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Two-and-a-half years ago, Vanderbilt University Methodist chaplain Mark Forrester began overseeing a local oral-history project conducted by members of the school’s Wesley/Canterbury Fellowship.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Vanderbilt University Methodist chaplain Mark Forrester began overseeing a local oral-history project conducted by members of the school’s Wesley/Canterbury Fellowship. Recorded testimonies were gathered on the subject of personal faith—its origins (organized religion and otherwise), its daily expression, its importance in the life of the individual, and also the confusion and ambivalence it sometimes leaves in its wake. Enter Actors Bridge Ensemble, Nashville’s foremost theatrical purveyor of reality-based scripts such as The Vagina Monologues, The Laramie Project and a 2004 adaptation of The Trojan Women that incorporated contemporary input from members of Music City’s Kurdish population. Under the direction of ABE producing artistic director Vali Forrister, and with support from a Metro Nashville Arts Commission creation grant, a team of writers expanded on the initial project’s raw material, transforming more than 80 interview responses into this 90-minute stage exploration—an intersection of the dramatic arts and the spiritual that is uniquely Nashville. A shaman-like figure serves as tour guide, leading the audience first through the Creation stories of the various major faith traditions, then into more personal encounters that encompass Tarot, speaking in tongues, even Voodoo, all expressed through dance, music, monologue, dialogue and even a “deity game show.” “The goal,” says ABE’s Forrister, “is to honor all paths and to recognize the sacredness in every journey.” This third play in Actors Bridge’s 10th-anniversary season again finds the company pursuing its community-driven mission with characteristic zeal. The promising cast includes Bill Feehely, Mike Beckham, Chris Scheele, Alice Raver, Rebekah Durham and Kris Campa. Performances are July 21-30 at the Darkhorse Theater. Phone 341-0300 for tickets. —MARTIN BRADY MUSIC THURSDAY, 20TH MARTY STUART WITH ALECIA NUGENT Though it’s hardly tailor-made for the most aggressively purist of bluegrass fans, tonight’s pairing is nevertheless an inspired one. Stuart’s latest release, Live At The Ryman, is the providential result of an earlier season at the same Bluegrass at the Ryman series, and it’s a dandy. Not only does the singer/mandolinist demonstrate that he’s kept a solid grasp on what he learned as a teenaged member of Lester Flatt’s band, but his own Fabulous Superlatives make the transition from hillbilly rock to ’grass a nearly seamless one. Drummer Harry Stinson, who moonlights with Earl Scruggs, can hold his own as a bluegrass tenor singer with just about anyone, and guitarist Kenny Vaughan’s knowledge of the catalog is more than sufficiently deep. Nugent’s instrumentation is more orthodox, but like Stuart, she’s more concerned with extracting the essence of bluegrass soul than adhering to cramped definitions of the genre, and her vocals unerringly convey the heartbreak and strength that lie at its heart. Ryman Auditorium —JON WEISBERGER CONSCIOUSFLOWZ AIDS BENEFIT CONCERT ConsciousFlowz is a new non-prof organization that raises funds to aid the people of South Africa with a focus on AIDS awareness and youth education. To that end, the organization will release CDs, collect donations and sponsor a series of concerts. The first features Bump City, a band that has the onerous task of covering Tower of Power’s rapid-fire funk, and they’ve exonerated themselves magnificently. Rapid Time Hand Motion are a duo with a novel approach to live electronic music, bringing studio implements on stage to make hot beats rather than just spinning disks. Local jazz/funk band Mellow Gravy round out the bill. All proceeds from the concert go towards funding ConsciousFlowz’ humanitarian aims. Mercy Lounge —MARK MAYS FRIDAY, 21ST COLD WAR KIDS Their songs have a tendency to build around a single, simple phrase—here, a languid, suburban kind of groove (“Hang Me Up To Dry”); there, a plodding piano riff (“Hospital Beds”). Their singer has a voice that could front a hair-metal band were it not for the quavering, imperfect leaps into the uppermost edges of the uppermost parts of his range. It’s mostly the flawed, overdone vocals that carry these songs; without them, CWK are the kind of band you might enjoy while bobbing woozily at a crowded party, then forget (along with most of the night) without much fanfare. But the vocal histrionics, awkwardly sincere in their delivery, shine brightly at the center of the band’s determined minimalism. ( www.coldwarkids.com ) Exit/In —STEVE HARUCH BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY Bonnie “Prince” Billy fans freaked out by the aggressive rock moves on the recent live album Summer in the Southeast, take heart: The quiet curmudgeon of your dreams is about to return. The former and sometime Will Oldham will release his first studio album of new solo material in three-and-a-half years, The Letting Go, on Sept. 19. But the first single, “Cursed Sleep,” is already in stores, featuring another album track, “God’s Small Song,” and the single-only bonus cut “The Signifying Wolf.” The tunes from The Letting Go (recorded in Iceland!) are hushed and lovely, especially the exquisite string arrangement on “Cursed Sleep.” “The Signifying Wolf” is another matter entirely, offering gnarled guitars, creepy-crawly atmosphere and, yes, actual howling. The single release party at Grimey’s is a “paletas social,” which means Mexican fruit popsicles are promised. Bonus fact: paleta means “little shovel.” Grimey’s —CHRIS NEAL JOLIE HOLLAND This San Francisco-based singer-songwriter plays haunting avant-folk ballads about depression, drugs and dreams; she’s a perfect alternative for Norah Jones fans looking for something a little darker than Jones’ wine-bar whimsy. Springtime Can Kill You, Holland’s latest, is more atmospheric and somewhat less tuneful than her 2004 gem, Escondida, but onstage she and her band—which wisely includes a saxophone player—give the music a tough rhythmic swing that prevents it from drifting too far into namby-pamby coffeeshop-crooner territory. Better yet, she takes liberties with her arrangements, radically reworking her material to reveal previously unheard nuances. ( myspace.com/jolieholland ) 3rd & Lindsley —MIKAEL WOOD GREENLAND Although they only formed last January, have yet to release an album, EP or more than four demos, Nashville locals GreenLand have already established a rather impressive following from Lexington, Va., to Knoxville and, of course, here in Nashville. They have a quintessentially poppy sound that resonates with listeners who appreciate an unusual blend of balladry and existential musings on Rip Van Winkle. Underneath the wispy composition of tunes like “The Way It Is,” GreenLand confronts the angst-ridden conscience of one whose life is without progress: “I never understood why I have always backed down,” vocalist Evan James wails before concluding, “People never change, that’s the way it is.” Yet according to James and those who recently crowned GreenLand champion of The Muse’s Battle of the Bands earlier this month, the quintet is evolving. Windows on the Cumberland —DAVE RUDOLPH SATURDAY, 22ND RAY LAMONTAGNE If the Otis Redding overtures of “Three More Days” (the lead single from upcoming album Till the Sky Turns Black) are any indication, Ray LaMontagne is continuing to nurture—even enlarge—his capacious affinity for the loose, organic singer-songwriter soul of decades past. Not that anyone will find a single reason to complain. Two years ago, LaMontagne’s husky, soft-edged rasp proved the perfect instrument for the earthy vulnerability of songs such as “Trouble,” “Shelter” and “All the Wild Horses” on his Ethan Johns-produced debut album, Trouble. LaMontagne’s music does not simply display an obsession with a musical era so much as a talent for tangibility, picturesque songwriting and a warm, lived-in aesthetic. Guster co-headline, and the Fruit Bats open. Ryman Auditorium —JEWLY HIGHT ERIC CHURCH This North Carolina native takes an uncommon approach to common country-music themes. The stout-voiced Church celebrates rural Southern life and working folk, only he doesn’t equate redneck with reactionary or small town with small-mindedness. Instead, Church’s new Sinners Like Me, produced with tightly propulsive force by Nashville rocker Jay Joyce, tells stories of people who struggle with sin, redemption, temptation and staying true while wondering why busting their knuckles day in and day out still leaves them empty-handed. He touts patriotism and pride without resorting to sloganeering or casting the world as us vs. them, and he also knows how to sound like he’s throwing a party no one wants to miss. In a year of disappointing Music Row debuts, Church stands tall. Opry Plaza —MICHAEL McCALL HAL KETCHUM In a day and age where the latest Music Row buzzword for thumbs-down is “dated,” mid-’90s troubadour Hal Ketchum bucks conventional wisdom. Since Ketchum climbed to the heights of country super-stardom with his debut hit “Small Town, Saturday Night” in 1991, the landscape of radio has changed drastically. Spit-polished countrypolitan has de-twanged Ketchum’s old stomping grounds. But as his recent single “Just This Side of Heaven” proves, Ketchum’s sophisticated take on the