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MAN FACING SOUTHEAST Director Eliseo Subiela once again brings unique, almost surreal, characters to life on the big screen. A saxophone-playing psychiatrist tries to treat a mysterious man who believes he is a Christ-like alien sent to study humanity. Ultimately, the encounters with the patient have a major impact on the doctor, changing the way he views man, religion and life. The 1986 film is in Spanish with subtitles. 2000 Latin-American Film Festival, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m., Rich Auditorium.
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Just in time for Halloween, the Silent Film Society of Atlanta screens this 1925 silent classic starring Lon Chaney. A box office smash the year of its release, the film immortalized Chaney as one of the most brilliant, and creepiest, character actors of all time. SFSA will show a restored and color-tinted version. Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., 112 White Hall on the Emory campus.
SLEEPY HOLLOW (R) 1/2 Tim Burton's gleefully gruesome spin on the classic ghost story has Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) taking on a headless assassin terrorizing a New York town in 1799. Ingenious plotting, hair-raising action sequences, and the best beheadings since the French Revolution make this the Citizen Kane of decapitation films. Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., 208 White Hall, 480 Kilgo Circle, Emory. -- EVM
ALMOST FAMOUS (R) 1/2 Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe romanticizes his experiences as a 15-year-old Rolling Stone reporter, on tour with a fictional band called Stillwater. The film oversells the puppyish cuteness of leads Kate Hudson and Patrick Fugit but offers a pleasingly nostalgic portrait of a rock writer and the rock industry's loss of innocence, with terrific turns by Billy Crudup, Jason Lee and Philip Seymour Hoffman. -- CH
THE ART OF WAR (R) 1/2 Framed for murder while working on a top-secret UN security force, Wesley Snipes has to clear himself in an overlong but visually dazzling action flick with a reasonably intelligent and pleasantly fanciful script. Director Christian Duguay (TV's Joan of Arc) has no trouble filling a wide screen with some of the most interesting work of any western director in this genre. It's no milestone in the art of cinema, but it offers fair competition to the Mission: Impossible films, with a lot less hype to live up to. -- SW
AUTUMN IN NEW YORK (PG-13) Is Will (Richard Gere), 48, a cradle-robber or a grave-robber when he romances Charlotte (Winona Ryder), 22, whose mother he once dated? That depends on the ending, which I won't reveal. Elaine Stritch, as Charlotte's grandmother, provides almost as much comic relief as the idea of Ryder and Gere as lovers. It's a definite step down for director Joan Chen after her amazing debut with Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl, but not quite as bad as was feared when MGM decided to release it without advance press screenings. -- SW
BAIT (R) Another comic dud for the very funny Jamie Foxx, this is one slow-ass action movie that, even for a comedy, takes too many liberties with time and space. Foxx plays a petty (but sincere) thief who's used by the feds to draw out a killer (played by Doug Hutchison like Frank Gorshin imitating John Malkovich), but the killer's not the only thing that's drawn out. Given a choice of "fish or cut bait," I recommend you cut Bait out of your movie diet. -- SW
BEAUTIFUL (PG-13) Directing her first feature film, Sally Field takes on the world of beauty pageants in this tale about a woman (Minnie Driver) determined to become the next Miss America no matter what the cost. In her pursuit of the title, Mona's dreams change as she bonds with Vanessa, played by Hallie Kate Eisenberg (the annoyingly cute girl from the Pepsi commercials), forcing her to come to terms with her own painful childhood.
BEST IN SHOW (PG-13) Mockumentarian Christopher Guest reunites his Waiting for Guffman collaborators (including Eugene Levy, Parker Posey and Catherine O'Hara) for a similar venture about the eccentric participants at a national dog show. A bit disappointingly, Guest and company rely on easy targets (tacky middle Americans and fatuous city dwellers) but also show a surprising affection for canine pageants and their four-legged contestants. -- CH
BLESS THE CHILD (R) 1/2 Though neither intellectually stimulating nor spiritually challenging, this woman-and-child-in-jeopardy flick with a supernatural twist provides a tense couple of hours. Kim Basinger raises her niece Cody for six years, until she's kidnapped by Rufus Sewell's cult that's out to win God's special child for Satan. Cody has special powers but the script is unclear about what they are and under what circumstances she can use them. She may turn up someday in an X-Men sequel, enrolling in Prof. Xavier's school. As usual in these movies, the devil wins the special effects battle but God wins the war. -- SW
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