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Short subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
City By the Sea 1/2 (PG-13) Coincidences and emotional baggage are piled on to predictably numbing effect in City by the Sea, director Michael Caton-Jones' workmanlike tale of crime, urban decay and familial dysfunction. Robert De Niro stars as a Manhattan cop who moved away from the now deteriorating community of Long Beach when his marriage went bad. Now, many years later, De Niro's character is emotionally distant to his current girlfriend (Frances McDormand) and investigating a murder in which it just so happens the primary suspect is none other than his estranged, junkie son (James Franco).--Lance Goldenberg



Duly Noted
HIGH SOCIETY (1956) (NR) Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby star in the elegant, swell-egant remake of The Philadelphia Story, bouyed by Cole Porter tunes and Bing's "Now You Has Jazz" duet with Louis Armstrong. The first film in TCM and Commune restaurant's eight-week outdoor film series. Communal Classics. Sept. 9 at 8:30 p.m., Commune, 1198 Howell Mill Road. Free..

NEW CANADIAN ANIMATION (NR) The Great White North is an unsung wellspring of brilliant animation, which ASIFA-Atlanta salutes in an evening that includes rare animation techniques as well as the kooky Oscar nominee "Strange Invaders." Sept. 10 at 8 p.m., Fountainhead Lounge, 485 Flat Shoals Ave. Free. 404-522-7841. www.asifa-atlanta.com.

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. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Marietta Star Cinema.



Continuing
THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (PG-13) This long-shelved Eddie Murphy comedy cost $100 million to make and grossed a paltry $2 million on opening weekend. Yet the sad thing about this abysmal effort, which finds Murphy running a nightclub on the moon in the year 2087, isn't that it's terrible -- it's that it's terrible without even being enjoyable in a bad-movie sorta way. As for the comedy quotient, I counted exactly two laughs, which breaks down to $50 million per chuckle -- definitely not a sound return on investment. -- Matt Brunson

AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER (PG-13) Having exhausted whatever satirical possibilities they had left in their first unnecessary sequel, Mike Myers and director Jay Roach simply making fun of themselves in this third rehash about the groovy secret agent. An inspired opening sequence is as hilarious as anything you've seen in a very long time, but from there it all goes right into the toilet -- literally. Beyonce Knowles' sexual potential as Foxxy Cleopatra is wasted in favor of estranged father-son hooey with Michael Caine.--Bert Osborne

BLOOD WORK (R) For a good while, Blood Work looks like Clint Eastwood's best picture in years, with the star-director-producer playing a former FBI agent who, after getting a heart transplant, seeks to solve the murder of the person whose ticker he received. Watching an undying screen icon like Eastwood acknowledge his own mortality adds a resonance to this picture, but heading into the final turn, the movie turns preposterous, culminating in a routine climax that goes on forever.--MB

BLUE CRUSH PG-13. Director John Stockwell (crazy/beautiful) weaves what could have been lightweight teen fodder into gold yet again in this tremendously entertaining film about three surfer girlfriends whose ostensible goal is to have Anne Marie (Kate Bosworth) win the Pipe Masters surf competition. But the film manages to squeeze in enough of a message about the class divide on Oahu, female friendship and heroism to make this a tale of girl adventurism and independence for the ages.--FF

THE BOURNE IDENTITY (PG-13) Go director Doug Liman's spy thriller starts well, with amnesiac Matt Damon discovering that he's got spy skills and hitmen on his trail. But the film forgets the best plot twists of Robert Ludlum's original novel and falls into a repetitious cycle: Chris Cooper's nasty CIA man yells at underlings, Damon hesitantly romances love interest Franka Potente, and action scenes unfold in a workmanlike manner.--CH

FEAR.COM (R) Stephen Dorff plays a detective investigating a web site linked to several deaths. The cast includes such quirky character actors as Udo Kier and Jeffrey Combs.

FULL FRONTAL (R) Steven Soderbergh opts for self-referential style over storytelling substance in his look of a handful of navel-gazing Los Angelenos. Or is the director lampooning narcissistic films like Time Code -- and himself? With the sincere scenes invariably undercut by inside jokes, it's hard to tell what the Oscar-winning director is playing at. It helps that laughs are plentiful and supporting players like David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener do nice work, but Full Frontal seems at least half empty.--CH

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