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Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed films

Opening Friday

27 DRESSES 1 star. (PG-13) See review.

CASSANDRA'S DREAM 2 stars. (PG-13) See review.

CLOVERFIELD (PG-13) The buzz has been fast and furious about this horror flick, produced by "Lost" mastermind J.J. Abrams, about a monstrous attack on New York City, caught on the fly by digital cameras reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project.

HONEYDRIPPER (PG-13) See review.

HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE (PG-13) Writer/director Doris Dorrie's documentary looks at the connections between Buddhism and food and the quip "you are what you eat."

MAD MONEY (PG-13) Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah star in this comedy about three working-class women who plan to rob the Federal Reserve Bank. Callie Khouri (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) directs.

Duly Noted

ATLANTA JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL A diverse range of documentary, features and short films dealing with politics, history and Jewish life. Times and prices vary. Jan. 16-27. Lefont Sandy Springs, Regal Atlantic Station, Regal Medlock Crossing. www.ajff.org.

DANISH FILM FESTIVAL The High Museum of Art kicks off its current film series featuring popular Danish films this weekend with director Susanne Bier's After the Wedding and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.-inspired We Shall Overcome. Times vary. Fri.-Sat., Jan. 18-19. Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4570. www.high.org/experience/films.

GREASE (1978) This classic high-school musical about '50s Greasers and Squares and the love story of Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) still rocks. This Grease sing-along features audience participation, goodie bags and a costume contest. $12. 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Jan. 18-19. 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

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2: REQUIEM 3 stars. (R) Residents of a sleepy Colorado town become trapped in a grudge match between the deadly title roles of the Alien and Predator movies. Not exactly a good movie, but it's a lot better at being a bad movie than the previous Alien vs. Predator, creating a fast pace and a moody atmosphere that make up for the flat acting and dialogue. See it in a grindhouse frame of mind. -- Curt Holman

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 3 stars. (PG) Fluffy film chronicles the Chipmunks' rise to hyperpitched harmonizing fame and their narrow escape from the pitfalls of child stardom. Jason Lee as Dave Seville looks uneasy living life in a partially CGI world, whereas David Cross, playing an exploitative record exec, basks in his screen time. Here, modernization and re-imagining turn out to be not such distasteful concepts, and even allow for a dash of satire most appreciated by fans of the earlier TV series. -- Allison C. Keene

ATONEMENT 4 stars. (R) An intelligent but confused adolescent girl (Saoirse Ronan) tells a lie that separates two young lovers (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy). Joe Wright crafts an insightful adaptation of Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel that begins with an intimate look at the passions and frustrations at an English country estate, and expands to include the destruction of World War II. Playing the same character at different ages, Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave offer a devastating portrayal of guilt and the inability of words to undue their power to harm. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Drama. -- Holman

THE BUCKET LIST 3 stars. (PG-13) A high-maintenance zillionaire (Jack Nicholson) and a dignified mechanic (Morgan Freeman) become mismatched buddies on as roommates on a cancer ward, then decide to live their last months crossing items off "the bucket list" of things to do before death. Despite both actors penchant for self-parody, here they play off each other like old pros, and director Rob Reiner, improving significantly from flops like Rumor Has It..., makes the predictable humor and platitudes go down easy. -- Holman

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

BEOWULF 4 stars. (PG-13) The Anglo-Saxon epic poem of strapping Beowulf (voiced by Ray Winstone) and his monstrous adversaries gets brought into the 21st century with director Robert Zemeckis' "performance-capture" animation techniques (a form that's still a work in progress, but has improved significantly since The Polar Express). For all the CGI monsters, including misshapen ogre Grendel, the real attraction is the revisionist screenplay, which reimagines the heroic tale into a tragedy about the corruption of power. Definitely see it in digital 3-D, which makes up for the rubbery quality of some of the human characters. -- Holman

CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR  4 stars. (R) In the early 1980s, a playboy congressman (Tom Hanks) resolves to fund the Afghan rebels against the Soviet invaders, and finds allies including a former Texas beauty queen (Julia Roberts) and a grumpy CIA operations guy (Philip Seymour Hoffman). If you miss "The West Wing," writer Aaron Sorkin's script will provide you with a bracing cocktail of screwball comedy and policy-wonk detail. The film's American point of view keeps it at arm's length from some of the third-act drama, but its witty, wise perspective on foreign policy shows how good intentions can reap short-term triumphs and subsequent disasters. -- Holman

THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY  (PG-13) Julian Schnabel directs in the remarkable true story of French Elle editor-in-chief Jean-Dominique Bauby whose sudden stroke at age 43 leaves his entire body paralyzed except for his left eye.

