Oh Angelina; Taking Lives and taking hearts 

Ever have an ex-girlfried you hated so much the mere sight of her made you gag and get that Oh-shit-I-really-am-about-to-puke taste in your mouth? Or considered paying someone to bounce an old boyfriend’s skull off the curb a few hundred times?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just go somewhere and get that bitch/prick erased from your memory? In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind , opening this week at the Village 8, there exists such a place and nice guy Joel (downplayed by Jim Carey) decides to go there and erase his ex-woman (Kate Winslet) from his mind. But memories are tricky buggers and Joel’s mind ends up fighting the process violently. As the memories parlay out he begins to fall back in love with her.

Eternal Sunshine… is helmed by artsy music video director Michael Gondry and written by introspective writer/genius Charlie Kaufman ( Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) so there’re lots of warped visuals and a jumpy timeline as Joel re-lives his relationship memories; the good and the bad.

Eternal Sunshine is a love story unfolding in reverse and is emotionally realistic thanks in part to the fact that Carey keeps calm and doesn’t slip into his familiar slapstick comedy routine that ruined his last movie, Bruce Almighty (well, that and a garbage script.) People either love or hate Charlie Kaufman and his meta-physical, intellect-demanding writing style. I think he’s great and all, but the only thing I love this week is Angelina Jolie.

Angelina Jolie rules don’t you think? Young, intelligent, beautiful (those lips alone prove the existence of a higher power), generous and filled with compassion. Betcha didn’t know Angelina Jolie donates a third of her earnings to refugees in places like Kosovo and Chechnya. I don’t even know where Chechnya is and Angelina’s over there handing out blankets and food. Plus she adopted a baby boy from Cambodia, that place where about a thousand kids die each year from stepping on land mines leftover fom the Vietnam war that no one’s gotten around to cleaning up. Angelina’s a United Nations goodwill ambassador, out helping people while we generally don’t even care enough to take our garbage out of the movie theatre with us. The world needs more Angelina Jolies, a few billion more. Just imagine…

In the meantime we’ll have to settle for Taking Lives , her new genre picture in which she plays a cold, dark detective in cold, dark Montreal tracking a cold, dark serial killer who steals his victims’ identities. Taking Lives is somewhat suspenseful and hey, there’s some nudity, but it’s not quite as scary or packed with nervous anticipation as David Fincher’s Seven . Nor is it on the same level as The Silence of the Lambs, perhaps the ultimate freaky serial killer flick. But Angelina Jolie does an amazing job in this movie, as she always does.

Speaking of amazing, did you know that when Angelina Jolie married actor Johnny Lee Miller she wore black leather pants and a white shirt with her groom’s name written on it in blood, her own blood? That is so utterly cool. Jolie and Miller had, at the time, just finished filming the 1995 classic Hackers , which just happens to be the DVD of the week. Hackers is so bad and full of cheesy ’90s style and music that it actually rules completely.

Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina play high school computer hackers that rollerblade around New York in stupid-looking, futuristically padded clothes fighting the bad hacker played by not-scary-at-all Fisher Stevens. You know he’s the bad guy because he rides a skateboard.

Cheese aside, Hackers was one of the first movies to portray the Internet and computers as a metropolis of circuits and data dissected by highways of flowing information, a look later expanded on and perfected in The Matrix. And of course it features a young, bad-ass Angelina Jolie, in just her third move ever, wearing a garter belt in a swimming pool.

Truthfully, Hackers is perhaps Angelina’s best work. Except for Girl Interupted , for which she won an Oscar. Or Foxfire. Or TV movie Gia . Or both Tomb Raiders . Or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow which isn’t even out yet but promises to be solid because Angelina Jolie wears an eye patch. Oh Angelina.

At Village 8 March 19-25: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Taking Lives, The Passion of the Christ, Mystic River, Cody Banks 2, Lord of the Rings, Secret Window, Monster, 50 First Dates, Starsky and Hutch, Hidalgo.

At Rainbow Theatre March 19-25: Last Samurai.

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