ARMORED (PG-13) Hungarian-American Nimród Antal, who directed the fascinating foreign film Kontroll, helms this heist thriller about security guards who decide to knock over one of their armored cars. The cast includes Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburne.
BROTHERS (R) After Sam, a Marine, goes missing in Afghanistan, his younger brother Tommy moves in to care for his devastated family. Tommy eventually falls in love with Sam’s wife, which causes problems for the family when Sam returns home.
EVERYBODY’S FINE 2 stars (PG-13) See review.
SKIN See review.
TRANSYLMANIA (R) This is a quirky spoof horror film about college kids who study abroad in Romania for a semester. They quickly realize that if the crazy eastern European party scene doesn’t hurt their grades, the vampires certainly will.
CRAZY ON THE OUTSIDE (R) “Home Improvement” and The Santa Clause’s Tim Allen directs and stars in this comedy about an ex-con who juggles his quirky family with his romance with a parole officer. The cast includes Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Kelsey Grammer. Allen will be in attendance. $20. 7:30 p.m. Tues., Dec. 8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
JAZZ LADIES (NR) Jazz Ladies is a collection of vintage jazz shorts amassed by Jo Milgram. See greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Sarah Vaughan at their rhythmic best in this rare tribute to the women of jazz. $6-$7. 8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 5. 404-733-HIGH. www.high.org.
2012 2 stars (PG-13) Solar flares and Mayan mumbo jumbo spell a world-ending catastrophe, even for an upstanding White House science adviser (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a divorced novelist (John Cusack) and the U.S. president (Danny Glover). You can say what you want about director Roland Emmerich: The man’s the John Holmes of disaster porn and delivers jaw-dropping money shots of quakes wrecking Hollywood, Yosemite National Park erupting, a tsunami wiping out Washington, D.C., etc. The trouble is, it’s two and a half hours long and not even as cheesily fun as The Day After Tomorrow. — Curt Holman
AMELIA 2 stars (PG) Two-time Best Actress Oscar-winner Hilary Swank certainly looks the part as toothy, tomboyish aviatrix Amelia Earhart, playing opposite Richard Gere as Earhart’s publisher, promoter and husband-to-be George Putnam. But, unbelievably, director Mira Nair shows virtually no interest in the excitement of aviation, preferring to focus on Earhart’s love triangle with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) and her celebrity as a 1930s feminist icon. A beautifully photographed biopic, Amelia generates almost no dramatic interest until the re-creation of the last leg of her final flight. — Holman
ANTICHRIST 2 stars (NR) Cross your legs — here comes Lars von Trier's notoriously unpleasant art-house curiosity about a pair of grieving parents (Willem Dafoe and Cannes Film Festival Best Actress winner Charlotte Gainsbourg) whose attempt to work through their feelings at a remote cabin called "Eden" ends in violence. Antichrist proves at once impossible to dismiss or take seriously, particularly given the raw yet focused performances of the two actors and the film's vivid images of nature at its most sinister. Von Trier's themes about misogyny seem deliberately over the top, as if he's commenting on his own reputation as a harsh taskmaster of his actresses. — Holman
ASTRO BOY 4 stars (G) When Dr. Tenma’s (Nicolas Cage) son Tobio (Freddie Highmore) meets an unfortunate end, the grief-stricken scientist creates a robotic boy in his son’s image powered by an experimental power source — blue-core energy. Tobio soon learns he’ll never replace his flesh-and-blood predecessor and flees when facing deactivation from his father and war-mongering General Stone (Donald Sutherland). His escape takes the young robot on an action-packed journey where his destiny is ultimately revealed.
