Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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THE SWISS MAKERS A fictitious -- but not inaccurate -- comedy about the arduous, intrusive process faced by foreigners who think they want to be Swiss citizens. Films of Switzerland, Geothe-Institut Atlanta, 1197 Peachtree St., Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m., $4 for non-members.

VENUS BEAUTY INSTITUTE 1/2 (R) French film legend Nathalie Baye, star of Godard and Truffaut films, brings a great sensitivity to her portrait of an aging beautician who has given up on love but -- in Tonie Marshall's subtly feminist tale -- continues to minister to her needy female customers.Vive les Femmes French film series, the Lefont Garden Hills, Nov. 9 at 5:10 and 9:50 p.m. -- FF

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER 1/2 (R) Inane, puerile comedy you'll probably hate yourself for laughing at, this spoof of late '70s/early '80s teen sex comedies like Meatballs follows the campers and counselors of Camp Firewood on the last, endless day of camp. Director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter take an obvious delight in exploiting the various absurdities of this reprobate genre, delivering a brand of non sequitur, ridiculous comedy that tickles the preadolescent funny-bone as much as it mocks genre conventions. GSU's cinefest, Nov. 16-22. --FF

WHAT'S COOKING? (PG-13) Gurinder Chadha, an Englishwoman of Indian descent, reveals Thanksgiving from the point of view of four families of Los Angelenos: upwardly mobile African-Americans (including Dennis Haysbert and Alfre Woodard), WASPs (with Kyra Sedgwick as a lesbian daughter), Vietnamese (featuring Joan Chen) and Latinos (including Mercedes Ruehl). Peachtree Film Society, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m., General Cinema Parkway Pointe, $7.50.

Continuing

BANDITS (PG-13) Director Barry Levinson's latest tries hard to be a quirky comedy (God, does it try), but the team of Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as "the Sleepover Bandits" fails to stir anything in the audience besides contempt. Thornton's hypochondriac character spends the entire 125-minutes whining about his various ailments, and Cate Blanchett fares no better as the bargain basement screwball heroine in love with both men. Willis, amazingly, comes out on top, providing a respite from all the mannered acting smothering the rest of the picture.--MATT BRUNSON

DON'T SAY A WORD (R) Michael Douglas seems bored as a New York psychiatrist whose daughter is snatched by crooks who demand he extract valuable information from the mind of one of his patients (Brittany Murphy), a catatonic woman with a murky past. Despite the potentially interest in Murphy's character,the film boils down to routine police procedurals (stretch), cars speeding through city streets (yawn), and Douglas trading climactic blows with the baddies (zzzzzz). --MB

FROM HELL (R) Menace II Society's Hughes Brothers have mixed success adapting Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's epic comic book examination of the Ripper murders. Johnny Depp and Heather Graham can't shake their movie-star glamour as an opium-addict police inspector and a streetwalker targeted for murder, but the directors provide an unnervingly memorable and feverish vision of the London slums and the savage killings as the stuff of hell itself.--CH

HEIST (R) David Mamet wrote and directed this disappointing caper yarn, the cast of which includes the Get Shorty trio of Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo and Danny DeVito. But for a movie that's obsessed with double-crosses, triple-crosses and even a couple of right-crosses, this is as easy to patch together as a 6-piece puzzle. Even without having read the script, we know as much as the actors do about how this yarn about a seasoned thief (Hackman) pulling off One Last Job will unfold. --MB

IMAX Lost Worlds: Life in the Balance (Not Rated) Harrison Ford narrates an IMAX film exploration of the world's biological diversity, from the Poles to the Tropics, with an in-depth focus on the lush, remote plateaus of Venezuela. Ocean Oasis (NR) Though indifferently structured, this portrait of the ecology of Baja California and the Sea of Cortez captures undersea life as never before and surfaces briefly to check out the desert and the mountains. With incredible cinematography, even by Imax standards, the images are so sharp you can look tiny fish in the eye and read personalities into their facial expressions. Through Jan. 1, 2002. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater. -- STEVE WARREN

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