AMARCORD (1973) 5 stars (R) Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning film about small-town Italian life.
NEXT DAY AIR When an unsuspecting delivery man drops off a giant box of cocaine at the wrong house, the bad guys come looking for the messenger. Stars Mos Def, Mike Epps and Donald Faison ("Scrubs").
STAR TREK 4 stars (PG-13) See review.
SUGAR 3 stars (R) See review.
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. www.plazaatlanta.com.
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
AMERICAN VIOLET 2 stars (PG-13) In a small town in Texas, a waitress and mother of four (Nicole Beharie) is wrongfully arrested for dealing drugs, and eventually challenges the racial inequities of the war on drugs by suing the powerful local D.A. (Michael O'Keefe). Director Tim Disney captures the terror of shock-and-awe arrest tactics and the Orwellian nightmare of unfair criminal prosecution (especially for the working poor), and builds to a lively cross-examination in a deposition. Unfortunately, American Violet's saintly treatment of its heroine and one-dimensional characterizations (despite the work of such strong actors as Tim Blake Nelson, Alfre Woodard and Charles Dutton) keep the film on the level of a made-for-TV movie. — Holman
BATTLE FOR TERRA 2 stars (PG) Evan Rachel Wood voices a spunky, tech-savvy teenager on Terra, a planet of legless, floating tadpole-people. When the remnants of humanity come to colonize her world, can she and a shipwrecked soldier (Luke Wilson) convince their races to give peace a chance? Had Battle for Terra beat Delgo to theaters, its technically more sophisticated animation might have been more impressive, but instead the project feels derivative of too many sci-fi sources. — Holman
THE CLASS 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
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.
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
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.
FIGHTING The title says it all. A young man enters a seedy circuit of bare-knuckle brawling. Will he be able to keep all his teeth?
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST Don't be fooled by the spooky title. This romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner has more laughs than gasps.
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 INFORMERS 2 stars (R) This year's cinematic flashback to the 1980s evokes the pretentious "brat pack" literature of the decade with this adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis short story collection, published in the 1990s but set in 1983. Primarily the film follows a group of vacuous, spoiled young Los Angelenos, one of whom (Jon Foster) wonders if there's more to life than drugs and group sex. The young actors prove uniformly terrible, while the performers playing the older generation, including Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, deliver more substantive, if underwritten, performances. Unlike such energetic Ellis adaptations as American Psycho and Rules of Attraction, The Informers takes Ellis' superficial observations at face value. — Holman
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
IS ANYBODY THERE? 3 stars (PG-13) Angry, aging magician “The Amazing Clarence” (Michael Caine) unwillingly moves into an English couple’s modest old-age home where he gradually befriends a ghost-obsessed boy (Bill Milner). Caine’s rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light performance redeems an otherwise predictable script, which features David Morrissey as a dad facing a midlife crisis. — 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 Leigh's dramedies in working-class England. The film shows an intriguing, ambivalent attitude about romance, and showcases Sarafian's unglamorous but lovely and deeply felt performance that deserves the kind of recognition given to Melissa Leo's 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
OBSESSED An asset manager with a big bank account is stalked by a temp worker. Beyoncé Knowles stars in this steamy office thriller.
PARIS 36 3 stars (PG-13) Like Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge, only actually in French, this bubbly period piece, set in a 1930s Parisian music hall, embraces melodramatic clichés and features musical numbers. The ideal film for the current economic slump, Paris 36 depicts a lovelorn stage manager and his fellow unemployed artists who lead a spontaneous "occupation" of their beleagured theater and may find a saviour in a flirty young ingenue (Nora Arnezeder). The film oversells its nostalgia, whimsy and unabashed idealism, but puts on such an energetic show that you eventually succumb to its swoony overtures. — Holman
17 AGAIN Ever wanted a second chance? A loser played by Zac Efron gets the magical chance to relive his teenage years.
THE SOLOIST Adapted from real-life events, a journalist in Los Angeles befriends a homeless street musician named Nathanial Ayers who was trained at Julliard.
STATE OF PLAY 4 stars (R) Following the mysterious death of a young researcher for a U.S. congressman (Ben Affleck), reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) uncovers a conspiracy that throws his personal relationships and professional ethics into conflict. Director Kevin McDonald (The Last King of Scotland) respectably boils down the terrific six-hour BBC miniseries into a simplified but still gripping newsroom thriller. The U.S. State of Play pays tribute to the ailing newspaper industry and features a lively turn from Helen Mirren as the newspaper editrix and an effective (if slightly condescending) mentor-pupil relationship between Cal and a spunky blogger (Rachel McAdams). — 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
TOKYO! Three filmmakers (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-Ho) team up for this frenetic vision of overpopulated urbanity in Tokyo.
12 4 stars (NR) Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov adapts the classic jury deliberation drama 12 Angry Men with spellbinding results. The skeleton of the story remains the same – a sole hold-out (Sergei Makovetsky) stands against the rest of the jury but gradually sways the others that the defendant is not guilty. The case now involves a Chechen youth accused of stabbing his adopted Russian father, casting harsh light on Russia’s treatment of Chechnya as well as the nature of civic responsibility in a country that traded Communism for corrupt capitalism. The colorful character actors all play their theatrical roles to the hilt. — Holman
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
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE 2 stars (PG-13) The X-Men franchise fills in the backstory of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), born with claws and super-fast healing powers, but the metal skeleton and amnesia came later. Director Gavin Hood trades the social metaphors of the previous films for high-testosterone, low-intellect paramilitary action scenes, which include some admittedly neat-o set pieces. Jackman owns the role and Danny Huston and Liev Schreiber (as Wolverine’s similarly powered, psycho brother) make for effective villains, but they can’t compensate for the terrible dialogue, perfunctory plotting and fakey effects. — Holman
In the latest 'Emory Looks at Hollywood' episode, Judith Evans Grubbs, Emory Professor of Roman…
"In the movies' worst scene..." should be "movie's"
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I saw this headline before watching the movie yesterday, but this movie was way better…