Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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IMAX Majestic White Horses (NR) The pomp, history and legend of the famous Lipizzan horses of Austria and the Spanish Riding School of Vienna gets the really big screen treatment. Through May 23. Everest (NR) A fascinating -- if dramatically incomplete -- account of climbing the world's highest mountain, filmed simultaneously with the fatal accideent recounted in Into Thin Air. Fridays Through May. Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa (Not Rated) Everest director David Breashears' latest IMAX documentary follows an expedition through five distinct climate zones to the top of Africa's highest point. Through Sept. 20. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (PG-13) Actor/director Oliver Parker's badly reheated Oscar Wilde substitutes slapstick physical comedy for the playwright's droll wit and manages to make a mess of a brilliant comedy about Victorian-era hypocrisy amongst the English upper-crust.--FF

INSOMNIA (R) Memento director Christopher Nolan switches from memory loss to sleep deprivation in this smart police thriller about a celebrated detective (Al Pacino) becoming increasingly complicitous with a dispassionate murderer (Robin Williams). Pacino and Williams each effectively turn down the volume for their cat-and-mouse games. While most noir films act under cover of darkness, Insomnia takes place in an Alaskan town where the sun literally never sets, providing a supple metaphor for the pangs of conscience.--CH

JASON X (R) Apparently every schlock horror franchise is destined to go to space: it happened to Critters, it happened to Leprechaun and now it happens to Friday the 13th, as the hockey-masked murderer stalks young people on a 25th century spaceship.

LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT (PG-13) This schizophrenic picture's success begins and ends with Angelina Jolie, cast as a TV reporter who comes to reassess her values after a street prophet (Tony Shalhoub) informs her she has a week to live. Director Stephen Herek and writers John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens are too much the consummate hacks to provide the serious sections with the import they require. But with the appeal of Jolie and co-star Edward Burns, it represents a serviceable feature -- or something like it.--MB

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (PG-13) Adapting the first and longest book of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, Peter Jackson offers an all-but-perfect fantasy epic that's no simple piece of story-book escapism. Jackson offers a full immersion in an imaginary world, and even when some virtual environments look fake, they bristle with personality. Thrilling -- and exhausting -- at a full three hours, Fellowship's greatest achievement is that it never loses sight of the human side of its fanciful story. --CH

MONSOON WEDDING (R) Beneath the initially frenzied energy and silliness of Mira Nair's film is an affectionate, moving portrait of how the imminent marriage of a New Delhi father's only daughter leads to a profound reassessment of the meaning of family, the one tradition worth holding onto in this meditation on the clash of new and old in modern India. --FF

MONSTER'S BALL (R) The relationship between a racist death row guard (Billy Bob Thornton) and a condemned prisoner's wife (a remarkable Halle Berry) provides the fulcrum for a stunning, unpredictable treatment of Southern race relations. Little-known director Marc Foster and screenwriters Milo Addica and Will Rokos capture the rural South while avoiding sugarcoating or stereotypes, take on challenging subjects without hysteria or contrivance, and get Oscar-worthy performances from some of the least likely of actors. --CH

MURDER BY NUMBERS (R) This fitfully entertaining thriller casts Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling as two privileged high school seniors who elect to pull off the perfect murder. As long as the film places them front and center, it avoids the standard "cop flick" trappings. Much of the running time is frittered away on scenes involving the troubled detective on the case, shakily played by top-billed star (and executive producer) Sandra Bullock.--MB

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (PG) Veteran television director Joel Zwick (whose resume includes "Bosom Buddies" and "Joanie Loves Chachi") helms this comic story of a Greek-Canadian woman butting heads with family tradition by seeking to marry a non-Greek. Expect to hear "Opa!" a lot.

THE NEW GUY (PG-13) A bullied high schooler (DJ Qualls) gets revenge on his peers after a wisecracking convict (Eddie Griffin) gives him pointers on being a badass. Also starring Eliza Dushku.

PANIC ROOM (R) Pop stylist and zeitgeist-surfer David Fincher goes gimpy in his latest dull, unimaginative pseudo-thriller about a recent divorcee (Jodie Foster) and her teenage daughter (Kristen Stewart) who wage a psychological battle with a trio of criminals (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam) who have invaded their Manhattan mansion looking for a $3 million treasure. --FF


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

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