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Short subjectives 

JESUS' SON The modestly comic, tragic and surreal life of a hapless junkie (Billy Crudup) both captures the episodic nature of Denis Johnson's original, semi-autobiographical book and the non-sequiturs of a drug addict's conversation. The redemptive final act isn't as compelling as the hallucinatory comedy that comes before, but the film features fittingly casual performances from Crudup, Samantha Morton, Denis Leary and Holly Hunter, as well as the fiendish scene-stealer, Jack Black. --CH

THE KID (PG) Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis)is a 40-year-old image consultant who bends the space-time continuum when he's given the chance to meet himself at age eight in Disney's latest celluloid venture.

SCARY MOVIE (R) A ribald comedy from the creators of I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, this spoof of horror films and teen sex comedies leaves no cliché (nor any supporting character) unskewered. Although weakened by vulgar jokes aimed at retarded and gay characters, it amply illustrates that comedy always has a victim; and though there are human victims aplenty here (including American Pie's shapely Shannon Elizabeth), Scary Movie most gleefully eviscerates Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Blair Witch Project. -- GN


Duly Noted

CROSSROADS This "found-footage" film is a look at the mushroom-cloud aesthetics of nuclear fission. From several vantage points, a camera was placed around a nuclear blast to learn more about the effects of this singular event. Hazard provides the soundtrack. July 8 at GSU's cinéfest.

HOLY SMOKE (R) An audacious sexual face-off on the Australian outback between a cult deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel) and a petulant, brainwashed suburban princess (Kate Winslet), who's found religion on a trip to India. Jane Campion's Holy Smoke may not be perfect, but it's the kind of wild-eyed endeavor that restores your faith in cinema -- filmmakers who still take nervy chances and the actors who follow them gladly into the cinematic wilderness. July 7-13 at GSU's cinéfest. -- FF

NORTH BY NORTHWEST Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint star in this Hitchcock master-thriller that ends in a hair-raising chase across the faces of Mount Rushmore. The film kicks off "Killer Thrillers" month of the Summer 2000 Films at the High series. July 8, 8 p.m. The High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St.

TOY STORY 2 (G) Woody and Buzz Lightyear have more adventures in this computer-animated sequel to Disney and Pixar's 1995 film. July 6 at 8 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St.


Continuing

THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (PG) The blend of animation and live action does complete justice to Jay Ward's original cartoon series, finding no pun or one-liner to corny for use. Though the film is studded with cameos and Jason Alexander, Rene Russo and producer Robert De Niro have fun as the cartoonish villains, "moose and squirrel" themselves, as oblivious but morally upright as ever, steal the show. -- CH

THE BIG KAHUNA (R) Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and newcomer Peter Facinelli star in this stifling adaptation of a stage play, in which three salesmen talk about issues of God and character at a convention's hospitality suite. Apart from finding parallels between salesmen and born again Christians, the over-explicit film says nothing that Glengarry Glen Ross doesn't say with 10 times the depth and passion. Seeing the Oscar-winning Spacey here is like watching a Wimbledon pro hit tennis balls against a garage door. -- CH

BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE (PG-13) 1/2 Martin Lawrence plays an FBI agent who masquerades as Nia Long's grandmother to catch her escaped bank robber boyfriend (Terrence Howard, giving good sinister) and find his $2 million stash. Paul Giamatti scores some laughs as Martin's partner and Long is an appealing foil. You can't take it as seriously as Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire, but even on its own terms the ending strains credibility too far. This is no work of art but it won't surprise or disappoint those who want to see it. -- SW

BOSSA NOVA (R) When Bruno Barreto's romantic comedy emulates the relaxed pace and sensuality of bossa nova music, it can be quite appealing, as an American English teacher (Amy Irving) and Brazilian lawyer (Antonio Fagundes) start a middle-aged courtship in laid-back Rio de Janeiro. But too often it proves tone-deaf to the demands of farce, with contrived complications and slapstick assignations. -- CH

BOYS AND GIRLS (PG-13) Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Jennifer (Claire Forlani) meet as adolescents, don't get along but keep running into each other until, in college, they fall in like. That gets them through three years, but after having sex they have to decide whether to risk their friendship by going for love. Prinze has the personality of a cheese pizza without enough tomato sauce. Forlani has more but not enough to carry a picture without help. That comes primarily from Jason Biggs as Ryan's roommate. The one real comic scene in this light romance is an outtake shown during the closing credits. -- SW

BUTTERFLY (R) 1/2 Set on the eve of Fascist rule in 1930s Spain, this sugary tale of youthful innocence snuffed out by adult politics centers on a 7-year-old tailor's son growing up in a small Spanish village and his rapt fascination with the kindly teacher who opens the boy's eyes to the world around him. -- FF