of-the-moment motif of religiosity puts “Jesus Take the Wheel” knock-offs to shame. This old dog has quite a few tricks left up his sleeve. ( www.halketchum.com ) Grand Ole Opry House; July 29 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater —JOEY HOOD MURFREESBORO POPFEST The first annual Murfreesboro Popfest is a showcase of perhaps the cutesiest indie pop label in the land: Happy Happy Birthday to Me, based in Athens, Ga. Boy/girl twee pop duo Cars Can Be Blue and whimsical power-pop band Casper & the Cookies will be representing the label and its hometown. Making the trek to Murfreesboro from Lexington and St. Louis respectively will be the psychladen, miniature orchestra of Ideal Free Distribution and Bunnygrunt, whose rough-around-the-edges pop stylings are reminiscent of the ’Boro band with whom they share the bill—Velcro Stars. Nashville’s criminally underrated Ocelots will also be making an appearance, and the night will be rounded off by local juggernauts How I Became the Bomb. Along with about 60 others, each Murfreesboro Popfest band will also be appearing at next month’s five-day Athens Popfest, also sponsored by HHBTM. Included in the 60 or so will be the likes of Apples in Stereo, Mountain Goats, The Circulatory System and Deerhoof. Perhaps this is the beginning of an exciting and, hopefully, longtime exchange between a couple of college towns with a whole lot to offer. ( www.myspace.com/carscanbeblue, www.myspace.com/casperthecookies , www.myspace.com/idealfreedistribution ,   www.myspace.com/therealbunnygrunt ) Grand Palace —MATT SULLIVAN GUSTER Nearly 15 years into their career, Guster have hit their stride. Blending seemingly dissimilar influences like Pink Floyd, The Cure, The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and Wilco, the Boston band’s latest, Ganging Up On the Sun, is both sweeping and intimate, introspective and enjoyable. Songs like the toe-tapping, banjo-laden “The Captain,” the hard-edged surf rocker “The New Underground,” and the soaring country-rocker “C’Mon” are danceable sing-alongs. Meanwhile, the heartbroken progressive rock ballad “Lightning Rod,” the wistful synth-pop love song “Satellite” and the cautiously optimistic anthem “Hang On” offer mature insights into the human experience. The end result is a cinematic blend of college rock and indie rock laced with sublime harmonies that has the familiarity present in most superb musical releases without sounding derivative or clichéd. ( www.guster.com ) Ryman Auditorium —TRACY M. ROGERS MALCOLM HOLCOMBE “I can’t figure out nuthin’ / I can’t figure out what to say,” sings Malcolm Holcombe on his new CD Not Forgotten, but nothing could be further from the truth. The rare songwriter whose lyrics work as poetry as well as they do as songs, Holcombe uses words to paint images that are often abstract but always connect on an emotional level. Though he’s got a hard-living reputation, he’s been quite prolific the last few years, suggesting that he’s mellowed a notch or two. Between his gut-stirring voice, eccentric guitar playing and stream-of-consciousness banter, he’s always a spellbinding performer—his out-front persona has even been known to shock audience members used to a more, um, refined presentation. If one too many toothless in-the-rounds has turned you off to acoustic singer-songwriters, Holcombe’s the man to renew your faith. Douglas Corner Cafe —JACK SILVERMAN SUNDAY, 23RD GEORGE JONES For a guy who turns 75 in September and who pushed the limits of what his body could tolerate for many of those years, this Country Music Hall of Famer sure stays busy. He continues to tour coast-to-coast year in and year out. And unlike most singers his age, he’s still putting out annual albums that are always worthy of his stature. Last year, he applied his still-distinctive tone to classic country tunes on Hits I Missed...And One I Didn’t; more recently, he’s been in the studio where he and Merle Haggard trade off singing each other’s landmark songs. Live, he can have his off nights, and even at his best, he no longer has the range or ability to sustain notes he once had. But his phrasing remains remarkable, and when everything falls in place, he’ll show why he’s one of the truly masterful vocalists of his, or anyone’s, generation. Ryman Auditorium —MICHAEL McCALL RAINER MARIA Formerly known as a first-rate emo band, Rainer Maria’s latest Catastrophe Keeps Us Together finds the band detouring into more mainstream modern rock territory. Songs like the feedback-laden “Catastrophe,” the post-punk “Life of Leisure” and the old-school punk rocker “Bottle” are heavy and melodic. The jazzy nightclub saunter “Cities Above” is probably the farthest departure from hard rock, while “Clear and True” comes closest