Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) (G) In Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's sci-fi head trip, human evolution takes its first step when an ape uses a tool to kill, and takes its next step when humans get killed by one of our "tools" -- the calm yet crazed supercomputer HAL 9000. At least, that's one of the myriad theories that can stick to Kubrick's deliberately-paced blend of cosmology and precedent-setting special effects. Screen on the Green. June 10 at sunset. Piedmont Park at ball fields near entrance of Piedmont Ave. and 14th St. 877-262-5866. --CH

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) (G) With those judgmental Oompa-Loompas, nightmarish boat trips and Gene Wilder's deadpan non sequiturs as the title chocolatier, this adaptation of the Roald Dahl children's book appeals more to college kids and grown-ups than young tots. At 5 p.m. an hour of classic cartoons precedes the film. Atlanta Film Festival. June 7, 6 p.m. Centennial Olympic Park. Free. 404-222-7275. --CH

ANGER MANAGEMENT (PG-13) After delivering subtle performances in The Pledge and About Schmidt, Jack Nicholson reverts to his familiar "wild and crazy guy" persona for this comedy about an unorthodox therapist whose methods unnerve his latest patient, a meek businessman (Adam Sandler) railroaded into the good doctor's anger management program. Some of the situations seem overly familiar or needlessly protracted, but the movie zips by on the strength of some big laughs, sharply cast supporting roles (notably John Turturro and an unbilled Heather Graham) and the two well-matched stars at its core. --Matt Brunson

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (PG-13) With a lack of anything better to fill one's empty hours, this British comedy might provide a temporary distraction from inevitable mortality. A conventional -- emphasis on light -- crowd-pleaser about an 18-year-old girl (Parminder K. Nagra) who longs to play soccer despite the objections of her conservative Indian parents, Gurinder Chadha's box office-directed global comedy is the cinematic equivalent of a Happy Meal: bland, momentarily delightful, but with a lot of empty calories. --FF

BLUE CAR (R) Karen Moncrieff gives a sensitive nod to girl creativity and suffering in her portrait of two waifs, Meg and Lily, emotionally devastated by their parents' recent divorce. Meg (Agnes Moncrieff) creates poetry out of the emotional ruins, but the nurturing attentiveness of her English teacher (David Strathairn) who coaches her toward an out-of-town poetry competition soon moves from paternal to wolfish. Moncrieff has a fairly straightforward and often predictable approach to this charged material, but conveys an earnest interest in creating an unusual coming-of-age story. --FF

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE (PG-13) An ex-convict (Queen Latifah), insisting she was framed, forces a whiter-than-white attorney (Steve Martin) to try to clear her name. The story is utter nonsense, but what makes the film work are the terrific comic performances driving it: Martin hasn't been this engaging in years; Queen Latifah is sexy, spirited and smart; and Eugene Levy, as a nerd who finds his inner funk, continues to prove that he's one of the best second bananas in modern movie comedy. --MB

BRUCE ALMIGHTY (PG-13) Jim Carrey plays God -- literally -- as a put-upon human-interest reporter enlisted to fill in for the Supreme Being Himself (Morgan Freeman). Carrey's omnipotence makes for some memorably surreal sight gags, but the real miracle is how the film avoids the serious questions about free will and suffering built into its premise. Instead, it becomes an indulgent metaphor for Carrey's own difficulties at being taken seriously as an actor, as he plays a guy who can do anything but make people love him. --CH

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

CONFIDENCE (R) This con artist film boasts a hip cast -- including Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman as a bizarre mob boss -- but has more confidence than ability. Ed Burns' crabby performance as hustler Jake Vig lacks the ingratiating charisma to make him a convincing scam artist, and James Foley's fleet direction can't make up for the script's predictable moves. After so many con flicks like The Spanish Prisoner, we're catching wise to the genre's tricks. --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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