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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 3 of 5

BRING IT ON (PG-13) 1/2 For a long while it's hard to tell whether this is a seriously comic look at high school cheerleaders or a tongue-in-cheek satire of teen flicks, and by the time it turns relatively serious you'll be caught up in the story and you won't care. Kirsten Dunst leads the all-white San Diego squad and Gabrielle Union is her inner-city counterpart in the face-off at the national finals. Eliza Dushku and Jesse Bradford bring LA attitude and romance to the (California) Southland. -- SW

THE CELL (R) The director of the "Losing My Religion" video offers a psychotropic serial killer thriller in which the mind of a murderer looks like an evening of MTV's "120 Minutes." When Jennifer Lopez makes a mental interface with deranged Vincent D'Onofrio, the film yields plenty of voluptuous, nightmarish images, which ultimately amount to no more than window-dressing to a high-tech knock-off of The Silence of the Lambs. -- CH

THE CONTENDER (R) Rod Lurie's follow-up to the underrated Deterrence lacks the complexity of the best political potboilers and could have been tightened considerably, but the stars deliver for Lurie and he's written them some sharp dialogue. Jeff Bridges earns my vote as the lame-duck president, trying to get his appointee for vice president, Sen. Joan Allen, approved by Congress. Gary Oldman promotes a sex scandal rumor to block her, and she refuses to dignify with a response questions that should never have been asked. The Contender deserves a "D" rating -- Republicans not admitted without a Democratic guardian. -- SW

COYOTE UGLY (PG-13) Producer Jerry Bruckheimer brings his Midas touch to this crowd-pleaser about a pretty Jersey girl who moves to Manhattan to pursue her songwriting career but becomes sidetracked by her glamorous, sexy job as a dancing babe bartender at the rollicking Coyote Ugly bar. Expect the expected and you won't be disappointed by the mindless fun of this Hollywood guilty pleasure. -- FF

DANCER IN THE DARK (R) Danish upstart Lars von Trier's latest film continues the director's love of feverish melodrama. Icelandic avant-garde pixie Bjork stars as a Czech immigrant factory worker who is gradually losing her sight but finds escape in the music of her mind as the world crumbles around her. This winner of the Palme d'Or and a Best Female Performance for Bjork at the Cannes Film Festival is a risk-taking marvel sure to divide audiences who will either love or hate it. -- FF

DIGIMON: THE MOVIE (PG) Based on the animated television series, the movie is an attempt by 20th Century Fox to compete with Warner Bros. and its Pokémon films in the anime market. The big-screen version centers on the show's main children characters who, along with the help of the good Digital Monsters, must save the world from a new, diabolical Digimon and its cohorts.

DR. T AND THE WOMEN (R) 1/2 Robert Altman follows up last year's sleeper Cookie's Fortune with another laid-back venture down south, depicting a beloved Dallas OB-GYN (Richard Gere) whose personal and professional life is inundated with women (including Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Hudson). The film's tone, music and performances couldn't be more agreeable, but it never makes much of a point and tries to convey an appreciation for women while, paradoxically, painting most of them as foolish or flighty. -- CH

DUETS (R) Character actor Bruce Paltrow directs his Oscar-winning daughter Gwyneth in an odd dramedy about three couples on a cross-country collision course at a karaoke contest. The film is never as revealing about "karaoke kulture" as you might expect, but it's probably wise to emphasize the mismatched buddies of burnt-out businessman Paul Giamatti and ex-con Andre Braugher (the only one of the leads who doesn't do own singing). -- CH

THE EXORCIST A longer cut of the head-spinning, soup-spewing 1973 classic includes the restoration of creepy (if unnecessary) scenes and sound effects of supernatural goings-on, as well as more dialogue for Max Von Sydow in the title role. The re-release has undiminished power to horrify, and, more strikingly, offers a telling reminder of how textured and mature the films of the 1970s could be. -- CH

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