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"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" was the stealth candidate for great movie of 2002. It opened in New York and Los Angeles on the final days of the year and wasn't heralded by any of the kind of big, puffed-up prestige publicity that always accompanies Oscar magnets and Top 10 dwellers. "The Hours"? "Gangs of New York"? "Chicago"? "Adaptation"? (Which is the fraterna…

It can't be easy being Kathryn Bigelow. For many years now, she has been called Hollywood's only certifiable female action film director ("Blue Steel," "Strange Days") -- despite the recent entrance of Mimi Leder into the field with "Deep Impact" and "The Peacemaker." And yet if you ask her about it, she is clearly uneasy and evades discussion of both gender and genre a…

OCEAN'S COMMOTION "Ocean's Eleven" is the first disappointment of a holiday movie season that's going to see a few more of them before it's over. Let me rush madly to add that it's nothing if not an enjoyable and winning movie. The trouble is that it was a truly GREAT idea for a movie - a remake of the Sinatra Rat Pack Vegas mega-heist movie with Steven Soderbergh…

Julia Roberts is sensational in "Erin Brockovich," the best she's been, by far, since she took the world by storm in "Pretty Woman." In most of those intervening movies - some very good, some very bad - she's been hugely appealing, no matter how dismal the film. ("Mary Reilly," anyone?) What she hasn't done again in the decade since "Pretty Woman" is present the audienc…

THE RECIPE for "Powder" doesn't seem complicated: throw some "Rain Man" into a bowl. Fold in "Forrest Gump," "E. T.," "Nell," and a pinch of "Edward Scissorhands" (not nearly enough for my taste but that's another story). Sprinkle a dash of the very real Michael Jackson. Then half-bake. It's about an albino teen-age boy found deserted in a basement when his last surv…

The New York Knights ran onto the field Saturday night for one more time, and once again a final game-winning, light-busting home run towered over the outfield fence. But this time, it was in Pilot Field, not the Old Rockpile. Still, it seemed, well, natural. The original scene was played out 10 years ago, as a group of local baseball players dropped everything to…

GET THIS: Film director James Foley -- whose best films seem to go through hell and back before opening here -- graduated from the University at Buffalo in 1973. He'd transferred here for his final undergraduate year. It was, he says, the year of his great "awakening" to movies and their possibilities. He now says: "I had not been a real movie buff up until that time. …