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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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Opening Friday
AUTUMN SPRING (2001) (PG-13) This dramedy from Czechoslovakia stars Vlastimil Brodsky (in his last film role before his suicide) as an irrepressible practical joker unwilling to admit to his own mortality. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.

THE COOLER (R) See review.

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) (NR) Sergio Leone's epic is bigger than ever, with the addition of new footage culled from European sources and dubbed into English (more than 30 years later) by Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach. Restored scenes -- including an interlude at a Civil War field hospital, another gunfight, and the fabled "grotto" scene -- add depth, and the big-screen Technicolor cinematography reveals details that not even the enhanced DVD version could reproduce. At Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema --Gregory Nicoll

MONA LISA SMILE (PG-13) See review.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) (G) Hollywood's quintessential family fantasy has something for everyone, including bizarrely-dressed Munchkins, nightmarish flying monkeys, Judy Garland and a little dog, too. Start a new tradition by dressing in costume and singing along to the hit songs. You know you want to. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.--Curt Holman

Duly Noted
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 Meat Loaf 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.

X2: X-MEN UNITED (PG-13) The sequel marks a step forward in the evolution of a satisfying superhero franchise by being more x-pensive, x-pansive and x-citing than the first. It's a half hour longer than X-Men, and that half hour has saggy pace and false climax problems, but the film's rival super-powered "mutants" each, in effect, provide their own money shot, especially Hugh Jackman's blade-fisted Wolverine and Alan Cumming's teleporting Nightcrawler. Dec. 18. Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.--CH

Continuing
BAD SANTA (R) Advocate for the anti-consumerist, retro-obsessed values of the splenetic counterculture, director Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Ghost World) tries to apply his misanthropic perspective to mainstream Hollywood comedy. His alcoholic Santa (Billy Bob Thornton), who robs the same shopping malls where he plies his trade, is another antisocial cult figure infused with the values of Zwigoff's alternative comix imagination. But the director can certainly do better than this thin parody of the saccharine, smarmy Christmas comedy. --Felicia Feaster

BUBBA HO-TEP (R) Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead trilogy plays an elderly Elvis -- or perhaps just a mentally-scrambled impersonator -- who defends his seedy nursing home from a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy. Phantasm director aspires to cheesy B-movie status and succeeds by that rather modest benchmark. Despite its dirty jokes and bargain-basement production values, the film works in some weighty points about mortality and Campbell's a hoot whenever he defends himself against supernatural enemies with Elvis' patented karate moves.--CH

DIE MOMMIE DIE! (NR) Charles Busch, the drag legend and writer behind Psycho Beach Party, shines in this adaptation of his stage work, a black comedy set in 1967 Hollywood. With shades of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Busch plays Angela Arden, a fading songstress whose prickly home life turns homicidal when her husband discovers her affair with a former TV star (Jason Priestley). A stellar supporting cast, including "Six Feet Under's" Frances Conroy as a back- biting maid, keep the laughs coming, even if its Serial Mom premise occasionally drags (pun intended). At Landmark Theatres Midtown Art Cinema.--Tray Butler.

DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT (PG) The Cat In The Hat is a dog. Rarely has a movie about having fun provided so little of it. In the title role Mike Myers does a total rip-off of Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion, trying to be hi-Lahr-ious. The Cat drops in on the Walden kids, control freak Sally (Dakota Fanning) and rule-breaker Conrad (Spencer Breslin), and teaches them to have fun without consequences. This movie wouldn't even register on the Cat's "Phunometer."--SW

ELF (PG) Will Ferrell plays an ill-adjusted man-child raised by Santa's helpers then sent to New York City to find his long-lost father and -- surprise! -- save Christmas in the process. Director Jon Favreau (Swingers) should end up on the naughty list for producing such pointless holiday pabulum.--TB

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN (NR) It's rare to have one of the Gospels read cover-to-cover in church and this three-hour epic shows why. Pictorial elements can't make the slow and redundant parts interesting, despite Christopher Plummer's reverent reading of all but the dialogue. A relatively PC translation was used and the Jewish producers have added disclaimers to avoid charges of anti-Semitism, but Jesus (British stage actor Henry Ian Cusick) and his people are nevertheless pale-skinned with European features. Many believers will prefer the film to Bible studies that require them to do their own visualizing.--SW

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