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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
GOSFORD PARK (R) As close to a masterpiece as this year in movies has seen, Gosford Park invests a familiar upstairs-downstairs theme of the upper and servant classes of English country life with a degree of compassion and sensitivity that proves director Robert Altman has something human lurking beneath his patented misanthropy. --Felicia Feaster

IMPOSTOR (PG-13) Based on a Philip K. Dick story of the same name, this high-tech take on The Fugitive finds Gary Sinise as a futuristic engineer accused of being an alien spy. Featuring Madeleine Stowe and Vincent D'Onofrio, the film has literally spanned a millennium, having seen its theatrical release postponed for nearly two years.

Duly Noted
THE LEGEND OF RITA Volker Schlondorff, director of The Tin Drum, considers the political and social crises of the German reunification in this 2000 drama about an idealistic anti-capitalist fleeing her larcenous past.New Films From Germany, co-sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Atlanta. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

ODD MAN OUT The Third Man director Carol Reed offers another shadowy black-and-white drama with this 1947 thriller, starring James Mason as a wounded IRA rebel on the run through the streets of Belfast.The Incomparable James Mason film series. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

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., and Saturday at midnight at Blackwell Star Cinema, 3378 Canton Road, Marietta.

Continuing
ALI (PG-13) Director Michael Mann focuses on a single, tumultuous decade in the life of Muhammad Ali, from his championship bout against Sonny Liston to his refusal of the U.S. draft to "the Rumble in the Jungle." The film's first hour, placing the prizefighter's life in the context of America's racial and religious unrest, is as stinging and nimble as the boxer himself. A bulked-up Will Smith captures Ali's trash-talking and, more surprisingly, his moments of silent resolve, but neither Smith nor Mann can keep the film's last hour from losing dramatic interest, meticulously re-creating a fight whose outcome we already know. --Curt Holman

AMELIE (R) A popular and critical hit in France, this not-to-be-missed sweet-as-pie, stylistic knockout is a dazzling live-action cartoon for grown-ups. The ultra-cute Audrey Tautou is a do-gooding sprite living in a magical Montmartre who dedicates herself to helping others. From Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of The City of Lost Children and Delicatessean. -- FF

A BEAUTIFUL MIND 1/2 (PG-13) In an either bold or ignorant move, director Ron Howard may have made the first action-adventure film about schizophrenia. Russell Crowe stars in this story of real life Princeton mathematician John Nash who won the Nobel Peach Prize, but also suffered from mental illness. Howard allows emotional button-pushing to triumph over character development and insight in this earnest but flat entry in Hollywood's disability canon.--FF

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (G) The only animated feature ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award -- and one of the best classic-style musicals of the past 20 years -- Disney's 1991 animated gem gets a polish to fit the scalle of a really, really big IMAX screen. Mall of Georgia IMAX Theater, I-85 at Buford Drive, Buford.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES 1/2 (PG-13) One-note ubiquity Owen Wilson, a head-scratching choice for Hollywood's latest flavor of the month, plays Chris Burnett, a pilot shot down over ravaged, corpse-strewn Bosnia, which the film treats with the sensitivity of a video game. Director John Moore makes his movie debut after helming zippy commercials, so expect lots of choppy splicing of scenes filmed in the grainy style popularized by Saving Private Ryan -- but made dull by the number of hacks who have shamelessly copied it.--MB

THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS 1/2 (R) This assured, sleek debut film from Columbia grad Patrick Stettner is far more than just a girlified retread of Neil LaBute's corporate melodrama In the Company of Men. Stockard Channing astonishes as a driven, steely post-menopausal executive who shares her grievances about work and a life sacrificed for the almighty surge of power with an underling (Julia Stiles), who goads her to take violent action. --FF

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (PG). The big screen version of J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book mostly enchants. Following the title character (Daniel Radcliffe) in his first year at a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the film has so many clever details and visual delights that they dwarf the supposed plot about sinister goings-on surrounding the titular stone. John Williams overdoes the "magical" music and Radcliffe underplays Harry's emotions, but the film has enough charms to make the already-planned sequels feel welcome. --CH

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