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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
BLUE CAR (R) Karen Moncrieff gives a sensitive nod to girl creativity and suffering in her portrait of two waifs, Meg and Lily, who are emotionally devastated by their parents' recent divorce. Meg (Agnes Moncrieff) creates poetry out of the emotional ruins, but the nurturing attentiveness of her English teacher (David Strathairn) who coaches her toward an out-of-town poetry competition soon moves from paternal to wolfish. Moncrieff has a fairly straightforward and often predictable approach to this charged material, but conveys an earnest interest in creating an unusual coming-of-age story.--Felicia Feaster

BRUCE ALMIGHTY (PG-13) Jim Carrey plays God -- literally -- as a put-upon human-interest reporter enlisted to fill in for the Supreme Being Himself (Morgan Freeman). With Liar Liar and Ace Ventura director Tom Shadyac at the helm, expect the first commandment to be "Thou shalt do anything for a laugh."

HOUSE OF FOOLS 'em (R) In this cliche-ridden Russian film from Andrei Konchalovsky, an insane asylum loaded with adorably infantalized patients on the Russian-Chechen border is caught up in the battle between the Chechen civil war's opposing forces. With its magic realist tone and some interesting assertions of a unique Russian mind-set, House of Fools is an occasionally captivating, but more often silly little film.--FF

THE IN-LAWS (PG-13) Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas step into the shoes of Alan Arkin and Peter Falk in this loose remake of 1979's genial odd-couple comedy, with Brooks' mild-mannered podiatrist reluctantly thrown together with Douglas's loose cannon CIA agent when their children get engaged.

Duly Noted
DECATUR FILM FESTIVAL (NR) Decatur's third annual film festival features three nights of screenings of local independent movies, as well as such panel discussions as "What Makes a Great Movie" and "How to Make Movies on a Micro-Budget." May 21-23, 7 p.m. Holiday Inn Select, Decatur. Free. 404-723-1939. decaturfilmfestival@hotmail.com.

FILM SLAM (NR) IMAGE Film & Video Center's freewheeling evening of short films takes inspiration from "The Gong Show," as a panel of judges, egged on by the audience, will dictate whether films will run to the end or will get "gonged" in progress. Awards will be given for the best and worst efforts of the evening. IMAGE Film & Video Center, May 21 at 8 p.m., The Echo Lounge, 551 Flat Shoals Ave. $5 (free for IMAGE members). 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION (1937) (NR) A true masterpiece, Jean Renoir's exquisite tale of French prisoners in a German camp in World War I echoes the aristocratic melancholy of Tolstoy and Chekhov while anticipating the P.O.W. suspense and humor of Stalag 17. Crossing the Border: French-German Films. May 21, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.--Curt Holman

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.

THE THIN MAN (1934) (NR) Playing like a blend of Noel Coward and Dashiell Hammett (whose original novel wasn't nearly as much fun), this seamless blend of detective story and screwball comedy has been often imitated, but never with the chemistry of William Powell and Myrna Loy as married sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. Commune Classics Series, May 26 at dusk. Commune Restaurant, 1198 Howell Mill Road. Free with dinner. 404-609-5000.

Continuing
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

BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (R) A group of overachieving Asian-American teenagers deal with academic and extracurricular pressures by turning to petty crimes. For his directorial debut Justin Lin doesn't let his stylistic flourishes distract from the film's original character portraits, although when the would-be gang dabbles in drugs and handguns, Better Luck Tomorrow feels like its trying a little too hard to be Goodfellas in high school.--CH

CHAOS A wealthy French couple witnesses the brutal beating of a prostitute. Though Paul (Vincent Lindon) opts to lock the doors and speed away, Hélène (Catherine Frot) volunteers to nurse the victim back to health, eventually agreeing to help her combat the relentless attackers. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.

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