FULL FRONTAL (R) Steven Soderbergh opts for self-referential style over storytelling substance in his look of a handful of navel-gazing Los Angelenos. Or is the director lampooning narcissistic films like Time Code -- and himself? With the sincere scenes invariably undercut by inside jokes, it's hard to tell what the Oscar-winning director is playing at. It helps that laughs are plentiful and supporting players like David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener do nice work, but Full Frontal seems at least half-empty. --Curt Holman
MARTIN LAWRENCE LIVE: RUNTELDAT (R) Martin Lawrence offers a follow-up to his 1994 concert film You So Crazy with this recording from his "RunTelDat" tour, directed by David Raynr.
THE MASTER OF DISGUISE (PG) Test your Dana Carvey tolerance in this comedy from the former cast member of "Saturday Night Live." Here he plays a nebbishy quick change artist whose retinue includes old ladies, George W. Bush and a guy who looks like a turtle. Surely one of his alter egos must be funny. Right?
NEVER AGAIN (R) Frank dialogue marks writer-director Eric Shaeffer's depiction of the unlikely romance of a middle-aged couple (Jill Clayburgh and "The Larry Sanders Show's" Jeffrey Tambor) who meet at a gay bar.
RAIN (PG-13) Dark, 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 powderkeg potential of sex. --Felicia Feaster
SIGNS (PG-13) Ominous crop circles presage otherworldly events that befall a widowed man of the cloth (Mel Gibson) and his grieving family. Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan lays on the faith-based symbolism with a heavy hand, and his characters never seem as stilted or strange as when they're meant to be "normal." But his powers with Hitchcock-esque suspense are undiminished as he uses misdirection and half-glimpsed threats to build tension to nearly unbearable levels. --CH
WHO IS CLETIS TOUT? (R) Well, "Cletis Tout" appears to be an alias used by Christian Slater's character in Chris Ver Wiel's caper comedy that features RuPaul, Richard Dreyfuss and Tim Allen as a hitman named "Critical Jim." It sounds very post-Tarantino.
ANIMATION FESTIVAL WINNERS ASIFA-Atlanta will screen the 22 winners of New York's 2002 Animation Festival, including films from Bill Plympton, Cartoon Network and JJ Sedelamaier Productions. ASIFA-Atlanta, Aug. 6, 8 p.m., Macquarium Studios, 1800 Peachtree St. Free. www.asifa-atlanta.com.
IG MUSIC ART FILM The film component of the East Atlanta Village festival of alternative arts features "Downstream II," with 60 edgy narrative and short films mostly drawn from the Gainesville's Downstream Film Festival. Downstream II, Aug. 1-3, Earthshaking Music, 543 Stokeswood Ave., Atlanta. $25 for four-day IG pass. 1-800-594-TIXX.
MOMMIE DEAREST (1981) (NR) See screen star Joan Crawford lead a one-woman crusade against the evils of wire hangers in over-the-top biopic with Faye Dunaway in the leading role. Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. --CH
OSCAR SHORTS 2002 Peachtree Film Society offers an encore presentation of its sold-out evening of Academy Award-winning and -nominated animated and short films, including Ray McKinnon's superb, Georgia-filmed Oscar winner "The Accountant." Peachtree Film Society, Aug. 3, 7 p.m., Cinevision, 3300 Northeast Expressway, Building 2. $7.50. 770-729-8487.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the musical 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 Avenue, and Saturday at midnight at the Marietta Star Cinema, 1355 Roswell Road, Marietta.
THE WOMEN (1939) (NR) Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell lead an all-woman cast in this catty classic. The campy attempts at sentiment are nearly as funny as the wicked one-liners. Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. Aug. 5, 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. $6.50.
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (PG-13) Having exhausted whatever satirical possibilities they had left in their first unnecessary sequel, Mike Myers and director Jay Roach simply making fun of themselves in this third rehash about the groovy secret agent. An inspired opening sequence is as hilarious as anything you've seen in a very long time, but from there it all goes right into the toilet -- literally. Beyonce Knowles' sexual potential as Foxxy Cleopatra is wasted in favor of estranged father-son hooey with Michaael Caine. --Bert Osborne
BAD COMPANY (PG-13) Taking an explosive comic actor like Chris Rock sticking him in an action film this dull is like buying a ridiculously expensive sports car and solely using it to drive to the grocery store down the block. This studio-generated claptrap features a street-smart small-timer (Rock) who poses as his own twin brother, a murdered CIA agent tracking (what else?) a nuclear weapon making the rounds on the international black market. Anthony Hopkins co-stars. -- Matt Brunson
THE BOURNE IDENTITY (PG-13) Go director Doug Liman's spy thriller starts well, with amnesiac Matt Damon discovering that he's got spy skills and hitmen on his trail. But the film forgets the best plot twists of Robert Ludlum's original novel and falls into a repetitious cycle: Chris Cooper's nasty CIA man yells at underlings, Damon hesitantly romances love interest Franka Potente, and action scenes unfold in a workmanlike manner.--CH
THE COUNTRY BEARS (G) Disney turns its Country Bear Jamboree ride into a live-action oddity, in which a talking bear cub (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), raised by humans, rediscovers his ursine roots upon meeting the title musicians, here depicted as a roots-rock band a la Lynyrd Skynyrd. Don Henley and John Hiatt provide singing voices, while Elton John and Willie Nelson appear as themselves.
THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE (PG) Giving Animal Planet's nature host Steve Irwin his own movie seems as misguided as giving the Food Network's Emeril his own sitcom. Here Irwin plays his excitable self as he tries to protect a croc that has swallowed a chunk of a spy satellite coveted by secret agents.
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.--MB
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
HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (R) Michael Meyers -- the killer in the white mask, not the Austin Powers stars -- returns in a sequel partially inspired by MTV's scare-the-slackers reality show "Fear." Featuring Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks and Jamie Lee Curtis, returning for yet another "final battle."
HEY ARNOLD! THE MOVIE (PG) The flat-headed hero of the Nickelodeon cartoon series takes the big screen to fight a real estate developer who wants to build a shopping mall on Arnold's neighborhood. Sounds like a hard sell in Atlanta.
IMAX Australia: Land Beyond Time (NR) Check out the kangaroos, koalas and other denizens of Down Under in this travelogue of the world's biggest island. Through July 31. Cirque du Soleil (NR) See dizzying acrobatics in the IMAX film of the renowned French circus. Fridays through Sept. 15. 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.
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 complicit 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
K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER (PG-13) If there's anything to add the venerable sub-genre of sub flicks, hack director Kathryn Bigelow and writers Christopher Kyle and Louis Nowra don't come close to finding it, preferring to trot out a creaky vessel stitched together from past underwater adventures. Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson employ now-you-hear-them-now-you-don't accents as the two top dogs on a Soviet submarine sent out to sea under perilous conditions during the height of the Cold War. A half-hearted Mutiny On the Bounty knock-off ensues.--MB
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.
LATE MARRIAGE (NR) Quiet observational comedy gives way to an increasingly dark critique of strangling family ties when an aging graduate student (Lior Ashkenazi) defies old-world marital customs in his affair with a divorced single mother (Ronit Elkabetz). Writer-director Dover Koshashvili offers surprisingly frank and liberating bedroom scenes, and a shockingly angry portrait of the elder generation. --CH
LIKE MIKE (PG) That's Mr. Wow to you! Lil Bow Wow plays an adolescent boy who, when struck by lightning while holding a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers, becomes a basketball star. (Hey, is it any more far-fetched than being bitten by a genetically-modified spider?) This family sports fantasy include such unexpected supporting players as Crispin Glover, Anne Meara and Eugene Levy.
LILO & STITCH (PG) A fluffy but destructive alien mutation hides from his intergalactic pursuers by passing as the pet of a lonely Hawaiian girl. Imagine the Tasmanian Devil impersonating E.T. and you'll have a sense of the Looney Tunes level of slapstick. The schmaltz gets high enough to surf on, but the characters are appealing and Disney replaces its usual atrocious pop songs with Elvis hits. --CH
LOVELY & AMAZING (R) An acutely observed alterna-melodrama about three Los Angeles sisters and their equally neurotic mother, indie director Nicole Holofcener's follow-up to Walking and Talking observes her troubled, surly, sad characters with a degree of wit and insight that makes them likable and real. --FF
MEN IN BLACK II (PG-13) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as attitudinal alien-busting secret agents in this mind-bogglingly, jaw-droppingly egregious sequel to their somewhat diverting 1997 cash cow. A negligible "plot" gives them something to squawk about amid the usual barrage of computer-generated effects, but the movie exists most appreciably to serve the greedy financial considerations of its responsible parties. The best to said of the monumental mess is that it's all over in a (suspiciously) brief 88 minutes. --BO
MINORITY REPORT (PG-13) A half-century from now, high-tech police can arrest perpetrators before they commit their crimes, and officer Tom Cruise believes in the system until it sets its sights on him. Director Steven Spielberg offers a brilliant extrapolation of future law-enforcement and marketing techniques, which inform many of suspense sequences while inspiring ideas about privacy and guilt. Some jarring shifts in tone (an Indiana Jones-esque fight here, a gross-out sight gag there) hinder the narrative and thematic momentum, and the director's emulation of 1940s film noir results in both highly mannered acting and superbly moody, filtered cinematography. --CH
MR. DEEDS (PG-13) Adam Sandler returns to form -- a form without shape, substance or style -- in this remake of Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Expect over-the-top beatings, tired slapstick and Sandler's tired naive-but-pure-hearted-idiot routine as he plays a pizza shop owner who gets a $10 billion inheritance and unwittingly becomes the laughing-stock of New York. Maybe the movie will make Winona Ryder realize that if she's going to revive her flagging career, she may have to tackle a serious, meaty, potentially-naked role. (See Halle Berry.) --Steve Fennessy
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (PG) While not as accomplished as Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding,- this is nevertheless a gratifying romantic comedy that gently tweaks stereotypes even as its characters wallow in them. Adapted by Nia Vardalos from her own one-woman show, the film centers on the plight of a 30-year-old lonelyheart (Vardalos) who risks the wrath of her family when she falls for a non-Greek (John Corbett).--MB
