from, you know, up there. The two characters redeem each other, but Lopez, who is not without acting talent, needs to be redeemed from trash like this. C- (#597, May 25) — OG

BLOW (120 mins., R) Ted Demme’s scrupulously ”journalistic” drama about George Jung (Johnny Depp), who introduced cocaine (at least, on a mass scale) to America, is like one of Scorsese’s rock-gilded underworld exposes remade as a TV movie. B (#591, April 13) — OG

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY (94 mins., R) On screen, the single lovelorn working girl isn’t the interesting mess she is in Helen Fielding’s best-seller, but a pleasingly fleshed-out Renee Zellweger is thoroughly charming (and British) in the role. B (#592, April 20) — LS

CALLE 54 (105 mins., G) Can music be wild and racy and pulsating and carry an undertow of the sweetest melancholy at the same time? The 12 disparate ensembles that make up this delectable performance film are herded under the catchall umbrella ”Latin jazz,” but the range of what we hear is extraordinary. The director, Fernando Trueba, films each star (Eliane Elias, Michel Camilo, Tito Puente, and others) performing against a different color-coordinated backdrop, and though the film could have used more history, the numbers add up to a triumph of ecstatic mood swinging. B+ (#597, May 25) — OG

CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (95 mins., PG) The punchlines are as tired as Paul Hogan looks braying ”G’day” between scenes of stunt doubles getting some exercise. C (#593, April 27) — LS

DRIVEN (109 mins., PG-13) Preposterous, but the racing scenes hold you in their death-trip grip. C+ (#594, May 4) — OG

THE KING IS ALIVE (105 mins., R) A group of tourists, stranded in the African desert, fights desperation by mounting an impromptu production of King Lear, their own relationships paralleling those of the tragedy. The raggedy edges that make a Dogma movie look Dogmatic have never looked more beautiful than in Kristian Levring’s striking drama, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. Pulsing with color and movement, this is a whole new way of using a now-familiar bag of tricks — an explosion of pop art that goes surprisingly well with Danish modern. A- (#597, May 25) — LS

A KNIGHT’S TALE (132 mins., PG-13) A lowborn fellow (Heath Ledger) in medieval Europe upgrades his station in life by Just Doing It — in his case, by jousting better than any snooty nobleman — in this laddish, one-joke, genre-scrambling, rock & roll fairy tale. Writer-director Brian Helgeland pumps up the volume with a soundtrack of ’70s classic rock, but this is history made smaller than life for stadium spectators with a limited attention span from the age of Whasssup? ads and foam-rubber fingers that scream ”We’re Number One!” C+ (#596, May 18) — LS

THE MUMMY RETURNS (125 mins., PG-13) Brendan Fraser is back, and everyone else from the 1999 Mummy is too, in this souped-up engine of action, noise, and more-ness — more change-ups, more mummy awakenings, more visual references that recycle the familiar, from Home Alone to Crouching Tiger. C+ (#595, May 11) — LS

MOULIN ROUGE (118 mins., PG-13) A whirling fantasia of rococo kitsch, set in the legendary Paris nightclub circa 1900. The spectacle of pop songs employed in a period setting speaks to us in a new and galvanizing way, but the movie also seems to have been made by a madman with a palm buzzer. The director, Baz Luhrmann, smashes all sense of time and space, so that the floor of the Moulin Rouge comes off as a bad-trip version of Studio 54 crossed with the Star Wars cantina. As the courtesan Satine, Nicole Kidman has an accomplished whiplash-dominatrix style but not, perhaps, the eccentric dynamism of a true star. She never quite connects with Ewan McGregor, who, as her bohemian lover, strikes the only notes of real emotion in the movie. B- (#597, May 25) — OG

OUR SONG (96 mins., R) Made in a raw and glancing documentary style, Jim McKay’s startling feature draws us into the illusion that we’re simply eavesdropping on the lives of three inner-city black and Hispanic girls, all around 15 (they’re played by an extraordinary trio of newcomers, Kerry Washington, Melissa Martinez, and Anna Simpson), as they meander through the steamy late-summer days in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Their conversational style could be the urban-desperate version of Valley Girl patois, yet these girls are too young to hide their feelings, and McKay observes them with an objective intimacy that’s like a form of grace. A (#598, June 1) — OG

PEARL HARBOR (183 mins., PG-13) The latest popcorn apocalypse from producer Jerry Bruckheimer turns out to be the squarest event movie in years. As staged by director Michael Bay, the bombing of Pearl Harbor is spectacular but also honorable in its scary, hurtling exactitude. Yet that’s a problem, too: Next to the realism of the devastation, the film’s ’40s-style romantic melodrama seems all the more synthetic. Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) are pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps, each of whom falls in love with Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale), a volunteer nurse. The fusion of love story and historical cataclysm was obviously inspired by Titanic, but in this case, disaster dwarfs the lives of the people around it. By the time of the retaliatory bombing of Tokyo, we realize that we’re watching an epic of payback. B- (#598, June 1) — OG

SHREK (89 mins., PG) This charmingly loopy, iconoclastic story about a crotchety ogre (voiced by Mike Myers), an upstart donkey (Eddie Murphy), a princess with a beauty secret (Cameron Diaz), and a contemptible nobleman with a Napoleonic complex (John Lithgow) isn’t only a funny, sprightly fable for all ages about not judging a book by its cover; it’s also a kind of palace coup, a shout of defiance, and a coming-of-age for DreamWorks, the upstart studio that shepherded the project with such skill and chutzpah. A (#597, May 25) — LS

STARTUP.COM (103 mins., R) A documentary that could be to our time what Wall Street was to the ’80s — a defining myth of capitalist excess. Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim trace the path of two naively ambitious young dotcom entrepreneurs: the charismatically bullheaded Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and his compartmentalized tech-head partner, Tom Herman. There’s a frantic, often very funny element of instability to the way that the pair’s fantasies of mega-success appear to be driving their business plan, rather than the other way around. A (#596, May 18) — OG

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