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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Page 3 of 6

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (R) Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet play former lovers who use a high-tech procedure to erase their memories of their affair in the latest celluloid mind game from Being John Malkovich scripter Charlie Kaufman. The film drops the audience into so many hallucinatory sequences that for a while the story seems like merely a pretext for head trips. But Carrey and Winslet's fleshed-out performances eventually help bring out Kaufman's sensitive -- if not always comforting -- insights into the nature of love and memory. --CH

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY No stars (NR) Director James Ronald Whitney's bottom-feeding reality-movie pits six desperate New York actors against each other in an escalating, grotesque series of games founded on potty humor and sexual embarrassment for the pathetic jackpot of $10,000. With its emphasis on sexual degradation and disturbing emotional revelation (childhood rape and prostitution are offered up for entertainment value) Games may make viewers feel like by-proxy participants in a creepy, abusive game of Truth or Dare. --FF

GODSEND (R) The latest version of an old story features Robert De Niro as a Dr. Frankenstein-wannabe geneticist who thinks he can reproduce a dead child through cloning, and Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the grieving parents who just lost their eight-year-old son. Director Nick Hamm doesn't maximize what thrills the screenplay offers, leaving a potential horror film in the "psychological thriller" category. --SW

GOODBYE LENIN! (R) Some reviewers have focused single-mindedly on Good Bye Lenin! as a comedy, but director Wolfgang Becker's film has melancholy to spare. On the eve of the 1989 Berlin Wall's collapse, a idealistic East German politico and mother (Kathrin Sass) falls into a coma. When she awakens, her son fears that the truth would kill her and uses fake news and a Commie-beige bedroom to maintain the fiction that East Germany remains part of the Soviet bloc. Beneath that humorous Rip Van Winkle scenario lies a complicated story of familial and national loss, as an entire national identity is chucked out overnight for the supposed utopia of Burger King and Coca-Cola. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. --FF

HELLBOY (PG-13) Ron Perlman brings gravelly charisma to the title role, a brawny, bright-red demon raised by government ghostbusters who take on Rasputin, Nazis and a menagerie of slavering beasts. For the film's splashy visuals, director Guillermo del Toro crafts a gallery of pulpy fever dreams, even though his underwritten script keeps the comic-book adaptation from hitting the slam-bang heights it should. Hellboy's secret weapon turns out to be its sense of humor: there's something incredibly endearing about a deadpan superhero whose catch-phrase is "Oh, crap." --CH

HOME ON THE RANGE (PG) Compared to the classic Chicken Run this animated barnyard saga is more like Chicken Walk. It's far from an udder disaster, but remains a minor-league imitation with first-rate voice talent and music but not-so-special script, drawing and animation. The score and plot draw from classic Western themes -- but with farm animals, as three bovine heroines try to save the old homestead by capturing a cattle thief. I'd say Roseanne Barr is perfectly cast as the voice of a big cow, but it might not sound like a compliment. --SW

I'M NOT SCARED (R) In the sun-drenched Italian countryside a boy discovers a child his age held prisoner in a hole in the ground. Gabriele Salvatores (director of the Oscar-winning Mediterranneo) presents a good scare or two, but mostly emphasizes the real, unromanticized anxieties of childhood. As the film accelerates to its conclusion it trades its more chilling impllications for Hardy Boys plotting, but still tells a suspenseful tale about how kids aren't always as innocent as we think. --CH

IMAX THEATER: Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees (NR) As much about the lady as the animals she's studied for more than 40 years, this pleasant but unexciting film features more observation than information about an extended family of Tanzanian chimps and their baboon buddies. Johnny Clegg's music is a plus. Through July. (SW) Ghosts of the Abyss (G) James Cameron heads back to the subject that made him "king of the world," only this time he tackles the Titanic in a documentary format. The director employs all the state-of-the-art technology at his disposal to travel underwater and take us inside the legendary shipwreck. (Matt Brunson) Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300.

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