PANIC (R). William H. Macy plays a hit man seeking therapy and escape from the family business in Henry Bromell's quiet character study that's not really a thriller nor a black comedy. Macy's indelible portrait of mid-life crisis gets fine support from Donald Sutherland, Neve Campbell and especially Tracey Ullman and child actor David Dorfman. --CH
ATLANTA MOVIE NIGHT AT CARNIVAL Nomad Pictures' co-op film event screens three locally produced movies, including Urban Heat on May 10 and Severed on May 17. Club Carnival, 210 Pharr Road at 8 p.m.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA A kung fu action comedy starring Kurt Russell as an Uzi-toting truck driver. Midnight movie May 10-11 at GSU's cinéfest.
EVEREST The month of May is "Everest Month" at Fernbank, featuring lectures and book signings by Sherpa Jamling Norgay and screenings of the 1996 IMAX film documenting an expedition to the top of Mt. Everest. May 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 at 6 p.m. Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
LA STRADA (NR) Fellini's classic story, of a brutish circus performer (Anthony Quinn) and the simple-minded but saintly village girl (Giulietta Masina) who accompanies him on the road, boasts mesmerizing performances and a simple poetry that make it an enduring film classic. May 11-17 at noon, 4 and 8 p.m. at GSU's cinéfest. --FELICIA FEASTER
"THE MULLET" Previously aired on local cable access station MediaOne, episodes of "The Mullet" will be screened on the first Monday of the month at the Fountainhead Lounge. The TV show features short films like "The Uh-Huh Man," "The Real Life of Jimmy Mullet" and "The Fisherman and the Mullet." April 2-June 4 at 8 p.m. Fountainhead Lounge, East Atlanta.
NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (NR) Fellini's most touching film, about an aging Roman prostitute (Giulietta Masina) who never loses her hopefulness despite some grave life setbacks, this blend of postwar Italian neorealism and traces of the director's fantastical vision is one of the masterpieces of world cinema. May 11-17 at 2, 6 and 10 p.m. at GSU's cinéfest. --FF
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the 1975 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. It's all fun and games until Meatloaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Fridays at midnight, Lefont Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave.
RUBY IN PARADISE In conjunction with retrospective screenings of now famous local filmmakers, the Atlanta Film and Video Festival presents Director Victor Nuñez' story of a working-class woman (Ashley Judd) from rural Tennessee who finds a fresh start in a second-rate Florida resort town. May 10 at 8 p.m. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center.
SCOUT'S HONOR A Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary detailing the efforts of a group of straight Boy Scouts and their leaders to change the Scouts' policy on allowing gays in the organization. May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at White Hall, Room 208, Emory University.
TOUCH OF EVIL Charlton Heston plays a Mexican investigator who takes a break from his honeymoon to track down the murderer of a rich land developer in this classic film noir directed by Orson Welles. May 4-10 at GSU's cinéfest.
THE TRIAL Directed by Orson Welles and adapted from Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial stars Anthony Perkins as Joseph, a man who is arrested for unknown reasons, is allowed to remain free and go to work but still has to stand trial and deal with the verdict. May 4-10 at GSU's cinéfest.
