Capsule reviews of recently released movies 

Catch a Fire, Conversations With God, Saw III

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EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (PG-13) Dane Cook, who's sort of a frat-house messiah among stand-up comedians, carries a feature film as a drudge at a shopping warehouse who vies with a co-worker (Dax Shepard) over a beautiful new hire (Jessica Simpson).

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS *** (R) Director Clint Eastwood reveals the history behind one of the 20th century's most famous images: the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. The film suffers from a convoluted flashback structure and spells out its themes about heroism with an unnecessarily heavy hand at the end. However, the battle scenes, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, convey the staggering scale of a world war, and the centerpiece story about the "Iwo Jima Marines" and their role in a 1945 bond drive explores some unexpectedly skeptical and complex ideas about selling war to a weary U.S. public. -- Holman

FLICKA ** (PG) Alison Lohman plays Katy, a strong-willed 16-year-old who locates a soulmate in a wild mustang wandering the acres on her family's Wyoming spread. It's refreshing to see an American family on screen that doesn't wallow in dysfunction, but Flicka's emphasis on the humans short-changes the mustang, and there simply aren't enough scenes illustrating the burgeoning bond between Katy and Flicka. The heavy-handed approach to the dramatic plot devices also doesn't help. In moments of despair, you can always count on director Michael Mayer adding some heavy rainstorms to externalize the characters' inner anguish. -- Matt Brunson

GRIDIRON GANG (PG-13) Wrestler The Rock plays a juvenile detention counselor who uses football (not wrestling?) to inspire his charges to seek a better life.

THE GRUDGE 2 (PG-13) Sarah Michelle Gellar returns in this sequel to the remake of the Japanese ghost story about a vengeful spirit haunting young people in Tokyo.

THE GUARDIAN ** (PG-13) In this pale imitation of An Officer and a Gentleman, Kevin Costner plays Louis Gossett Jr., the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer instructor whose tough-love approach to training works wonders for the young recruits; Ashton Kutcher is Richard Gere, a narcissistic pretty-boy student more interested in making a name for himself and romancing the local cutie than in actually saving lives. For a long while, The Guardian wears its clichés pretty well, but because this is a Kevin Costner film -- and because Costner spends more time playing mythic, larger-than-life Christ figures instead of ordinary mortals -- we sense this can only end one way, and the filmmakers pummel us with a shameless ending. -- Brunson

A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS (R) Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri and Eric Roberts star in writer/director Dito Montiel's coming-of-age drama about young toughs growing up in Astoria, N.Y., in the 1980s.

HEADING SOUTH **** (R) Astoundingly creepy and sad in the manner of Tennessee Williams' best sex-and-sun work (The Night of the Iguana, Suddenly, Last Summer), this disturbing French drama concerns well-heeled white women who travel to Haiti in the '70s to bed taut, compliant Port-au-Prince boys and men. Though queen bee (Charlotte Rampling) claims she is above affection and only in it for the sex, events tell otherwise when she wrangles for a prize specimen of male beauty (Menothy Cesar) with a troubled Savannah belle (a skin-crawling performance by Karen Young). Director Laurent Cantet manages to offer cruel commentary on these carnivorous sex tourists (and Western colonialism in general) who find their thrills in a horror-plagued land, then hightail it back home to safety, while also showing the distinct loneliness and anguish of these women growing older and finding their romantic dreams unfulfilled. -- Felicia Feaster

THE ILLUSIONIST **** (PG-13) In this arresting drama set in early 20th century Vienna, Edward Norton plays a Houdini-style magician obsessed with the fiancé (Jessica Biel) of the sadistic crown prince (Rufus Sewell). Some of the period-piece details prove a little unsteady, but overall writer-director Neil Burger spins a clever, compelling yarn that appreciates the power of stage magic to both seize your attention and confound your expectations. -- Holman

IMAX THEATER Deep Sea (NR) Get an up-close-and-personal look at sea turtles, giant octopi and other strange and colorful marine life in this visit to the ocean floor. Greece: Secrets of the Past (NR) This documentary explores the archeological secrets of ancient Greece and features the Parthenon in its original glory as well as the volcanic eruption that buried the island of Santorini. Dolphins (NR): Pierce Brosnan narrates this slick look at dolphins and the bathing-suited scientists who study them. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu.

INFAMOUS ** (R) Director and writer Douglas McGrath's bio-picture of Truman Capote unfortunately comes on the heels of last year's elegant, intelligent Capote, which tackled the same moment in the writer's life when he traveled to Kansas to write about the violent death of the Clutter family by a pair of drifters. British actor Toby Jones, who bears a striking resemblance to Capote, unfortunately plays the writer first as a flouncing camp curiosity before he attempts to show Capote's more fragile side. And McGrath also seems distanced from the emotional heart of his character and his outsider nature. His film feels like a lightweight, comedic, exaggerated version of Capote's life that only serves to illustrate Capote's relative generosity to its people, time and place. -- Feaster

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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

    • on June 29, 2016
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