Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR (PG-13) David Spade plays the title character, who hires a family to provide him with the "normal childhood" he never had. Real has-beens like Danny Bonaduce and Emmanuel Lewis appear alongside soon-to-be has-been Spade.

THE ORDER (R) Director Brian Helgeland reunites three of his actors from A Knight's Tale -- Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon and Mark Addy -- for one of those supernatural / ecclesiastical thrillers about a priest (Ledger) tracking down an occult evil-doer. Apart from The Exorcist, are these movies ever good?

THIRTEEN (R) Former production designer Catherine Hardwicke makes her impressive, volatile directorial debut in this girl-focused anti-Kids focused upon the complex relationships that back-drop teenage self-destruction. This lacerating, powerful tale of a good girl (Evan Rachel Wood)'s descent into drugs, sex, shoplifting and self-mutilation under the faster-pussycat guidance of wild girl Evie (Nikki Reed) was based on Reed's own damaged California childhood in the fast lane. Hardwicke's smart direction gives it a sense of social urgency and.--Felicia Feaster

Duly Noted
ALI ZAOUA: PRINCE OF THE STREETS (2000) (NR) Director-co-writer Nabil Ayouch offers a bittersweet yet life-affirming portrait of street kids in the Moroccan port city of Casablanca. Moroccan Film Week. Sept. 4, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.

A DOOR TO THE SKY (1989) (NR) With her father dying, a Moroccan woman leaves her cosmopolitan life in Paris to return her old-fashioned family in Fez, only to rediscover her Islamic faith. Moroccan Film Week. Sept. 4, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.

FROM THE ASHES (NR) Deborah Shaffer's documentary focuses on 10 artists (including Jame Hammond and Lisa David) who lived or worked in downtown Manhattan, and whose lives were dramatically affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The assumption is that these artists will be uniquely sensitive and eloquent on the changes wrought by the attacks. Instead, for the most part (Laurie Anderson and Pat Oleszko are noticeable exceptions), these artists engage in a revoltingly self-absorbed interpretation of the events, many of them unable to see past their own noses in contemplating the tragedy. Sept. 5-11, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.--FF

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.

SECRET BALLOT (2001) (NR) This Iranian comedy depicts a dim-witted guard assigned to protect an election official who becomes increasingly frustrated in his attempts to shake potential voters from their apathy. Iranian Film Today. Sept. 5, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570.

UNDER THE SKIN OF THE CITY (2001 (NR) A female factory worker named Tuba struggles with domestic problems, including a bedridden husband, a battered daughter and a teenage son who draws fire for his radical politics. Iranian Film Today. Sept. 6, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR (R) Harvey Pekar's comic book American Splendor holds a mirror up to his mundane life as a Cleveland file clerk. Filmmakers Shari Stringer Berman and Robert Pulcini hold a mirror to the mirror and create dizzying reflections in a film that features the real Pekar as narrator and a superbly cast Paul Giamatti playing him. At times the film's use of animation and word balloons feels like self-conscious gimmickry, but Berman and Pulcini justifiably focus on the tension between the real Pekar and his comic book persona, and Hope Davis delightfully captures the bohemian quirks of Pekar's neurotic but loving third wife.--Curt Holman

AMERICAN WEDDING (R) The third slice of American Pie trilogy finds Jason Biggs' pie-fornicator preparing to walk down the aisle with Alyson Hannigan's flute-fetishist. As bellowing Steve Stifler, beetle-browed Seann William Scott hogs the screen time without showing much comedic ability beyond making faces and raising his voice. But Biggs and Hannigan remain charmingly horny, and compared to Pie 2, American Wedding showers gags in quantity, even if their quality can be a crap shoot. Sometimes literally.--CH

AND NOW LADIES & GENTLEMEN (PG-13) This improbable, often patently silly jet-setting romantic thriller from French director Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman) features a typically soigne Jeremy Irons as a jewel thief who dresses in absurd disguises. His discovery that he has a brain malady that causes blackouts puts a crimp in his style, but allows him to connect with a lovely French nightclub chanteuse (Patricia Kaas) who suffers from amnesia. The plotline is pure froth, but there is something about Lelouch's reliance on close-ups and the continually shifting storyline that makes the film watchable.--FF


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