WATER DROPS ON BURNING ROCKS 1/2 (NR) A sticky, perverse little chamber piece written by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1964 and adapted with a kinkiness the late German director would surely appreciate, by French filmmaker Francois Ozon, this story focuses on a sexual Svengali whose powers of seduction extend to both men and women who he mindfucks with equal aplomb. May 9 at 8 PM at the Rich Auditorium, High Museum of Art --FF
ALONG CAME A SPIDER (R) Morgan Freeman returns in fine form as world-weary forensic psychologist Alex Cross of Kiss the Girls, likewise recommended as entertainment, not art. When a senator's 12-year-old daughter is kidnapped Alex teams with Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan (Monica Potter), who was assigned to protect the girl, to find kidnapper Michael Wincott -- and the girl -- before it's too late. After an action-packed opening the film slows down until the final hour, which is packed with twists, some more surprising than others. What matters is the plot holds together while you're watching it, even if it falls apart in retrospect. -- STEVE WARREN
AMORES PERROS 1/2 (R) A trio of stories set in a dystopian Mexico City revolve around a life-altering car crash in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's gripping first feature more indebted to the indie free-styling of Tarantino than the art film legacy of Bunuel. --FF
BLOW (R) Ted Demme's film version of the real-life rise of pot-to-cocaine drug importer George Jung (Johnny Depp) is all surface flash and Scorsese-cribbed effects. A diverting entertainment featuring some so-bad-it's-good fashion moments, the film is wafer-thin in the originality department, with Demme favoring visual effects over middling details like character development and motivation.--FF
BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY 1/2 (R) Renee Zellweger manages a convincing British accent and remains defiantly appealing as the loveable loser "singleton" Miss Jones despite this bland, conventional, American-targeted re-working of Helen Fielding's witty, rude best-selling diaries to the screen. -- FF
THE BROTHERS (R) 1/2 Director Gary Hardwick's screenplay is too schematic but that shouldn't hurt this comedy's popularity as a date movie. It's got laughs, tears, sex, moral dilemmas and enough romance for a month of Valentine's Days. The leads are late-twentysomethings at different stages of maturity regarding relationships. D.L. Hughley is married, Shemar Moore engaged, Morris Chestnut on the verge (with fine Gabrielle Union) and Bill Bellamy is totally commitment-shy. -- SW
CAST AWAY (PG-13) Director Robert Zemeckis and his Forrest Gump star Tom Hanks have created another crowd-pleaser in what begins as a modern-day Robinson Crusoe story but comes out looking like a "Survivor" spin-off. Dumped in the Pacific, Chuck Noland (Hanks) spends four-plus years on an otherwise uninhabited island, developing survival skills gradually and realistically. The plot eventually gets Hollywood-ized, but it's amazing how long Zemeckis resists commercial impulses, aside from the whole movie being such a commercial for Chuck's employer, FedEx, that failing an Oscar, it has a chance to win a Clio. -- SW
The Center of the World (R). Aspiring for a Last Tango in Paris for the dotcom generation, Wayne Wang directs a steamy tale of a rich hacker who pays a stripper to be his consort for a weekend in Vegas. The film frankly explores how sex can be both a form of communication and a substitute for it, but at times proves little more than skin deep. --CH
CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (PG) 1/2 Paul Hogan makes a shameless, witless attempt to revive a worn-out franchise with a thin, underdeveloped premise stringing together tired jokes and stretched beyond the breaking point by an unsuspenseful climax that goes on for nearly a third of the movie. With decent material Hogan (who has aged better than his wife, Linda Kozlowski, who plays his still-unmarried partner) might have been able to pull off another culture-clash comedy, but this one's as pathetic as Lethal Agent 3, the bad movie it makes fun of. -- SW
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (PG-13) An enchanting tale set in early 19th-century China, Ang Lee's (Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm) atmospheric Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rekindles the Hong Kong flame of gravity-defying martial arts action and tender sentiment. Lee invests the usual astounding acrobatics with his characters' pangs of regret, love and loss as two martial arts masters, (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) teach a spoiled young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) about the moral responsibilities of the Giang Hu martial arts way in this subversive, beautifully realized coming-of-age story. -- FF
THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN 1/2 (NR) This transfixing trio of stories, which only flounder in the third act, treat the difficult condition of being a woman in a fundamentalist religious culture in this Iranian film made by a husband-and-wife writing and directing team. The film, whose episodes have an allegorical texture, are weighty and meaningful, and made even more satisfying by the glimpse director Marzieh Meshkini offers, of the physical and emotional landscape of this beautiful, and troubled country. --FF
THE DISH 1/2 (PG-13). Sam Neill and "Seinfeld's" Patrick Warburton star in a comic dramatization of a remote Australian town's small but significant contribution to the Apollo 11 moon landing. At times the plot proves thin, and the intriguing premise seems better suited to an actual documentary, but the action becomes compelling as the Australians would rather handle crises themselves than admit, "Houston, we have a problem." -- CH
DOWN TO EARTH Though he's given strong supporting performances, Chris is not yet the Rock on which to build a movie. In this remake of Heaven Can Wait he plays a would-be comic who's called up to heaven prematurely and sent back in the body of a rich white man. There are a few good lines and moments, but it feels overall like a mediocre sketch comedy. A Chris Rock concert movie would have been far more entertaining. I thought the Warren Beatty version was overrated, so as much as I like Rock, I can't work up much enthusiasm for an inferior remake. -- SW
DRIVEN 1/2 More like Drivel. With rare exception, the mini-genre of race car flicks has always been a disreputable one. But if there's anyone who could make a racing movie that at least qualifies as a guilty pleasure, it would be director Renny Harlin, since even his trashy films are presented with a certain degree of style and chutzpah. But Harlin hits the wall with Driven, which is so banal and preposterous that not even his constantly roving camera can disguise the bankruptcy of the project. Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the original story handles the tried & true "veteran" role: He's cast as Joe Tanto, a former racing star who's coaxed out of retirement by crotchety car owner Carl Henry (Burt Reynolds) to provide guidance to Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue), a rookie sensation who's in a dead-heat battle for the season championship with ice-cold defending champ Beau Brandenburg (Til Schweiger). The story itself is packed with too many needless characters, fetid dialogue and ludicrous developments. --MATT BRUNSON
ENEMY AT THE GATES (R) 1/2 The 1942-43 Battle for Stalingrad boils down to a duel between two men, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) and Major Konig (Ed Harris), the top snipers for the Russians and Germans respectively, in Jean-Jacques Annaud's epic that looks great but isn't always as suspenseful or dramatically effective as it might be. The big battle sequence at the beginning invites comparison to Saving Private Ryan and suffers from that comparison. Mad magazine readers will appreciate a hint of "Spy vs. Spy" in this story of "Sniper vs. Sniper," while historians may consider it an example of reductio ad absurdam. -- SW
EXIT WOUNDS (R) 1/2 Steven Seagal, back down to fighting weight, regains action star viability as a maverick Detroit cop who becomes a one-man Internal Affairs Dept. DMX, whose charismatic presence could be exploited by a stronger director, plays a new jack druglord/dotcomillionaire. Car chases, fights and shootouts are mostly quick cuts suggesting fast motion and mucho destruction, but there have been far worse action sequences in far worse movies. Comic relief comes from Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson, whose final routine suggests the birth of a new comedy team. They deserve an encore, while once is enough for the rest of the movie. -- SW
15 MINUTES Larger-than-life characters, largely unmotivated acts of atrocity and a total disregard for dramatic continuity propel this disorganized and densely packed police thriller/would-be media satire about a green arson investigator and a celebrity homicide cop (Robert De Niro) on the trail of a pair of brutal and unusually image-conscious Eastern European thugs. Like a bigger, stiffer Two Days in the Valley(also by writer/director John Herzfeld), but without the neat cat-fight between Teri Hatcher and Charlize Theron. Why bother? -- EDDY VON MUELLER
FREDDY GOT FINGERED (R) Tom Green plays slacker Gordon Brody, a 28-year-old wanna-be animator who still lives with his parents. Brody battles his frustrated father (Rip Torn), whose only wish is for his son to move out and get a job, falls in love with a wheelchair-bound rocket scientist and plays with wildlife.
