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Friday, August 22, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Screening Room

What other critics are saying

'American Splendor'

Stephen Whitty, Newhouse News Service: It's not easy to make a likable and engaging film about a frankly unlikable and deliberately disengaging man. "American Splendor" succeeds. Admittedly, its protagonist remains nearly as grouchy and off-putting at the end of the film as he was at the beginning. But even if he hasn't completely won us over, the film surely has, with lively performances and a unique, upbeat style.

Christy Lemire, The Associated Press: With "American Splendor," Paul Giamatti finally gets to be the best thing in a great movie — one of the year's best.

'The Medallion'

Chris Hewitt, Knight Ridder Newspapers: Jackie Chan doesn't know the meaning of the word "fear." His writers don't know the meaning of the word "original." The five screenwriters credited with concocting "The Medallion" appear to have reassembled random scenes from previous Chan movies. These movies always have two parts: the amazing stunts and the boring stuff between them, and "Medallion" makes the mistake of concentrating on the boring stuff between.

Jack Garner, Gannett News Service: There's something about the happy, good-natured Jackie Chan that makes him eminently likable. But it's not enough to save his latest formula action flick, "The Medallion." In fact, Chan's presence is the only reason this bland exercise isn't headed directly to video. Sad to say, even the famous Chan charm is fading.

'Step Into Liquid'

Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press: Directed and narrated by Dana Brown, this film presents surfing as almost a religion, which is both good and bad. At some moments, what you see on screen is so stunningly beautiful you can't help wanting to convert to this faith, whose most ardent disciples scour the world in single-minded pursuit of "the stoke." It's only bad when the chatter becomes so worshipful that you have to step back and say, wait a minute, this is just a water sport. Not only that, but how do these people make a living? The occasionally exaggerated narration aside, "Step Into Liquid" is 88 minutes of watching people do something difficult, occasionally quite reckless, and unquestionably beautiful.

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Step Into Liquid" is just what it sounds like: an enticing invitation to get your feet wet in the world of surfing, to experience the beauty and feel the rush of this most addictive of pastimes, a sport its partisans insist they will take with them "to the grave." Brown has expertly captured the exhilarating and terrifying experience of watching surfers attack waves so preposterously large and ridiculously beautiful they defy description.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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