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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
DARK DAYS (NR) *** Until 1997 when Amtrak routed them, a community of homeless people lived in railroad tunnels under New York City. With no previous filmmaking experience and using the residents as his crew, Marc Singer documented their last five years underground. Some of the results are what you'd expect, but the photography is surprisingly good and the people themselves may catch you off guard. -- SW

GIRLFIGHT (R) **** This smart, beautifully assured debut film from Karyn Kusama follows Brooklyn mean-streets teen Diana from aimless troublemaker to self-assured boxing diva. Michelle Rodriguez is remarkable in the lead, refusing to cave into the world of girly-girls and he-males but instead defining her identity on her own terms in this clever but never less than wholly entertaining riff on sexual politics. -- FF

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST (PG) ** Kenneth Branagh has the ingenious idea of transcending the artifices of Shakespearean comedy and MGM musical by combining the two genres. Despite a pleasant design and songs by the likes of Porter and Berlin, the execution steps on Shakespeare's toes, offering too little of the original plot and too much amateurish dancing and labored clowning. -- CH

REMEMBER THE TITANS (PG) *** Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's films tend to be as slick as TV ads, but this depiction of a newly integrated high school football team's victories on the field and off plays more like a public service announcement on steroids. Glossy and shamelessly manipulative, it's nevertheless involving in spite of itself, with Denzel Washington leading an agreeable cast of young actors. Filmed in Atlanta -- CH

Duly Noted
101 RENT BOYS (NR) *** Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) don't have a Tammy Faye Bakker here, but they have a "Tommy Cruise" and 100 other mini-divas, all of whom peddle their bodies on LA's Santa Monica Boulevard. Some seem well past their sell-by date as they respond to the usual "What's a nice boy like you?" and "Does your mother know?" questions, but the bytes are well assembled and every bedspread tells a story. Out on Film, Sept. 30 at midnight, Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- SW

AIMEE & JAGUAR (NR) ** 1/2 The true WWII-era love story of Lilly Wust (Juliane Kohler), a German housewife with four children, and Felice Schragenheim (Maria Schrader), a Resistance fighter who was closeted about her Jewishness but not her lesbianism, was better told in a BBC documentary, but if Max Farberbock's dramatization is the only version you can see, you'll be amazed by its stranger-than-fiction quality and moved by its tragic romance. Out on Film, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- SW

THE BOYS OF MANCHESTER: ON THE SET OF "QUEER AS FOLK" and "QUEER AS FOLK" *** A slick, entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the creator, producers and stars of the wildfire British TV hit "Queer as Folk," this documentary does a good job capturing the sexy allure of the show and explaining why it has engaged such a large audience of both gay and straight viewers. The documentary will be followed by a screening of the concluding installment of "Queer as Folk." Out on Film, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- FF

THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB (R) *** A circle of interdependent -- or is it codependent? -- gay friends are there for each other in West Hollywood in Greg Berlanti's ensemble comedy. Like twentysomethings of all stripes, they can't figure out the relationship thing, and as long as they can cry on each other's shoulders, they don't have to. Housemates Dean Cain and Timothy Olyphant compete for newbie Andrew Keegan and play softball for restaurateur John Mahoney. Many of the film's pleasures lie in casual

conversation and other diversions. It's sitcommy but in a good way that makes for a perfect gay date movie. Out on Film, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- SW

BUT I WAS A GIRL ... THE STORY OF FRIEDA BELINFANTE *1/2 There's a reason some people avoid documentaries like a case of active herpes and this film's it. What should be an inspirational tale of an unusual woman orchestra conductor who flaunted her lesbianism in pre-war Holland and then worked bravely for the Dutch Resistance during WWII is instead a tiresome, badly constructed snooze. Out on Film, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- FF

CALL TO WITNESS ** 1/2 Openly gay and lesbian Lutheran pastors from progressive San Francisco to wholesome Iowa are shown defending their right to preach against a church bureaucracy that refuses to ordain them in this issue-oriented documentary. The subject of church hypocrisy is enough to rankle almost anyone as it's presented here, but Call soon devolves into a labyrinthine, exhausting personal battle between a pastor from Iowa, Steve Sabin, and the church elders that loses much of the emotional ground gained in the film's first half. Out on Film, Oct. 1 at 4 p.m., Regal Cinemas Hollywood 24. -- FF

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