HANNIBAL (R) The sequel to The Silence of the Lambs substitutes a well-cast Julianne Moore for Jodie Foster, but more problematically offers director Ridley Scott's baroque gloss for Jonathan Demme's solid sobriety. The results can border on camp, especially when the eerie Anthony Hopkins bites into culinary puns, but the well-crafted cat-and-mouse scenes keep the suspense at a delicious simmer. -- CH
HEARTBREAKERS (PG-13) 1/2 Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play mother-daughter con artists in this overlong, overly broad comedy. Weaver gets a rich sucker to wed her, then catches Hewitt seducing him and scores a quick, lucrative divorce. Hewitt wants to be independent but mama says she's not ready yet. When Weaver targets billionaire cigarette mogul Gene Hackman, Hewitt secretly goes after bar owner Jason Lee and, true to mother's warnings, mixes pleasure with business. -- SW
JOE DIRT (PG-13) 1/2 David Spade, amusing in small doses, wears out his welcome many times over as the mullet-headed title character who's out of touch, out of style and out to find the parents who deserted him at the Grand Canyon 25 years ago. Los Angeles shock jock Dennis Miller makes Joe a 15-minute celebrity by giving him a forum to tell his story. The majority of laughs involve Joe being hurt and humiliated. Spade might have been able to keep Joe interesting for an eight-minute sketch, but a feature? No way, Dude. -- SW
JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (PG-13) 1/2 The titular trio reaches the big screen via a '60s comic book and a '70s animated TV series. Only Tara Reid, as the standard dumb blonde, has a personality as she, Rachael Leigh Cook and Rosario Dawson play punk without attitude. The easy listening hard-rockers become overnight sensations, then realize their records contain subliminal advertising, a "conspiracy to brainwash the youth of America with pop music." As a satire on consumerism it's hardly a teenage Fight Club -- and you wouldn't call the product placement subliminal -- but this mild diversion has its moments. -- SW
JOURNEY INTO AMAZING CAVES (R) Nancy Aulenbach of Norcross, a cave rescue specialist, is paired with British microbiologist Dr. Hazel Barton in this stunning IMAX documentary that takes them to Arizona, Greenland and the Yucatan in search of extremophiles, "microbes which thrive in the harshest of conditions," some of which will be the source of new medicines. A few remarks in Liam Neeson's narration might be explained or challenged, but most are innocuous enough. This Journey is filled with visual excitement for sedentary types, visceral excitement for the Xtreme crowd and a bit of information it won't hurt any of us to know. Playing March 24-Sept. 3 at the IMAX theater at Fernbank Museum. -- SW
JUST VISITING (PG-13) A soupcon of Gallic charm (mostly in Jean Reno's romantic performance as a 12th-century French count who time-travels to 21st-century Chicago) drowns in a vat of American bombast (courtesy of John Hughes, who assisted the original writers with the adaptation) in an English-language remake of Les Visiteurs, one of the most popular films of the '90s in France. This low comedy has a high cheese factor, with eight-plus centuries of culture shock expressed mostly in bathroom humor. -- SW
KINGDOM COME (PG) Soul Food was just an appetizer for this African-American family comedy that brings a dysfunctional brood together to bury their patriarch. Whoopi Goldberg plays it almost straight as the widow while Loretta Devine takes comic honors as her ever-praying sister-in-law. Goldberg's sons, LL Cool J and Anthony Anderson, are in troubled marriages (to Vivica A. Fox and Jada Pinkett Smith) but no problems are too big to be resolved neatly for a feel-good ending. The actors and most of the script make up for technical shortcomings in the funniest funeral since Chuckles bit the dust. -- SW
MEMENTO 1/2 (R) An investigator (Guy Pearce) suffering from short term memory loss tries to track down his wife's killer in Christopher Nolan's ingenious thriller. As in Harold Pinter's Betrayal the scenes unfold in reverse order, so both the audience and the forgetful hero are constantly thrust into the unknown. Complicated. exhilarating and dark, Memento's ending leaves your head spinning -- counterclockwise. --CH
