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Capsule reviews of recently reviewed movies 

Black Snake Moan, An Unreasonable Man, Wild Hogs

Opening Friday

BLACK SNAKE MOAN (R) 1 star. See review.

PUCCINI FOR BEGINNERS (NR) 2 stars. See review.

AN UNREASONABLE MAN (NR) See review. Listen to Felicia Feaster's interview with Ralph Nader.

WILD HOGS (PG-13) A group of middle-aged buddies (John Travolta, William H. Macy, Martin Lawrence and Tim Allen) decide to rev up their routine, suburban lives with a freewheeling motorcycle trip in this comedy directed by Walt Becker (Van Wilder).

ZODIAC (R) Thriller maestro David Fincher (Fight Club, Panic Room) returns with this fictionalized account of the notorious serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and '70s. Based on Robert Graysmith's best seller and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. and Chloë Sevigny.

Duly Noted

GEBÜRTIG (2002) Based on the novel Gebürtig by Robert Schindel. Jewish emigrant Hermann Gebirtig and German journalist Konrad Sachs have to face their past. While Gebirtig is being persuaded by a Viennese journalist to return to the town of his birth and give evidence in court against a former concentration camp supervisor, Sachs is forced to finally face the agonizing reality that he is the son of a high-ranking SS doctor. With melancholy and humor, provocative and passionate, the film seeks answers. German with English subtitles. March 7, 7 p.m. Goethe-Institut Atlanta, 1197 Peachtree St. $4. 404-892-2388.

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.


THE ABANDONED (R) An American film producer (Anastasia Hille) returns to her Russian homeland and seeks clues to her birth mother's mysterious death by visiting a haunted, ghostly farm in this thriller from Nacho Cerda.

ACADEMY AWARD SHORTS (NR) 4 stars. Landmark presents two programs of the complete 2007 Oscar nominees in both the live-action and animated-short-film categories. Buzz-worthy shorts include Oscar winner "West Bank Story," about competing falafel stands against the backdrop of the Middle Eastern conflict, and "Lifted," a comic tale about alien abduction from Cars creators Pixar.

AMAZING GRACE (PG) 3 stars. Director Michael Apted (49 Up) examines the attempts of British reformers in Parliament led by William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) to end the Empire's slave trade toward the end of the 18th century. While Apted's own attempts to quicken the film's extended storyline spanning nearly two decades by using flashbacks falls a bit short, the compelling subject matter and Gruffudd's earnest performance are engaging enough. Veteran British actors Albert Finney and Michael Gambon lend a capable hand in supporting roles, with Finney playing a repentant slave-ship captain who eventually penned the famous gospel hymn of the movie's title. (See online review and listen to podcast interview with Gruffudd by visiting and clicking on Flicks.) -- David Lee Simmons

THE ASTRONAUT FARMER (PG) 2 stars. Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) is a Midwestern rancher and dad with a devoted wife (Virginia Madsen), whose secret passion is to ride the rocket he is building in his barn into space. Directors Mark and Michael Polish's film is an attempt to revisit the kind of idealized American small town and man-with-a-dream that propelled the 1930s and '40s films of Frank Capra. But instead, this improbable, ham-fisted attempt at homespun message film feels hopelessly contrived, full of nostalgia for a time when men were men and women were women and all was right in America. (Listen to podcast interview with Thornton by visiting and clicking on Flicks.) -- Felicia Feaster

BABEL (R) 4 stars. A freak mishap has far-reaching repercussions that affect 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. (Oscar winner for Best Original Score.) -- Holman

BECAUSE I SAID SO 1 star. A nasty piece of cinema posing as a romantic comedy, Because I Said So is this year's Monster-In-Law, a vicious stab at the maternal instinct that also manages to humiliate the iconic actress at its center. Diane Keaton headlines the film as Daphne, a 59-year-old woman who still dotes on her youngest daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore). Determined to find Mr. Right for Milly, Daphne interviews prospective suitors and settles on a wealthy architect (Tom Everett Scott), but her plans are upset by the additional presence of a struggling musician (Gabriel Macht). For all its faults, the movie's most unforgivable sin is its treatment of the great Diane Keaton: Watching her humiliated on camera in the service of such a loathsome character (she shrieks! she whines! she falls on her ass!) is inexcusable. -- Matt Brunson

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