BLACK DYNAMITE 4 stars (R) Mack daddy and one-man killing machine Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) wages a vendetta against jive turkeys who killed his brother and peddled dope to kids. His righteous battles uncover a conspiracy that takes him from the 'hood all the way to "the Honky House." Giving credit where it's due, White's portrayal of Dynamite is effortless and shows a rarely seen comedic side. As the story progresses, the jokes start to get a bit stale, but the film revives itself as it reaches its oddly climactic ending. Although Black Dynamite successfully spoofs the campy essence of blaxploitation films of the '70s, it perfectly balances its riffs as an homage to the badass alpha-male leads and social-message vehicle the genre spawned. — Edward Adams
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY 3 stars (PG-13) In a semi-sequel to his 1989 documentary Roger & Me, Michael Moore offers a critique of the excesses of the capitalist system, focusing most of his ire on the huge banks and mortgage companies at the center of the 2008 economic meltdown. Moore doesn't have to look far to uncover horrifying tales of corporate greed and malfeasance, and offers some optimistic anecdotes about the benefits of worker-owned companies. His patented showboating stunts prove as empty and annoying as ever, however, and he waffles the issue as to how to replace the free-enterprise system. — Holman
CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE’S ASSISTANT (PG-13) About a Boy and American Pie director Paul Weitz helms this lighthearted horror fantasy about a teenager who becomes the apprentice to a supernatural carnival. The cast includes Salma Hayek, “Fringe’s” Michael Cerveris, Orlando Jones and John C. Reilly, cast against type as a vampire.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 3 stars (PG) Young crackpot inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) accidentally revitalizes his struggling hometown with a gizmo that causes "food weather" to fall from the sky. When greed and pride cause ginormous menu items to wreak havoc, it's like a Roland Emmerich disaster film combined with an all-you-can eat buffet. The sight gags, splendid animation and effective use of 3-D make up for the thin characterizations, and the metaphors for excess consumption make the film comparable to a Happy Meal version of Super Size Me. — Holman
CRUDE (NR) See review.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX 4 stars (PG) Wes Anderson’s loose adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book casts George Clooney as the voice of middle-class Mr. Fox, whose midlife crisis and poultry-stealing habit incurs the wrath of local farms. Despite the inexpressiveness of the stop-motion animated characters, Fantastic Mr. Fox brings charming, idiosyncratic personality to the overpolished genre of contemporary family films. It turns out that Anderson’s trademark obsessions — fussily formal compositions, period pop songs, father-son friction — suit animation better than live-action, and lend Fantastic Mr. Fox humanity and heart, despite its cast of woodland creatures. — Holman
FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN 3 stars (R) An ex-con Irish terrorist (Liam Neeson) and the brother (James Nesbitt) of the man he killed arrange to meet in a televised special about “reconciliation,” but the brother has other ideas. The film finds frustrating excuses to defer the big confrontation, but Downfalldirector Oliver Hirschbiegel uses the initial crime and its much-delayed aftermath to meditate on violence and its consequences. Neeson delivers an intriguing performance as a reformed but media-savvy man of peace, while Nesbitt's portrayal of the hot-headed, fidgety survivor borders on the comedic.
GENTLEMAN BRONCOS (PG-13) Jared Hess, director of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, visits more badly dressed social misfits in this tale of a home-schooled would-be fantasy author (Michael Angarano) who sees the plot of his epic Yeast Lords stolen by a has-been writer (Jemaine Clement of "The Flight of the Conchords").
THE HORSE BOY 3 stars (NR) See review.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS 3 stars (R) In Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy, the Basterds are a band of Jewish-American G.I.s, led by Brad Pitt's drawling lieutenant, who murder Nazis behind the lines in occupied France. Inglourious Basterds spends surprisingly little time on the title characters, or even caper-style action scenes of WWII mission movies, and opts for long, talky confrontations involving French, German and British agents. Christoph Waltz's misleadingly polite Nazi lives up to the hype as the villain of the year, but the film's restless approach to its multiple storylines makes it feel less, rather than more, meaningful. — Holman
THE INVENTION OF LYING 3 stars (PG-13) On an alternate world that knows no deceit or falsehood, underachieving screenwriter Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) discovers the ability to lie and turns society upside down. Gervais and co-writer/co-director Matthew Robinson take the premise to fascinating lengths when the biblically named Mark describes an afterlife and implies that organized religion is a lie. Unfortunately, the film backs off from its more provocative ideas and contorts its concept to create rom-com complications for Mark and his true love (Jennifer Garner). Still, its funny lines, big ideas and parade of amusing cameos make Lying one of the year's most interesting comedies. Honest. — Holman
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN 3 stars (R) After home invaders kill his wife and daughter, “tinkerer” Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) exacts revenge on Philadelphia’s criminal justice system, particularly district attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), who cut a deal to give a sleazy killer a light sentence. If you like films with inventive “kills” but are too embarrassed to see theSaw series, Law Abiding Citizen puts a thin veneer of respectability over the bloodshed. It’s hard to care very much about Foxx’s crises of conscience, but Butler makes a fine villain, less like Charles Bronson in Death Wish than The Joker in The Dark Knight. — Holman
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS 2 stars (R) A newspaper reporter (Ewan McGregor) discovers that a would-be Iraq occupation contractor (George Clooney) claims to be a former "psychic soldier" trained by the U.S. Army's First Earth Battalion. Inspired by Jon Ronson's nonfiction book about the First Earth Battalion, The Men Who Stare at Goats combines sight gags about tough soldiers failing to run through walls with heavy-handed satire about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Clooney gives a witty, poker-faced performance — you're never sure exactly what his character believes — but McGregor seems to have been cast as an inside joke based on the film's discussion of "Jedi warriors." — Holman
THE MESSENGER 3 stars (R) In this uneven but respectful drama, Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson play members of the U.S. Army’s casualty notification team, tasked with informing the next of kind of their loved ones’ deaths in action. Reversing the usual perspective of the “we regret to inform you” scene, The Messenger’s cast proves equal to the fraught emotions at play, particularly Steve Buscemi and Samantha Morton as two bereaved civilians. Director Oren Moverman seems to be a student of Hal Ashby’s excellent 1970s films The Last Detail andComing Home, although the film’s last act, by focusing on the two soldiers’ psychology, slows down to a crawl. — Holman
NINJA ASSASSIN (R) V for Vendetta director James McTeigue and the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix) present this martial arts film about a hitman (Rain) out for revenge. It sounds like the kind of film that should be an adaptation of a video game or a graphic novel or something, but apparently it’s an original work.
