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Film Clips 

Capsule reviews for recently released movies

Opening Thursday

DEFINITELY, MAYBE (PG-13) See review.

JUMPER (PG-13) Backed by director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and screenwriters David S. Goyer (Batman Begins), Jim Uhls (Fight Club) and Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Jumper is a science-fiction thriller about a man (Hayden Christensen) who can teleport anywhere, anytime. Co-stars Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Lane.

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (PG) See review.

STEP UP 2 THE STREETS (PG-13) In this sequel to Step Up, street dancer Andie (Briana Evigan) finds herself at an elite school of the arts. While trying to bridge the gap between her two lives, Andie creates a team of dancers to compete in an underground dance-off. Jamal Sims, Step Up's original choreographer, returns with help from Hi-Hat (How She Move) and Dave Scott (Stomp the Yard).

Opening Friday

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED SHORT FILMS See review.

DIARY OF THE DEAD 2 stars (R) George Romero's zombie franchise (which began in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead) attempts to make a cutting commentary on video voyeurism when a film student obsessively records his friends' efforts to survive the undead. Cloverfield's scarier use of the camera-as-narrator device beat Diary to the punch, while Romero's leaded speeches and cartoonish characters undermine his serious intentions and the film's fitfully exciting bits. It's the Redacted of horror movies, and that's not a compliment. -- Curt Holman

IN BRUGES 3 stars (R) See review.

Duly Noted

FILMS FROM THE ARAB WORLD This 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.

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 stars (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). A newspaper reporter (James Marsden) wants to blow the lid off of the wedding racket by writing an article about Jane. -- Felicia Feaster

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. -- 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. -- Holman

THE BUCKET LIST 3 stars (PG-13) High-maintenance zillionaire (Jack Nicholson) and a dignified mechanic (Morgan Freeman) become 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; director Rob Reiner, improving significantly from flops such as Rumor Has It..., makes the predictable humor and platitudes go down easy. -- Holman

CARAMEL 3 stars (NR) A Beirut beauty shop provides a central meeting place for five diverse, vivacious women in writer/director Nadine Labaki's agreeable chick flick. Like the films of Pedro Almodovar, Caramel's camera gravitates to expressive female faces and warm, richly colored cinematography, and the film's charming, loose structure compensates for its predictability. -- 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 a bracing cocktail of screwball comedy and policy-wonk detail. -- 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 Julian Schnabel's third feature, about 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

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.

FOOL'S GOLD 3 stars (PG-13) Whimsical, tropical farce where a divorcing couple (Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, with great chemistry) are brought back together by the promise of buried treasure. Not many twists in this tale, but you don't need them -- pretty people in pretty places makes the piece fit with the surroundings. -- Allison C. Keene

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. -- 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 2 stars (PG-13) Writer/director John Sayles (Lone Star) continues an unfortunate downward trajectory as a cinematic storyteller with this mythic tale of a World War II-era Alabama juke joint. Despite its ensemble cast, Danny Glover stands out as the owner trying to keep his business alive while battling a guilt-ridden past. More cliched than mythic, Honeydripper could use more music than it has despite the presence of blues-guitar wunderkind Gary Clark Jr. as the kid who might be the answer to everyone's problems. -- David Lee Simmons

THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE (PG-13) Nate Cooper (Joel David Moore) can't win the heart of his longtime crush (Paris Hilton) unless he can find a wingman 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.

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.

I AM LEGEND 4 stars (PG-13) Will Smith plays the sole human inhabitant of New York City after a 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. ­-- Holman

I'M NOT THERE 3 stars (R) Ambitious, smart but decidedly muddled, 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 Pennebaker. -- Feaster

JUNO 4 stars (PG-13) An insanely funny script by Diablo Cody and 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

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 and Transformers.

MICHAEL CLAYTON 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. ­-- Holman

ONE MISSED CALL (PG-13) English remake of a Japanese thriller about a group of young people who start receiving voice mails 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. -- 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.

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 mostly black-and-white animation captures her childlike perspective, although the film's second half 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 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. -- 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 gentle and merciless, encouraging us to laugh at the characters' childishness while empathizing with their unhappiness. -- 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.

STEEP Mark Obenhaus' documentary features big mountain skiing in North America and details the skiers who risk their lives to ski mountains considered challenging even just to climb.

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) Wrongfully accused barber (Johnny Depp) returns to Victorian London to wreak vengeance on an evil judge (Alan Rickman). And it's a musical! In adapting Stephen Sondheim's Broadway classic, director Tim Burton casts stars whose lack of musical experience doesn't interfere with the show's skin-crawling intimacy and grand passions. -- Holman

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE 4 stars (R) Reasoned and detail-oriented though it may be, this documentary about how the Bush administration has trashed the Geneva Conventions and allowed for a torture free-for-all in Iraq, Guantanamo and Afghanistan is scathing for pointing blame where blame is due. Director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) offers a persuasive argument against water boarding, beatings, psychological torture and sexual humiliation is not strategic but moral: Torture goes against the principles of integrity America is founded on. -- Feaster

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. -- Feaster

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 crowd waving cell phones in the air. -- Feaster

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

VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW 3 stars (R) This road documentary focuses less on the show than on the tour as movie star Vince Vaughn hosts a 30-day tour that showcases four young comedians from Los Angeles. The first half hour spends more time on Vaughn than we really want, but the comics are all funny guys and their off-stage discussions convey the anxiety-ridden lives of stand-up comedians. -- 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.

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

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.

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