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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics



Opening Wednesday
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS (PG-13) There's never been a truly great "spider" movie, and except for some isolated scenes, this PG-13-rated piffle is ultimately as threatening as Snuggles the Fabric Softener Bear. Even arachnophobes shouldn't have a hard time sleeping after sitting through this jokey yarn about a small town overrun by overgrown creepy-crawlies.--Matt Brunson



Opening Friday
CHERISH (R) Writer-director Finn Taylor starts with a workable premise about a mousy murder suspect (Robin Tunney) under house arrest, but tricks it out with too many stylistic changes. There's an opposites-attract romance between Tunney and her jailer (Tim Blake Nelson), a hip character study with a peppy '80s soundtrack and a thriller that mixes Wait Until Dark's claustrophobia with Run Lola Run's study of motion. A more disciplined film would have been more satisfying, but the lead performances and the suspense elements work surprisingly well.--Curt Holman

THE FAST RUNNER (NR) The first ever film in the Inuit language offers a timeless tale of jealousy, revenge and redemption. Set a thousand years ago inside the Arctic Circle, a good-natured hunter (Natar Ungalaaq) must resist the evil infecting a rival villager, building to an already-celebrated sequence in which the stark naked hero is pursued across an endless field of jagged ice. Too long at nearly three hours, it's still an archetypal story with details so precise it's like a documentary made with a time machine.--CH

K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER (PG-13) Do we really need another submarine drama coming so soon after Crimson Tide and U-571? Did we ever need to hear Harrison Ford attempt a Russian accent? Hopefully director Kathryn Bigelow can make the most of this account of a Soviet sub crew trying to avoid becoming a Chernobyl at sea. Inspired by a true story.

THE LADY AND THE DUKE (PG-13) Legendary French director Eric Rohmer dramatizes the true story of a Scottish noblewoman (Lucy Russell) caught up in the French Revolution by placing his cast before painted backdrops. With Jean-Claude Dreyfuss as the Duke of Orleans.

RAIN (PG-13) Dark and mesmerizing and more than a little chilling, this coming-of-age tale from New Zealand director Christine Jeffs about a New Zealand family vacationing at the seaside in 1972 and the simmering psychological battle for sexual dominance waged between a 13-year-old girl and her aging mother has an uncanny feel for the silent resentments that stew in families and the powder keg potential of sex. --Felicia Feaster

STUART LITTLE 2 (PG) The similarities to E.B. White's original, classic children's book are becoming increasingly remote. The title character, a talking mouse (voiced by Michael Fox) adopted by a human couple (Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie), pitches woo with a parakeet (voiced by Melanie Griffith) and matches wits with a hawk.



Duly Noted
THE APARTMENT (1960) (NR) Jack Lemmon climbs the corporate ladder by loaning his apartment to philandering executives until he falls for his boss's girlfriend, Shirley MacLaine. Blending caustic comedy and mature romance, Billy Wilder's masterpiece won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and many others. Tribute to Billy Wilder. Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. July 22 at 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. $6.50.--CH

CRAZY AS HELL (NR) If "ER" actor-turned-director Eriq La Salle had spent as much time researching the dynamics of a mental hospital and psychiatric protocol as he and the irritating Michael Beach do chewing the scenery, this might have resembled something closer to entertainment. As it is, not even a twist-ending (inspired by Adrian Lyne's Angel Heart) can explain this cheesy madness, a dull and pretentious thriller about an unorthodox psychiatrist (Beach) with a charismatic patient (La Salle) who claims to be Satan. Pan African Film Festival in conjunction with the National Black Arts Festival, July 20, 8 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $15.--FF

CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955) (NR) A mobster uses a scientist's reanimated zombies in a play for revenge in this film featuring the appropriately-named Tristram Coffin. Mondo Movie Nite, July 21 at dusk, Starlight Six Drive-In Theatre, 2000 Moreland Ave. $6.

DARESALAM (NR) Set during the civil wars of the '70s in Chad, a country that has seen three decades of internal warfare, this intelligent story concerns two friends from a small village who end up on opposite sides of the conflict. But rather than a didactic tale of good and bad, first-time director Issa Serge Coelo shows the far-reaching outcome of war and how the lowly soldier, the common folk, always suffer the most. Pan African Film Festival in conjunction with the National Black Arts Festival, July 20, 3:15 p.m. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $8.--FF

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