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Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently released movies

Opening Friday

FOOL'S GOLD (PG-13) Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey (the duo from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) star in this romantic comedy/action adventure about a couple's search for sunken treasure.

THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE (PG-13) Nate Cooper (Joel David Moore) can't win the heart of his long-time crush (Paris Hilton) unless he can find a wing-man for her homely best friend, June (Christine Lakin). In the process of giving June a much-needed makeover, Nate discovers his true love might not be the hottie after all.

STEEP This documentary featuring big mountain skiing in North America details the skiers who risk their lives to ski mountains considered challenging even just to climb. Only showing at UA Tara Cinema 4.

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE 4 stars (R) See review.

VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW See review.

WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS (PG-13) Martin Lawrence stars as Roscoe Jenkins, a big-shot talk-show host who has all but forgotten his humble beginnings growing up in the Deep South. When he returns for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, Roscoe starts to rethink his current situation.

Duly Noted

FILMS FROM THE ARAB WORLD This small festival at the High Museum Feb. 2-23 features an array of films, documentary, narrative and one short comedy addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Sufi mysticism, and a more holistic, poetic view of the Arab world. All films are at 8 p.m. in the Rich Theatre. Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (1970) (X) The first film to ever receive an "X" rating by the MPAA for violence alone, I Drink Your Blood is the tale of rabid, satanic hippies on a killing frenzy. $9. 9:30 p.m. Tues., Feb. 12. 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

27 DRESSES 1 star (PG-13) From the reprehensible subgenre of chick flicks that delight in the humiliation of a stereotypically girly heroine, this dim little comedy stars Knocked Up's Katherine Heigl as Jane, a secretary who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, and in love with her boss (Edward Burns). She attracts the attention of a newspaper reporter (James Marsden) who wants to blow the lid off of the wedding racket by writing an article about Jane. Not even a guilty pleasure. -- Feaster

ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2: REQUIEM 3 stars (R) The residents of a sleepy Colorado town become trapped in a grudge match between the deadly title roles of the Alien and Predator movies. It's 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) This fluffy film chronicles the Chipmunks' rise to hyperpitched harmonizing fame and their narrow escape from the pitfalls of child stardom. On the human side, Jason Lee as Dave Seville looks uneasy living life in a partially CGI world, whereas David Cross, playing an exploitative record exec, basks in is 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. -- Holman

THE BUCKET LIST 3 stars (PG-13) A high-maintenance zillionaire (Jack Nicholson) and a dignified mechanic (Morgan Freeman) become mismatched buddies 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 such as 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

CASSANDRA'S DREAM 2 stars (PG-13) In London, two desperate brothers (Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor) contemplate murder when they're strapped for cash. While writer/director Woody Allen made an impressive comeback with the psychological drama Match Point, also set in London, Cassandra's Dream proves stilted and predictable while covering nearly identical ground. Allen strives to craft a modern-day tragedy but merely condescends to his audience in heavy-handed fashion. -- 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

CLOVERFIELD 4 stars (PG-13) A Manhattan yuppie's going-away party gets an inconvenient interruption when a giant monster lays waste to New York City. Once the bad stuff starts going down, no one in the theater takes a breath for an hour, and Cloverfield easily lives up to months of online hype and even offers a fairly touching story of callow Manhattanites who find love and meaning in the teeth of disaster. The single-camera POV gimmick works brilliantly at generating terror and immediacy, but if you're prone to motion sickness, sit in the back row. -- Holman

THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY 3 stars (PG-13) Mathieu Amalric stars in painter-turned-auteur Julian Schnabel's third feature. Amalric is the cosmopolitan, lusty editor of French Elle Jean-Dominique Bauby, who at age 43 suffered a stroke that left him utterly paralyzed save for the use of his left eyelid. Bauby managed to wink out his memoir through a complicated dictation system. Schnabel's account of Bauby's real-life struggles begins impressively as Schnabel uses an array of camera and point-of-view tricks to convey Bauby's "locked-in" syndrome. Over time, the film tends to settle into a great-man-triumphs-over-adversity storyline and Schnabel's depiction of both the superbabes who cared for Bauby and the splendor of the French health-care system may invite both jealousy and disbelief. -- Feaster

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

THE EYE (PG-13) In this adaptation from a Japanese supernatural thriller, Sydney (Jessica Alba) is a blind violinist who undergoes a double corneal transplant to restore her sight. The surgery opens her eyes to a world of bone-chilling, haunting images depicting death taking his victims, and Sydney searches to discover whose eyes she has been given. David Moreau and Xavier Palud (Them) direct.

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.

HONEYDRIPPER (PG-13) 

HOW SHE MOVE (PG-13) Raya Green (newcomer Rutina Wesley) is forced to leave private school and return home to her impoverished neighborhood following her sister's death, where she rediscovers her love for competitive step dancing. This Sundance Film Festival hit features choreography by Hi Hat.

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."

