Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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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


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  • Re: Fresh air

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

    • on June 29, 2016
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