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Capsule reviews recently reviewed movies

Opening Friday

BANGKOK DANGEROUS (R) Nicolas Cage stars in this remake about a hitman in the Thai capital. Directed by brothers Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang.

EDGE OF HEAVEN (NR) See review.

IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS (NR) Alex Holdridge wrote and directed the romantic comedy about a New York transplant in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve looking for a connection to help him forget the previous year.

THE LITTLE RED TRUCK (PG) The Missoula Children's Theatre comes to a town, auditions local children and puts on a musical in six days in this multiple-award-winning documentary directed by Rob Whitehair.

Duly Noted

HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD Documentary from Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi about Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda and their career after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Wed., Sept. 3. RSVP required. 8 p.m. Center Stage.


MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE (1985) (R) Stephen Frears' touching romance. Shown in honor of screenwriter/novelist Hanif Kureishi's visit to Emory Sept. 8 and 9. Wed., Sept. 3. Free. 8 p.m. White Hall, Room 205, Emory University. 404-727-6761.

OUR PRIDE -- THE SPIRITS OF BLACK JAPANESE IN GEORGIA This documentary about the experiences of individuals of both African-American and Japanese descent is being screened as part of the APEX Museum's Movies with a Mission series. Thurs., Sept. 4. Free. 6 p.m. APEX Museum, 135 Auburn Ave. 770-234-5890.

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.


AMERICAN TEEN 2 stars (PG-13) Nanette Burstein (co-director of The Kid Stays in the Picture) flies solo on this manipulative but often-affecting portrait of a group of high school students in a small Indiana town. Burstein consciously plays with the same "types" that can be found in the 1985 John Hughes comedy-drama The Breakfast Club, but comes to the same conclusion: Teens transcend the labels we give them. That message might feel a lot more authentic if the movie didn't feel too artificially crafted and plotted, her subjects feeling like a "cast" from a reality TV show. -- David Lee Simmons

BABYLON A.D. (PG-13) French director Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika) oversees this action-packed Vin Diesel vehicle about genetic manipulation. Based on the novel Babylon Babies by Maurice Dantec.

BOTTLE SHOCK (PG-13) Based on a true story, about a struggling California wine seller who changes the wine industry with a remarkable chardonnay. Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman star.

BOY A (R) Andrew Garfield stars as Jack, an ex-con just released from prison after serving a sentence for a murder he committed as a child.

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED 3 stars (PG-13) An Oxford University art student (Matthew Goode) becomes drawn into the circle of an unbelievably old and aristocratic English family, becoming an object of affection for two troubled siblings (Hayley Atwell and Sebastian Whishaw). The 11-part, 1981 miniseries with Jeremy Irons offered a definitive adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's popular novel, but director Julian Jarrold offers a smaller-scale but respectable version for the big screen. If most of the actors lack the charisma of their predecessors, Emma Thompson brings enormous wit and sensitivity to the role of imperious Lady Marchmain, making her both the embodiment of an institution as well as a flesh-and-blood mother. -- Curt Holman

COLLEGE (R) Drake Bell, Kevin Covias and Andrew Caldwell star as three high school students who visit a college campus for a weekend and destroy a fraternity.

CROSSING OVER (NR) Wayne Kramer wrote and directed this film about immigration issues and the process of becoming a legal citizen. Stars Harrison Ford and Sean Penn.

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

DISASTER MOVIE (PG-13) The makers of Date Movie and Meet the Spartans present this comedic send-up of disaster movies.

