Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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AMORES PERROS 1/2 (R) A trio of stories set in a dystopian Mexico City revolve around a life-altering car crash in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's gripping first feature more indebted to the indie free-styling of Tarantino than the art film legacy of Bunuel. --FF

BLOW (R) Ted Demme's film version of the real-life rise of pot-to-cocaine drug importer George Jung (Johnny Depp) is all surface flash and Scorsese-cribbed effects. A diverting entertainment featuring some so-bad-it's-good fashion moments, the film is wafer-thin in the originality department, with Demme favoring visual effects over middling details like character development and motivation.--FF

BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY 1/2 (R) Renee Zellweger manages a convincing British accent and remains defiantly appealing as the loveable loser "singleton" Miss Jones despite this bland, conventional, American-targeted re-working of Helen Fielding's witty, rude best-selling diaries to the screen. -- FF

THE BROTHERS (R) 1/2 Director Gary Hardwick's screenplay is too schematic but that shouldn't hurt this comedy's popularity as a date movie. It's got laughs, tears, sex, moral dilemmas and enough romance for a month of Valentine's Days. The leads are late-twentysomethings at different stages of maturity regarding relationships. D.L. Hughley is married, Shemar Moore engaged, Morris Chestnut on the verge (with fine Gabrielle Union) and Bill Bellamy is totally commitment-shy. -- SW

CAST AWAY (PG-13) Director Robert Zemeckis and his Forrest Gump star Tom Hanks have created another crowd-pleaser in what begins as a modern-day Robinson Crusoe story but comes out looking like a "Survivor" spin-off. Dumped in the Pacific, Chuck Noland (Hanks) spends four-plus years on an otherwise uninhabited island, developing survival skills gradually and realistically. The plot eventually gets Hollywood-ized, but it's amazing how long Zemeckis resists commercial impulses, aside from the whole movie being such a commercial for Chuck's employer, FedEx, that failing an Oscar, it has a chance to win a Clio. -- SW

The Center of the World (R). Aspiring for a Last Tango in Paris for the dotcom generation, Wayne Wang directs a steamy tale of a rich hacker who pays a stripper to be his consort for a weekend in Vegas. The film frankly explores how sex can be both a form of communication and a substitute for it, but at times proves little more than skin deep. --CH

CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (PG) 1/2 Paul Hogan makes a shameless, witless attempt to revive a worn-out franchise with a thin, underdeveloped premise stringing together tired jokes and stretched beyond the breaking point by an unsuspenseful climax that goes on for nearly a third of the movie. With decent material Hogan (who has aged better than his wife, Linda Kozlowski, who plays his still-unmarried partner) might have been able to pull off another culture-clash comedy, but this one's as pathetic as Lethal Agent 3, the bad movie it makes fun of. -- SW

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (PG-13) An enchanting tale set in early 19th-century China, Ang Lee's (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm) atmospheric Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rekindles the Hong Kong flame of gravity-defying martial arts action and tender sentiment. Lee invests the usual astounding acrobatics with his characters' pangs of regret, love and loss as two martial arts masters, (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) teach a spoiled young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) about the moral responsibilities of the Giang Hu martial arts way in this subversive, beautifully realized coming-of-age story. -- FF

THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN 1/2 (NR) This transfixing trio of stories, which only flounder in the third act, treat the difficult condition of being a woman in a fundamentalist religious culture in this Iranian film made by a husband-and-wife writing and directing team. The film, whose episodes have an allegorical texture, are weighty and meaningful, and made even more satisfying by the glimpse director Marzieh Meshkini offers, of the physical and emotional landscape of this beautiful, and troubled country. --FF

THE DISH 1/2 (PG-13). Sam Neill and "Seinfeld's" Patrick Warburton star in a comic dramatization of a remote Australian town's small but significant contribution to the Apollo 11 moon landing. At times the plot proves thin, and the intriguing premise seems better suited to an actual documentary, but the action becomes compelling as the Australians would rather handle crises themselves than admit, "Houston, we have a problem." -- CH


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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

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