Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently viewed films

Opening Friday

BRICK LANE (PG-13) A young Bangladeshi woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is forced to confront the realities of life when she leaves her family to move to London for a loveless arranged marriage.

CSNY: DÉJÀ VU (R) See review.

ELSA AND FRED (PG) Elsa, a young romantic, falls in love with a widower named Alfredo and in pursuing him, teaches him how to live again. Marcos Carnevale directs.

STEP BROTHERS (R) See review.

UP THE YANGTZE (NR) See review.

THE WACKNESS (R) See review.


Duly Noted

CINEMAMA!!! This film series shows films every Thursday night and includes popcorn, pillows and drinks. July's theme is documentaries, and Thurs., July 24, Albert and David Maysles' Salesman will be screened. Free. 8 p.m. New Street Gallery, 2800 Washington St., Avondale Estates.

DR. STRANGELOVE: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964) (NR) Peter Sellers shines in three roles (including that of the titular Dr. Strangelove) in this Stanley Kubrick Cold War comedy classic. Free. Sat., July 26. Burnett-Rogers Pavilion, Suwanee.

FILM LOVE #59: The Trick of Disaster Buster Keaton's and Eddie Cline's One Week and Peter Fischli's and David Weiss' Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go) will be screened, as part of Eyedrum's avant-garde Film Love series. Fri., July 25. 8 p.m. Eyedrum Music and Art Gallery.

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) (NR) A giant (six-armed) octopus attacks San Francisco in this black-and-white horror film. $6-$10. Sat., July 26. 1 and 10 p.m. Plaza Theatre.

PAN-AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL This L.A.-based film festival, presenting more than 50 films, continues as part of the National Black Arts Festival. Through Sun., July 27. Prices and locations vary.

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, Fridays at Plaza Theatre, and Saturdays at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

WARGAMES (1983) (PG) Matthew Broderick stars as David Lightman, a teenage computer geek who inadvertently targets Seattle and Las Vegas for nuclear strikes when he comes across the "computer game" Global Thermonuclear War. Thurs., July 24. 7:30 p.m. Prices and locations vary.


THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN 2 stars (PG) Thirteen hundred years after they ruled Narnia, the Pevensie siblings (Georgia Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell) return to the magical realm to help rightful Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) overthrow a tyrant. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe featured a greater sense of wonder, better special effects and stronger supporting performances (Peter Dinklage proves the sole saving grace here). Caspian builds to some lavish sword-and-sorcery eye candy in its second half, but takes a long, joyless slog to get there. -- Curt Holman

THE DARK KNIGHT 4 stars (PG-13) Director Christopher Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins features such sharp conflicts, gritty locations and breathless action scenes that the flamboyant hero and villain costumes seem almost superfluous. The late Heath Ledger's creepy, charismatic turn as the anarchic Joker could have earned the actor a second career playing movie bad guys, while Aaron Eckhart's portrayal of district attorney Harvey Dent, the "white knight" of crime-ridden Gotham City, gives the film the dimensions of classic tragedy. As Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale doesn't seem to mind being upstaged. -- Holman

DR. SEUSS' HORTON HEARS A WHO! 4 stars (G) In this CGI adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, a kindly elephant (voiced by Jim Carrey) protects microscopic Whoville from hostile nay-sayers led by Carol Burnett's Sour Kangaroo. Horton cleverly doubles the narrative by making the Whoville mayor (Steve Carell) another lonely believer, and generally retains the heart of the book and slapstick worthy of old Bugs Bunny cartoons. It's as if the filmmakers knew exactly how big a desecration was Carrey's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and did exactly the opposite. -- Holman

ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD 3 stars (G) Director Werner Herzog returns to the theme of man's tenuous relationship with nature that drove such wondrous works as Grizzly Man with this Discovery Channel-sponsored trip to the National Science Foundation's McMurdo station in Antarctica. Here he finds 1,000 dreamers masquerading as scientists, many of whom seem to share Herzog's gloomy yet poetic form of existential angst and wonder. -- David Lee Simmons

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL 3 stars (R) When TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) dumps her longtime boyfriend (Jason Segel, who wrote the script), he goes to a Hawaiian resort -- only to find Sarah already there with her new lover, a fatuous rock star (scene-stealing Russell Brand). Of the seemingly countless comedies produced by Judd Apatow (and featuring supporting roles from the likes of Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill), this overlong but endearing one has enough raunchy laughs to belong in the company of such films as Knocked Up and Superbad. -- Holman

GET SMART 2 stars (PG-13) In this adaptation of the 1960s sitcom, eager espionage analyst Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) is paired with gorgeous Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) to track down Russian nuclear material. With supporting players including Alan Arkin as the slow-burning chief, the spy spoof features smart casting but can't decide whether Carell's role should be likably naïve or a bumbling, overbearing know-it-all like Don Adams in the original show. Get Smart's fat jokes and lumbering stunt scenes evoke the lame action-comedies of the 1980s, and topical gags about subjects like airport profiling were funnier in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. -- Holman

GONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON 3 stars (R) Documentarian Alex Gibney applies the same scrutiny to the complicated issues that fueled his previous work, including the Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, and applies it to that most complicated of journalists, Hunter S. Thompson. Though there have been plenty of works on Mr. Gonzo over the years, this one feels the most comprehensive, with a range of interviews of family, friends and (perhaps best of all) his enemies. -- Simmons

HANCOCK 3 stars (PG-13) Will Smith plays hilariously against his slick megastar image as John Hancock, a superhero with Kryptonian powers who's nevertheless a drunken, surly jerk who causes more problems than he alleviates. The first hour or so of Hancock has a great deal of fun with its premise, which satirizes superheroes and misbehaving celebrities, and gives Hancock an amusing foil in Jason Bateman's idealistic publicist (now there's a contradiction in terms). The last section throws logic, humor and audience goodwill out the window, and no one catches the movie when it falls. -- Holman

THE HAPPENING 2 stars (R) An unexplained toxic event causes people to commit suicide en masse, beginning in Central Park and spreading throughout the Northeast. The question is, what happened to Sixth Sense writer/director M. Night Shyamalan? He presents a few eerie sequences in this unsatisfying "Twilight Zone"-type horror tale with heavy-handed riffs on 9/11 and environmentalism. Alas, he seems to have completely lost the ability to write or direct human beings we can care about and misuses such actors as Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. -- Holman

HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY 3 stars (R) Having gone to White Castle in 2004, cannabis aficionados Harold Lee and Kumar Patel (John Cho and Kal Penn) are mistaken for terrorists, shipped to Guantanamo Bay and take a zany trek across the American South. The film pushes its R rating in every conceivable area in the name of rude humor, but also aims to defuse modern-day tensions over profiling and prejudice by taking stereotypes and turning them upside down. Rob Corddry overplays his role as a dim, bigoted Homeland Security representative, but otherwise the film shows affection for its characters and its country, despite the bad habits of either. -- Holman

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY 3 stars (PG-13) Wisecracking outcast demon Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his ghostbusting pals try to stop a pissed-off prince (Luke Goss) of mystical beings from waging war on the human race. Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro may be a visionary filmmaker, but isn't much of a juggler, and here he takes on more themes, subplots and running gags than he can handle. With Hellboy II, he'll have to settle for offering one of the most outlandishly stylish screen fantasies ever made. -- Holman

THE INCREDIBLE HULK 3 stars (PG-13) In this snappy do-over sequel to Ang Lee's sluggish, overthought Hulk in 2003, fugitive scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) seeks a cure for the anger-management condition that turns him into raging green giant. Transporter 2 director Louis Leterrier not only sets a fast pace and crafts plenty of CGI mayhem, he and the cast (including Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt) find the soap-operatic heart of the story. All comic book movies should be at least this good. -- Holman

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL 3 stars (PG-13) The latest Indy flick embraces the franchise's nostalgia for itself, but the sentimental streak seems justifiable given the 19-year interim between chapters. It isn't exactly a fresh film adventure -- an automotive chase through the jungle feels like an undisguised retread of Raiders of the Lost Ark's truck chase. But Crystal Skull comes across not as lazy, but laid-back, as though the filmmakers have too much confidence to panic about trying to top the earlier films, or compete with their younger selves. -- Holman

IRON MAN 4 stars (PG-13) After being kidnapped in Afghanistan, industrialist Tony Stark (an exceptional Robert Downey Jr.) uses a flying metal suit to right the wrongs of his company's munitions wing. Marvel Studios builds a better superhero movie by taking such radical innovations as smart writing, rich acting and a recognizable, real-world setting. Enjoying spectacular special effects without relying on them, Iron Man feels more like an American James Bond film than a wannabe Batman or Spider-Man franchise. -- Holman

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D 2 stars (PG) Brendan Fraser plays a scientist who uses Jules Verne's novel Journey to the Center of the Earth as a guide to a prehistoric underground realm. The plot resembles those tame family comedies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but if you've never seen a 3-D film before, you can enjoy the way the characters and filmmakers shove stuff at the audience. Last fall's Beowulf film had more impressive 3-D, though. -- Holman

KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL 3 stars (G) This big-screen extension of the American Girl line of dolls and merchandise depicts a plucky would-be reporter (Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin) and the challenges she faces when her family tries to weather the Great Depression. Parents will appreciate the film's lack of vulgar humor and scary intensity, although it ventures into some unexpectedly grim (and unfortunately timely) themes of the toll of economic downturns on family life. -- Holman

KUNG FU PANDA 4 stars (PG) In fairy-tale, talking-animal China, a fat panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) is improbably chosen to be the all-powerful "Dragon Warrior." The studio that gave us the Shrek movies downplays the pop references and body-function humor for a satisfying CGI action/comedy that features a splendid visual design and surprisingly exciting fight scenes, including a chopstick fight between Po and his diminutive teacher (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). -- Holman

THE LOVE GURU (PG-13) Raised by Indian gurus, American "love guru" Pitka (Mike Myers) must reunite a star hockey player with his wife and impress the team's owner (Jessica Alba).

