CADILLAC RECORDS 4 stars. (R) See review here.
A CHRISTMAS TALE A family's shared history of physical and mental illness, estrangement, self-harm, and loss doesn't lend itself to the idea of a cheerful holiday season, but things may turn around due to the scheming of the three youngest family members.
NOBEL SON (R) A man is struggling to finish his Ph.D. thesis when his father wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is then kidnapped and held for a ransom that the father refuses to pay.
PUNISHER: WAR ZONE (R) See review at here.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE 3 stars. (R) See review here.
ALEXANDER NEVSKY (1938) 4 stars. (NR) See review on p. XX. 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3. Emory University. 404-727-6761. www.filmstudies.emory.edu.
NERDCORE RISING Nerdcore Rising follows MC Frontalot the "Godfather of Nerdcore" on his first national tour to reveal the roots of the genre, the dorky complexities of its artists, and one MC's fight for nerd stardom. Featuring Weird Al Yankovic, Prince Paul, Jello Biafra, Tycho & Gabe, Brian Posehn, MC Frontalot, MC Chris, MC Lars and a slew of other nerdcore artists and commentators. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
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.
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. -- Curt 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
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
THE EXPRESS (PG) Rob Brown (Stop-Loss) gives a gracefully understated performance as Ernie Davis, the astonishing Syracuse University running back who flouted the unwritten gridiron rules of the Jim Crow south and gave the civil rights movement a shot in the arm in 1961 when he became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. Dennis Quaid provides him with an excellent foil as the barking Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder, director Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls) does an end run around the genre's cliches, and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau plays with desaturated color and highlights for a rich period feel. – J.R. Jones
FOUR CHRISTMASES 2 stars. (PG-13) A yuppie couple (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) get a crash course in family togetherness when forced to make four separate visits to their divorced parents (Robert Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight, all Oscar winners). Vaughn and Witherspoon seem like a great comic team on paper, but his role's so uptight and they're both so disgustingly happy (at first) that sparks never really fly. Four Christmases features some laugh-out-loud Meet the Parents-style situations, particularly at Duvall and Steenburgen's homes, but wimps out rather than affirm its initial anti-family attitudes. -- Holman
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