THE POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE (PG) When Professor Utonium sets out to create the perfect little girl, he accidentally mixes Chemical X in with sugar, spice and everything nice, creating three charismatic cuties blessed with astounding super powers but lacking discernable fingers. This prequel to the Cartoon Network's most powerful product to date reveals how Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup became the protectors of Townsville. --Tray Butler
REIGN OF FIRE (PG-13) The coolest giant monster movie since the original Jurassic Park envisions a world in which flying, fire-breathing dragons have all but wiped out mankind, with Christian Bale's sensitive community leader and Matthew McConaughey's crazed soldier being reluctant allies in fighting them. The dragons themselves are terrific, terrifying creatures and the film's look cunningly combines the iconography of the Dark Ages with the Road Warrior's post-apocalyptic chic. Its narrative lapses reflect inadequate exposition more often than dumb writing. --CH
ROAD TO PERDITION (R) Tom Hanks takes up the tommy-gun as a murderous mob enforcer who must battle his own organization (led by Paul Newman) to protect his innocent son (Tyler Hoechlin). Hanks' internal conflicts come into increasingly sharp focus as the film goes on, while Jude Law's gleeful hit-man gives the film the right measure of berserk spontaneity. A precisely composed yet deeply felt tale of fathers and sons, Sam Mendes' follow-up to American Beauty comes on like gangbusters. --CH
THE ROOKIE (G) This overly familiar formula film won't move anyone who's already seen their share of follow-your-dream flicks. What little juice this gets comes courtesy of its actors, especially Dennis Quaid as a high school baseball coach who takes one last shot at his dream of pitching in the major leagues. The leisurely direction, 129-minute running time and clichéd script provide little sense of joy.--MB
SCOOBY-DOO (PG) After a messy break-up, the reunited Mystery Inc. gang is summoned to Spooky Island resort and amusement park to figure out why its clientele keeps turning into zombies. Matthew Lillard (Shaggy) upstages his cast-mates and interacts nicely with the CGI-animated title canine. Unfortunately, in bringing the psychedelic Saturday morning cartoon to life, director Raja Gosnell (Home Alone 3) can't decide between full-fledged camp or slapstick kiddie fare. --Tray Butler
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.
THE SUM OF ALL FEARS (PG-13) A well-crafted throwback to the thrillers of Cold War era, this Tom Clancy adaptation brings back our fears of potential nuclear conflict. At first Ben Affleck seems over his head as CIA analyst Jack Ryan (a role played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford), but he ingratiates himself while trying to unravel a terrorist conspiracy against America. The transcontinental plotting can be murky, but the third act features spectacular disasters and the chilling sensation of events spinning out of control. --CH
SUNSHINE STATE (PG-13) Seminal indie John Sayles' latest is a darkly humorous portrait of a Florida beach town whose "inconvenient" citizens are being told to step aside to make way for developers snatching up prime beachfront property to erect an upscale retirement community for heat-seeking snowbirds. Sayles manages to convey the absurdity of this situation while holding onto the human element, enlarging the scope of his story to offer scathing commentary on an entire nation that gladly offers up its own past and landscape for a quick buck. --FF
TADPOLE (PG-13) An erudite 15 year-old prep schooler (Aaron Stanford) with a crush on his stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) has a tryst with her best friend (a scene-stealing Bebe Neuwirth). Although it makes a thudding reference to The Graduate, Tadpole lacks that film's depth and originality, and at a mere 78 minutes can't do justice to its provocative premise. --CH
THIRTEEN CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ONE THING (R) Director Jill Sprecher follows in the seemingly random footsteps of Short Cuts and Magnolia exploring the meaning of life and luck through four intersecting New York stories. Alan Arkin's subplot, about a claims adjuster aggravated by a subordinate's optimism, reveals obsessive behavior and bureaucratic oppression with the acuity of a Russian novelist. But the lack of subtlety and natural-sounding dialogue undermine the narrative ambitions. --CH
ULTIMATE X (PG) See extreme sports on the Mall of Georgia's extremely large IMAX screen in this documentary of ESPN's Summer X games, which includes skateboarders, BMX riders, motocrossers, and street lugers. Rated PG "for daredevil sports action and mild language." Mall of Georgia IMAX Theater, I-85 at Buford Drive, Buford.
UNDERCOVER BROTHER (PG-13) Can you dig it? Beating the Austin Powers films at their own game, this highly amusing blaxploitation spoof casts Eddie Griffin as the title character, "a Soul Train reject with a Robin Hood complex" who joins up with the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. to take down The Man. Even at a mere 88 minutes, this slight film tempts fate, but the big laughs are tumultuous enough to barrel right over the slow patches.--MB
WINDTALKERS (R) Marked by surprisingly unspectacular battle scenes and little of that patented John Woo energy, this drama fictionalizes the case of the real life codetalkers -- Native Americans who transmitted an unbreakable code based on the Navaho language during WWII. Nicolas Cage and Christian Slater -- each trying to out-butch the other -- are two of the Marines who must keep two Native American codetalkers from falling into enemy hands. --FF
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