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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics


Opening Friday
ASSASSINATION TANGO (R) Robert Duvall directed, wrote and stars in this convoluted, often distinctly loopy story of a Brooklyn hit man who goes to Argentina to take out a politician and ends up falling for a lithe tango dancer (Duvall's real-life girlfriend Luciana Pedraza). To its partial credit, Assassination has an engagingly real, freeform, Cassavetes-esque documentary texture, but the pacing is all off and the details of the assassination itself are ludicrous. The film feels merely like a showcase for Duvall's lifelong tango passion and is a far cry from the expert, profound work he did in his previous directorial effort, The Apostle. --Felicia Feaster

BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (PG-13) With a lack of anything better to fill one's empty hours, this British comedy might provide a temporary distraction from inevitable mortality. A conventional -- emphasis on light -- crowd-pleaser about an 18-year-old girl (Parminder K. Nagra) who longs to play soccer despite the objections of her conservative Indian parents, Gurinder Chadha's box office-directed global comedy is the cinematic equivalent of a Happy Meal: bland, momentarily delightful, but with a lot of empty calories.--FF

DYSFUNKTIONAL FAMILY (R) This comedy concert film from Eddie Griffin of Undercover Brother fame has about 30 minutes of "A-material," including terrific bits about profiling and reverse-racism after Sept. 11. But director George Gallo undermines Griffin's material with unnecessary sound effects and too much cross-cutting between Griffin's family anecdotes and interviews with his admittedly interesting relatives. Compared to The Original Kings of Comedy, Griffin's more of a joker in the deck.--Curt Holman

A MAN APART F. Gary Gray directs Vin Diesel as a DEA agent who seeks revenge on drug dealers after they kill his wife. Co-starring Larenz Tate and Timothy Olyphant.

PHONE BOOTH (R) Following a co-starring role in The Recruit and a supporting turn in Daredevil, for his third film of 2003 Colin Farrell finds himself top-billed in this efficient drama about a New York publicist who gets pinned in a phone booth by a sniper (Kiefer Sutherland). With a crisp running time of 80 minutes, this taut psychological thriller (directed for maximum impact by Joel Schumacher) knows exactly when to clear the line. -- Matt Brunson

THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS (R) Go Fish and Bedrooms and Hallways director Rose Troche offers her own Ice Storm of ennui amongst the Manhattan bedroom community set. But her incident-dense, overly ambitious adaptation of A.M. Homes' collection of short stories tries to collapse far too much material into the film and her incompletely drawn characters suffer for it.--FF

WHAT A GIRL WANTS (PG) Colin Firth gets a Hugh Grant-style role as an Englishman who meets the teenage American daughter (Amanda Bynes) he never knew he had. The title comes from a Christina Aguilera song.

Duly Noted
CHANDNI BAR (2001) (NR) Following a riot in her home village, a young woman (Tabu) flees to Bombay, where she's pressured into taking a job as a dancer at a beer bar in this film that's part feminist saga, part gangster movie. Film Festival of India: Bollywood and Beyond, April 4, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570.

COAL BLACK VOICES (NR) An ensemble of African-American poets and storytellers provide a mosaic of black life in the South and Appalachia, with themes ranging from racism and black identity to the pleasures of music, food and family. IMAGE Film & Video Center. April 2, 7 p.m. Atlanta Fulton Public Library, One Margaret Mitchell Square. Free. 404-352-4225.

A FATAL FAIRY TALE (2001) (NR) An elderly carpenter, a popular storyteller for children, is discovered to be a murder suspect who may hold the key to other unsolved crimes. Germany in the Crosshairs: German Detective Thrillers on TV. April 2, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree Street, Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.

THE JOURNEY (2001) (NR) Documentarian and Atlanta native Eric Saperston interviews corporate bigwigs and plain folk alike on a self-mythologizing cross-country trek in a 1971 Volkswagen minibus. Interviewees like Henry Winkler can be fun subjects, but the more the film focuses on the filmmakers as they pitch and package their own project, the less idealistic it seems. April 1, 7 p.m., White Hall, 480 Kilgo St., Emory University, and 9:30 p.m., Georgia Tech Student Center, 350 Ferst Drive. April 4-10, Phipps Plaza Theatre.-- CH

MOE KNOWS FILM: Independent Shorts Film Party. April 3 at 10 p.m. at Moe's, 863 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-723-7892.

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.

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