to being a true pop song. Each points to the album’s overall theme that love is difficult and often messy but essential. Throughout, singer Caithlin De Marrais’ voice is exquisite and tough as nails, equally capable of a sweet soprano lilt and a rock ’n’ roll wail. Rainer Maria are one of the few bands capable of producing rock that is at once intensely personal and expansive. ( www.rainermaria.com ) Exit/In —TRACY M. ROGERS ANATHALLO Michigan septet Anathallo occupy the seemingly nonexistent bit of musical landscape where power pop, worldbeat, indie rock, chamber pop and choral rock meet. As a cohesive whole, the band’s major-label debut, Floating World, is as spacily evocative as anything Pink Floyd ever produced. Rooted in spirituality and Japanese fables, the record turns musically on a dime, moving from minimalist piano to power chords, from heavy percussion to swinging horns and a full band, from winding melodies to heavy syncopation. Vocally, the band alternates among choral arrangements, tender solos and pseudo-chants flavored with Eastern monastic tinges. The result is a breathtaking, emotionally charged opus that possesses angst, wistfulness, suspense and joy. ( www.anathallo.com ) Exit/In —TRACY M. ROGERS TUESDAY, 25TH JOHN FOGERTY/WILLIE NELSON These two veterans are masters of American vernacular songwriting, but the comparisons mostly end there. Fogerty’s compact roots-rock tunes ride on monster riffs rooted across the South from the Delta swamp to the Appalachian Mountains, and he tends to focus on a singular theme and drive them home with a friendly swagger and an insistent pulse. Nelsons’s mystical air enhances his songwriting with jazzy musical twists and poetic turns, seeing damaged souls as angels that fly too close to the ground and irresponsible rakes as come-what-may ramblers who can’t wait to get on the road again. They’re both working-class heroes for a reason, and as different as their songbooks and personalities are, the combination will make a grand soundtrack for an outdoor party. Starwood Amphitheatre —MICHAEL McCALL DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL W/ SAY ANYTHING Chris Carrabba, the Florida-based singer-songwriter at the center of Dashboard Confessional, won the adoration of high schoolers across America with his stripped-down emo-folk ballads. Yet on his fine new album Dusk and Summer, Carrabba pumps up his once-timid sound with ringing U2 guitars, powerful arena-rock drums and expansive choruses designed for fist-pumping. It’s a good fit for Carrabba: His writing has matured enough that the melodies ably support the high-gloss production (by U2 sideman Daniel Lanois and Linkin Park-linked Don Gilmore), and his handsome, pleading voice has outgrown its adolescent brittleness. Expect to be swept up tonight. Max Bemis, frontman of openers Say Anything, is a sort of reverse-image version of Carrabba; he plays wryly self-aware emo-rock that seems strangely suspicious of itself. ( www.dashboardconfessional.com ; www.myspace.com/sayanything ) Ryman Auditorium —MIKAEL WOOD BEN LEE Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee’s 2005 CD, Awake is the New Sleep, finds the former wunderkind writing mature, thoughtful lyrics that address the ups and downs of romantic life. Lee’s music is playful with a touch of wistfulness. A tender acoustic guitar melody supplemented by subtle tremolo guitar suffuses the follow-your-bliss anthem “Whatever It Is,” while “Gamble Everything For Love” has a jaunty, mellow pop groove. Foot-stomped percussion begins the sing-along “Catch My Disease,” which finds Lee begging for affection with humor and wit, but Lee can just as easily evoke heartbreak and loneliness. The pedal steel-infused “No Right Angles” recalls the desolation of a nighttime drive on a deserted highway, and the haunting “Get Gotten” is an acoustic guitar ode to unrequited love and uncertainty. Lee’s sublime mixture of alternative folk, pop and rock should not be missed. ( www.ben-lee.com ) Ryman Auditorium —TRACY M. ROGERS WEDNESDAY, 26TH RANCID W/ MURPHY’S LAW They haven’t released a new album since 2003’s Indestructible, but that’s no reason not to catch these venerable Bay Area bad boys, since Rancid’s deep catalog represents one of the richest in modern punk, full of tune and snarl and heart. The band’s members have kept plenty busy since Indestructible’s release: Singer-guitarist Tim Armstrong runs Hellcat Records and has produced stuff by Pink, among others; singer-guitarist Lars Frederiksen also leads the Bastards; bassist Matt Freeman backed up Mike Ness on tour with Social Disortion. But Rancid remains their primary gig; come see why tonight. Murphy’s Law, from New York, open the show with their sloppy, snotty, proudly old-school