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Short subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Wednesday
CINEMA PARADISO (R) Director Giuseppe Tornatore has re-released his beloved nostalgia piece in its original format, an epic 170 minutes. Digressing from the film's central, and most charming element -- the relationship between a projectionist in a small Italian village and a movie-crazed 8-year-old boy -- this Paradiiso wanders off into the muck of a traditional love story and in the process ties a hunk of lead around Tornatore's helium balloon. At Lefont Plaza Theatre. --Felicia Feaster

LIKE MIKE (PG) That's Mr. Wow to you! Lil Bow Wow plays an adolescent boy who, when struck by lightning while holding a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers, becomes a basketball star. (Hey, is it any more far-fetched than being bitten by a genetically modified spider?) This family sports fantasy includes such unexpected supporting players as Crispin Glover, Anne Meara and Eugene Levy.

MEN IN BLACK II (PG-13) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as attitudinal alien-busting secret agents in this mind-bogglingly, jaw-droppingly egregious sequel to their somewhat diverting 1997 cash cow. A negligible "plot" gives them something to squawk about amid the usual barrage of computer-generated effects, but the movie exists most appreciably to serve the greedy financial considerations of its responsible parties. About the best to be said of the monumental mess is that it's all over in a (suspiciously) brief 88 minutes.--Bert Osborne

THE POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE (PG) The Cartoon Network's huge-eyed, playground superheroes -- Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup -- swoop into action to save Townsville from monkey archvillain Mojo Jojo.


Opening Friday
DOGTOWN AND Z-BOYS (PG-13) This visceral, slickly assembled documentary celebrates the vertically inclined '70s founders of skateboarding's second wave, which jettisoned skate culture into the extreme stratosphere it occupies today. With its relentless classic-rock soundtrack, breakneck pacing and revealing interviews, the film hones in on the short-lived Zephyr Skating Team, a hardscrabble bunch assembled by three surf shop owners in a decaying California beach hamlet called Dogtown. At Tara Cinema.--Hobart Rowland

LATE MARRIAGE (Not Rated) Quiet observational comedy gives way to an increasingly dark critique of strangling family ties when an aging graduate student (Lior Ashkenazi) defies old-world marital customs in his affair with a divorced single mother (Ronit Elkabetz). Writer-director Dover Kosashvili offers surprisingly frank and liberating bedroom scenes, and a shockingly angry portrait of the elder generation. At Tara Cinema.--Curt Holman


Duly Noted
BALL OF FIRE (1942) (NR) One of the finest yet most underrated screwball comedies has Barbara Stanwyck's slang-slinging burlesque dancer hiding from the mob with a timid lexicographer and his household of tweedy colleagues. Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett's script perfectly serves masterful dialogue director Howard Hawks. American Comedy Classics. July 5 at 8 p.m. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.--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 Meatloaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Fridays at midnight, Lefont Garden Hills Cinema, 2835 Peachtree Road, and Saturday at midnight at the Marietta Star Cinema, 1355 Roswell Road, Marietta.


Continuing
ABOUT A BOY (PG-13) The adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel lacks the character insight and pop savvy of the film of Hornby's High Fidelity, but still charms. The title refers to both thirtysomething Will (Hugh Grant) and 12 year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), whose unlikely friendship gives both lessons in how to grow up. At times manipulative and overly jokey, it makes a few unconventional twists, including its pragmatic theme of the virtue of conformity. --CH

BAD COMPANY (PG-13) Taking an explosive comic actor like Chris Rock sticking him in an action film this dull is like buying a ridiculously expensive sports car and solely using it to drive to the grocery store down the block. This studio-generated claptrap features a street-smart small-timer (Rock) who poses as his own twin brother, a murdered CIA agent tracking (what else?) a nuclear weapon making the rounds on the international black market. Anthony Hopkins co-stars. -- Matt Brunson

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (G) The only animated feature ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award -- and one of the best classic-style musicals of the past 20 years -- Disney's 1991 animated gem gets a polish to fit the scalle of a really, really big IMAX screen. Mall of Georgia IMAX Theater, I-85 at Buford Drive, Buford. -- CH

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