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Capsule reviews of recently reviewed films 


American Violet 2 stars (PG-13) See review.

Crank: High Voltage Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is pissed off. Organ thieves have stolen his heart and now he's going to fight them to get it back.

17 Again Ever wanted a second chance? A loser played by Zac Efron gets the magical chance to relive his teenage years.

State of Play 4 stars (R) See review.


ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL This year's festival is packed with great independent cinema, from Rudo y Cursi to The People Speak. Atlanta Film Festival. $8-$300. April 16-25. Venues vary, but most take place at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. 404-352-4225.

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, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939.


ADVENTURELAND 3 stars (R) A cerebral — and virginal — college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) finds dreary summer employment and the possibility of romance at Adventureland, a seedy Pittsburgh amusement park. The likeable cast includes Twilight's Kristen Stewart as a beguiling co-worker involved with the park's resident "cool guy" (Ryan Reynolds), as well as scene-stealing Martin Starr as an underemployed, overeducated geek. Writer/director Greg Mottola previously directed the hit Superbad, and Adventureland, while funny, offers a bittersweet account that suggests those youthful, fateful summers weren't as fun to experience as our nostalgic memories might suggest. — Curt Holman

4 stars
(Not rated) In this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, teacher and award-winning novelist François Bègaudeau plays a fictionalized version of himself, a middle-school French instructor who struggles with his confrontational middle-school students. Compared to Hollywood inspirational teacher-dramas like Dangerous Minds, The Class could be a remedial course, focusing on the institutional and cultural challenges that make education an uphill battle. Primarily set in the classroom, the film reveals complex conflicts and proves that educational problems have no easy answers. — Holman

CORALINE 4 stars (PG) When spunky tween Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her family move into a remote boarding house, she discovers a deceptively appealing "other world" full of magical wonders. Henry Selick, director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, helms another film of stop-motion animated splendors reminiscent of such fantastical coming-of-age stories as Alice in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth. Definitely try to see it in 3-D, which fits the stop-motion format like a hand in glove, but be warned that the wild images may be too creepy for little kids. — Holman

CROSSING OVER 2 stars (R) Harrison Ford plays the central role of a weary but conscientious Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in this sprawling drama about diverse Los Angelenos whose lives intersect through the issue of illegal immigration. Writer/director Wayne Kramer follows the model of the Oscar-winner Crash all too closely, and though he nimbly juggles multiple storylines, the themes and confrontational performances prove hilariously heavy-handed. Kramer has clearly done his homework in the catch-22s of U.S. immigration laws and black market documents, but the hyperbolic crime-related subplots drown out the thoughtful content. — Holman

DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION Forces of good and evil fight for control of the Dragonballs. The fate of the world is at stake. Special effects and stunt fighting ensue.

DUPLICITY (PG-13) Espionage, romance, and the perfect con are mixed together for this thriller cocktail. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts star.

EVERLASTING MOMENTS  3 stars (NR) In early 20th-century Sweden, a downtrodden mother (Maria Heiskanen) contends with poverty, World War I and a drunken, abusive husband (Mikael Persbrant), leaving little time for her inchoate talent as a photographer. A Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, this often grim drama presented primarily from her daughter's point of view, often suggests a Scandinavian Angela's Ashes. Everlasting Moments features subtly gorgeous cinematography and offers a primer in 100-year-old photography, but the woman's commitment to her brutish spouse seems as much masochistic as martyrlike, and proves to be the film's one area that could use more development. — Holman
FANBOYS 2 stars (PG-13) In late 1998, a group of Star Wars fans road-trips from Ohio to Marin County, Calif., to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut of The Phantom Menace. First scheduled for release in 2007, the film became a geek cause celebre when the studio contemplated cutting out a wan subplot in which one of the friends is dying of cancer. Even with the cancer plot included, the characterizations are thin, the cameos predictable and the craft generally amateurish, suggesting that films like Clerks set the bar for comedies about fandom culture way too low. — Holman

FAST & FURIOUS Does the scent of burning rubber get your engine going? This flick invites you to fill up your tank with Vin Diesel for two hours of car chases around Los Angeles.

GOMORRAH 3 stars (NR) Italy's official entry for this year's Academy Awards offers a sprawling, journalistic portrayal of the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples. Director Matteo Garrone's five entwined narrative lines cross generations and social strata, from a white-collar toxic waste dumper to an impoverished housing projects kid named Totó (Salvatore Abruzzese) who aspires to join a "clan." Gomorrah leaves audiences in the position of innocent bystanders, without always knowing who the players are or where sudden violence will come from, and manages to offer a gangster film without a trace of glamour. — Holman 

THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD 2 stars (PG) The title character of The Great Buck Howard, played by John Malkovich, prefers to be identified as a "mentalist." Old-school hypnotism and hints of telepathy anchor his old-fashioned stage act, along with threadbare jokes and a half-spoken rendition of "What the World Needs Now." The film proves to be more focused and plot-driven than Christopher Guest's improvised ensemble comedies about pop culture bottom-feeders, but fails to give Buck an adequate foil. — Holman

HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE Like watching Coal Miner's Daughter in reverse, a young pop singer struggles to leave the stage for a life in the Appalachians.