OH MY GOD (NR) Director Peter Rodger asks everyone from celebrities to average joes, the religious to the atheists the essential question: What is god?
OLD DOGS (PG) Dan (Robin Williams) has been happily divorced for seven years when his ex-wife shows up and reveals that she and Dan have 7-year-old twins. Dan, who knows nothing about family life, recruits his friends Charlie (John Travolta) and Ralph (Seth Green) to help him take care of the kids and learn the true meaning of family.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 stars (R) Director Oren Peli’s Blair Witch-style horror flick unfolds from the point of view of the video camera of a daytrader (Micah Sloat) who hopes to chronicle the supernatural experiences that bedevil his girlfriend (Katie Featherston). Costing an estimated $15,000, Paranormal’s most skin-crawling moments frequently come from a stationary camera trained on the couple’s bed and the darkened hallway leading to the bedroom. Deeper characterization could have enriched the film, but it’s still an effective horror flick that lives up to the claims of its viral promotional campaign. — Holman
PIRATE RADIO Originally titled The Boat that Rocked, this British comedy about a fictitious pirate radio station that broadcasts to the United Kingdom from a ship is hitting American shores.
PLANET 51 (PG) In this week’s 3-D computer animated comedy, an astronaut (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) lands on a planet and discovers a population of green alien suburbanites who view him as an invader.
RED CLIFF 3 stars (R) Renowned action director John Woo designed this Chinese military epic, set in 208 A.D., to be released in two parts that totaled well over four hours, but the U.S. edit clocks in at only two and a half. The result resembles watching one of the latter Lord of the Rings films without having seen the first — but that’s not so bad, because Woo’s lavish combat scenes give Peter Jackson a run for his money. Tony Leung plays a noble viceroy leading a rebellion against a Napoleonic prime minister, but the spectacular set pieces are the real stars, including some of the most astonishing naval battles ever seen in movies. — Holman
THE ROAD 2 stars (R) A nameless father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, respectively) struggle to survive in the wastelands of post-apocalyptic America in John Hillcoat’s faithful-to-a-fault adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s best-seller. Mortensen and Smit-McPhee capture the anguish of the pair’s attempt to maintain their moral balance amid despair, but the film’s tone proves as monochromatic as its ashy color scheme, which falls short of the images evoked by the book’s stark lyricism. — Holman
SAW VI (R) They’re still making these?
A SERIOUS MAN 4 stars (R) A Jewish physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) endures crises of family, career and religion in the Minneapolis suburbs of 1967. The Oscar-winning Coen brothers mine their own childhood for a Kafka-esque, seriocomic spiritual quest in which God, if He even exists, refuses to provide answers to the protagonist’s sufferings. The Coens offer caricatures of most of the Jewish characters, but nevertheless touch on provocative issues of the ineffability of the universe. — Holman
THE STEPFATHER (PG-13) A teen returns from military school to discover that his mom (Sela Ward) has remarried, but his new stepfather (Dylan Walsh) may not be the all-American aad he appears. A remake of the nifty 1987 suspense film starring Terry O’Quinn of “Lost.”
SURROGATES 2 stars (PG-13) In the near future, most Americans vicariously live their lives through perfect android "surrogates" that they operate safely from home. Bruce Willis plays an FBI agent who unplugs his surrogate self to investigate a conspiracy in the flesh. This adaptation takes the premise of the graphic novel (from Atlanta's Top Shelf Productions) and pushes it into fascinating directions that resonate with contemporary trends in the Internet and social networking. The sheer number of twists push the film into silliness and director Jonathan Mostow doesn't distinguish between robotic acting and simply bad acting. — Holman
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON 3 stars (PG-13) Chris Weitz has masterfully added depth and excitement to the moody, supernatural franchise. Unlike its predecessor, New Moon balances the sugary love talk with several fast-paced action sequences. While some of the film's moments sputter and lose momentum, the submersion of Stewart and Lautner into their onscreen personas is captivating and adds believability to their romantic rollercoaster ride.
(UNTITLED) (R) In A twisted bohemian New York love story avant-garde composer Adrian (Adam Goldberg) and trendy gallery owner Madeleine (Marley Shelton) fall in love. But, they try to keep their relationship a secret because Madeleine's gallery's livelihood depends on Adrian's brother Josh (Eion Bailey), whose popular artwork keeps the gallery standing.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE 4 stars (PG) The talented, intriguingly named Max Records plays “Max,” a boy who flees his neglected, latch-key existence for the land of the Wild Things, but he discovers the challenges of meeting the emotional needs of his monstrous but childlike playmates. Director Spike Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers freely adapt Maurice Sendak’s archetypal picture book and render the wild things as chubby costumes with highly expressive, CGI-tweaked facial features (and such voice actors as James Gandolfini and Lauren Ambrose). Too melancholy and occasionally draggy for young kids, Where the Wild Things Are nevertheless offers a visually remarkable meditation on the complex emotions of childhood. — Holman
In the latest 'Emory Looks at Hollywood' episode, Judith Evans Grubbs, Emory Professor of Roman…
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