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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 3 of 5

COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE (R) The lavishly stylish, big-screen spin-off of Japan's animated sci-fi series depicts bounty-hunting anti-heroes with names like Jet Black who contend with terrorists who release a deadly virus. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.

DADDY DAY CARE (PG) Fresh from his breakthrough stinkers I Spy and The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Eddie Murphy takes yet another career-killing turn, this time playing an out-of-work marketing exec who decides to open a day-care center. Soon enough he's knee-deep in cuteness and shin-kicking rug-rats. Someone stop this man before he grins again. --Tray Butler

THE DANCER UPSTAIRS (R) Actor John Malkovich's directorial debut is most enticing for what it suggests of things to come. An imperfect film that uses South America's violent past of political coups and Marxist guerrillas for thriller effect, this adaptation of Nicholas Shakespeare's novel follows a weary detective (Javier Bardem) in an unnamed South American country trying to track down a guerrilla group staging violent murders. Malkovich too often uses the location as atmospheric palette for traditional thrills and chills, but his command of a dark, dreadful ambiance shows real promise. --FF

DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978) (PG) Director Terrence Malick's tale of forbidden love among Midwestern wheat farmers is one of the most sumptuously photographed films ever made. Starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.

DOWN WITH LOVE (PG-13) Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor cha-cha through this light-as-air but thoroughly addictive send-up of '60s sex comedies. In 1962 New York, jet-set magazine writer Catcher Block (McGregor) sets out to debunk author Barbara Novak (Zellweger), whose new book has women everywhere eschewing love and acting just as sexually liberated as men. The tried-and-true romantic sparks quickly fly, and the film's ever-flowing -- and often hilarious -- riffs on Doris Day flicks like Pillow Talk make it a zany delight. --TB

FINDING NEMO (G) Pixar's latest computer-animated catch follows a meek, single-dad clown fish (Albert Brooks) as he journeys from the Great Barrier Reef to an aquarium in a Sydney dentist's office to rescue his son. The film's episodic format plays to Pixar's imaginative strengths, while the clever, air-tight script doesn't rely too heavily on "fish out of water" puns. Scene-stealing voice actors include Willem Dafoe as a scarred angel fish planning a great aquarium escape and Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries as a shark called Bruce trying to kicks the habit of eating his finny fellows. --CH

GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS (G) James Cameron heads back to the subject that made him "king of the world" a few years ago, only this time he tackles the Titanic in a documentary format. Ghosts of the Abyss, created specifically for IMAX theaters and regular movie houses that can accommodate its 3-D presentation, finds the director employing all the state-of-the-art technology at his disposal to travel underwater and take us inside the legendary shipwreck. Whenever he leaves the technical tricks, awkward recreations and computer graphics behind and focuses solely on the magnificent remains of the Titanic, the movie is awe-inspiring. -- MB

HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT (NR) Audrey Tautou takes a dark turn after her light-hearted star-making role in Amelie, playing an obsessive young art student stalking her married lover (Samuel Le Bihan). At Lefont Plaza Theatre.

HEAD OF STATE (PG-13) If there was ever a time when we could use a raucous political satire to shake things up, this is clearly that time. Unfortunately, Head of State clearly isn't that movie. Rather than grab the political bull by the horns (think Bulworth or Bowling for Columbine), Chris Rock is content to make a comedy that could easily play on network TV as a pilot for a proposed sit-com. (My Big Fat Freak Election, anyone?) Still, for a movie that traffics in timidity rather than temerity, this offers a handful of inspired gags, as well as charismatic roles for Rock and Bernie Mac as siblings who run for the Oval Office. --MB

HOLES (PG) This adaptation of Louis Sachar's children's book is good enough to be enjoyed equally by kids and their parents. Sachar himself wrote the script, which focuses on the plight of a hapless teen (Shia LaBeouf) wrongly convicted of robbery and sent to a boys' correctional facility in the middle of a desert. There, the warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her aides (Tim Blake Nelson and a hilariously over-the-top Jon Voight) order the boys to spend every day digging holes. While the ending may tie everything up a bit too tidily, there's no denying that there's real imagination at work here. --MB

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