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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA (1987) (NR) A kind of concert film, as Jonathan Demme records a brilliant autobiographical monologue by the late, great Spalding Gray. Gray's experiences playing a bit part in The Killing Fields leads to a meditation about art, sex, global politics and the never-ending search for "the perfect moment." See how Gray treated his personal life as raw material, and his words like fireworks. May 13. Cinefest, GSU University Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. 404-651-3565. www.cinefest.org. -- CH

Continuing
THE ALAMO (PG-13) Director John Lee Hancock's sloppy account of the siege of the Alamo falls to self-imposed political correctness, taking pains to show the diversity of the Alamo's defenders without making compelling characters of the Noble Mexicans, Worried Wives, etc. Billy Bob Thornton plays a life-sized, de-mythologized Davey Crockett with witty understatement and the expansive battle scenes provide the next best thing to being there. But audiences will remember Pee Wee Herman's visit to the Alamo longer than this confused one. --CH

BOBBY JONES -- STROKE OF GENIUS (PG) Jim Caviezel brings what passion he can to the role of our local hero, arguably the greatest golfer ever (certainly the best who never turned pro), but writer-director Rowdy Herrington paints Jones as almost as saintly as Jesus. There's no drama, as the people around him don't change -- or age -- over some 25 years. Unless you're a golf nut it's just two-plus hours of men hitting little white balls with sticks. At Madstone Theaters Parkside. --SW

BON VOYAGE (PG-13) A group of frivolous French aristocrats (including Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu) don't let the Nazi occupation dampen their spirits in Jean-Paul Rappeneau's World War II lark.

BROKEN WINGS (R) An Israeli widow and her four children (a singer-songwriter, a basketball player, a videographer and a bed-wetter), devastated by the death of their husband/father, face a lifetime of crises in 48 hours. The characters command such interest you don't realize the melodramatic level of Nir Bergman's debut film for most of its length. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. --SW

CONNIE AND CARLA (PG-13) In this weak updating of Some Like It Hot's guys-in-drag premise, two dopey joined-at-the-hip Chicago girlfriends (Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette) who perform their pathetic show biz act in airport lounges witness a murder and find the perfect hideout as women-in-drag-as-women in a West Hollywood gay bar. Vardalos, who also penned My Big Fat Greek Wedding returns to her usual sitcom-ready, crowd-pleasing style that mixes homosexual tolerance with slapstick comedy and does justice to neither. --Felicia Feaster

CRIMSON GOLD (NR) Acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami depicts a put-upon pizza delivery man (Hussein Emadeddin) whose rage at life's inequities builds to an explosion of violence. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.

DAWN OF THE DEAD (R) All the flesh-eating fun of the original, without the heavy-handed social commentary. In this remake of George Romero's 1978 cult horror classic, five survivors of a fast-spreading zombie plague (Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer and Inna Korobkina) hole up in a shopping mall where they must battle the undead, and worse, mall security. Zack Snyder's "re-imagining" proves more fun and frightening than its predecessor, though fans of the original's gore factor might be disappointed. --Karen Kalb

DOGVILLE (R) Lars von Trier's disturbing masterpiece is a brilliantly conceived and executed film about how the residents of a small Depression-era town first shelter, and then viciously turn on a beautiful woman (Nicole Kidman) fleeing from some macabre gangsters. Forget the national navel-gazing of Bowling for Columbine. Dogville forces a profound and troubling examinattion of what, exactly, define American values as seen through the eyes of an outsider (Danish filmmaker von Trier has never even visited America) who can give us the most brutally truthful assessment of our national character. --FF

ELLA ENCHANTED (PG) This surprisingly charming 'tween tale plays like a Moulin Rouge-lite as it integrates old-fashioned fairy tales with contemporary pop culture cues. Ella (Anne Hathaway) is a politically aware teen peasant cursed with the gift of uncompromising obedience bestowed by her flighty fairy godmother (Vivica A. Fox). The curse complicates Ella's plans desegregate the kingdom, dethrone a wretched prince (The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes) and date the dashing heir to the throne (Hugh Dancy). The film features fun turns by Joanna Lumley as Ella's requisite wicked stepmother and Eric Idle as the story's narrator. --KK

ENVY (PG-13) An office drudge (Ben Stiller) burns with jealousy when his neighbor (Jack Black) gets rich off an invention that vaporizes dog doo. As an anarchy-spouting barfly, Christopher Walken acts with greater comic depth than Stiller or Black, who essential do sketch comedy here. An unattractive, shapeless waste of funny performers, the film leaves you green with something other than envy. --CH

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