Naomi Watts, David Dorfman, Simon Baker

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Not content to live well enough alone, young Samara I scampers up once again from her watery home—the well where she was abandoned and died—to exact more vengeance in this moderately creepy sequel to 2002's The Ring, for those who missed the first movie, Samara (Daveigh Chase) is a ghostly girl who works her evil via a video full of squishy, unsettling images that bring death to the watcher. In Ring Two the chief survivors from the original, journalist Rachel Keller (Watts) and her young son Aidan (Dorfman), move from Seattle to a tiny, peaceful town in Oregon to start a new life. They have barely unpacked their boxes, though, when a local teenager expires after viewing the video. "Please, not here!" begs Rachel, to no avail as Samara is soon on Aidan's trail. The evidence? Watery spots on the walls and her damp little figure showing up when Aidan looks in a mirror.

Hardcore fans of the original will likely embrace Ring Two, though the story loses steam midway through. Director Hideo Nakata (who headed the original Japanese Ringu, on which the first Ring was based) serves up several spooky set pieces early on, particularly one in which a herd of deer turn murderous. But this sequel is neither as inventive or yelp-out-loud scary as the original and doesn't warrant a visit by those who normally pass by fright flicks. The always watchable Watts, stuck playing a gal who heads toward danger when common sense would dictate backing away, does the best she can, given the script. Dorfman, a kid who looks 80 and has a grave demeanor to match, is excellent, and Sissy Spacek shows up for a goose-bump-raising cameo. (PG-13)

Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell, Chloe Sevigny, Amanda Peet

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While an improvement over the last couple of depressingly wan efforts (Hollywood Ending and Anything Else) by director-writer Woody Allen, this latest is no masterwork. Make that two non-gems, because the conceit of Melinda and Melinda is that it tells the same story twice, viewed alternately through tragic and comic lenses. Thus Melinda (Mitchell, impressively doing double duty) is a self-destructive mess beyond help from her well-meaning pals in the dramatic half and a charmingly neurotic goof-think Annie Hall-in the comic one. M&M toggles between the two tales with occasional flashes of wit and insight, though never enough to make this seem like more than a wispy cinematic party trick. (PG-13)

>Samuel L Jackson Lately he's scored as a 'toon (The Incredibles), a mentor {Coach Carter) and a Jedi (the Star Wars prequels, including May's Episode ill). Now the busy Jackson, 56, takes a more intimate turn in the apartheid drama In My Country. [P] ON HIS LOVE SCENCE WITH JULIETTE BINOCHE—WHICH WAS MADE LESS REVEALING IN THE FIAL CUTI asked all the right questions: "Where can I touch you? Where can I not touch you?" And she was like [LB]in a French accent[RB], "Come here, Sammy, we make love!" So I said to the director, "Can we do this some more?" But it's my first big nude scene with a woman and it's not in the movie now. [P] ON HOW HE CHOOSES ROLES [P] With independent films I have to have some sort of connection emotionally and want to do it for the right reasons—either I love the script, the characters, the director or the actors and actresses who are in it or it's shooting in a very nice place where I want to go. [P] ON HIS FANS' FAVORITE FILMS [P] I can't count the Pulp Fiction references. I always hear, "You know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese?" Older black women love A Time to Kill. There's this crazy kind of action women who love The Long Kiss Goodnight. My wife [LB]actress LaTanya Richardson[RB] likes Jackie Brown. She likes the crazy gangster movies. And I have a new fan base—kids! They call me Mace Windu [LB]from the Star Wars series[RB] or Frozone [LB]from The Incredibles.• [P] ON FRIEND MORGAN FREEMAN'S OSCAR WIN [P] He was sitting next to me [at the ceremony[RB]. We cried together and I kissed him—it was awesome. He should have had one a longtime ago. There's something wrong with a world in which Morgan Freeman didn't have an Oscar. So now I think it's all cool. [P] The Upside of Anger

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Joan Allen is sensational as a scorned suburban woman wooed by a local lout (Kevin Costner) in this entertaining romance. (R)

Ice Princess

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To figure skate or go to Harvard? That's the dilemma facing the heroine (Michelle Trachtenberg) of this kids' comedy. The movie starts out sharp, but like skate blades, dulls overtime. Kim Cattrall and Joan Cusack costar. (G)

  • Contributors:
  • Leah Rozen,
  • Natasha Stoynoff.