Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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THE FINAL CUT (PG-13) The basic premise raises interesting questions but there are no interesting answers in this latest memory-erase movie, written and directed by Jordan-born Omar Naim. Future technology allows computer chips to be implanted in unborn children that will record everything that person sees. When they die, an editor fashions the survivors' favorite parts into a glossy memoir. An expert cutter, the appropriately named Hakman (Robin Williams) fights both his own demons and anti-implant activists, but there's no real payoff to reward your attention. -- Steve Warren

GARDEN STATE (R) Zach Braff of the NBC sitcom "Scrubs" writes, directs and stars in this droll, amiable dramedy that loses some of its considerable charm as it goes along. Braff plays a emotionally detached, aspiring actor in Los Angeles who gets a new lease on life over an eccentric homecoming in New Jersey. Braff injects some droll sight gags (reminiscent of "Scrubs'" own sense of humor) into his often-sharp script, but the last act relies on symbols and epiphanies that feel derivative from the films of more seasoned directors. -- CH

THE GRUDGE (PG-13) Takashi Shimizu realizes every director's dream of remaking a film with more money and the lessons learned on the first attempt. Based on his Japanese ghost story Ju-on, The Grudge takes place in Tokyo but almost everyone speaks English, with numerous American characters on hand. Exchange student Sarah Michelle Gellar faces ghostly entities in a house with an attitude. The original structure seems slightly dumbed down for Americans but the most memorable visuals and hokey scare tactics have been retained. -- SW

HAIR SHOW (PG-13) This hair-stylin' comedy stars Mo'Nique as a Baltimore beautician who barges in on her sister in Beverly Hills.

HERO (PG-13) Kung fu star Jet Li portrays a nameless fighter who recounts his victory over three super-assassins, but China's emperor suggests there's more to his story. Zhang Yimou's Oscar-nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in 2003 features the flamboyant martial artistry of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the shifting narrative of Rashomon. With gorgeously color-coded flashbacks, Hero plays less like a conventional action film than a grand master's chess game of cold yet dreamlike beauty. -- CH

I Y HUCKABEES (R) A "Screwball sophistry" could describe this fast-talking, deep-thinking comedy from Three Kings director David O. Russell. A frustrated environmental activist (Jason Schwartzman) finds himself torn between the forces of order, represented by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman's "existential detectives," and a nihilistic -- but sexy -- French intellectual (Isabelle Huppert). Huckabees tests your tolerance for deadpan whimsy but pays off with persistent laughs and relevant commentary on suburban sprawl and celebrity-obsessed corporate culture. -- CH

IMAX THEATER: Amazing Journeys (NR) Here's the movie Imax was made for! Neither didactic nor evangelical, it appeals to all ages and images you'll never forget. The film examines migration -- of monarch butterflies, gray whales, red crabs, zebras and wildebeest, birds and humans. Director George Casey adds cinematic touches of comedy, drama and suspense to avoid a dry documentary feel in what may be the best Imax film yet. Forces of Nature (NR) Volcanoes and tornadoes and earthquakes, oh my! Not to mention the scientists who study them to improve their forecasting ability in hopes of saving lives. It's like watching the best of the Weather Channel on a giant screen -- without getting your local forecast. NASCAR: The Imax Experience (PG) Stock car racing seems a perfect subject for 3-D Imax but this survey course -- "NASCAR 101" -- doesn't begin to realize the potential. Fans have seen it all before and if non-fans had any interest, they'd be fans. The film includes surprisingly little racing footage, and cuts away too quickly from the shots that put you in the action. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu. -- SW

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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

    • on June 29, 2016
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