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

INTO THE WILD 4 stars (R) Emile Hirsch stars as affluent Emory University grad Chris McCandless, who died at age 24 after dropping off the grid to live on his own in the Alaskan wilderness. A surprising amount of transcendence and hopefulness infuses the normally dour Sean Penn's fourth directorial effort about McCandless' physical and interior journey based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account. Marked by nods to '60s and '70s cinema, Penn's film also has relevance to our own times as growing eco- and global-awareness have made more and more people take a McCandless look at the bad path "civilization" is on. -- 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

LET'S GET LOST 3 stars (NOT RATED) Bruce Weber's loosely structured 1988 documentary captures the charisma and musical mystique of jazz trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker, as well as his personal flaws and failed relationships. Unavailable for years, Let's Get Lost's re-release features impressive black-and-white cinematography (Weber is an iconic fashion photographer) and offers an intriguing example of how our artistic idols seldom live up to our expectations for them. -- Holman

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.

MEET THE SPARTANS (PG-13) From screenwriters Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer who cranked out Scary Movie, Date Movie and Epic Movie comes another mockery: today's film industry. Meet the Spartans is a spoof of 300 but takes hits at other popular flicks and movie icons, as the invading Persian army includes Paris Hilton, Transformers and Rocky Balboa.

MICHAEL CLAYTON 4 stars 4 stars (R) George Clooney stars in this re-release as Michael Clayton, a metaphorical janitor, serving as custodian of the dirty secrets of New York's masters of the universe. Tony Gilroy directs this slick conspiracy thriller that harks back, like a recurring nightmare, to the paranoia of Three Days of the Condor and other 1970s suspense films. -- Holman

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 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. ­-- 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

OVER HER DEAD BODY (PG-13) Devastated after his fiancee's untimely death, Henry (Paul Rudd) consults a psychic (Lake Bell) and ends up falling for her. There's just one catch: The former fiancee (Eva Longoria) comes back to haunt the couple in an attempt to break them up. Jeff Lowell (writer for John Tucker Must Die) writes and directs.

PERSEPOLIS 4 stars (PG-13) Marjane Satrapi co-directs the animated adaptation of her graphic-novel memoir about growing up in Iran and witnessing the Shah's tyranny, the war with Iraq and life under Islamic fundamentalists. The simplicity of the primarily black-and-white animation superbly captures her childlike perspective, although the film's second half, chronicling her battles with depression as a young woman, loses some of its political sweep. -- 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.

POSTAL (NR) An average joe in search of a job ends up getting involved with his Uncle Dave, leader of the town cult, and his plot to take over an amusement park. Unfortunately, the Taliban has the same plan. Starring Zack Ward, Dave Foley, Chris Coppola and Seymour Cassel.

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.

RAMBO 2 stars (R) Vietnam vet/killing machine John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) journeys to genocide-ravaged Burma to rescue some American missionaries -- especially the blonde one (Julie Benz) -- and blow a bunch of ethnic-cleansing bad guys to smithereens. At 61, Stallone directs his seventh film (and first in the Rambo franchise) like he's trying to prove he's got the chops for today's violent torture-porn franchises such as Hostel. Implicitly homophobic and xenophobic, Rambo offers an astonishingly violent revenge fantasy for audiences who want their kills in quantity more than quality. -- Holman

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

SEED (NR) A mass murderer bound for the death penalty defies the electric chair and is then buried alive. After clawing his way out of the grave, he returns with a vengeance to wreak bloody havoc.

STRANGE WILDERNESS (R) In an attempt to turn around poor ratings of his wildlife TV show "Strange Wilderness," Peter (Steve Zahn) and his sidekick Fred (Allen Covert) set out to document Bigfoot.

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET 5 stars (R) A wrongfully accused barber (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! -- 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, 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

U2 3D 3 stars (G) A strange, at times compelling marriage of the concert film and retro-redolent 3D technology (albeit digital this time around), curiosity-seekers and U2 fans will find virtually unrivaled access to the band during a South American concert. There are overhead shots of the stage, cameras close enough on Bono's face to make out some fine lines, and shots of the jubilant crowd waving lighters and cell phones in the air. -- Felicia Feaster

UNTRACEABLE (R) A serial killer with a knack for technology creates a website depicting his violent murders. Gregory Hoblit directs.

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.

WAR/DANCE 4 stars (NR) This Best Documentary Director winner at Sundance centers on three Ugandan children orphaned or psychologically wounded in the ongoing rebel conflict in Northern Uganda. Directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix offer a both disturbing and cathartic experience by focusing on children who momentarily escape the wounds imposed by war through dance and music as they practice for a national dance competition. Stunning cinematography and the words of these children, often recounting their stories directly for the camera, make for powerful viewing. -- Feaster

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH 3 stars (R) One of the American cinema's most celebrated auteurs, Francis Ford Coppola has not directed a feature in 10 years. Film types waited with bated breath for his latest, a time-tripping, surreal treatise on death, faith and perception that shows Coppola hasn't lost his taste for experimentation. Tim Roth is an elderly Romanian professor who is struck by lightning and has his youth restored. Despite a dense, twisted plot (critics received a glossy "cheat sheet" addressing the film's symbols and themes) based on the writings of Romanian novelist Mircea Eliade that often gets lost on its cerebral, at times pompous journey, it is refreshing to see a director still enjoying, at age 68, the possibilities of cinema and offering such an intriguing meditation on time's passage. -- Feaster

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