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Capsule reviews of recently released films 

OPENING FRIDAY

AVATAR (PG-13) See review.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? (PG-13) Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant play an estranged couple relocated from New York to small-town Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program. From the writer/director of Music and Lyrics, who also wrote the Miss Congeniality films.

THE MAID (NR) See review.

DULY NOTED

BIZARRO SATURDAY MORNING In the third installment of this series, voice actor and animator C. Martin Croker screens 16 mm gems dating back to the 1930s. Expect a collection of random and rarely seen holiday animation along with some other oddities. $7.50-$9. Thurs., Dec. 17, 9:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 19, 3 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.

CONTINUING

2012 2 stars (PG-13) Solar flares and Mayan mumbo jumbo spell a world-ending catastrophe, even for an upstanding White House science adviser (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a divorced novelist (John Cusack) and the U.S. president (Danny Glover). You can say what you want about director Roland Emmerich: The man’s the John Holmes of disaster porn and delivers jaw-dropping money shots of quakes wrecking Hollywood, Yosemite National Park erupting, a tsunami wiping out Washington, D.C., etc. The trouble is, it’s two and a half hours long and not even as cheesily fun as The Day After Tomorrow— Curt Holman

ANTICHRIST 2 stars (NR) Cross your legs — here comes Lars von Trier's notoriously unpleasant art-house curiosity about a pair of grieving parents (Willem Dafoe and Cannes Film Festival Best Actress winner Charlotte Gainsbourg) whose attempt to work through their feelings at a remote cabin called "Eden" ends in violence. Antichrist proves at once impossible to dismiss or take seriously, particularly given the raw yet focused performances of the two actors and the film's vivid images of nature at its most sinister. Von Trier's themes about misogyny seem deliberately over the top, as if he's commenting on his own reputation as a harsh taskmaster of his actresses. — Holman

ARMORED (PG-13) Hungarian-American Antal Nimród, who directed the fascinating foreign film Kontroll, helms this heist thriller about security guards who decide to knock over one of their armored cars. The cast includes Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne. 

THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL, NEW ORLEANS 4 stars (R) Nicolas Cage tops his already high standards for over-the-top acting as a New Orleans detective whose back injury leads to Vicodin abuse, lines of cocaine, sexual shakedowns, iguana hallucinations and oh so much more. Werner Herzog, who specializes in films about obsession, doesn’t so much remake Harvey Keitel’s 1992 cult film as half-satirizes it to create a darkly comic portrait of a cop with a disintegrating personality. It’s difficult to take seriously, but Cage and his sparring partners never prove less than entertaining. — Holman 

THE BLIND SIDE 2 stars (PG) A white Memphis socialite (Sandra Bullock) all but adopts a mountainous African-American teen (Quinton Aaron) from an impoverished household in this well-meaning adaptation of Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book on football strategy. Aaron proves too wooden an actor to enliven his many dialogue-free scenes, so the rest of the film overcompensates, particularly in the comic relief involving Bullock’s insufferable son. It’s to Bullock’s credit that she refrains from turning her role into a nouveau riche clown, but the film treats her as if she’s a saint trying to redeem white Southerners everywhere. — Holman 
 
CLOUD NINE (NR) 67-year-old Inge (Ursula Werner) rediscovers her sexuality when she unexpectedly falls in love with 76-year-old Karl (Horst Westfal). This film about elderly love–directed byAndreas Dresen –tells a delicate, passionate and rarely told story.  

EVERYBODY’S FINE 2 stars (PG-13) Robert De Niro plays a retired widower who pays surprise visits to his grown children (including Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore) and gradually ferrets out the secrets they’ve been keeping “for his own good.” This sleepy remake of a 1990 Marcello Mastroianni vehicle of the same name tends to be at once bland and heavy-handed, and De Niro doesn’t really reconcile his role’s contradictions as a remote, demanding Dad prone to chat up his fellow travelers. Apart from a few highlights (including a surreal dream scene), Everybody only aspires to be fine. — Holman 

FANTASTIC MR. FOX 4 stars (PG) Wes Anderson’s loose adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book casts George Clooney as the voice of middle-class Mr. Fox, whose midlife crisis and poultry-stealing habit incurs the wrath of local farms. Despite the inexpressiveness of the stop-motion animated characters, Fantastic Mr. Fox brings charming, idiosyncratic personality to the overpolished genre of contemporary family films. It turns out that Anderson’s trademark obsessions — fussily formal compositions, period pop songs, father-son friction — suit animation better than live-action, and lend Fantastic Mr. Fox humanity and heart, despite its cast of woodland creatures. — Holman 

INVICTUS 2 stars (PG-13) After assuming the presidency of South Africa in 1994, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) tries to inspire the country’s rugby team to win the World Cup in the hopes of unifying the nation’s racial divide. Damon credibly comports himself as a rugby captain and Freeman offers a warm, sprightly performance as Mandela, but the latter figure becomes only a spectator to the action in the film’s second half, when Invictus turns into a more conventional underdog sports film. It’s an interesting, fact-based story, but one wishes director Clint Eastwood had focused more closely on Mandela, one of the most fascinating global political figures of our time. – Holman

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