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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
FREDDY VS. JASON (R) In the tradition of King Kong vs. Godzilla and Kramer vs. Kramer, the murderous stars of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises team up to stalk nubile teenagers, then turn on each other. Will the hockey mask beat the razor-glove?

GRIND (PG-13) It's some kind of road comedy about four brash, skateboarding buddies traveling cross-country. Look for appearances by Randy Quaid, Jackass' Bam Margera and "The Kids in the Hall's" Dave Foley.

LE DIVORCE (PG-13) A shrewd, tasty little comedy about the cultural divide between America and France, this Merchant/Ivory production concerns Roxy (Naomi Watts), an American poet in Paris, who discovers Old World sexism in the French legal system when her husband deserts her for his mistress. Kate Hudson is her sister, dispatched from Santa Barbara to look after the newly pregnant Roxy. While Roxy stews, Isabel (Hudson) begins an adulterous affair with a right-wing politician and falls in love with French social customs involving lingerie, sex, Hermees handbags and haute cuisine. --Felicia Feaster

THE MAGDALENE SISTERS (R) Actor/director Peter Mullan's film is hyperbolic and at every turn rigged to inspire outrage. But it is also a highly effective, darkly engrossing condemnation of the checkered history of religious abuses of power. The drama takes place at one of Ireland's "Magdalene Asylums," which operated from the 19th century until 1996 as a virtual prison for girls accused of "moral crimes" ranging from being raped, to out-of-wedlock childbirth to flirtatiousness. Mullan's women-in-prison formula follows three young girls who are nearly destroyed by the sadism of the nuns who oversee their work in the asylum's grueling laundries. --FF

OPEN RANGE (R) Kevin Costner (who also directed and co-produced) plays a conflicted cattle driver pitted against a greedy land baron. A sleepy opening and sometimes tedious pacing make the first hour drag, but Robert Duvall's fine performance as a fatherly cowpoke keeps things moving along until the explosive final gun battle, which is worth the wait. --Tray Butler

UPTOWN GIRLS (PG-13) Another child turns a perpetual adolescent into a responsible adult in this totally formulaic dramedy. Brittany Murphy and Atlantan Dakota Fanning are terrific individually -- pound for pound Fanning is the best actress alive -- but the don't quite click together. Molly (Murphy), 22 going on 12, becomes nanny to Ray (Fanning), who's 8 going on 80, and helps the girl find her inner child while Ray inspires Molly to become responsible. No surprises there. If you're thinking of taking 8-year-olds to see Uptown Girls, know that it's rated PG-13 for a reason. --Steve Warren

Duly Noted
EUPHONIC VIDEO NIGHT (NR) Eyedrum offers a kind of "Can Film Festival" of documentaries about the influential "Kraut Rock" group Can, beginning with Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rosacher's compilation of interviews and song performances, and followed by Peter Przygodda's 1972 concert film. Aug. 15, 9 p.m. Eyedrum. 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. $3. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.

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. Presented by IMAGE Film & Video Center, Aug. 21, 8 p.m. The Echo Lounge, 551 Flat Shoals Ave. $5 (free for IMAGE members). 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.

FLASHBANG v5 (NR) The digital expo's exhibition screening will showcase the cutting edge in Flash animated films, websites, graphic design and video work. Aug. 16, 7 p.m. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, 535 Means Street. $16. 404-223-3030. www.flashbangonline.com.

FUNNY GIRL (1968) (G) Back when everybody liked her, Barbra Streisand won an Oscar for her film debut as comedienne Fanny Brice. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the William Wyler musical features numbers like "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" that are sure to get you verklempt. Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. Aug. 18, 8 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. $7. 404-881-2100. www.foxtheatre.org.

LOVE THE HARD WAY (2001) (R) Adrien Brody's Best Actor Oscar for The Pianist secured the release of this early starring vehicle. Brody plays a sleazy blackmailer and half-assed writer who somehow wins the heart of Charlotte Ayanna's brainy but clueless college girl. Ayanna's scenes can be truly dreadful, but the plot makes hairpin turns that reveal unexpected insight into the dark sides of sexuality and emotional attachment. Presented by the Peachtree Film Society. Aug. 19, 7:30 p.m. at Lefont Garden Hills Cinema, 2835 Peachtree Road. $7.50 each ($6.50 for PFS members). 404-266-2850. www.peachtreefilm.org. --Curt Holman

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