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Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics



Opening Wednesday
ANTWONE FISHER (PG-13) The screenplay's the story here, and Denzel Washington (in his directorial debut) gets out of its way, letting his actors relate it honestly without gumming it up with show-off stylistics. Antwone Fisher wrote the script, based on his own life story, and he and Washington luck out by having engaging newcomer Derek Luke handle the heavy lifting, playing a troubled sailor whose anti-social behavior brings him into contact with a Navy psychiatrist (Washington) who eventually helps him get to the root of his emotional problems. --Matt Brunson

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (PG-13) Steven Spielberg's most purely entertaining film since the early 1980s finds Leonardo DiCaprio as a chameleon-like high schooler who flees his broken home by brazenly passing as an airline pilot, an Atlanta pediatrician and more. Tom Hanks finds plenty of rueful humor as the Joe Friday-esque FBI agent who's always one step behind. When other filmmakers remake classics like Charade, they're striving for the kind of ease, star power and fluency that this film generates without breaking a sweat. --Curt Holman

EVELYN (PG) Pierce Brosnan takes a break from James Bond for some double-o hokum as a single dad challenging the Irish church and legal system to get his kids back. The climactic courtroom scenes hold our interest, but director Bruce Beresford tries so hard to offer a wholesome crowd-pleaser, he waters down the darker implications of the material in favor of sugary platitudes. With Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and Alan Bates taking turns intoning "David and Goliath" cliches as the legal team.

THE LION KING (G) Disney's highest grossing film ever gets the IMAX treatment. Sort of like Hamlet on the plains of Africa, it depicts a young lion trying to reclaim his place atop the food chain from his usurping uncle. It's not really in the league of classics like Pinocchio or Beauty and the Beast, despite its all-star voice cast and Elton John/Tim Rice songs that a generation of kids knows by heart. Regal Cinemas Mall Of Georgia IMAX, 3379 Buford Drive, Buford. --CH

PINOCCHIO (G) Italy's Roberto Benigni goes from the World War II ghettos of Life is Beautiful to the workshop of Gepetto with a live-action version of the fairy tale about the walking puppet with the prominent proboscis. Will Americans flock to see the full-grown Benigni wearing a harlequin costume and playing the "wooden boy?"

RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (PG) This archetypal tale of resisting oppression resembles a runaway's tale from Uncle Tom's Cabin transported to the outback setting of Walkabout. In 1931 three Aboriginal girls of mixed parentage are stolen from their families to be forcibly integrated into white society, until they escape and try to make their way home along the 1,200-mile fence of the title. With a chilling blandness, Kenneth Branagh plays the career bureaucrat who believes the policy of state-sanctioned kidnapping is doing the Aborigines a favor. --CH



Opening Friday
CHICAGO (PG-13) First-time feature director Rob Marshall reclaims the musical genre from Moulin Rouge with this sexy, robust, big-screen version of Bob Fosse's cynical stage hit. As Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones play Jazz Age murderesses vying for the attentions of superlawyer Richard Gere, showbiz and the legal system prove to be opposite sides of the same tarnished coin. The entire cast, including John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah, reveal remarkable musical showmanship, selling the hell out of the vaudeville-style numbers. --CH

Duly Noted
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. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Marietta Star Cinema.



Continuing
ABOUT SCHMIDT (R) Jack Nicholson does an about-face in his performance as a smaller-than-life midwestern insurance executive facing multiple crises --mostly funny ones -- upon retirement. Election director Alexander Payne's critique of American mediocrity can feel snide and elitist, but also has considerable comic invention, from Schmidt's inappropriate letters to an impoverished African boy to Kathy Bates and Dermot Mulroney as the prospective in-laws from hell. --CH

ADAM SANDLER'S 8 CRAZY NIGHTS (PG-13) Basically a frat-house version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, this animated effort shows how an anti-social slacker becomes a swell guy thanks to the efforts of a diminutive elderly man. As is par for the course, the movie turns faux-sentimental in time for the fadeout, but before that, we're subjected to the usual Sandler gross-out humor. Yet even the scatological gags aren't as offensive as the product placement pimping. --MB

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