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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
HOUSE OF MIRTH (PG) Gillian Anderson gives a luminous, unforgettable performance as the upper-crust orphan who falls from the heights of turn-of-the-century New York society into abject poverty in Terence Davies' stunning adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel of manners. More than simply a reverse fairy tale of an innocent beauty dragged into the mud, this languidly paced, intelligent film honors the complexity of Lily Bart (Anderson), while taking measure of her faults, and offers a painfully realistic portrait of the kind of human pettiness and weakness that yields horrific results. -- Felicia Feaster

LEFT BEHIND (PG-13) Based on the Christian novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, the thriller stars Kirk Cameron ("Growing Pains") as Buck, a man who teams up with a group of baffled observers to investigate the sudden disappearance of millions of people around the world. The film explores the events of the Biblical Rapture and what happens to those who are left behind.

MALENA (R) Cinema Paradiso's Giuseppe Tornatore offers another nostalgic glimpse of an Italian childhood, focusing here on adolescent Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) and his obsession with a shapely war widow (Monica Belucci) during World War II. The film treats Belucci as a sex object, but that's part of the point, as the rest of Renato's village judges her character based on her appearance. The moments of broad comedy and gorgeous photography make up for its uncharitable view toward the Italian people. -- Curt Holman

VALENTINE (R) Urban Legend director Jamie Blanks revisits the teen-slasher genre in this new horror flick about a formerly geeky kid who decides to get revenge on the girls who tormented him years before. Just in time for Valentine's Day, cupid is transformed into a real lady killer. Not surprisingly, the movie features a number of WB stars, including David Boreanaz of "Angel" and Katherine Heigl of "Roswell."

Duly Noted
THE AUTEUR THEORY Evan Oppenheimer's satire on independent film festivals centers on one peculiar student film festival, where a killer is taking out the directors of the terrible movies. A filmmaker (Alan Cox) decides to make a documentary about the killings but ends up falling for the main suspect (Natasha Lyonne). IMAGE Film and Video Center benefit screening, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24.

BIG MAMA CINEFEST FILM NIGHT Sponsored by IMAGE Film and Video Center, the screenings feature two films and 10 shorts by women filmmakers as part of Seen + Heard: The Atlanta Women's Arts Festival. Directed by Shelley Niro, Honey Moccasin is a comedy feature about Native-American investigator Honey Moccasin and the case of the drag queen clothing thief. Ellen Spiro's Roam Sweet Home is a documentary that examines the lives of aging roamers and loners who live on the road in trailers. The short films include: Ya-Nan Chou's "Split"; Suzie Silver's "A Spy: Hester Reeve Does the Doors"; Jeanne Vitale's "Schizophrenia Circa 1986"; T. Anjanette Levert's "Shake It Up, Shake It Down: AUC Students' Perspective on Freaknik"; CHING's "Faeries: Music in the Woods"; Shana Marie Woods' "Sangre y Veneno"; Allyson Mitchell's "Candy Kisses"; Melissa Levin and Nina Levitt's "Baking with Butch"; Lela Lee's "Angry Little Asian Girl"; and "Hello Titty" by Anne Lise Breunneg, Jody Shipley and Beatrice Thomas. Feb. 9 with features at 7:30 p.m. and shorts at 10 p.m., PushPush Theater, 1123 Zonolite Road.

THE FOLLOWERS Three tight friends decide to pledge the same exclusive fraternity, but their friendship is put to the test when one is rejected because he is black. The two white friends want to join despite the racism, and the fraternity president tests their loyalty as members by having them target their African-American friend during hazing. Jan. 26-Feb. 1 at 2, 6 and 10 p.m., GSU's cinéfest.

GOIN' TO CHICAGO George King's documentary traces the events of the pre-World War II "Great Migrations," in which many African-Americans left the South in search of better lives in the North. The film examines this chapter of our history through interviews with those who lived the journey. Atlanta African Film Society, Feb. 6 at noon, Georgia Pacific Auditorium, 133 Peachtree St..

IMAX AT FERNBANK: MICHAEL JORDAN TO THE MAX In this tribute to the basketball legend, the film explores the life of Michael Jordan on and off the court. See some of his career highlights, including the championship-winning final shot, up on the big-screen. Feb. 2-4 at 6 p.m., Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

JUDGE IN FEAR An unpopular judge is on trial for the murder of a prostitute, and attorney Jean Ables must defend him against the charges. A witness places the judge at the scene of the crime, but the judge is unwilling to give Jean information that could help his case. Director Josef Rodl's 1996 film is in German with subtitles. German Criminal Films, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m., Goethe Institut Atlanta.

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