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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 6 of 6

SHOWER
(PG-13) Set among the customers of a traditional Chinese bathhouse, Shower concerns the clash between old China represented by the bath's owner, Master Liu (Zhu Xu), and the fast-paced, modern life of his eldest businessman son, Da Ming (Pu Cun Xin), who comes to visit him in Beijing. The story of a world of intimacy and ritual supplanted by so-called "progress," Shower is an often moving affirmation of a rich Chinese culture. Though it starts out light, and has a veneer of cutesy-pie throughout, director Zhang Yang manages to endow an oft-told tale with deeper significance. -- FF

SPACE COWBOYS (PG-13)
I don't know how much charm weighs but in Space Cowboys it's measured by the ton. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film's about a pride of old lions, Eastwood, James Garner, Donald Sutherland and Tommie Lee Jones, called upon to repair an obsolete Russian satellite about to fall out of orbit. Its heroes may be too old for teenagers to identify with but for boomers, it's a hoot. It's predictable in many ways but it contains genuine tension, belly laughs and human warmth. Go see it. -- RJ

THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD (G)
Britt Allcroft's spinoff from her "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" and "Shining Time Station" TV series combines live actors (Alec Baldwin and Michael E. Rodgers strike the right tone; Mara Wilson thinks she's too old for this stuff, and Peter Fonda thinks he's playing Hamlet) with animated model trains that roll their eyes but can't move their lips. If you think this is "good enough for kids," you should be setting higher standards for your kids. I took my inner child to see it, but he went to sleep. Sometimes he has more sense than I do. -- SW

TITAN A.E.
(PG) Feature animation grows up, or at least makes it to middle school, in this flashy, fast-paced space opera about an Angry Young Man who holds the key to finding a new habitat for humanity left homeless after the Earth gets demolished by a bunch of really cool looking aliens. Definitely not Rocket Science, but it still has enough zero-G gunfights, dizzying spaceship chases and neato machines to make its target market happy. -- EM

TRIXIE (R)
A dizzy misstep from director Alan Rudolph, Trixie stars a squandered Emily Watson as the titular lame-brain security guard, with a talent for mixed metaphors and foggy logic, who becomes mixed up in a sex scandal at a lakeside casino populated by a freaky clan of nymphos, hookers, crooks and horny senators. Rudolph is straining so hard for lighthearted here you can almost hear his blood-vessels popping, but any hoped-for wackiness evades his grasp in this lifeless snafu. -- FF

WHAT LIES BENEATH (PG-13)
After 1 3/4 hours of routine filmmaking, a lengthy, largely terrifying climax tells you whether you've been watching a ghost story or a domestic drama. Directed by Robert Zemeckis with standard shocks and excellent photographic effects, it showcases Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire, who forms an outwardly perfect couple with Norman (Harrison Ford). But Claire has been seeing -- or thinks she's been seeing -- a ghost. Which is in greater danger, their marriage or one or both of their lives? This is a fair-to-middlin' tale of a fair-to-middle-aged couple and whatever comes between them -- or brings them together. -- SW

X-MEN (PG-13)
Breaking the a long run of lamentably lame superhero movies, the big-screen version of Marvel's best-loved book pits misunderstood mutant heroes against their own kind, with humanity caught in the middle. Splashy effects, flashy fights and a slam-bang performance by Ian McKellen as metal-bending master criminal Magneto make this one of the most successful comics adaptations of recent years. It ain't Citizen Kane, but it ain't Tank Girl, either. -- EM

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