MAMMA MIA! 3 stars (PG-13) The songs of 1970s Swedish supergroup ABBA inspire this musical, which trades sequins and disco for the sun and sand of a gorgeous Greek isle. A bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried) invites the three men who may be her father (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård) to her wedding, without the knowledge of her single mother (Meryl Streep). The dads can't sing at all, and choreography is practically nonexistent, but the catchy melodies and Streep's upbeat portrayal should give the film plenty of appeal to women of a certain age. Christine Baranski steals the show with a saucy rendition of "Does Your Mother Know." -- Holman

MEET THE BROWNS (PG-13) Writer/director/actor Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion) returns with his latest film, based on the stage production of the same name. Brenda (Angela Bassett), a single mother in need of support, moves her family to Georgia to attend the funeral of the father whom she never met and ends up becoming a part of his fun-loving family.

MEET DAVE (PG) Eddie Murphy and Norbit director Brian Robbins come together again in this sci-fi comedy in which a crew of tiny aliens travels to Earth inside Dave (Murphy), their human spacecraft.

MONGOL 4 stars (R) Russian director Sergei Bodrov traces the rise of Temudgin (Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano), better known to history as Genghis Khan, in this sweeping, exciting period piece nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. Not a particularly complex story (it slightly resembles the plot of Conan the Barbarian), Mongol presents the kind of old-school, epic cinema virtues you almost never get to see any more, including starkly beautiful scenery and panoramic battle scenes with hundreds of actors and horses. As he pursues his beloved wife Boorte (Khulan Chuluun) Temudgin displays progressive attitudes toward love and law that make him a Mongol ahead of his time, as well as an ass kicker with a sword. -- Holman

POLAR OPPOSITES (PG-13) Scientists David (Charles Shaughnessy) and Martin (Ken Barnett) are enlisted to help save the world when Iranian nuclear tests cause a rise in solar radiation and earthquake activity. Part of the Everyday Gay Heroes series.

SEX AND THE CITY 2 stars (R) The long-awaited and much-anticipated reunion of Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristen Davis) feels too little, too late. After nearly two-and-a-half hours of fashion, complaining and subplots that seem to go nowhere fast, the things that made the show fun don't seem quite so endearing on the big screen. -- Simmons

SOLAR FLARE (PG-13) A teenager who can predict solar flares must prevent a global catastrophe when a flare threatens Earth's power grid. Tracey Gold and Michelle Clunie star. Part of the Everyday Gay Heroes series.

SPACE CHIMPS (G) A group of chimps embark on a dangerous space mission led by Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg), the slightly incompetent grandson of the first chimp astronaut.

THE STRANGERS (R) While spending a romantic evening in a remote suburban home, a couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) is targeted by masked strangers.

THE VISITOR 3 stars (PG-13) Writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) continues his examination of people who have lost their rhythm in life with his story about a college professor ("Six Feet Under's" Richard Jenkins) who is snapped out of his funk when he becomes involved with two charming illegal immigrants (Haaz Sleiman, Danai Guirira). McCarthy's minor ambitions are almost to the point of ephemeral, but his character observations, and the space he provides for his small ensemble, result in a charming story about human connection. Jenkins' work in particular is so subtle he all but allows the foreigners (including Hiam Abbass as Sleiman's Syrian mother) to steal the show. -- Simmons

WALL-E 4 stars (G) "WALL-E," a lonely, trash-compacting machine that might be the last entity on Earth, pursues his love for a sleek, feminine robot to the titanic starship that contains the human race. Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton crafts a story with the intelligence and heart that's the trademark of Pixar Studios (creators of the Toy Story movies), as well as the stunning images and visionary ideas of the best science fiction. Some audiences may be put off by the film's sharp-edged satire of consumer culture, but WALL-E, like its robotic namesake, should last another 700 years. -- Holman

WANTED 2 stars (R) A miserable young accountant (Atonement's James McAvoy) discovers that his long-lost father belonged to an ancient "Fraternity" of assassins with magic hitman powers. Nightwatch director Timur Bekmambetov overdoses on flash in an effort to outmuscle The Matrix without capturing the other film's ingenious sci-fi rules or its sparks of wit. The film features enough outlandish money shots to make it a hit (Angelina Jolie's sexuality qualifies as its own special effect), but Wanted's insolent attitude caters to just the kind of white-collar douchebags the film pretends to make fun of. -- Holman

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS 1 star (PG-13) Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher play mismatched New Yorkers who get drunk, hook up and win a fortune in Vegas, but a cranky judge sentences them to "six months hard marriage" before they can break up and split the winnings. It's hard to tell whether the contrived, nonsensical plotting is worse than the two-bit dialogue (Lake Bell and Rob Corddry as their respective best pals are particularly unfunny) in a comedy that plays like The War of the Roses for morons. You feel bad for Diaz, whose charms shine through despite lugging Kutcher's dead weight. Stay in Vegas -- please. -- Holman

YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (PG-13) Zohan (Adam Sandler), an Israeli commando, fakes his own death to follow his dream of being a hairdresser.



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  • Re: Fresh air

    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

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