STARTUP.COM (R) Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim quit her job at MTV in 1999 to follow two childhood friends pursue their million-dollar dream -- a dot.com that would allow citizens to pay their traffic tickets and renew their drivers' licenses online. But as we all know by now, the road to Internet riches is a trail of tears. Noujaim and fellow lenswoman Chris Hegedus remind us how irrational all that exuberance was. Along the way, we see the new face of American business -- brimming with optimism and a sense of entitlement one minute, cynical and ruthless the next. In 100 years, Startup.com will berequired viewing for students of late-20th century America. Even now, this documentary already seems like nostalgia, but it's gripping nostalgia. Were we really that naive? --STEVE FENNESSY
SWORDFISH (R) This is the story of the world's most dangerous spy (John Travolta), a charismatic, multifaceted man hired by the CIA to coerce a computer hacker (Hugh Jackman) recently released from prison to help steal $6 billion in unused government funds. In exchange, the hacker can regain custody of his daughter and start a new life.
ATLANTA FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL Running June 8-16, the festival will feature more than 175 independent, original works from around the world, including 38 films from Georgia. For festival information call 404-352-4254 or visit www.imagefv.org.
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. Through June 12 GSU's cinéfest. Also showing at the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival at the Fox Theater, June 11 at 8 p.m. --FELICIA FEASTER
DAHLONEGA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Catch a free sneak preview of some of the 2001 official selection short films June 6 at the Fountainhead Lounge in East Atlanta from 8-11 p.m.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (NR) First-time, 25-year-old director David Gordon Green combines the lush, heartfelt perspective that befits his age and an often flowery, precious dialogue that betrays his age too, in this touching, awkward, clunky, lovely film about a group of Southern children dealing with heartbreak, longing and a search for meaning. Through June 12 at GSU's cinéfest. --FF
THE MUMMY'S CURSE See what influenced Lord Edgar to go to the Pyramids of Egypt and try to discover a way to bring his beloved Irma back to life. An irrigation project in the rural bayous of Louisiana unearths the Living Mummy (Lon Chaney Jr.) who was buried in quick sand 25 years earlier. This classic 1944 B-movie was Directed by Leslie Goodwins and stars Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Coe III and Virginia Christine. Free admission. Tuesday, June 12 at 8 p.m. at the Irma Vep Film Festival. Actor's Express, 887 West Marietta St., Suite J-107.
MY STRUGGLE Touring underground film maker Joe Christ, best known for his tasteless short movies, will host another Atlanta screening of his newest creation. My Struggle is the story of an inbred Amish man (Andy Miller) who kidnaps a female tourist (Cindy Basden) to use as fresh genetic stock. Joe Christ plays a struggling artist who makes his living burglarizing houses and manufacturing pipe bombs for high school students. After coming across a severely mentally challenged young woman, who's been stranded in a cardboard box, the artist faces some major decisions. If you haven't already guessed, the film is a comedy. Thursday, June 14 at the Somber Reptile, 842 Marietta St. Doors open 9 p.m.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the 1975 horror spoof follows an all-American couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a drag-queen/mad scientist from another galaxy. It's all fun and games until Meatloaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Fridays at midnight, Lefont Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave.
SUZHOU RIVER In present day Shanghai, Mardar falls in love with beautiful Moudan. After being coerced, Mardar attempts to kidnap Moudan to gain money from her wealthy father. Devastated by her love's betrayal, Moudan jumps into the Suzhou River and is lost. Once Mardar is paroled from prison after being convicted of Moudan's murder, he meets MeiMei, an identical look-alike whom he suspects is actually Moudan. Directed and written for the screen by Lou Ye. Through June 12 at GSU's cinéfest.
ALONG CAME A SPIDER (R) Morgan Freeman returns in fine form as world-weary forensic psychologist Alex Cross of Kiss the Girls, likewise recommended as entertainment, not art. When a senator's 12-year-old daughter is kidnapped Alex teams with Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who was assigned to protect the girl, to find kidnapper Michael Wincott -- and the girl -- before it's too late. After an action-packed opening the film slows down until the final hour, which is packed with twists, some more surprising than others. What matters is the plot holds together while you're watching it, even if it falls apart in retrospect. -- SW
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
ANGEL EYES (R) Overexposed media diva Jennifer Lopez delivers an OK performance as Chicago police officer Sharon Pogue, who's saved from certain death by a soft-spoken stranger (Jim Caviezel) who's mysteriously drawn to her. The pair fall in love, but his secretive nature puts a strain on their relationship. There's actually a couple of elements to admire in Gerald DiPego's ambitious screenplay -- most notably a sobering subplot about the cycle of domestic violence that exists in Sharon's family - but the central romance is so predictable (you can figure it out from the first scene) that, coupled with the stagnant direction by Luis Mandoki (Message In a Bottle), the film never comes close to making us reach for those tissues. -- MATT BRUNSON
THE ANIMAL (PG-13) When a police cadet (Rob Schneider) nearly dies in a car accident while driving through remote mountains, a strange beast rescues him, performing surgery on him in a barn using animal parts as transplants. When he returns to civilization, he discovers that the influences of the animals within himself are causing him to behave oddly.