FROZEN RIVER 3 stars (R) In a small town near the U.S./Canadian border, a struggling mother ("Homicide's" Melissa Leo) becomes inadvertently involved in a people-smuggling operation when she encounters a lonely young woman (Misty Upham) of the Mohawk tribe. The Grand Jury Prize for Drama at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Frozen River provides a long overdue showcase for Leo, a wonderful character actress who utterly inhabit the role of a woman worn down by hardship. Writer/director Courtney Hunt offers a compelling, documentary-style portrayal of life on the reservation, illegal immigration and the hard choices that economic necessity sometimes demands. -- Holman

HAMLET 2 2 stars (R) Failed actor turned failing high school teacher Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) faces the closing of the drama department unless his misguided, autobiographical musical sequel to Hamlet turns out to be a hit. Although the comedy offers an overt spoof of inspirational-teacher films like Dangerous Minds, it's more reminiscent of Christopher Guest's portraits of American losers like Waiting for Guffman, only Coogan's overplayed characterization makes the jokes resemble shooting fish in a barrel. The show's opening night, with the musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" is a hoot, but not enough to redeem the rest of the film. -- Holman

HENRY POOLE IS HERE (PG) Luke Wilson plays Henry Poole, a disillusioned man attempting to live his life as a recluse in a suburban society that just won't leave him alone.

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

THE LAST MISTRESS 3 stars (NR) Asia Argento of the wacko Argento filmmaking family (Mother of Tears), is Vellini, the title's fading courtesan. She discards her older wealthy husband for a younger lover, Ryno de Marigny (Fu'ad Aît Aattou), in an affair that lasts a decade. As soon as we know the game and its players, director Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl, Romance) switches gears from a drama to a tragic love story. It makes the film both unpredictable and revealing, even while flirting with conventions, but also reaffirms Breillat's unique place in cinematic feminism. -- Simmons

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

MAN ON WIRE 4 stars (PG-13) Director James Marsh emulates the heist genre with effective precision in this documentary about Parisian street performer Phillippe Petit and his illegal 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The film emphasizes the nuts-and-bolts details of the stunt over the personalities of the participants, but tells an enormously compelling story despite our knowledge of how it ends. Plus, it serves as a touching tribute to the World Trade Center as a symbol of human aspiration without breathing a word about September 11. -- Holman

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.

MIRRORS (R) Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, an ex-cop working as a museum security guard, who discovers evil lurking in the mirrors at the museum and in his home.

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

THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR 3 stars (PG-13) In post-WWII China, retired treasure hunters Rick and Evelyn O'Connell (Brendan Fraser and Maria Bello) must stop resurrected Chinese Emperor Han (Jet Li) from finding Shangri-la, becoming immortal and raising an unstoppable army of terra-cotta warriors. -- Holman

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS 2 stars (R) A process server (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder and goes on the run in Los Angeles with his friendly neighborhood pot dealer (James Franco) in this comedy that would only be more clichéd if they fled cross-country with a bag of money. Grumpy Rogen and half-baked Franco make likable comedic foils, but the film's familiar plotting and surprisingly violent action scenes undermine its attempt to charm the audience. Of all the films by producer Judd Apatow (who worked with Rogen on Knocked Up and Superbad), Pineapple Express disappoints the most, sending high expectations up in smoke. -- Holman

THE ROCKER 2 stars (PG-13) Two decades after being kicked out of a heavy-metal hair act, a bitter drummer ("The Office's" Rainn Wilson) gets another shot at the big time via his teenage nephew's band. Wilson offers an amusing change-of-pace role as a deluded rock star wannabe, but the script betrays him in its ambitions as a School of Rock wannabe with spotty jokes. You know something's wrong when the teen band's songs prove so much less interesting than the funny faux-metal tracks for Wilson's former band, Vesuvius (lead by Will Arnett). -- Holman

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2 (PG-13) This sequel finds best friends Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lena reunited after a year away at college and struggling to keep in touch against the odds. Based on the series of novels by Ann Bradshare.

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.

