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Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics



Opening Friday
FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX (PG-13) This remake of the spiffy 1965 adventure flick features Dennis Quaid, Giovanni Ribisi, Tyrese Gibson, Miranda Otto and Hugh Laurie as airplane passengers stranded in the desert by a plane crash. Sort of like "Lost," only without the ocean. Or the angsty flashbacks. Or the monsters you never see.

LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (PG) See review.

ON THE WATERFRONT (NR) See review on right.

SPANGLISH (PG-13) See review.

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (R) See review.

Opening Wednesday
MEET THE FOCKERS (PG-13) People apparently can't wait to see this sequel to Meet the Parents, with chagrined bridegroom Ben Stiller and slow-burning prospective father-in-law Robert De Niro each less than thrilled by Stiller's folks, played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (PG-13) A crazed musical genius (Gerard Butler) bedevils a 19th-century French opera house, especially a lovely ingenue (Emmy Rossum). Fans of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will lap up director Joel Schumacher's faithful film adaptation: The baroque, lavish production design serves the excesses of the musical score, and gives you the feeling of being immersed in an elephantine Broadway show. -- Curt Holman

Duly Noted
NOI (R) Like a car without snow tires, Icelandic juvenile delinquent Nói (Tómas Lemarquis) spends most of his time spinning his wheels, just like the eponymous film strains to get narrative traction. Arguably Nói's uneventful plot merely mirrors the emptiness of its protagonist's situation, but that sounds like an excuse. Nói needs either more stir-crazed comedic ingenuity or closer attention to the details of Icelandic life. -- CH

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 Meat Loaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

Continuing
AFTER THE SUNSET (R) Pierce Brosnan's diamond thief pulls off one last score and retires to the Bahamas with his partner/girlfriend (Salma Hayek), only to be trailed cat-and-mouse-style by an FBI agent (Woody Harrelson). Despite Hayek's remarkable bikini-filling skills, the film's real strength is the downright cute interaction between Brosnan and Harrelson: Though played for laughs, their homoerotic chemistry drives the movie. Rush Hour director Brett Ratner tries too hard to make After the Sunset a sultry and sexy tropical thriller, and instead mixes a frothy umbrella drink of a movie that goes down smooth, but provides no real kick. -- Cary Jones

ALEXANDER (R) Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) conquered the known world but collapses in a brooding heap in Oliver Stone's botched biopic of nearly three hours. Alexander's enlightened internationalism makes him ahead of his time, just as his unmistakable bisexuality makes him ahead of our own. But apart from Angelina Jolie and Val Kilmer's campy excesses as Alexander's parents, the film offers no colorful relationships, memorable dialogue or even coherent battle scenes. Alexander could put the entire genre of epic film in bad odor for years. -- CH

BEING JULIA (R) Based on Somerset Maugham's novel Theatre, this stage drama stars Annette Bening as London's leading actress in the 1930s and features such supporting players as Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon and Juliet Stevenson.

BLADE TRINITY (R) In his third film outing, half-breed vampire slayer Blade (Wesley Snipes) reluctantly teams with junior troubleshooters (scene-stealing Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds). Whenever the characters (including Parker Posey, of all people, as a jaded vampire) aren't trying to kill each other, they're walking in slow motion toward the camera -- it's that kind of movie. Debut director David Goyer falls short of the gothic, propulsive Blade II, but provides the minimum requirement of movie mayhem and hip dialogue. -- CH

BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (R) Yo-yo dieting Renée Zellweger packs the junk back in her trunk to reprise her role as the ditzy, plumpish London diarist, torn between her dashing but reserved boyfriend (Colin Firth) and her caddish ex (Hugh Grant). As the prat-falling, foul-mouthed Bridget, Zellweger hilariously embodies modern female insecurities, but Edge of Reason recycles too many of the prior film's big moments. The unnecessary sequel to the first novel becomes an unnecessary sequel to the first movie. -- CH

CLOSER (NR) A clever, but hardly earth-shattering adult drama about the interlocking sex lives of two couples in contemporary London, Mike Nichols' titillating but contrived film adapts Patrick Marber's hit 1997 stage play. Julia Roberts and Jude Law prove remarkably banal as the adulterous pair who set the sexual roundelay in motion. Far better are Natalie Portman as an emotionally vulnerable stripper and a laceratingly clever Clive Owen as Roberts' cuckold husband and one of the most intriguing combinations of masculine vulnerability and vengeance to strut across a movie screen. -- Felicia Feaster

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