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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT (PG) Mike Myers follows in Jim Carrey's footsteps by donning heavy makeup and a fuzzy suit to play a beloved Dr. Seuss character in this big-screen expansion of the children's book.

GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS (NR) Part All About Eve parody, part "Golden Girls" gone to hell, this witty and bitter comedy pits three wicked roommates (all women played by men) against each other in a war of the wigs. Dried-up '70s star Evie Harris (Jack Plotnick) spews contempt for newcomer Varla Jean Merman (Jeffrey Roberson), an opportunistic actress who's the daughter of Evie's late arch-nemesis. The plot sometimes falters, but the Airplane-esque slapstick and sizzling dialogue make the film an instant drag classic. At Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema. --Tray Butler.

GOTHIKA (R) See review

Opening Wednesday
BAD SANTA (R) "Santa Con" could be an alternate title for this dark comedy about a grifter (Billy Bob Thornton) with a Kris Kringle suit who specializes in scamming holiday malls. It features Bernie Mac and the late John Ritter and was directed by Terry Zwigoff of Crumb and Ghost World fame.

THE EVENT (NR) Parker Posey plays a district attorney investigating the assisted suicide of Matthew, a man suffering from AIDS, in this film by Thom Fitzgerald. One-by-one, the suspects are questioned, and one-by-one, they trigger flashbacks that reveal a little more about Matthew's life. Thanks to Olympia Dukakis, there are a couple of moving scenes between mother and son, but this maudlin drama fails to build much tension and most of it just rings false. At Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema. --Suzanne Van Atten

THE HAUNTED MANSION (PG) If Pirates of the Caribbean left you pining for another motion picture based on a Disney theme-park attraction, your wait is over. Eddie Murphy plays a realtor who discovers that a piece of prime real estate already has some undead occupants.

THE MISSING (R) Director Ron Howard adds some Blair Witchy thrills to this Western with a story that's suspiciously similar to The Searchers. Cate Blanchett gives a fiercely effective performance as a frontier doctor who reluctantly accepts the aid of her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) when a demonic Native American witch kidnaps her daughter. Howard's all-too-conventional filmmaking can't clarify the muddled themes about white civilization vs. Native American mysticism, but The Missing doesn't lack for good acting and a few suspenseful scenes. --Curt Holman.

TIBET: CRY OF THE SNOW LION (NR) Director Tom Peosay spent 10 years making this documentary about the plight of Tibet under the oppressive shadow of Beijing. It features narration and voice-overs from Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, as well as a musical contribution from R.E.M. At Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema.

TIMELINE (PG-13) Since every novel by Michael Crichton (of Jurassic Park fame) inevitably gets a big-screen version, along comes this adventure yarn about a college professor whose time travel machine traps him in 14th-century France, and the students who go back in time to rescue him.

21 GRAMS (R) Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's (Amores Perros) drama is an anguished meditation on the mess and guilt left behind when a tragedy unites three disparate strangers. A grieving drug addict (Naomi Watts), an ex-con turned Jesus freak (Benicio Del Toro) and a gravely ill man (Sean Penn) waiting for a heart transplant find their lives intersecting in a film that often recalls the tapestried existential angst of Magnolia. The film features a genuinely tortured, magnetic turn by Del Toro, whose fascinating character should have had his own movie. 21 Grams is overburdened by its melodramatic meltdowns and actorly moments that spell out the traumas in far too broad gestures. There is far too much material here, and too many tangents to give the material the urgency it deserves. --Felicia Feaster

Duly Noted
A BOY'S LIFE (NR) Documentarian Rory Kennedy chronicles the problems and triumphs of seven-year-old Robert Oliver, who flourishes as a Boy Scout and honor student despite a self-destructive family and his own behavioral disorders. Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 450 Auburn Ave. Free. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.

FILM/VIDEO: GEORGIA (NR) The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia presents its first film and video exhibition beginning Nov. 21. Featuring works by emerging, mid-career and established Georgia artists, the exhibition will include installation and sculptural pieces, as well as individual film screenings through Jan. 17. Artists include Robin Bernat, William Browns, James Herbert, Sara Hornbacher, George King, Joseph Peragine, Danielle Roney and Ed Spriggs. Nov. 21-Jan. 17, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, 1447 Peachtree St. Free for members, $3 donation for non-members. 404-881-1109. www.mocaga.org.

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