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Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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KISSING JESSICA STEIN (R) The misadventures of a singleton in the city gets a gimmicky reworking in this film about a New York journalist and a Chelsea art chick who, tired of the lameoid men around, decide to date each other. Some clever writing by stars and screenwriters Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen can't dispel the sense that this is just a calculated reworking of a hackneyed suffering-single formula.--Felicia Feaster

Opening Friday
BLADE 2 (R) Wesley Snipes returns as Marvel Comics' bloodsucker-snuffing vampire hybrid in a sequel to 1998's modest hit. With this one directed by Guillermo del Toro, late of The Devil's Backbone, there may be some substance underneath the stylin' slaying.

E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY (PG) Steven Spielberg's tale of a boy and his alien is no children's movie, but a lovely evocation of the experience of childlike wonder. The anniversary re-release includes spruced-up sound and special effects, a deleted scene or two and some disquieting alterations in the name of political correctness, like the digital replacement of guns with walkie-talkies.--Curt Holman

SORORITY BOYS (R) Rocket Man's Harland Williams, "Smallville's" Michael Rosenbaum and "7th Heaven's" Barry Watson are fraternity boys who cross-dress to pledge a sorority in this low-I.Q. cross-dressing college comedy. Didn't Matthew Modine do this movie already?

Duly Noted
AUDITION (R) A widower arranges a bogus film audition to meet a perspective bride, only to see his plans go grotesquely awry in this Japanese suspense film. Director Takashi Miike's economical approach to terror -- which includes piano wire and branding irons -- have given the low-budget film a cult following. GSU's cinefest, March 22-28.

THE BLUE ANGEL (Not Rated). The first film collaboration between director Josef von Sternberg and his greatest muse, Marlene Dietrich, this perverse German production features the cinema's proverbial masochist Emil Jannings as a respectable bourgeois professor whose reputation and life are ruined by a beautiful, sexually outrageous night club performer played by the incomparable Dietrich. High Museum, Rich Auditorium, March 23 at 8 p.m.--FF

DONNIE DARKO (R) Twenty six-year-old director Richard Kelly's imaginative first film may be about time travel, or it may be about madness. Centered on a forlorn teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is being told by a demonic bunny rabbit that the world will end in 28 days, this combination teen film, Shining crackup, American Beauty exegesis-on-suburbia can't get a handle on its own slippery self and nearly drowns in teen film conventions. GSU's cinefest, March 15-21.--FF

FLOWERS FROM ANOTHER WORLD (NR) The "flowers" of Iciar Bollain's film are single women imported from the Caribbean and other countries who descend on a Spanish village for a party sponsored by the town's marriage-minded bachelors. The film offers close observations of relationships, culture clashes and the socio-economic stresses on working people. Spanish Film in the 1990s. March 22 at 8 p.m. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

HEIMAT (PG-13) Nearly 16 hours long, this epic 1984 film chronicles life in a fictional German village over eight decades and 11 parts. "The Proud Years" catches up with the family in the late 1960s, as Anton is offered a fortune for his factory while young composer Hermann pursues his musical career. Goethe-Institut Atlanta, Colony Square, 1197 Peachtree St., Mar. 20 at 7 p.m., $4 for non-members.

KILIMANJARO: TO THE ROOF OF AFRICA (NR) Everest director David Breashears' latest IMAX documentary follows an expedition through five distinct climate zones to the top of Africa's highest point. Through September 20. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road.

LITTLE FIVE POINTS FILM FESTIVAL (NR) The Brewhouse Cafe features two experimental shorts by Atlanta director Kreg Thornley, "Thread," a piece of abstract video art, and "Green Balance," a stream-of-consciousness exploration of money and happiness with Marisabel Marrat. March 19 at 8 p.m. The Brewhouse Cafe, 401 Moreland Ave., $5 (which includes a free beer).

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the 1975 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 Meatloaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Fridays at midnight, Lefont Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave., and Saturday at midnight at Blackwell Star Cinema, 3378 Canton Road, Marietta.

T-SHIRT TRAVELS (NR) Beginning with shots of impoverished Africans wearing second-hand Michael Bolton and Bart Simpson T-shirts, Shantha Bloeman's documentary gradually and persuasively uses Africa's used-clothing market as a case study of how the forces of globalization and mountainous debut have bankrupted the third world. IMAGE Film & Video Center, March 21 at 7:30 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site, 450 Auburn Ave. Free.--CH

VOICE OF THE VOICELESS (NR) Tania Cuevas-Martinez's music-suffused documentary on the life and trials of Mumia Abu-Jamal touches on the history of Philadelphia and includes interviews with Ossie Davis, Chuck D and Mos Def. Black Cinema Cafe, March 25, 6 p.m., Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. Free.

Continuing
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (R) A tough bounty hunter (Ice Cube, who also co-wrote the film) and a wisecracking bail jumper (Mike Epps) join forces to fleece some diamond thieves in this action comedy named for the P. Diddy song. Featuring Anthony Michael Hall and Lil' Bow Wow.

40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS (R) For Josh Hartnett delivers a surprisingly adept comic turn as a web page designer who abstains from all sexual pleasures to forget about his icy girlfriend. A few modest laughs and an imaginative sex scene can be found amid the usual condom/Viagra/erection gags, but the film goes limp during the disappointing climax (no puns intended) .--MB

HARRISON'S FLOWERS (R) Following on the heels of No Man's Land comes this hard-hitting drama that doesn't shy away from showing the atrocities committed under the tag of "ethnic cleansing." When a photojournalist (David Strathairn) is presumed dead in Yugoslavia's civilwar, his wife (Andie MacDowell) enters the fray herself. The film may not match the wallop of The Killing Fields, but writer-director Elie Chouraqui keeps things as real as possible.--MB

ICE AGE (PG) Ray Romano's sensible woolly mammoth, Denis Leary's duplicitous saber-toothed tiger and John Leguizamo's imbecilic sloth are unique enough for us to pardon the pedestrian plot of this computer-animated film that's like Disney's Dinosaur without the mountainous sentimentality. The prehistoric squirrel Scrat is such a character that you're sorry every time he leaves the screen.-- MB

RESIDENT EVIL (R) Milla Jovovich and Girlfight's Michelle Rodriguez wallop undead zombies in this big-screen video game adaptation (from the director of Mortal Kombat) that boasts showing tough chicks giving Matrix kicks to zombie Dobermans. Bad dog!

RETURN TO NEVER LAND (G) Despite its brand name recognition, the 1953 Peter Pan hardly ranks alongside Disney's finest efforts, but it's still miles ahead of this poorly realized follow-up that finds Wendy's daughter Jane helping Peter and the Lost Boys battle persistent Captain Hook. Dull characters, unmemorable songs and flat animation sink this one.--MB

THE TIME MACHINE (PG-13) H.G. Wells' great-grandson Simon and scripter John Logan take some successful liberties with this new adaptation of the immortal time-travel tale. But rather than captures our imaginations, the picture curtails its own creativity, culminating in a yawner of a showdown between Guy Pearce's scientist-cum-adventurer and a campy Jeremy Irons, leader of the vicious Morlocks.--MB

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