THE MEXICAN (R) In this disposable but entertaining star vehicle Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts have a relationship so dysfunctional you wonder why they bother, but that's Hollywood's idea of romance. They're apart for most of the picture, the heart of which is Roberts' association with James Gandolfini, a hitman with a twist who kidnaps her to ensure Pitt brings an antique pistol back from Mexico. Overall the movie's a mixed bag, with more positives (a literate, often witty script; slightly surreal visuals) than negatives (cliched scenes and plot twists, Nancy Sinatra's overplayed "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" on the soundtrack). -- SW
MUMMY RETURNS (PG-13) 1/2 Even more so than the OK 1999 blockbuster The Mummy, this Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off is pure adrenaline overkill, a nonstop barrage of movement and noise. Yeah, I realize the breathless preview makes this look like the greatest show on earth, but, truth be told, I was actually bored by many of the frenzied activities taking place on the screen. The original cast, including Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz as the good guys and Arnold Vosloo as the title terror, returns largely unchanged, and the murky story line (marked by its share of inconsistencies and lapses in logic) has something to do with the resurrected Imhotep (Vosloo) fighting a resurrected warrior known as the Scorpion King (pro wrestler The Rock) for global domination. Reportedly, plans are already underway for a third Mummy movie, a development that makes me want to confront Sommers and utter a line from this sorry sequel: "You began a chain reaction that could trigger the next apocalypse!" -- MB
O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (PG-13) 1/2 George Clooney plays an escaped convict dragging his buddies across the Depression-era Deep South in search of hidden treasure and also trying to stop his wife's remarriage in this uneven but brilliantly bizarre screwball send-up of '30s folk history and Homer's ancient epic, The Odyssey. The film features a number of Coen Brothers alums, including John Goodman (standing in for the Cyclops) and John Turturro (who almost gets turned into a frog). The title comes from Sullivan's Travels, which you should also see, dammit. -- EVM
ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOLS (R) 1/2 Sometimes funny, sometimes smarmy, and always lewd and crude, One Night at McCool's uses the old Rashomon blueprint of allowing its various characters to relate their own interpretation of the same events. At the center of every tale is Jewel (Liv Tyler), a luscious sexpot who, depending on who's telling the story, is either a calculating femme fatale who nevertheless harbors a soft side, a ruthless dominatrix who's partial to whips and dog collars, or the embodiment of all that is pure and innocent in our soiled society. And holding those distinct viewpoints are, respectively, a bartender (Matt Dillon) who gets mixed up in murder because of his involvement with her, a ladder-climbing lawyer (Paul Reiser) who develops a taste for S&M and a widowed detective (John Goodman) who's reminded of his dearly departed wife every time he looks at Jewel. -- MB
POKEMON 3 The Movie The third installment of the Pokémon mythology includes a feature-length adventure, "Spell of the Unknown," in which Ash Ketchum and his loyal friends journey to the mountain town of Greenfield where they encounter the mysterious Unown, as well as a 22-minute short, "Pikachu and Pichu."
POLLOCK (R) This cinematically conventional biopic of abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock is a vivid portrait of a veritable sphinx. Directed by and starring Ed Harris, Pollock follows the professional rise and obligatory unraveling of the gifted painter, focusing on his marriage to fellow artist Lee Krasner. As evocative as Harris's portrayal of the sinewy and scowling artist is, he fails (or chooses not) to offer any insights into Pollock's swollen ego, alcoholic rage and generic mad genius behavior, leaving Pollock unavoidably unsatisfying as a result. -- FF
SAVING SILVERMAN (PG-13) Steve Zahn and Jack Black, who were on the fast track to success, take a detour in this moronic comedy that may have seemed funny on paper. They try to keep their pal Jason Biggs from marrying controlling bitch Amanda Peet by doing the only logical thing: kidnapping her, faking her death and hooking him up with Amanda Detmer, the girl he loved in high school who is about to take her final vows as a nun. All this and Neil Diamond, too! It would have taken far better direction than Dennis Dugan (Big Daddy) provides to save Saving Silverman. -- SW
SAY IT ISN'T SO (R) 1/2 There's a strong odor of flop sweat as Peter and Bobby Farrelly launch a protégé, director J.B. Rogers, with a comedy that typifies their humor: gags about injuries, infirmities and assorted indignities. A small-town orphan (sweetly goofy Chris Klein) loves Heather Graham, whose mother (Sally Field) is determined her daughter will marry for money. A detective tells Chris that Heather is his sister, but by the time he learns the truth, she's about to marry someone else. -- SW
