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WHAT'S HAPPENING : FILM.

Really out there: Reality becomes a very slippery concept in ``The Matrix.'' It's an elaborate sci-fi special-effects extravaganza, set on some future Earth dominated by intelligent machines - and also set inside a handful of human freedom fighters' heads. Packed with action, top-heavy with dorm-room philosophy and brimming with dazzling visuals, the film is a kinetic explosion of imagination.

Keanu Reeves plays a computer hacker who discovers the awful truth about mankind's real condition and may just be the savior we don't even know we need. With gravity-defying, Hong Kong-style martial arts and enough firepower to flatten Belgrade, he and a small band of cyber-rebels take on the all-pervasive title construct.

A long-gestating project written and directed by brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski (``Bound''), ``The Matrix'' is a rich, exciting realization of difficult and complex ideas, the first thoroughly successful cyberpunk movie.

- Bob Strauss

television

Wise guys: Oh brats! Yes this week two of TV's brattiest boys are back, bringing with them some freshly brewed iconoclasm. At 8 p.m. Sunday, the SciFi Channel's twisted film critique series ``Mystery Science Theater 3000'' makes its final season premiere. Creator Joel Hodgson makes an on-camera return to fix Mike Nelson's spaceship in a special reunion episode featuring the truly bad movie ``Soultaker.'' Then, at 10 p.m. Sunday on Bravo, truth, justice and satire rule as Michael Moore's (``Roger & Me,'' ``TV Nation'') scathingly new series ``The Awful Truth'' debuts. ``Awful'' mixes Moore's stand-up shtick with guerrilla video segments. In tonight's episode, Moore irreverently braves the giant HMO Humana to push the cause of a young father denied a pancreas transplant. As usual hand-held cameras - and Moore's crusading save-the-little-guy stance - are in attendance.

Kinney Littlefield

Orange County Register

music

Bette Midler, Barry Manilow and the Manhattan Transfer won't be at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall Saturday evening ... but one of their songwriters will be. Amanda McBroom, whose songwriting successes include ``The Rose,'' will perform with Ann Hampton Callaway, who has written songs for Barbra Streisand, as well as films and TV shows including ``The Nanny'' and ``Land Before Time.''

The two songstresses will perform some of these compositions, along with songs from their latest CDs. McBroom, who has also acted on television and the stage, also wrote, produced and starred in the musical ``Hearbeats.'' Hampton Callaway - praised by The New York Times for her ``sheer vocal beauty'' - has performed internationally at concert halls and jazz festivals.

Performance is 8 p.m. at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall; campus is at 405 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. Tickets: $32, available at the UCLA Central Ticket Office (southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center), through all Ticketmaster outlets and on the Web at www.cto.ucla.edu. For more information or to charge by phone, call UCLA at (310) 825-2101.

- Marla Matzer

Mullins breaks through: Atlanta troubadour Shawn Mullins is used to roughing it on the rock 'n' roll highway.

For nine years, he toured the country in a van accompanied only by his faithful canine companion, Roadie.

But that was before ``Lullaby'' took off. Mullins' hook-filled ditty, an electro-acoustic tale of Hollywood heartbreak and redemption, is currently a staple at various radio formats after reaching the Top 10 not long ago.

Mullins appears Sunday at the Troubadour with fellow singer-songwriter Wes Cunningham.

``Lullaby'' has been trailed in the airplay charts by ``Shimmer,'' also from Mullins' debut album, ``Soul's Core,'' which climbed to No. 54 on the Billboard 200.

The disc was initially recorded for Mullins' own label, but when Sony picked it up he added a new song, which turned out to be ``Shimmer.''

The Troubadour is at 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Show time is 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. Information: (310) 276-6168.

- Fred Shuster

CAPTION(S):

5 Photos

Photo: (1) A band of rebels is out to save Earth in the thought-provoking film ``The Matrix,'' co-starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

(2) ``Mystery Science Theater 3000,'' with Mike Nelson, begins its final season Sunday night on the SciFi Channel.

(3--4) Singer-songwriters Ann Hampton Callaway, left, and Amanda McBroom are in concert Saturday night at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall.

(5) MULLINS
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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 9, 1999
Words:684
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