THE INTERNATIONAL 2 stars (R) An Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and a New York City attorney (Naomi Watts) try to build a case against a corrupt global bank, but all their potential witnesses end up dead. Inspired by the BCCI banking scandal of the 1990s, The International hits the national mood just right — what better time to attack financial institutions than during a global financial meltdown? Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer offers technically proficient spy-type thrills, but the film wavers uncertainly between loud action movie and tub-thumping economic populism. — Holman

I LOVE YOU, MAN (R) A bromantic comedy about the struggles of Paul Rudd to find the best man for his wedding. 

KNOWING (PG-13) Would you believe that a time capsule dug up at your child's elementary school could predict the future? If you were in this movie, the latest in a string of Nicolas Cage historical thrillers, you would. 

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT This by-the-book horror remake involves parents taking violent revenge against the man who attacked their daughter.

MISS MARCH A couple dude-brahs chase down the centerfold model that they used to know. Expect a few good fart jokes.

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS 2 stars (PG) After a meteorite causes a mild-mannered bride (Reese Witherspoon) to attain ginormous proportions, she and other misfits of science are enlisted by the U.S. government to repel an obnoxious alien called Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson). Despite the film's advances in 3-D animation, especially in some spectacular action scenes, Monsters vs. Aliens takes a giant step backward for DreamWorks following the charm and warmth of Kung Fu Panda. The monstrous main characters prove quite endearing, but the weak, mean-spirited jokes and pointless pop references suggest that pod people replaced the screenwriters. — Holman

MOSCOW, BELGIUM 3 stars (NR)  In the working class Belgian neighborhood that gives the film its title, a 41 year-old mother of three (Barbara Sarafian) dates a passionate, mercurial 29-year-old trucker (Jurgen Delnaet). Director Christophe Van Rompaey helms a lovely, bittersweet romantic-comedy reminiscent of Mike Leighís dramedies in working-class England. The film shows an intriguing, ambivalent attitude about romance and showcases Sarafianís unglamorous but lovely and deeply-felt performance, that deserves the kind of recognition given to Melissa Leoís Oscar-nominated turn in Frozen River. — Holman

OBSERVE AND REPORT 3 stars (R) Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), the gung-ho, bipolar head of security at a dreary shopping mall, tracks a fugitive flasher as a means to impress Brandi (Anna Faris), a gorgeous airhead at the cosmetics counter. You know how Will Ferrell usually plays deluded, flailing man-boys? Here, Rogen and writer-director Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) take a comparable role and reveal just how dangerously unstable heíd be in real life, spilling a slob comedy into unsettling Martin Scorsese territory. Observe and Report earns a commendation for getting inside the head of its antiheroic lead, although it lets a few too many laughs get off scott free. — Holman

THE READER 4 stars (R) A German law student (David Kross) discovers that his older-woman fling (Kate Winslet) from his teenage years was a former guard at Auschwitz. The Hours’ Stephen Daldry directs one of the season's richest and most challenging films, in which the central relationship unfolds as a powerful, two-pronged character study as well as providing sturdy metaphors for a nation's guilt, responsibility and forgiveness. Playing the same character in different decades, Kross and Ralph Fiennes show how short relationships can reverberate across a person's life, but Winslet owns the film with her career-best leading performance. — Holman

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 2 stars (R) A young, miserably married couple (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) seek to escape the suburban rat race of 1950s America in this adaptation of Richard Yates’ acclaimed novel. Seldom has such an intelligent, impeccably mounted production seemed so out of sync with the cultural zeitgeist: DiCaprio and Winslet dig deeply in their performances, but its hard to feel sorry for such superficial, prosperous characters at a time of foreclosures and layoffs. — Holman

SUNSHINE CLEANING 3 stars (R) Sunshine Cleaning explores the hygienic challenges of crime scenes but, surprisingly, shows conspicuous amounts of restraint. The film's story involves two mismatched sisters who seek their fortune in the unlikely venture of crime scene clean-up, and it's all too easy to imagine Hollywood's take on the material. It debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and hews a little close to the funny-sad formula of indie dramedies like Garden State and Little Miss Sunshine. Still, there are worse formulas it could follow as it shows the messiness of violent death as well as everyday life. — Holman

Three filmmakers (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-Ho) team up for this frenetic vision of over-populated urbanity in Tokyo. 

TWO LOVERS 2 stars (R) Joaquin Phoenix's bizarre recent behavior upstages his performance in director James Gray's romantic triangle about a depressed would-be photographer (Phoenix) who vacillates between his attraction to an unstable, alluring neighbor (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the nice Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw) hand-picked by his parents. Phoenix's Brando-esque method acting suggest that family ties and bipolar disorder have blunted his role's true passions, but he also falls prey to a habit of overplaying his characters as innocent or "slow." The actresses make stronger, more relaxed impressions, including Paltrow’s self-destructive beauty and Isabella Rosellini's loving, unpretentious mother. — Holman

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