SOMEONE LIKE YOU (PG-13) 1/2 The best thing about this total chick flick is that men, rather than being likened to pigs, are compared to bulls instead. Ashley Judd stars as Jane, who adapts the New Cow Theory, that bulls refuse to mate with the same cow twice, to show that human males behave the same as bovines. That's after she's dumped by Greg Kinnear and before she and Hugh Jackman realize they're made for each other. This formulaic movie might have been made in the pre-feminist era as well as today. It's not groundbreaking but it's a pleasant enough time-waster. -- SW
SPY KIDS (PG) Here's Willy Wonka: The Next Generation, full of warmth, imagination and surrealism combined with the action today's youngsters demand (though less violence than they might prefer). Robert Rodriguez's creation is about the children of retired spies Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino going into the family business to rescue their kidnapped parents. The story, action and visuals rate higher than the inconsistent acting. The heroes are fine, but the villains (Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Patrick and Teri Hatcher) are all over the map instead of uniformly over the top. -- SW
THE TAILOR OF PANAMA Pierce Brosnan wickedly sullies his 007 image as a sleazy, womanizing intelligence agent who enlists a fraudulent tailor (Geoffrey Rush) to spy on Panama's ruling elites. The adaptation of John LeCarre's novel weaves a complicated pattern of broad satire, serious political commentary and knotty character study, but director John Boorman loses his grip on the different threads, offering a weak, unconvincing ending that undercuts the film's otherwise provocative originality. -- CH
TOWN & COUNTRY (R) Goldie Hawn, Gary Shandling, Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty are moneyed Manhattan marrieds engaged in infidelity (and questionable judgment in choosing film scripts) in this horrendously unfunny comedy of middle-aged peccadilloes. --FF
TRAFFIC (R) 1/2 A well-crafted, engrossing story of the drug war as it touches characters from Tijuana to Washington, D.C., from cops and politicians to teenagers and suburban wives, Steven Soderbergh's drama moves along at a ferocious clip. Even with its large cast of newcomers and Hollywood old-guarders, this psychological action film affirms Soderbergh's talent for making good, populist dramas that exceed the usual Hollywood standards. -- FF
UNSHACKLED (PG-13) 1/2 Less hokey than most "inspirational" movies, Harold Morris' true, locally-filmed story, with which he hopes to scare kids straight, involves the integration of a Georgia prison by forcing white and black racists to coach a basketball team together. ("Remember the Titans in prison" would be the pitch.) We're never quite convinced Morris (Burgess Jenkins) is such a bad ass or that Doc Odomes (James Black) is a goody-goody until they become cellmates and learn to "know each other's hearts"; and we're never sure what makes Stacy Keach's smirking warden tick. -- SW
WHAT WOMEN WANT (PG-13) Don't expect much more than a light social comedy on the level of Richard Brooks' The Muse and you won't be disappointed by the throwaway charms of this Hollywood lark about a chauvinistic ladies man (Mel Gibson) who is electrocuted in the bathtub and wakes up able to hear women's innermost thoughts. Director Nancy Meyers knows how to pander to a mainstream audience, and her predictable but often funny film has enough insight into the communication barriers between men and women to sustain interest in a rather thin plot. -- FF
THE WIDOW OF SAINT-PIERRE 1/2 Prolific French filmmaker Patrice Leconte (Monsieur Hire, Ridicule) makes a rare mis-step with this attack on capital punishment in the 1850s. Emir Kusturica as a condemned killer and Juliette Binoche as his unexpected advocate are too reserved to generate much audience empathy, although the director still has an eye for memorable images, such as a cafe on wagon wheels rolling through a town. -- CH
WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY (R ) By chance a harried young father meets long-forgotten schoolmate Harry (Sergi Lopez), who ingratiates himself into his life and offers some lethal means of solving his domestic problems. For awhile you're uncertain if the poker-faced French thriller will escalate toward laughter or dread, which makes it intriguing, if perhaps too restrained for its own good. --CH