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
BREAD AND ROSES 1/2 (R) A major disappointment from the respected, talented British political filmmaker Ken Loach, this reality-based story of an invisible workforce of Latino immigrants who struggle to form a janitors' union is pedantic, simplistic and insulting to Loach's usual audience's intelligence.--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
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
DRIVEN 1/2 More like Drivel. With rare exception, the mini-genre of race car flicks has always been a disreputable one. But if there's anyone who could make a racing movie that at least qualifies as a guilty pleasure, it would be director Renny Harlin, since even his trashy films are presented with a certain degree of style and chutzpah. But Harlin hits the wall with Driven, which is so banal and preposterous that not even his constantly roving camera can disguise the bankruptcy of the project. Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the original story handles the tried & true "veteran" role: He's cast as Joe Tanto, a former racing star who's coaxed out of retirement by crotchety car owner Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) to provide guidance to Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue), a rookie sensation who's in a dead-heat battle for the season championship with ice-cold defending champ Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger). The story itself is packed with too many needless characters, fetid dialogue and ludicrous developments. --MB
THE GOLDEN BOWL 1/2 (R). The Merchant-Ivory filmmaking team has less success with Henry James' novels than they do with the work of E.M. Forster. Regarding a pair of penniless lovers (Uma Thurman and Jeremy Northam) who marry a wealthy father and daughter (Nick Nolte and Kate Beckinsale), the film's limited performances and heavy-handed symbolism keeps you from empathizing with the characters. --CURT HOLMAN
IMAX Journey Into Amazing Caves (R) Nancy Aulenbach of Norcross, a cave rescue specialist, and Dr. Hazel Barton, a British microbiologist, explore caves in Arizona, Greenland and the Yucatan in search of extremophiles, "microbes which thrive in the harshest of conditions." This Journey is filled with visual excitement for sedentary types, visceral excitement for the Xtreme crowd and a bit of information it won't hurt any of us to know. Plays through Sept. 3. Ocean Oasis Experience the unbreakable bonds between a parched land, a rich sea and the plants and animals that thrive within, as you travel to Baja California. Swim with the huge schools of mysids, and follow jellyfish, jacks and tuna as they flourish beneath a rich sea. Through Jan. 1, 2002. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater.
KINGDOM COME (PG) Soul Food was just an appetizer for this African-American family comedy that brings a dysfunctional brood together to bury their patriarch. Whoopi Goldberg plays it almost straight as the widow while Loretta Devine takes comic honors as her ever-praying sister-in-law. Goldberg's sons, LL Cool J and Anthony Anderson, are in troubled marriages (to Vivica A. Fox and Jada Pinkett Smith) but no problems are too big to be resolved neatly for a feel-good ending. The actors and most of the script make up for technical shortcomings in the funniest funeral since Chuckles bit the dust. -- SW
A KNIGHT'S TALE (PG-13). Medieval knights joust to contemporary pop songs ("We Will Rock You," "Takin' Care of Business," etc.) in Brian Helgeland's period action film. If you can accept the quirky soundtrack, you can enjoy the film's anachronistic sense of humor for about an hour (Chaucer is a supporting character), but the mechanics of its predictable plot get the better of it, and eventually all the jousting scenes look alike. --CH
THE LUZHIN DEFENCE 1/2 (PG-13). Emily Watson finds herself drawn to an eccentric grandmaster (John Turturro) at an Italian chess tournament in an intriguing but unsatisfying adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's novel. Turturro's unpredictability makes the film oddly compelling, but its melodramatic villain and emphasis on mental illness put its thematic ambitions in check. --CH
MEMENTO 1/2 (R) An investigator (Guy Pearce) suffering from short term memory loss tries to track down his wife's killer in Christopher Nolan's ingenious thriller. As in Harold Pinter's Betrayal the scenes unfold in reverse order, so both the audience and the forgetful hero are constantly thrust into the unknown. Complicated, exhilarating and dark, Memento's ending leaves your head spinning -- counterclockwise. --CH
MOULIN ROUGE 1/2 (PG-13) Romeo + Juliet director Baz Luhrman whips into a fabulous frenzy this stylishly spastic post-modern musical about an impoverished writer (Ewan McGregor) in love with a consumptive courtesan (Nicole Kidman) in a bizarre rock'n'roll version of late 19th century Paris. Dazzling design and dizzying technique more or less compensate for an unsatisfying story and far too many smugly hip in-jokes. And feel free to sing along; 95 percent of the lyrics are lifted from songs you already know.--EDDY VON MUELLER