ENCHANTED 2 stars. (PG) The certifiably adorable Amy Adams is cartoon princess Giselle who is plunged into the ugly reality of New York City and ends up with a prince. There are some great comic moments, like the swarm of roaches and pigeons that help Giselle clean up an untidy apartment a la Disney's Snow White, but for the most part the film isn't smart enough to deserve the knowing, meta-Disney approach it cops. -- Feaster

FIRST SUNDAY (PG-13) Ice Cube, Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan star in this caper story about two petty criminals who rob their local church. David E. Talber (Love on Layaway) directs.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS 2 stars. (PG-13) On a parallel Earth where human souls manifest as animal companions, plucky young Lyra (terrific newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) uses a magic artifact to guide her to the frozen north and thwart conspiratorial child-snatchers, led by Nicole Kidman. About a Boy director Chris Weitz presents a well-cast, well-intentioned botch of the first book of Philip Pullman's superb fantasy series. Crafty, heroic Lyra and her appealing armored bear bodyguard (voiced by Ian McKellan) can't rescue the film from rushed plotting, fakey special effects and a confusing cosmology. -- Holman

THE GREAT DEBATERS (PG-13) Denzel Washington stars and directs in the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College in Texas. In 1935 Tolson created the school's first debate team, leading them to challenge Harvard in the national championship.

I AM LEGEND 4 stars. (PG-13) Will Smith plays the sole human inhabitant of New York City after a genetically engineered virus wipes out most of mankind and turns the rest into blood-crazed mutants. The film offers nearly unbearable suspense scenes and stunning images of postapocalyptic Manhattan, overrun with wild animals with grass growing up through the streets. Despite some heavy-handed, ineffectual philosophizing in the last act, Smith delivers one of his best performances and I Am Legend turns out to be the best "summer movie" of 2007. ­-- Holman

I'M NOT THERE 3 stars. (R) Ambitious, smart but decidedly muddled, cerebral superhipster Todd Haynes' biopicture of enigmatic, chameleonlike singer Bob Dylan features six different actors playing Dylan, including a mind-blowing turn by Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and a young black kid (Marcus Carl Franklin). The film melds an equally diverse array of styles and film allusions from Fellini to D.A. Pennebaker. The film is often gorgeous and clever, though it may be deep Dylan fans who enjoy Haynes' crazy-quilt film the most. -- Feaster

IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (PG-13) Uwe Boll (BloodRayne) directs in the story of a man named Farmer who embarks on a quest to rescue his kidnapped wife and avenge the death of his son -- two acts committed by the Krugs, a race of animal warriors, controlled by the evil Gallian (Ray Liotta).

INTO THE WILD 4 stars. (R) Emile Hirsch stars as affluent Emory University grad Chris McCandless, who died at age 24 after deciding to live on his own in the Alaskan wilderness. A surprising amount of transcendence and hopefulness infuses the normally dour Sean Penn's fourth directing effort about McCandless' physical and interior journey based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account. Marked by nods to 1960s and '70s cinema, Penn's film also has relevance to our own times as growing eco- and global-awareness have made more people take a McCandless look at the bad path "civilization" is on. (Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.) -- Feaster

JUNO 4 stars. (PG-13) An insanely funny script by Diablo Cody and bone-dry comic timing provided by Ellen Page make Juno feel like the breakout indie of the year. Page is a knocked-up 16-year-old who decides to hand over her child to a couple (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner) she thinks are desperate for a baby. Things turn out to be more complicated, and much sweeter than this attitudinal comedy initially suggests. -- Feaster

THE KITE RUNNER 3 stars. (PG-13) Director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) returns to familiar themes of childhood and loss in his adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's beloved book. The story moves from 1978 Afghanistan to America and then back again to the Taliban-ruled country as it tells the story of two boyhood friends and the trauma that defines them. Solid acting and moments of acute emotional truth can't, however, distract from Forster's sublimation of his unique style and a feeling that he took the safe path in this adaptation. --Feaster

NATIONAL TREASURE 2: BOOK OF SECRETS (PG) In the sequel to National Treasure, treasure-hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) follows clues in a mystery involving John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Jon Turteltaub directs.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN 4 stars. (R) The Coen brothers make a rousing return to form in this Texas crime drama that strips away their trademark irony for brilliant, suspenseful set pieces. Josh Brolin's Vietnam vet, Tommy Lee Jones' aging sheriff and Golden Glove winner Javier Bardem's ruthless hitman engage in a three-way chase on either side of the Rio Grande. Don't let the anticlimactic ending sour you on the superb filmmaking. (The Coens won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.) ­-- Holman

ONE MISSED CALL (PG-13) The English remake of a Japanese thriller about a group of young people who start receiving voice mails from the future detailing their deaths.

