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Wednesday October 27th

These Films Shot Locally, or at Least Tried to, but How Did They Turn Out?

"Patch Adams"

Like a little barking terrier, "Patch Adams" tries so hard to get you where it hurts, but in the end, it's just a little ball of fluff.

Hunter Adams (Robin Williams) checks out of a psychiatric hospital, determined to help humankind. He heads to the Virginia Medical College (set at UNC) and clashes with his tight-lipped doctor superiors.

Robin Williams gives an earnest performance but not a particularly funny one. Williams is best off the cuff, and the scenes in which Adams amuses his patients are too scripted to suit his comedic talents.

Similarly, the theme of old - versus new- medicine isn't a new idea. If the attempt was to show Patch's work as earth shattering, the message gets lost in the saccharin sweetness.

But it's worth it just to see paper-mache female legs propped outside the entrance to Murphey Hall in a -- ahem -- suggestive fashion.

"Kiss the Girls"
3 Stars

Even though the book from which it's based is set in Chapel Hill, the film "Kiss the Girls" only shows a glimpse of Franklin Street because the Chapel Hill Town Council didn't permit filming in the area.

While the film's finished product (shot in Durham) is predictable and formulaic, "Kiss the Girls" still rises above typical suspense fare.

In this film Morgan Freeman plays Dr. Alex Cross, a James Patterson character that recurred in 2001's "Along Came a Spider."

"Kiss the Girls" is the stronger of the two, thanks to great performances by Freeman and Ashley Judd. But it's unfortunate almost every plot point is obvious, and the police officers are mere anti-Yankee, good ol' Southern boys.

The film is unrealistic, but it still comes from the Hollywood cookie cutter characterizing the film.

"Sherman's March"
4 Stars

A documentary within a documentary, "Sherman's March" is a quirky odyssey through the South, including Chapel Hill.

Filmmaker Ross McElwee wanted to trace General Sherman's path through Dixie at the Civil War's end, but instead found himself dragged down by his own solitude.

So, he turned his camera into a tool for first-person narration and filmed his every move. He comes across personalities too twisted to be fictitious, including a former high school teacher who's rabidly trying to marry him off. The result is a hilarious, painful insight into a lonely man.

While the film is long-winded and 30 minutes too long, seeing the South's eccentricities is worth it.

By Allison Rost

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