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS 1 star (PG) Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) and his new apprentice Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Dane) must rescue Jabba the Hutt's kidnapped son, which could tip the scales in an intergalactic war. Set between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, this computer-animated lead-in to an upcoming Cartoon Network series revives all of the most irritating aspects of the Star Wars prequels, including horrible dialogue, infantile characterization and bad jokes, without any of the modest virtues, such as intensity and sci-fi skullduggery. If you thought Jar-Jar Binks was annoying, wait'll you meet Jabba's sissy Uncle Ziro. -- Holman

STEP BROTHERS 2 stars (R) Two immature fortyish men (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) become despised roommates after the wedding of their single parents (Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins). Ferrell and Reilly seem to have had more fun making the movie than the audience has watching it, and though Ferrell's and Reilly's sibling rivalry generates some belly laughs, the familiar premise and thin story make the film perfectly forgettable. On the plus side, it's the least unfunny of this summer's big, star-driven comedies. -- Holman

SWING VOTE (PG-13) Due to a ballot error in the presidential election, the fate of the free world hangs on the vote of one man -- apathetic single father Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner).

TELL NO ONE (NR) Pediatrician Alexandre Beck (François Cluzet) finds out his wife, murdered eight years earlier, might still be alive and is instructed to "tell no one" in this adaptation of Harlan Coben's international best seller.

TRAITOR (PG-13) Guy Pierce stars as an FBI agent investigating an international conspiracy, when he finds that all the clues seem to lead back to a former U.S. Special Ops Officer named Samir Horn (Don Cheadle).

TRANSSIBERIAN 3 stars (R) A middle-American couple (Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson) hope to rekindle their marriage on an "adventurous" trip across Asia on the Transsiberian Railway. Director Brad Anderson proves to be a close student of Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, cultivating a skin-crawling sensation of paranoia amid the former Soviet locations. It's the perfect film for audiences who find the Hostel films too low-brow, and The Darjeeling Limited too twee. -- Holman

TROPIC THUNDER 2 stars (R) A Hollywood cast and crew (including Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Brandon T. Jackson and Jay Baruchel) on location for a Vietnam War movie gets plopped into real danger thanks to some studio shenanigans. Stiller's script, co-written with Justin Theroux and Idiocracy screenwriter Etan Cohen, delivers spot-on jokes about Hollywood and war-movie clichés, and with comedic talents such as Downey, Black and surprising scene-stealer Baruchel, there's enough hammy fun to last a while. -- Simmons

TROUBLE THE WATER 4 stars (NR) This award-winning documentary begins with such compelling "home movie"-style footage of Hurricane Katrina, it could be called The Blair Hurricane Project. Documentarians Carl Deal and Tia Lessin present the amateur footage of Kim Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott, a pair of self-described hustlers and drug dealers, as they chronicle the storm's destruction of their home in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. When Deal and Lessin switch to the couple's attempts to put their lives back together following the hurricane, it loses a little urgency but gains in its moving character study of two people who never conform to expectations, as well as a timely condemnation of governmental paralysis in the face of disaster. -- Holman

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA 3 stars (PG-13) During a summer in Spain, two smart American hotties (Scarlett Johansson and the impressive newcomer Rebecca Hall) become romantically involved with a smoldering artist (Oscar-winner Javier Bardem) who has an unbalanced ex-wife (the superb Penelope Cruz). Perhaps the warm weather and flamenco music invigorated 72-year-old writer/director Woody Allen, whose creative juices were clearly flowing with this film's lively, stormy love affairs. Allen still overthinks his dialogue and ideas, but this time they don't muffle the sensuality of the film's locale or the characters. -- Holman

THE WACKNESS 2 stars (R) In 1994 Manhattan, a pot dealer and recent high school graduate (Josh Peck) forms an unlikely friendship with one of his customers, an aging psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley). Jonathan Levine's semi-autobiographical feature has much to recommend it, including an appealing soundtrack and charming performances from Peck and Olivia Thirlby (as an elusive young beauty). Kingsley's oversized, showboating performance undermines his chemistry with Peck, however, and the plot follows the coming-of-age formula a little too closely. -- Holman

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

THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE 1 star (PG-13) In the last gasp of the once-proud TV franchise, former FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) try to solve a kidnapping that hinges on the alleged psychic visions of a pedophile priest. The mystery proves neither compellingly written nor competently directed, and though it's nice to see Duchovny and Anderson back together, the film will only appeal to the folks who write "X-Files" fan fiction on the Internet. -- 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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