Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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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

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  • Re: Fresh air

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

    • on June 29, 2016
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