CHICKEN RUN (G) 1/2 World War II POW flicks like The Great Escape are reimagined with plucky poultry trying to break out of an English chicken farm. Compared to the brilliant whimsy of the creators' Oscar-winning "Wallace and Gromit" shorts, Chicken Run is a more conventional cartoon feature, but it still offers inspired sight gags and exciting action scenes by the dozen. -- CH

CROUPIER This look at a would-be novelist's venture into the seamy aspects of a London casino reveals fascinating details of gambling and has a crisp, efficient directing style. But though Clive Owen, in the title role, is meant to be detached and voyeuristic, he proves seems simply, and the twists at the end muddy the precedings rather than illuminate them. Alex Kingston affirms her acting potential as a quirky and enigmatic high roller. -- CH

DINOSAUR (PG) 1/2 This family-friendly story about an abandoned dinosaur who is raised by mammals and returns from exile after a meteor shower to save the herd, may be nothing more than a bundle of cartoon clichés that clash with the dazzlingly authentic digital dinosaurs, but this intricately detailed prehistoric world is still a joy to behold. In fact, some of the scarier moments may be a little too realistic for some younger viewers. -- EM

8 1/2 WOMEN 1/2 (R) The latest, and maybe greatest, by Peter Greenaway, contemporary cinema's resident Mad Genius. After the death of his wife, an aging tycoon and his spoiled son assemble a Fellini-esque stable of "fantasy" women, who rub their (and our) noses in male frailty and the absurdity of sexual politics in this occasionally side-splitting, visually exquisite satire made ostensibly in homage to Fellini's 8 1/2. -- EM

ERIN BROCKOVICH (R) A true populist movie that deserves its inevitable popularity, Steven Soderbergh's film is a perfect vehicle for Julia Roberts. In this true story, she's a working-class woman who dresses like a working girl. In a menial job at Albert Finney's law firm, she stumbles on PG&E's involvement in pollution that poisons an entire community. She builds a case and persuades Finney to take it. That's not funny, but Susannah Grant's screenplay finds copious humor in the characters while treating the story with the seriousness it deserves. But for the March release, this could have been Roberts' Oscar role. -- SW

FREQUENCY (R) Only voices, not bodies, cross the temporal divide as father (Dennis Quaid) and son (Jim Caviezel) converse over the same short-wave radio in 1969 and 1999. Flashy cutting lets us follow simultaneous events in both time zones, gradually revealing what's happening in each and sometimes making connections between the two. Toby Emmerich's script is rich in incident and a certain logic, giving you an emotional workout with plenty of action highlights -- and the best one-word advice since The Graduate. The acting is fine, but this movie belongs to Emmerich, director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear) and editor David Rosenbloom. -- SW

GLADIATOR (R) There still hasn't been a great gladiator movie since Spartacus, but stunning cinematography and fast and furious fight sequences that border on the surreal save this beloabored but lovely period epic about an enslaved general (Russell Crowe) who becomes a champion fighter in Rome's spectacular and bloody gladiatorial games in order to take revenge on a treacherous twerp of an emperor (Joaquin Phoenix). Fans of the late Oliver Reed will surely enjoy one of his final performances as a crusty ex-warrior who runs a stable of gladiators. -- EM

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (R) 1/2 Written by Scott Michael Rosenberg, this is a collection of the worst guy-flick clichés imaginable. The only thing more remarkable is the butcher job done by the director, Dominic Sena. As the movie is totally devoid of tension, Sena employs the old ticking-clock-on-the-screen ploy to keep us on the edge of our seats. Snore! Every single actor in this film, including Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall, is wasted. Instead of going to see this one, spend your time driving your car like it was stolen. -- DJ

GROOVE (R) Though its deconstruction of the rave subculture may be about 10 years too late, this debut film from Greg Harrison is nevertheless an energy-pumped night on the town with a cast of likeable, more-complicated-than-usual San Francisco club kids that manages to dig a little deeper to find the pitfalls in the party-for-world-peace raver philosophy, without giving short shrift to a life-altering scene. -- FF

HAMLET (R) Michael Almereyda's version of Shakespeare's timeless tale of familial intrigue and despair updates the tragedy to contemporary Manhattan. Despite the distracting performance of slacker poster boy Ethan Hawke as the existentially mopey Danish prince, Almereyda's is an amusing, smartly mounted production that remains true to the spirit of the play, while inserting some crafty modern touches. -- FF

HIGH FIDELITY (R)1/2 John Cusack and director Stephen Frears, 10 years after collaborating on The Grifters, show high fidelity to Nick Hornby's terrific novel about a lovelorn record shop owner. The film effectively echoes Annie Hall as Cusack engagingly chats to the camera and looks back on his relationships with women to understand why his latest girlfriend (Iben Hjejle) left him. But its spot-on depiction of music geeks and fanboys (led by Tenacious D's Jack Black as a disdainful record store clerk) gives it its biggest laughs and truest observations. The excellent cast includes Tim Robbins, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lili Taylor and Joan Cusack. -- CH

LOVE AND BASKETBALL (PG-13) 1/2 Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps star as two gifted basketball-playing neighbors who begin a relationship as children, which may or may not blossom into love as adults. Nope, the ending isn't a surprise. Nope, it's not directed very well. Nope, it's not written very well. Nope, co-star Alfre Woodard never gets to reveal the talent we've come to appreciate. And nope, it's not really worth your time. -- RJ

LOVE BEAT THE HELL OUTTA ME Two film-making brothers explore the intricacies of African-American love in their debut independent film.