THE ORPHANAGE 3 stars. (R) Sinister, supernatural events occur when a young mother (Belén Rueda) moves back into the stately orphanage where she grew up in rural Spain. First-time director Juan Antonio Bayona crafts superbly suspenseful sequences, and Rueda offers a richer portrayal than audiences usually expect from moody ghost stories. It lacks a little narrative momentum and doesn't quite measure up to producer Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, but nevertheless earns its scares the old-fashioned way. -- Holman

THE PERFECT HOLIDAY 1 star. (PG) An aspiring songwriter (Morris Chestnut) uses his job as a department store Santa Claus to court a divorcee (Gabrielle Union). Despite the undeniable charms of Chestnut and Union, The Perfect Holiday, written and directed by Lance Rivera, bestows the gift of contrived plotting, flavorless jokes and holiday whimsy forced down your throat. To call it a lump of coal in your stocking insults the heat-generating usefulness of real lumps of coal. ­-- Holman

THE PIRATES WHO DON'T DO ANYTHING: A VEGGIETALES MOVIE (G) In the latest VeggieTales film, three lazy misfits dream of putting on a show about pirates, but their timidity, lack of confidence and laziness relegate them to waiting tables at a pirate-themed restaurant. The plot twists when they travel back in time on a quest and learn about being pirates.

P.S. I LOVE YOU (PG-13) When Holly Kennedy's (Hilary Swank) husband dies from an illness, she is left grief-stricken. She discovers her late husband has planned out 10 monthly messages to guide her through recovery, which help her slowly transition to a new life. Directed by Richard LaGravenese.

THE SAVAGES 4 stars. (R) Two self-absorbed intellectual siblings (superbly played by Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman) find themselves forced to care for the ailing, demented father (Philip Bosco) who abandoned them years ago. Writer/director Tamara Jenkins' razor-sharp sophomore film (after Slums of Beverly Hills) manages to be at once gentle and merciless, encouraging us to laugh at the characters' childishness while empathizing with their unhappiness. The Savages' mix of comedy, insight and fear of mortality play almost like a subplot to Jonathan Franzen's novel The Corrections. -- Holman

STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING (PG-13) Frank Langella stars as Leonard Shiller, a once-famous New York writer who is both shaken and emboldened when a beautiful grad student invades his isolation for her thesis about his novels. Andrew Wagner directs.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET 5 stars. (R) A wrongfully accused barber (Golden Globe winner Johnny Depp) returns to Victorian London to wreak bloody vengeance on an evil judge (Alan Rickman). And it's a musical! In adapting Stephen Sondheim's Broadway classic, director Tim Burton casts movie stars whose lack of musical experience doesn't interfere with the show's skin-crawling intimacy and grand passions. Sweeney Todd proves lushly operatic, grotesquely violent and at times darkly funny, with one number suggesting a cannibalistic version of "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver! (Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical.) -- Holman

THERE WILL BE BLOOD 5 stars. (R) Drawing from Upton Sinclair's 1927 oil man opus Oil!, Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) has created a film of stunning sweep and grandeur. In an Oscar-worthy performance, Golden Globe winner Daniel Day-Lewis plays a dementedly ambitious petroleum titan whose quest for riches comes at the cost of his humanity. A troubling and still-relevant examination of the consuming American dream for wealth turned cancerous, this glorious epic could be the apogee of Anderson's career. -- Feaster

THIS CHRISTMAS 3 stars. (PG-13) Preston A. Whitmore writes and directs this dramedy about the holiday reunion of an extended African-American family, which includes an indebted musician (Idris Elba) and an abused wife (Regina King). The plotting's a bit familiar and the first act relies almost entirely on exposition, but the likable cast -- particularly Elba, King and Delroy Lindo -- help make This Christmas low-key but pleasing holiday fare. -- Holman

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (R) John C. Reilly stars in Jake Kasdan's film about the tumultuous life of fictional singer Dewey Cox.

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