Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (PG-13) Steve Martin plays an uptight lawyer whose blind Internet date turns out to be Queen Latifah as a trash-talkin' ex-con who moves in with him. Eugene Levy plays Martin's friend who gets jungle fever.

TEARS OF THE SUN (R) Training Day director Antoine Fuqua captains this paramilitary thriller in which Bruce Willis and his team of commandos hit complications in trying to rescue a nurse (Monica Bellucci) in war-torn Nigeria. Featuring Tom Skerritt and "Oz's" Eamonn Walker.

THE WAY HOME (2002) (PG) This pleasant, modest Korean import depicts a bratty boy from Seoul forced to stay with his deaf, penniless grandmother in the country. The tale finds both comedy and larger cultural commentary in the boy's addiction to American-style pop -- he whines and throws tantrums when cut off from "Kentucky chicken" and replacement batteries for his video game. Fortunately, the film allows a sweet relationship to develop without overplaying the sentiment or romanticizing the hardships of rural life. --Curt Holman

Duly Noted
COMING TO A CLOSE (1988) (NR) A German female inspector encounters sexism and hostility at every turn when she investigates a suspicious suicide at a psychiatric ward. Germany in the Crosshairs: German Detective Thrillers on TV. March 5, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.

DAILIES:BACKSTORY/BACKIMAGE (NR) The latest installment of PushPush Theater's quarterly, collaborative film/theater events features an evening of short films all inspired by the same photograph. March 6-8, 8 p.m. PushPush Theater, 1123 Zonolite Road. $10. 404-892-7876.

OSCAR'S LEADING LADIES (NR) The Rialto Theater hosts a weekend-long, eight-film festival of Oscar-winning films by some of Hollywood's greatest actresses. March 8 features Suspicion, It Happened One Night, Roman Holiday and Funny Girl. On March 9, Mildred Pierce, A Streetcar Named Desire, Hud and Klute. All films are paired as double features, and Hud will feature an in-person introduction by Patricia Neal. March 8-9. Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, 80 Forsyth St. $6 per film ($8 per double feature). 404-651-4727.

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.

SANJURO (1962) (NR) In this sequel to his masterpiece Yojimbo, Akira Kurosawa again directs Toshiro Mifune as an earthy ronin who reluctantly takes on a young apprentice. Japanese Film Festival: The Samurai in Japanese Film, March 6, 7:30 p.m., Emory University, Room 205, White Hall. Free. 404-727-6761.

TO BE AND TO HAVE (NR) In this unforgettable documentary with the poetic, serene exposition and craftsmanship of a fiction film, director Nicolas Philibert (In the Land of the Deaf) tells the simple but profound story of a rural farm community teacher and his relationship with the young children he patiently instructs. Perhaps the most beautiful and philosophical film ever made about the nobility of teaching. Films at the High: French Film: Yesterday and Today, March 8, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570. --Felicia Feaster

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

ADAPTATION (R) One of the best and brightest films of the year, this brilliant follow-up to director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich follows the self-loathing tribulations of Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) as he struggles to adapt cerebral New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean's (Meryl Streep) book The Orchid Thief for the screen. An astoundingly inventive exploration of writing's emotional and psychological complexity, the film also goes far deeper than its clever meta-construction to become a tender, lovely glimpse into the search for elusive dreams and desires in all of our lives.--FF

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


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