Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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BLUE CRUSH PG-13. Director John Stockwell (crazy/beautiful) weaves what could have been lightweight teen fodder into gold yet again in this tremendously entertaining film about three surfer girlfriends whose ostensible goal is to have Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) win the Pipe Masters surf competition. But the film manages to squeeze in enough of a message about the class divide on Oahu, female friendship and heroism to make this a tale of girl adventurism and independence for the ages.--FF

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 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.

DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD (PG-13) Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri makes her directorial debut with an equally zeitgeisty melodrama about the dark secret of motherhood in her adaptation of Rebecca Wells' popular novel. The Ya-Yas (Fionnula Flanagan, Maggie Smith, Shirley Knight) are priceless as a trio of salty Southern broads who try to mend the damaged mother-daughter relationship acted out by a typically dull Sandra Bullock and a luminous Ellen Burstyn as her mother. --FF

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.--CH

THE GOOD GIRL (R) For their follow-up to Chuck and Buck, director Miguel Arteta and writer/actor Mike White offer an underwritten, white-trash version of Madame Bovary. Jennifer Aniston plays a small-town department store employee torn between fidelity to her pothead husband (John C. Reilly) and passion with a brooding younger man (Jake Gyllenhaal). Instead of finding pathos in its roles' ignorance, the film merely condescends to them, and Aniston never conveys the anguish and desperation as the character of the sarcastic title.--CH

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 Sept. 15. 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 (NR) 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 KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE (R) A pulpy, highly entertaining piece of personal mythmaking colliding with a self-referential film about Hollywood-style delusion, this sorta-documentary charts the glorious rise and ouch-that-hurt fall of notorious and revered mega-'70s producer Robert Evans.--FF

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