Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics



Opening Friday
DARK BLUE (R) L.A. Confidential novelist James Ellroy provided the story for this police drama about LAPD officers (including Kurt Russell and Ving Rhames) investigating a racially charged murder during the trial for the Rodney King beating.

GODS AND GENERALS (PG-13) Ted Turner Pictures offers a would-be epic of the first two years of the Civil War that feels like it was shot in real time. Gettysburg writer-director Ronald Maxwell does a fine job at battlefield re-enactment, especially for the extended sequence of Fredericksburg, but has no clue how to make such figures as Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) into intriguing characters. The film's tedium is easier to forgive, though, than its whitewashing of the institution of slavery, which here merely seems like a bad career choice.--Curt Holman

THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE (R) A reporter (Kate Winslet) races the clock to learn whether a condemned "death penalty abolitionist" (Kevin Spacey) was framed for murder. The preposterous sleuthing provides a weak vehicle for the film's anti-capital punishment boilerplate. The flashbacks about how Spacey's character's life was ruined by false accusations and politically correctness play better, but the actor still hasn't rediscovered the icy charisma that drove his work before his American Beauty Oscar.--CH

OLD SCHOOL (R) Returning to his distinguished oeuvre of college comedies, director Todd Phillips (Frat House, Road Trip) takes a promising gimmick, of three thirtysomething friends (Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn) who decide to start their own fraternity. Phillips unfortunately forms that tasty notion into a tasteless soy retread inspired by films like Animal House, but without the brains to retool the collegiate comedy genre. Vaughn and Ferrell, however, make a valiant effort to inject some much needed goofiness into their parcel of the film.-- Felicia Feaster



Duly Noted
AFTER SCHOOL SPECIALS (NR) This round-up of five queer-themed shorts from the festival circuit takes a collective peek at adolescent awkwardness, teenage confusion and early-adult isolation. The best of the bunch, "No Prom for Cindy," casts a rugged 45-year-old gay man in the role of a 14-year-old girl, arriving at a surprisingly poignant commentary on junior high conformity. IMAGE Film & Video and Out on Film. Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. Red Chair Restaurant and Video Bar, 550-C Amsterdam Ave. $5, free for IMAGE members. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org. --Tray Butler

DEACONS FOR DEFENSE (NR) Forest Whitaker, Ossie Davis and Jonathan Silverman star in this Showtime production about a group of African-American men in Bogalusa, La., who form an armed militia rather than subscribe to Martin Luther King's views on nonviolent resistance. Black Cinema Cafe. Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road. Invitation required. To obtain an invitation, e-mail Blackcinemacafe.com.

THE DELICATESSEN SHOP OWNER (1978) (NR) When a police inspector investigates the murder of a cosmopolitan aristocrat in a middle-class German mining town, the case reveals much about the nation's class tensions. Germany in the Crosshairs: German Detective Thrillers on TV. Feb. 19, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.

EYES ON THE PRIZE (1987) (NR) Atlanta City Council member Ivory Lee Young hosts a screening of the epic six-part Civil Rights documentary. The first part, "Awakenings, 1954-1956," looks at two events with far-reaching repercussions: the murder of Emmett Till and Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her bus seat. "Fighting Back, 1957-1962" focuses on the efforts at school integration in Arkansas and Mississippi. Feb. 22, 2 p.m. Atlanta City Council chamber, City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave. Free.

LIFE AS A FATAL, SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE (2000) (NR) Poland's masterful Krzysztof Zanussi's (The Year of the Quiet Sun) story of a doctor whose cynicism seems to eat away at him as surely as the terminal cancer that will soon kill him is an intellectual, profound and deeply humane look at doubt and belief. It features such notables of the Polish cinema as Zbigniew Zapasiewicz as the doctor and Krystyna Janda as his ex-wife. Passport to Polish Cinema, Feb. 21, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.--Felicia Feaster

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.

SPIRIT OF MY MOTHER (1999) (NR) Ali Allie wrote and directed this story of a single mother (Johana Martinez) in Los Angeles who makes a homecoming to Honduras. Afro-Latin Film Festival. Feb. 21, 7 p.m. Hammonds House Galleries of African American Art. 503 Peeples St. $5 donation. 404-752-8730.

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