MUMMY RETURNS (PG-13) 1/2 Even more so than the OK 1999 blockbuster The Mummy, this Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off is pure adrenaline overkill, a nonstop barrage of movement and noise. Yeah, I realize the breathless preview makes this look like the greatest show on earth, but, truth be told, I was actually bored by many of the frenzied activities taking place on the screen. The original cast, including Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as the good guys and Arnold Vosloo as the title terror, returns largely unchanged, and the murky story line (marked by its share of inconsistencies and lapses in logic) has something to do with the resurrected Imhotep (Vosloo) fighting a resurrected warrior known as the Scorpion King (pro wrestler The Rock) for global domination. Reportedly, plans are already underway for a third Mummy movie, a development that makes me want to confront Sommers and utter a line from this sorry sequel: "You began a chain reaction that could trigger the next apocalypse!" -- MB
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (PG-13) 1/2 George Clooney plays an escaped convict dragging his buddies across the Depression-era Deep South in search of hidden treasure and also trying to stop his wife's remarriage in this uneven but brilliantly bizarre screwball send-up of '30s folk history and Homer's ancient epic, The Odyssey. The film features a number of Coen Brothers alums, including John Goodman (standing in for the Cyclops) and John Turturro (who almost gets turned into a frog). The title comes from Sullivan's Travels, which you should also see, dammit. -- EVM
PANIC (R). William H. Macy plays a hit man seeking therapy and escape from the family business in Henry Bromell's quiet character study that's not really a thriller nor a black comedy. Macy's indelible portrait of mid-life crisis gets fine support from Donald Sutherland, Neve Campbell and especially Tracey Ullman and child actor David Dorfman. --CH
PEARL HARBOR 1/2 (PG-13). It's not that this is an awful movie; it's just an awfully impersonal one, with plenty of spectacular effects hardly justifying the cardboard characters, insipid dialogue and stone-cold direction. The film obviously hopes to be another Titanic, but the love triangle comprised of pilots Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett and nurse Kate Beckinsale couldn't possibly be duller. -- MB
SHREK 1/2 (PG). DreamWorks' fractured fairy tale both soars and suffers from its own subversive humor, as a crude, wisecracking ogre (voiced by Mike Meyers) makes a reluctant knight errant in a quest to rescue an enchanted princess (Cameron Diaz). Shrek's computer-animated charms get hexed by too much outhouse comedy, too many pop references and far too much of Eddie Murphy as a talking donkey. --CH
SPY KIDS (PG) Here's Willy Wonka: The Next Generation, full of warmth, imagination and surrealism combined with the action today's youngsters demand (though less violence than they might prefer). Robert Rodriguez's creation is about the children of retired spies Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino going into the family business to rescue their kidnapped parents. The story, action and visuals rate higher than the inconsistent acting. The heroes are fine, but the villains (Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Patrick and Teri Hatcher) are all over the map instead of uniformly over the top. -- SW
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA Pierce Brosnan wickedly sullies his 007 image as a sleazy, womanizing intelligence agent who enlists a fraudulent tailor (Geoffrey Rush) to spy on Panama's ruling elites. The adaptation of John LeCarre's novel weaves a complicated pattern of broad satire, serious political commentary and knotty character study, but director John Boorman loses his grip on the different threads, offering a weak, unconvincing ending that undercuts the film's otherwise provocative originality. -- CH
TRAFFIC (R) 1/2 A well-crafted, engrossing story of the drug war as it touches characters from Tijuana to Washington, D.C., from cops and politicians to teenagers and suburban wives, Steven Soderbergh's drama moves along at a ferocious clip. Even with its large cast of newcomers and Hollywood old-guarders, this psychological action film affirms Soderbergh's talent for making good, populist dramas that exceed the usual Hollywood standards. -- FF
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? (PG-13) A billionaire (Danny DeVito) catches a thief (Martin Lawrence) robbing his mansion. To get even with him, he takes the thief's lucky charm ring, telling the cops that it's his own. Depraved of his good luck charm, and faced with a future of bad luck, the thief begins wreaking revenge on the tycoon. The story becomes a battle of wills as the thief tries to get his most treasured possession, his luck, back from a man who has everything.
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