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Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently released movies

Opening Friday

ATONEMENT 4 stars (R) See review.

FRESHMAN ORIENTATION (R) See review.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS (PG-13) See review.

O JERUSALEM 2 stars (R) Meandering wildly through the events surrounding Israel's controversial creation, this unfocused and poorly handled portrayal of two improbable friends in the midst of war, the Jewish Bobby (JJ Feild) and Muslim Said (Said Taghmaoui), plays out like a forced series of history lessons. Unfortunately, education on Israel's seemingly endless history of violence comes at the expense of a film experience that itself feels endless. -- Allison C. Keene

ROMANCE & CIGARETTES (R) See review.

Opening Wednesday

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY (PG) An aspiring songwriter (Morris Chestnut) uses his part-time job as a department-store Santa Claus to woo a beautiful divorced mom (Gabrielle Union). With Queen Latifah as the spirit of Christmas and Hustle & Flow's Terrence Howard as a holiday-hating imp. (Really).

Duly Noted

DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) (PG) Stanley Kubrick's frightening satire and anti-war Oscar nominee is still relevant 43 years later. Tues., Dec. 11. 14th St. Playhouse, 173 14th St. 404-733-4738. www.14thstplayhouse.org

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 4 (1984) (R) Splatter Cinema presents the final chapter of the cult-classic horror films. Tues., Dec. 11. 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, Fri. at Plaza Theatre, and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

Continuing

3:10 TO YUMA 4 stars (R) Christian Bale plays a tough but indebted rancher hired out to help escort a ruthless, charismatic outlaw (Russell Crowe) to the prison train that gives the film its title. After such revisionist Westerns as Unforgiven and HBO's "Deadwood," director James Mangold (Walk the Line) offers a pleasingly old-fashioned oater full of horses, six-guns, rugged landscapes and even more rugged actors. Crowe has the plum part, but Bale doesn't let him steal the movie. -- Curt Holman

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE 3 stars (PG-13) A handful of young Americans and one Liverpudlian sing Beatles songs amid the tumult of the 1960s in this trippy musical from director Julie Taymor (Titus, Frida). The trope of naming characters after Beatles songs, such as central lovers Jude (Jim Sturgess) and Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), can be ridiculously heavy-handed, but the film's gorgeous visuals, appealing musical numbers and unstated Iraq war subtext keep it from being a baby boomer wallow in nostalgia. -- Holman

AMERICAN GANGSTER 3 stars (R) This sprawling crime drama set in Vietnam War-era Harlem pits Denzel Washington's fastidious rising mob boss against Russell Crowe's doggedly honest narcotics cop. As usual, director Ridley Scott crafts images that mark him as an artist of color and light, but the premise's shades of gray elude him, particularly the implication that the mobster's success represents a triumph of African-American enterprise. The cast ultimately lives up to the film's sweeping social statements that emulate the gritty idealism of Serpico more than the bloody melodrama of Scarface. -- Holman

AUGUST RUSH (PG) A fairy tale-esque drama about an orphaned musical prodigy who uses his talents to find his absentee parents. Kristen Sheridan (Disco Pigs) directs.

AWAKE (R) Hayden Christensen plays a man who awakens during open-heart surgery to find the anesthesia has left him aware, but paralyzed. Joby Harold directs.

BEE MOVIE 2 stars (PG) After discovering life outside the hive and meeting a human florist (Renee Zellweger), a young bee (Jerry Seinfeld) sues the human race for the honey industry's exploitative practices. The closer Bee Movie hovers to Seinfeld's appealing brand of observational humor, the bigger laughs it finds, but the script flits in so many different directions, we can't help but remember that story wasn't always the strong suit of Seinfeld's eponymous "show about nothing." -- Holman

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD 4 stars (R) Octogenarian director Sidney Lumet takes the hipster genre of choice -- the bloody, chronologically scrambled heist movie -- and turns it into a weighty family tragedy that's still nastily entertaining. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (in one of the year's best performances) and Ethan Hawke play desperate brothers whose ill-fated plan to rob their own parents takes on the dimensions of Cain, Abel and Oedipus. -- Holman

BELLA 2 stars (PG-13) A haunted chef (Eduardo Verástegui) and a pregnant waitress (Tammy Blanchard) leave their jobs at a trendy restaurant to spend a romantic, soul-baring day in Manhattan. This heartfelt but overly sentimental film from Alejandro Gomez Monteverde celebrates food, family and New York, but the leading actors' performances are a little blank and the ending too convenient by half. Manny Perez steals the film as satisfyingly hateful restaurateur and petty tyrant.-- Holman

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