DUNGEONS & DRAGONS (PG-13) In the film version of the popular fantasy/adventure role-playing game, a young empress (Thora Birch) must fight an evil wizard (Jeremy Irons) for control of a magical land of dwarfs, dragons and, well, dungeons. She recruits a ragtag band of unwitting individuals to help her in the race for a rod that controls the powerful red dragons and, thus, the kingdom.
PROOF OF LIFE (R) 1/2 Knowing about Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe's off-screen romance adds fuel to the tepid fire onscreen in Taylor Hackford's Casablanca-style action-romance that doesn't have enough of either. Instead of Bogie's mystique, Crowe might as well wear a neon "Hero" sign as the hostage negotiator who falls in love with Ryan while trying to free her husband (David Morse, taking acting honors) from banana-republic rebels. The script is needlessly complex in some areas while totally neglecting others, but the movie looks good and moves fast so you may not notice. -- SW
VERTICAL LIMIT (PG-13) 1/2 Spectacular scenery and sensational stunts are overwhelmed by crap-tacular everything else as a nature photographer (Chris O'Donnell) tries to rescue his little sister from certain death on the slopes of K-2, a 28,000-footer and the meanest mountain in the world. Who knew you could pile shit so high? -- EMDuly Noted
BURLESK KING (NR) 1/2 The late Lino Brocka's 1988 Macho Dancer started a genre of films about young, often straight men from the provinces who come to Manila and are exploited by being hired to dance nearly nude in clubs frequented by gay men. Prostitution and drugs often follow. Brocka had some political motivation, but his successor, Mel Chionglo, gives gay male viewers what they want: plots as soapy as the dancers' bodies, which there's plenty of time to observe. The films are pretty much interchangeable and Chionglo's not the filmmaker Brocka was, but he keeps the guys in focus, so no one complains. Dec. 1-7 at cinéfest. -- SW
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) 1/2 Tim Burton's cartoon-colored, modern-day fable about a scissorhanded naif (Johnny Depp), created a la Frankenstein by an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price), is a gothic comedy that skewers suburban life and speaks to the nobility of tolerance. Dianne Wiest is superb as the kindly Avon lady who takes Edward into her family. A blonde-wigged and newly-buxom Winona Ryder plays Edward's love interest. Dec. 8-14 at cinéfest. -- SVA
THE FLY (1958) Remade in 1986 with Jeff Goldblum, this sci-fi classic is about a scientist who accidentally turns himself into a fly-like creature while working on a transporter machine. Vincent Price adds life to his role as the skeptical brother. Dec. 8-14 at cinéfest.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU (NR) Debut director Lisanne Skyler offers a low-key but surprisingly satisfying adaptation of several Joyce Carol Oates stories. Welcome to the Dollhouse's Heather Matarazzo superbly plays a lonely teenager interacting with fellow travelers at a dreary bus station while flashing back to her parents' disastrous marriage. The film's deliberate stillness initially seems self-conscious, but by the end brings the disparate story threads together far more effectively than you expect. The Peachtree International Film Society, Dec. 8 at 7:20 p.m., Cinevision. -- CH
JAZZ Spanning nearly a century of jazz music, Ken Burns' black-and-white documentary covers all the jazz legends, including Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and others. A reception takes place at 6:30 p.m. Following the screening, Burns with hold a discussion. Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., The Carter Center.
METROPOLIS Director Fritz Lang's 1927 silent sci-fi film centers on a futuristic society where people are separated into a working or thinking class. The thinkers are the elite, dominating power who underestimate the workers until the underappreciated class stage a rebellion. Silent Film Society of Atlanta, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m., 112 White Hall, 480 Kilgo Circle, Emory.
THE TINGLER A pathologist (Vincent Price) studying the impact of fear on the body discovers a centipede-like creature that lives in people and feeds off their pent-up fear. Director William Castle's 1959 horror movie creates a world where people have to scream for their lives, literally. Dec. 8-14 at cinéfest.
THE WILD BUNCH The 1969 controversial classic features plenty of shoot-outs, blood and all-around good violence. A group of aging outlaws plan a big-time heist while bounty hunters and the changing times are nipping at their heels. Dec. 13 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., 208 White Hall, 480 Kilgo Circle, Emory.
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