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Capsule reviews of recently released films 

Opening Friday


DARK STREETS (R) A naïve playboy investigates the death of his wealthy father in this atmospheric thriller anchored by blues, jazz and R&B songs performed by the likes of B.B. King, Etta James, Aaron Neville, Dr. John and Chaka Khan.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (PG-13) See review.

DELGO 2 stars (PG) See review.

FROST/NIXON 3 stars (R) See review.

NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS (PG-13) A Puerto Rican family living in Chicago's Humboldt Park face what may be their last Christmas together.

PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL 3 stars See review.

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. Midnight, Fridays at Plaza Theatre, and Saturdays at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

Continuing

APPALOOSA 3 stars (R) Two freelance marshals (Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay) bring law and order to Appaloosa in defiance of a powerful, sadistic rancher (Jeremy Irons in full "Uncle Scar" mode). Harris and Mortensen casually banter with each other and the shoot-outs are appropriately loud and sudden, along the lines of last year's 3:10 to Yuma, but the film's sexual politics (embodied by Renee Zellweger's free-thinking piano player) border on misogynistic. -- Curt Holman

ASHES OF TIME REDUX (1994) 2 stars (NR) After becoming the toast of the world art-house circuit with his sensuous mood pieces like In the Mood for Love, acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai re-edits his baffling martial arts epic Ashes of Time, trimming the length and adding some digital effects. Like most of the director's films, Ashes of Time Redux avoids conventional narrative or characterization, and you'll probably get lost trying to disentangle the confounding, circular plot. The film features some gorgeous, spun-gold cinematography and strong performances from the likes of the late Leslie Cheung. -- Holman

AUSTRALIA 2 stars (PG-13) An English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) and an Australian cattle driver (Hugh Jackman) become reluctant partners for a cattle drive across the outback at the eve of World War II. Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann indulges his taste for cartoonish hypberbole for the film's hyperactive, grating first 45 minutes, before settling down into a more conventional, tolerable Old School sprawling epic romance. He still lays on the aboriginal mysticism and Wizard of Oz references pretty thick, but at least exposes to racial inequities in Australia's history with more candor than Gone With the Wind did for the South. -- Holman

BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (PG) A pampered pup named Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore) gets separated from her owners and must find her way back. On the way, she makes new friends and uncovers her rich chihuahua heritage.

BODY OF LIES 3 stars (R) A CIA operative (Leonardo DiCaprio) criss-crosses the Middle East to flush out an Islamist terrorist (Alon Aboutboul), despite the undermining political tactics of his corpulent boss (Russell Crowe). Director Ridley Scott crafts some exciting counter-terrorism scenes, comparable to "24" set in the real world, particularly in the film's second half. But DiCaprio and the Crowe seem miscast and, not unlike DiCaprio's Blood Diamond, Body of Lies emphasizes Hollywood action tropes over real-world complexities. Mark Strong steals the film as a Jordanian spymaster. -- Holman

BOLT 3 stars (PG) Superpowered canine Bolt (voiced by John Travolta in his most enjoyable performance in a decade) protects a girl (Miley Cyrus) from evildoers, unaware that theyíre on a TV series. The dog ends up traveling cross-country with a fanboy hamster (Mark Walton) who thinks Boltís a real hero, and a cynical alley cat ("Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Susie Essman) who knows he's not. Despite a heavily sentimental final third, the film's witty tweaks of film clichÈs and genuine affection for its characters makes Bolt almost heroic among cartoon features. -- Holman

BURN AFTER READING 3 stars (R) A pair of dim-witted gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) blackmail a disgruntled CIA analyst (John Malkovich) in this comedy from the Coen brothers. In contrast to their bleak Oscar winner No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading offers a hilarious parody of spy thrillers, replete with sinister music and shadowy figures following the protagonists. The Coens' fondness for anticlimaxes diminishes the film's potential punch, but the hilarious performances alone would make it worth seeing, including Michael Clayton co-stars George Clooney and Tilda Swinton. -- Holman

CADILLAC RECORDS 4 stars (R) "If you take the ride, you must pay the price," is the tagline. This movie chronicles the rise of Chess Records and its recording artists.

CHANGELING (R) A mother desperately searches for her lost son. When he is returned to her, she quickly suspects that the boy is not, in fact, hers at all.

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