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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
AMERICAN SPLENDOR (R) Harvey Pekar's comic book American Splendor holds a mirror up to his mundane life as a Cleveland file clerk. Filmmakers Shari Stringer Berman and Robert Pulcini hold a mirror to the mirror and create dizzying reflections in a film that features the real Pekar as narrator and a superbly cast Paul Giamatti playing him. At times the film's use of animation and word balloons feels like self-conscious gimmickry, but Berman and Pulcini justifiably focus on the tension between the real Pekar and his comic book persona, and Hope Davis delightfully captures the bohemian quirks of Pekar's neurotic but loving third wife. --Curt Holman

JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 (R) In the follow-up to last year's shlocky sleeper hit, the winged, demonic cannibal returns to menace a basketball team and their cheerleaders marooned on a school bus. The burning question is, when does The Creeper fight Freddy and Jason?

THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY LINGO (G) The ads suggest Whale Rider Lite or maybe Male Rider, but this offering is more family-friendly and less heavy-handed in its messages, aimed at young viewers of both genders. Filmed in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, the story of the foundling Tama unfolds like Dickens with prettier scenery until it shifts into Cinderella mode for the climax and a surprisingly moving finale. --Steve Warren

QUAI DES ORFeEVRES (1947) (NR) A saucy little masterpiece of French crime fiction, Henri-Georges Clouzot's prize-winner at the 1947 Venice Film Festival paints an unforgettably dank portrait of the Parisian post-war underground. The fates of hoods, music hall singers and taxi drivers intertwine when jealous husband Maurice (Bernard Blier) is accused of offing the man (Charles Dullin) believed to have bedded his cream-puff wife Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair), a dishy chanteuse. Not to be missed for either its cynicism or for the rays of human warmth that manage to penetrate Clouzot's noir vision. At Madstone Theatre Parkside. --Felicia Feaster

STEP INTO LIQUID (R) Despite the icky-sounding title, Dana Brown's surfing documentary features stunning photography and is sure to appeal to fans of Blue Crush. At Landmark Midtown Cinema.

Duly Noted
ALI ZAOUA: PRINCE OF THE STREETS (2000) (NR) Director-co-writer Nabil Ayouch offers a bittersweet yet life-affirming portrait of street kids in the Moroccan port city of Casablanca. Moroccan Film Week. Aug. 29-Sept. 4, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.

THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998) (R) An aging slacker (Jeff Bridges) and his bowling buddies (John Goodman, Steve Buscemi) become embroiled in a kidnapping plot among Los Angeles' rich and artsy. For their follow-up to the Oscar-winning Fargo, the Coen Brothers seem to have emptied their notebooks of amusing one-liners and weird images for a finished product that's well-polished but utterly inconsequential. Aug. 29-30, midnight. Lefont Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon, 404-873-1939. www.lefonttheaters.com

A DOOR TO THE SKY (1989) (NR) With her father dying, a Moroccan woman leaves her cosmopolitan life in Paris to return her old-fashioned family in Fez, only to rediscover her Islamic faith. Moroccan Film Week. Aug. 29-Sept. 4, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.

DRIVE INVASION 2003 (NR) The Starlight Six Drive-In's annual celebration of cult films, classic cars, rock bands and BBQ returns with two special nights of movies. Saturday pays tribute to producer David F. Friedman with the nudie adventure Trader Hornee and two splatter thrillers, Bloodfeast and Two Thousand Maniacs! Sunday's special guest is actress Mary Woronov, who stars in the Ramones musical Rock 'n' Roll High School, the ultraviolent sports satire Death Race 2000 and the showbiz spoof Hollywood Boulevard. Both evenings feature exotic movie trailers and classic cartoons. Aug. 30-31 with films beginning at 9 p.m. 2000 Moreland Ave. $6 for films only (after 9:30 p.m.), $18 per day, $30 for two-day pass. 404-627-5786. www.starlightdrivein.com.

JANDEK ON CORWOOD A documentary about a mysterious Texas musician who's been releasing albums on his own label for 25 years, yet actively cultivates a cover of anonymity. Aug. 31, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Co-sponsored by the local band the Indicators and the Center for Creative Aspiration. 1448 Iverson St. $3.

RAISING VICTOR VARGAS (R) This tender, charming first feature from director Peter Sollett, set in a poor Lower East Side neighborhood, features a cast of engaging young actors led by Victor Rasuk as a self-styled barrio Don Juan who, surprisingly, catches the eye of the local beauty played by Judy Marte. Beneath a touching teenage love story is a sensitive portrait of the fear of abandonment that haunts these children's lives, and the vulnerability that still defines them, despite their teenage cool. Aug 28, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. --FF

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