ME, MYSELF & IRENE (R) 1/2 Jim Carrey only plays two of the three title roles -- two personalities of a Rhode Island State Trooper -- in the comedy that reunites him with filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly. There's all the outrageous humor you expect, and more -- too much more; the editors should have tightened it considerably. Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee and Jerod Mixon, who play Carrey's black teenage sons, can spin off into a franchise if they want to continue as a team. A movie by the Farrellys isn't over until it's over, so stay in your seat through the closing credits. -- SW

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 (PG-13) 1/2 John Woo's grand opera ballet of stylized violence, redemptive revenge and heroic love features Tom Cruise as special agent Ethan Hunt, who must recruit a lovely jewel thief (Thandie Newton) to prevent Ambrose Pierce (Dougray Scott) from taking over the world by controlling the antidote to a genetically engineered germ. Mission: Impossible 2 has all the makings of a thrilling and aesthetically seamless cartoon strip but for one critical element: suspense. -- KL

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (NR) 1/2 Paintstakingly rendered for IMAX by Russia's Alexander Petrov, 29,000 slides convey the essence of Hemingway's novel about a Cuban fisherman and a marlin, the catch of his life, in 22 minutes. The film precedes a crash course in the author's life and work, Hemingway: A Portrait, an equally brilliant piece by Erik Canuel that's even shorter but, thanks to the director's commercial background, gets everything in. Weekends at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. -- SW

THE PATRIOT (R) It's Braveheart in buckskin as Mel Gibson fights the English again in an epic war drama whose individual moments are as predictable as the outcome of the American Revolution. I didn't like it and don't recommend it unless you like unabashed flag-waving -- the twin flags of the USA and family values -- but I must concede it's well made. The hypocrisy is amazing as Mel's South Carolina farmer spouts anti-war sentiments when he's not hacking men to bits with his hatchet. It's interesting, though hardly believable, to see how African Americans are worked into the story. -- SW

THE PERFECT STORM (PG-13) The movie may not be perfect, but the storm sequence sure is, with the special effects offering a terrifyingly realistic treatment of a tempest at sea. Das Boot director Wolfgang Petersen credibly captures the lives of six ill-fated fishermen, but the film proves flat and unengaging until the weather starts getting rough, and it becomes the cinematic equivalent of a ride like "Splash Mountain." -- CH

ROAD TRIP (R) 1/2 MTV prankster Tom Green is one of the few bright spots in this inane, uneven comedy about a college kid racing cross country to retrieve an incriminating sex video before his girlfriend sees it. Booted by hollow characters and paper-thin plotting, Road Trip'll make you laugh; but you'll have to put your brain in neutral and let it tow you from gag to gag to do it. -- EM

SHAFT (R) In the best of the pre-solstice "summer movies" John Singleton reinvents '70s "blaxploitation" films for the new millennium. Samuel L. Jackson is perfectly cast as the coolest motherfucker on the planet and supporting players -- especially scene-stealer Jeffrey Wright, Toni Collette and Christian Bale -- get a chance to shine. Richard Roundtree's on hand to pass the torch to his nephew (Jackson), who quits the NYPD to enforce the law his way. The script has wit and intelligence, even as the action sequences get progressively wilder and more absurd, and racial humor we can all laugh at together. -- SW

SUNSHINE (R) A dramatic saga written and directed by Istvan Szabo, Sunshine chronicles three successive generations of Sonnenscheins, a Jewish family from Budapest, Hungary. Ralph Fiennes portrays grandfather, father and son, narrating the family's history beginning with Franz Josef's Austro-Hungarian monarchy, continuing under the reign of Hitler's Third Reich and carrying through the rise and fall of Stalin's paranoiac, communist regime. When grandfather Ignatz Sonnenschein decides to change his obviously Jewish surname to the more socially acceptable Sors, he bequeaths to his heirs a legacy of cultural betrayal and assimilation. -- KL

FF is Felicia Feaster, CH is Curt Holman, RJ is Richard Joseph, Kate Lueker is KL, EM is Eddy Von Mueller, SW is Steve Warren.

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