One of the worst things about the movie business is how little hands-on training freshman talent can get in areas that really matter. Sure, there are plenty of film schools and amateur competitions that teach students to craft their own original stories. But what's going to prepare them to take on the only legitimate professional role the 21st- century marketplace has to offer them: shepherding commercial properties with an already established track record at the box office?

That's why we were so delighted by The X-Files: I Want to Believe. It was downright endearing to see that a major studio had obviously handed the reins of an internationally lucrative franchise to a bunch of college kids who had never before tried their hand at making a feature. While the rest of the industry wallows in the misconception that quality is the province of a tested elite, here was stirring evidence of how far a project can get on naive enthusiasm, a couple of hand-me-down cameras and a bunch of unpaid internships.

Now, we'd feel entirely differently if we thought for one second that the movie had been assembled by adult professionals who got paid valid U.S. currency for their efforts. Were that the case, we'd be steamed that we frittered away $12 of our hard-earned money and our one night out per week, all for the privilege of fighting a losing battle with unconsciousness. But we've seen enough student productions to know that you can't hold them to the same standard as movies that are made on real budgets, by people who already know what they're doing. Mark our words: This "Chris Carter" fella is going places — just as soon as he learns to frame a shot, structure a scene and get a vaguely believable performance out of an actor.

Keep at it, kid! Your truth is out there!


Tell No One

Since winning the Best International Feature accolade at this year's Florida Film Festival, the French suspense drama Tell No One has been amassing all sorts of critical acclaim for its suspenseful investigation of the nature of memory and relationships. In a story adapted from the novel by Harlan Coben, a Parisian doctor stumbles upon evidence that his better half may not have perished eight years earlier, as he had been led to believe. No wonder the film has been accepted as a knuckle-biter par excellence among American men, to whom the phrase "Your wife is alive" is an automatic conveyor of deep horror. (unrated; now playing at Enzian Theater, Maitland)

Opening Friday, Aug. 8

Hell Ride

While Robert Rodriguez mulls plans to develop his Grindhouse short, Machete, into a full-fledged feature (or maybe two), writer-director- actor Larry Bishop steps in to fill the he-man exploitation void with Hell Ride, which dramatizes a violent clash between rival bike gangs. With supporting turns from Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen and David Carradine, we're ready to skip the movie entirely and go straight to the behind-the-scenes documentary. (R)

Brick Lane

Trapped in a prearranged marriage with a gluttonous boor who's utterly disinterested in her emotional needs, a Bangladeshi woman living in London tries to salvage the last shred of her humanity by having an extramarital affair. You see? What did we tell you? Bitches, man. You gotta have eyes in the back of your head. (PG-13)

Opening Wednesday, Aug. 13

Tropic Thunder

One of the last of this season's anticipated megahits is also the closing parenthesis in the Summer of Downey — Robert Jr., that is, who plays a white Method actor convinced that black is the new black. But we'll bet the long odds and say that just as much of the appeal of this thesps-in-combat comedy may come from Ben Stiller, whose self-skewering guest shot on a similarly themed episode of Extras just about asphyxiated us. (R)


Available Tuesday, Aug. 12


Fulfilling the fervent desires of most film writers in the country except us, Stephen Dorff gets sent to prison. There, he shares a cell with massive, murderous lifer Val Kilmer. Our advice if you find yourself in this predicament: Don't mention The Island of Dr. Moreau.


Available Tuesday, Aug. 12

Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography One month before the kickoff of their 22-date "Light Up America" reunion tour comes this 224-page tribute to the stoner generation's Martin and Lewis. It's written by Tommy Chong, which pretty much guarantees a crystal-clear set of reminiscences unclouded by any sort of chemical interference.


Available Tuesday, Aug. 12


Here's proof that a great blaxploitation soundtrack doesn't even need a movie. In 1975, composer Carl Wolfolk diligently created the music for a film that never went before the cameras; 33 years later, his work is finally seeing the light of day. Take that, Whitey!

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