bash-and-thrash. ( www.rancidrancid.com ) Rcktwn —MIKAEL WOOD THE PHARCYDE Completing the set with this Wednesday’s concert, all of the members of legendary rap crew The Pharcyde will have played Nashville. Original band members Booty Brown and Imani kept the name after the departure of Fatlip and “Slimkid” Tre’ Hardson in the late ’90s. In the intervening years, The Pharcyde released two CDs, including 2004’s Humbolt Beginnings. Though that record evinces a more mature side to their work, the album also shows how much their weeded-out comic (Fatlip) and smoothed-out crooner (Tre’) are missed. Brown, however, did a stand out job with his appearance on the Gorillaz’ “Dirty Harry” track rapping as the ghost of an Iraq War solider, proving he still has mad skills. The Fatlip and Hardson shows have been joyous throwback parties, with the fans bellowing out lyrics to The Pharcyde classics. Expect this show to be more of the same. Coolout and Drop Bombz open the show. Exit/In —MARK MAYS ART OFF THE WALL, “PORTAL SKIN” Off the Wall is a group of seven of Nashville’s stronger young artists—Jenny Baggs, Quinn Dukes, Janet Heilbronn, Mahlea Jones, Jenn Ramsey, Jaime Raybin and Iwonka Waskowski—who get together regularly to exhibit their work along with guests like Abby Whisenant, who joins them for this one-night show, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 21, in Marathon Village. One of the group’s trademarks is that they auction some work at each exhibit to benefit a local charity, this time the Will ClenDening Memorial Fund at Watkins College. ClenDening was a friend of the group members, a fellow artist and Watkins graduate whose death last month in a motorcycle accident left a big hole in the visual arts community. —DAVID MADDOX THIRD THURSDAY GALLERY CRAWL Nashville’s gallery scene revolves around openings and one-night shows, and there’s enough happening some nights that you can rush from one side of town to the other trying to hit all the venues. Some of the galleries are starting to get together to make something more of the cross-town events through coordinated hours and publicity. For the Third Thursday Gallery Crawl, four galleries will have evening hours on Thursday, July 20—the East Nashville co-op Plowhaus, LeQuire on Charlotte, Dangenart downtown in the Arcade, and Woodcuts Gallery on Jefferson Street. In addition to letting the world know they’ll all be open on Thursday night, the galleries have teamed up with the Nightcrawler bus, which will roll between the stops carrying anyone who wants to pay $12 and can get a reservation. (In addition to hitting all four galleries, the bus is going to the Trading Company, a store across from Richland Park.) Call Cathey Stamps at 262-2089 if you want to get on the bus. The galleries will be open to the public from 6-10, whether you get there by bus or take care of your own transportation. —DAVID MADDOX BOOKS MICHAEL SIMS/THE ANNOTATED ARCHY AND MEHITABEL In 1916, as America was plagued by war abroad, anti-immigrant hysteria, the decay of civil rights and politically powerful religious fundamentalism—sound familiar?—a popular newspaper columnist named Don Marquis began offering up commentary through the personae of a versifying cockroach and a bon vivant alley cat. For six years, Archy and Mehitabel (cockroach and cat, respectively) made witty, hard-edged observations on the human race in deceptively simple free verse poems. A clear-eyed, large-hearted humanist, Marquis at his best is often compared to Mark Twain. Thanks to their enduring cult following, hit-and-miss collections of the Archy and Mehitabel verses have remained in print for 90 years. Now Michael Sims (author of the critically acclaimed book Adam’s Navel and a former Scene writer) has edited a comprehensive volume of the poems, providing a highly readable introduction and excellent historical notes. Sims appears at Davis-Kidd Booksellers at 6 p.m. July 20. —MARIA BROWNING MARK CHILDRESS In One Mississippi, a deceptively brisk but serious novel by Alabama native Mark Childress, two friends come of age in the small town of Minor. It’s the early 1970s, and Daniel Musgrove and Fred Cousins have got the so-uncool-they’re-cool pose down cold. As Daniel tells it, they squabble with bullies and jocks, enjoy the marching band’s pomp and blather on earnestly about Sonny and Cher. This geekified tableau is shattered on prom night when a black girl is elected prom queen, only to be run over on her way home from the dance. Daniel and Fred know something about this accident, and their silence drives a wedge between them. Rich and entitled, Fred wants to move on, while Daniel wants to atone for their sin of omission. Childress has really struck it on the sweet spot this time around. The book unfolds