•THE PAINTED VEIL 3 stars. (PG-13) See review.
•ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. star as monster-movie icons alongside the legendary comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Generally considered the best of the countless Abbott and Costello films, this horror spoof could probably teach a thing or two to the creators of Scary Movie. Silver Scream Spook Show. Sat., Dec. 30, 1 and 9:30 p.m. The Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939.
•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. It's all fun and games until Meat Loaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.
•APOCALYPTO 2 stars. (R) A young Mayan villager (Rudy Youngblood) faces unspeakable horrors after being captured and marked for ritual sacrifice. Mel Gibson's all-subtitled historical action film generates enough momentum to distract from speculation about the movie star's apparent anti-Semitism, but renews questions about his sadomasochistic tendencies as a filmmaker. Despite some lose themes about the decline and fall of civilizations, Apocalypto proves mostly an exercise in violence and torture, although admittedly the final act's extended chase scene is well executed. -- Curt Holman
•BABEL 4 stars. (R) A freak mishap has far-reaching repercussions that effect the lives of a pair of American tourists (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), two young Moroccan shepherds, a Mexican nanny (Adriana Barraza) and a deaf Japanese teenager (Rinko Kikuchi). Amores Perros director Alejandro González Iñárritu presents another gripping, gritty and well-acted set of intersecting narratives that feature raw performances (particularly from Rinko Kikuchi) and moments of nearly unbearable suspense. On reflection, Iñárritu's themes of language, globalization and human connection don't quite come together, but Babel's passion and visceral image give it power that transcends borders. -- Holman
•BLACK CHRISTMAS (R) Michelle Trachtenberg and Lacey Chabert star in this remake of the 1975 thriller (also known as Silent Night, Evil Night) about a slasher stalking a sorority house.
•BLOOD DIAMOND 3 stars. (R) A white soldier-turned smuggler (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a black fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) become unwilling partners in the effort to recover a huge, uncut diamond amid the chaos of a civil war in Sierra Leone. Glory's Edward Zwick directs a crisply paced, superbly photographed film, replete with magnificent vistas and harrowing action scenes. Despite the film's justified indignation over "conflict diamonds," however, the plot proves utterly familiar and the horrific black-on-black violence will more probably stick with the audience more than contempt for the Western corporations that profit from it. -- Holman
•BORAT: CULTURE LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN 4 stars. (R) British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen pranks the United States by traveling the nation in his guise as Borat Sagdiyev, a disarmingly cheerful but sexist, anti-Semitic and colossally ignorant journalist from Kazakhstan. -- Holman
•THE BRIDESMAID 3 stars. (NR) Claude Chabrol's latest clammy chamber piece shows a murder disrupt ordinary French life. The Piano Teacher's splendid Benoît Magimel plays as a decent, hardworking salesman who falls hard for a creepy, mystery-shrouded bridesmaid (Laura Smet) at his sister's wedding. Taut and layered, Chabrol proves when it comes to crafting satisfying, low-key thrillers, he still has it. -- Felicia Feaster
•CASINO ROYALE 3 stars. (PG-13) A necessary revision in the post-Austin Powers age, Martin Campbell's (GoldenEye) adaptation of Ian Fleming's first novel in his spy series begins at the beginning, with the British spy making his first kills, achieving 007 status and establishing the Bond mystique. -- Feaster
•CHARLOTTE'S WEB 3 stars. (G) Like a marketing genius, a friendly spider (voiced by Julia Roberts) used web-based messages to boost the profile -- and spare the life -- of a runty but good-hearted young pig named Wilbur (Dominic Scott Kay). This live-action adaptation of the classic children's book features barnyard, bodily-function humor that would have been unthinkable in author E.B. White's day. -- Holman
•CHILDREN OF MEN 5 stars. (R) See review.
•DECK THE HALLS 1 star. (PG) This agonizing holiday comedy pits Matthew Broderick as an anal retentive Christmas-lover who bristles when his boorish neighbor (Danny DeVito) steals his thunder with an obsessive scheme to make his home Christmas lights visible from outer space. Christmas decoration seems like a funny real-world trend suitable for a holiday film, but this one just emphasizes labored slapstick and contrived feuds before building to a bogus sentimental solution. Plus, it just looks bad, so the mean-spirited film proves to be ugly on the outside and the inside. -- Holman
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