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Short Subjectives 

Opening Friday

· ASYLUM 4 stars 4 stars (R) See review on p. 62.

· 5X2 3 stars (R) See review on p. 61.

· THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN 4 stars (R) See review on p. 59.

· SUPERCROSS: THE MOVIE (PG-13) Two brothers seek championship status in the world of supercross racing, where the women are fast and the bikes are faster.

· VALIANT (G) In this computer-animated family comedy similar to the likes of Chicken Run, a diminutive wood pigeon becomes an unlikely hero in the Royal Air Force Homing Pigeon Service during World War II. Voice talents include Ewan McGregor, Tim Curry, John Cleese, "House's" Hugh Laurie and "The Office's" Ricky Gervais.

Duly Noted

· BUTTERFLY IN THE WIND (2004) (NR) Newly released after a 10-year prison sentence, a woman must make a grueling trek across the desert to reunite with her daughter. Iranian Film Today. Sat., Aug. 20, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. 1280 Peachtree St. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.

· MOUSE HEAVEN 3 stars (NR) See review to right.

· 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.

· UNWANTED WIFE (NR) A well-off teacher with a 5-year-old daughter and a philandering husband discovers an unexpected kinship with a man who murdered his wife in a fit of jealousy. Iranian Film Today. Fri., Aug. 19, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. 1280 Peachtree St. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.

Continuing

· THE ARISTOCRATS 4 stars (NR) George Carlin, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman, John Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and scores of other comedians take turns telling -- or commenting on -- an old, notoriously offensive joke usually reserved for other comedians, instead of their audiences. Depending on your tolerance for humor based on every imaginable human depravity, you might not always find "The Aristocrats" a very funny gag, but this documentary (from Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette) earns some honest laughs while offering fascinating -- and uncomfortable -- insights into the minds of professional jokemeisters. -- Curt Holman

· BAD NEWS BEARS 2 stars Hollywood's penchant for recycling continues with this update of the 1976 film about a beer-guzzling guy (Walter Matthau) who turns a team of Little League misfits into contenders. Alas, the underdog angle has since suffered from overexposure, and in today's anything-goes society, the sight of 12-year-olds cussing like sailors no longer carries any novelty -- if anything, the incessant scatological humor in this new take grows tiresome. Billy Bob Thornton (in Bad Santa mode) is funny as the uncouth coach, though his character -- harsher than Matthau's -- seems out of place in a movie that's being positioned as a family film. -- Matt Brunson

· BAILEY'S BILLION$ (G) A billionaire widow's fortune goes to the dogs -- literally -- when she bequeaths her money to her favorite canine (voiced by Jon Lovitz), outraging her conniving relatives (including Tim Curry and Jennifer Tilly).

· BATMAN BEGINS 3 stars (PG-13) Memento director Christopher Nolan and American Psycho actor Christian Bale prove a perfectly matched dynamic duo as they explore the psychological trauma that turned millionaire orphan Bruce Wayne into a masked vigilante. Nolan and Bale bring undeniably gritty intensity to the film's first half, but as it works to its conclusion, it's hard to overlook the silliness of the villains' evil scheme or the miscasting of too-cute Katie Holmes as a tough district attorney. It's still the best Batman movie ever made, and the only one in which the Caped Crusader, instead of his villains, is the star. -- Holman

· THE BEST OF YOUTH 4 stars (R) Luigi Lo Cascio and Alessio Boni star in this epic family melodrama set from 1966 to the present day, as brothers who take radically different paths, one as a psychiatrist crusading for the dignity of the mentally ill, the other a police officer who channels his rage at social injustice into his work. The six-hour film (viewable in two parts, with two separate admissions) can detour into soap opera territory, showing telltale signs of its origin as an Italian TV miniseries, but director Marco Tullio Giordana's life-affirming tone, his fine cast and the film's simple affirmation of the power of a guiding morality through life's tragedies could move even the most jaded among us. -- Felicia Feaster

· BROKEN FLOWERS 2 stars (R) Cinema's two reigning Zen masters of deadpan understatement, Bill Murray and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, dial it back a little too far in this melancholy comedy. Murray's aging Don Juan road-trips to see which of four ex-lovers (played superbly by Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange and Tilda Swinton) is the mother to the son he never knew. With such self-conscious tedium and heavy-handed symbols, Broken Flowers feels wasteful of its terrific cast, although Murray's touchingly subtle work strikes some highly affecting chords in the last 15 minutes. -- Holman

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