in the year when Mississippi schools were forced to desegregate, deftly capturing the lurch of two unequal societies trying to become one. As black students become aware they get angry, but white kids’ minds are elsewhere. “I bet Jesus got high,” says one, smoking a joint behind the Baptist church, “There must have been dope growing everywhere in the Bible times. There was no law against it back then.” Gradually, ineluctably, this book shows them coming to terms with what J.C. would have thought about segregation. Childress reads at Davis-Kidd Booksellers at 6 p.m. July 25. —JOHN FREEMAN SILAS HOUSE Kentucky never gets the credit it deserves for its steady stream of great writers. From Robert Penn Warren to Wendell Berry to Barbara Kingsolver, the state’s cadre of world-class essayists and novelists belies its reputation as a simple land of horses, bluegrass and coal. The latest entrant to the field is Silas House, a former small-town reporter whose first novel, 2001’s Clay’s Quilt, wowed readers with its lyrical evocations of Appalachian life. House, who was born and still lives in Lily, Ky., has written two novels since—A Parchment of Leaves and The Coal Tattoo—both of which deal with the strains that modern life places on tightly knit rural families. Each has received a flurry of awards, and House himself has been in steady demand as a commentator (regularly appearing on NPR’s All Things Considered) and contributing writer (most often for the alt-country magazine No Depression). How does House account for his popularity? As he told one interviewer recently, “Many writers today feel the need to impress readers with their wit and cleverness. But I think the real reason we read is to be told a story, just as we were told stories when we were little.” House will read on at 7 p.m. July 26 at Austin Peay State University’s Gentry Auditorium. A reception follows. The event is free. —CLAY RISEN FILM DRAWING RESTRAINT 9 Is Matthew Barney just a skilled self-promoter peddling the Emperor’s New Installation Piece in his bizarre epic film cycles, or is he the rare visual artist to translate an intensely personal vision and style to celluloid? His new work won’t resolve any debates, as Barney and his real-life partner Björk enact ceremonies of communion and flesh-cutting (ee-yow!) aboard a Japanese whaling vessel. Never to be shown on TV or DVD, as per the artist’s instruction, the film-slash-exhibit opens Friday at the Belcourt; Susan Edwards, executive director of the Frist Center, will introduce the 7 p.m. screening on opening night. —JIM RIDLEY CLERKS/CLERKS 2 They used to be in black-and-white; now they’re in color. They used to be convenience-store counter jockeys; now they’re wage slaves at burger crematorium Mooby’s. They used to hang out with Jay and Silent Bob and geek out over Star Wars and tell dick jokes; now they…do pretty much the same thing. This weekend, you can compare and contrast Kevin Smith’s entire Clerks saga the way you would the Lord of the Rings movies or Star Wars or, I dunno, Police Academy 4-6. The same weekend that Clerks 2 opens wide, just like girlfriend Veronica, the Belcourt plays the original Clerks for three shows only on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as part of its ongoing Sundance retrospective. Stars Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Jeff Anderson (Randal) will also be in town this week to promote the film, so serve ’em up a big ol’ Nashville salsa shark if you see ’em. —JIM RIDLEY LADY IN THE WATER He showed you dead people in The Sixth Sense; he broke you in Unbreakable; he threw water on you in Signs; he brought you the ultimate in nonexistent terror in The Village. Now M. Night Shyamalan kicks it fairytale-style in this twisted bedtime story about an apartment-complex caretaker (Paul Giamatti) who discovers an enigmatic babe (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the swimming pool. The movie starts Friday. —JIM RIDLEY MONSTER HOUSE A pop-up book of an animated feature, designed to titillate tots and terrorize tykes with the tale of a haunted house hungry for kidflesh. Steve Buscemi, Kathleen Turner and Nick Cannon are among the voices; the executive producers include Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. Friday. —JIM RIDLEY MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND Luke Wilson plays the only man in the world who missed the message of the Kill Bill movies: displease Uma Thurman at your peril. Here Wilson dumps Thurman—not a good idea, since she’s really a hormonal crimefighter with superhuman powers. Hey, we hear Superman’s back on the market. Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) directed. Friday. —JIM RIDLEY


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