Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (PG) Veteran television director Joel Zwick (whose resume includes "Bosom Buddies" and "Joanie Loves Chachi") helms this comic story of a Greek-Canadian woman butting heads with family tradition by seeking to marry a non-Greek. Expect to hear "Opa!" a lot.

THE NEW GUY (PG-13) A bullied high-schooler (DJ Qualls) gets revenge on his peers after a wisecracking convict (Eddie Griffin) gives him pointers on being a bad ass. Also starring Eliza Dushku.

ULTIMATE X (PG) See extreme sports on the Mall of Georgia's extremely large IMAX screen in this documentary of ESPN's Summer X games, which includes skateboarders, BMX riders, motocrossers, and street lugers. Rated PG "for daredevil sports action and mild language." Mall of Georgia IMAX Theater, I-85 at Buford Drive, Buford.

UNFAITHFUL (R) Adrian Lyne of Fatal Attraction and 9 1/2 Weeks fame offers a steamy remake of Claude Chabrol's La Femme Infidele with Richard Gere and Diane Lane, who's getting some respectful buzz for her performance.

Duly Noted
ALL ABOUT EUROPE (2000) (NR) Nick Fraser and Ben Lewis consider the past, present and future of Europe in interviews with citizens of numerous countries, covering topics from World War II to the European Union. Celebration of Europe Day 2002. Goethe-Institut Atlanta, Colony Square, 1197 Peachtree St., May 9 at 4 p.m., $4 for non-members.

BRASSED OFF (1996) (R) Ewan "Obi-Wan Kenobi" McGregor trades his light saber for a trumpet in this English-underdog comedy-drama about a brass band trying to survive amid a wave of mining closures in Northern England. European Film Festival. May 11, 9 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

THE CARRIERS ARE WAITING (1999) (NR) Benoit Mariage offers a droll perspective on perfection and parenting in the tale of a father who yearns to turn his teenage son into a champion -- at turning doorknobs. European Film Festival. May 11, 9 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

GREEN DESERT (1999) (NR) Two teens escape the stifling life of their home village by passing time in the surrounding forest, until one of them develops leukemia. European Film Festival and part of Goethe-Institut Atlanta's Introducing ARTE: The European Cultural TV-Channel. May 10, 7 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

HAPPENSTANCE (2001) (Not Rated) Amelie's Audrey Tautou stars in Laurent Firode's comedy of how the twists of fate can alter the lives of complete strangers in France. European Film Festival. May 11, 7 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

LANDSCAPE IN THE MIST (1988) (Not Rated) Director Theo Angelopoulos blends Greek myth with road movie conventions in this odyssey of two children who run away from home to find their father. European Film Festival. May 11, 4:30 p.m., Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center. $5.

THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON (1971) (NR) This documentary considers the life and death of a 20-year-old chairman of the Chicago Black Panthers, fatally shot in a pre-dawn FBI raid. Eyewitness: Lynching and Racial Violence in America. May 9, 7 p.m., Auburn Avenue Research Library. Free.

NORTHERN SKIRTS (1999) (NR) Five young people from different ethnic and social backgrounds meet in Vienna and for a time deal with jobs, relationships, unwanted pregnancies and the war in the former Yugoslavia. Introducing ARTE: The European Cultural TV-Channel. Goethe-Institut Atlanta, Colony Square, 1197 Peachtree St., May 8 at 7 p.m., $4 for non-members.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946) (NR) If you liked The Man Who Wasn't There, you'll love this film noir thriller with Lana Turner and John Garfield, based on James M. Cain's pitiless novel. May 13, 7:30 p.m., Commune Restaurant, 1198 Howell Mill Road. Free with dinner.

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. 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., and Saturday at midnight at the Marietta Star Cinema, 1355 Roswell Road, Marietta.

UNDER THE SUN (Not Rated) This Swedish film about a lonely, palooka farmer who takes out an ad for a lady companion and ends up with a mega-babe who whips his homestead into shape and cuts a swath to his heart is soft-core feel-good along the lines of Giuseppe Tornatore-meets-Playboy. Some may find it too sweet, others will cringe at director Colin Nutley's fractured storytelling and very obvious characterizations and incidents. Peachtree Film Society, May 12 at 6 p.m., Cinevision Screening Room. --Felicia FeasterContinuing
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (R) A tough bounty hunter (Ice Cube, who also co-wrote the film) and a wisecracking bail jumper (Mike Epps) join forces to fleece some diamond thieves in this action comedy named for the P. Diddy song. Featuring Anthony Michael Hall and Lil' Bow Wow.

AMELIE (R) A popular and critical hit in France, this not-to-be-missed sweet-as-pie, stylistic knockout is a dazzling live-action cartoon for grown-ups. The ultra-cute Audrey Tautou is a do-gooding sprite living in a magical Montmartre who dedicates herself to helping others. From Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. -- FF

A BEAUTIFUL MIND (PG-13) In an either bold or ignorant move, director Ron Howard may have made the first action-adventure film about schizophrenia. Russell Crowe stars in this story of real life Princeton mathematician John Nash who won the Nobel Prize, but also suffered from mental illness. Howard allows emotional button-pushing to triumph over character development and insight in this earnest but flat entry in Hollywood's disability canon.--FF

BLADE 2 (R) With arteries being punctured left and right and vampires disintegrating after getting blasted by silver bullets, this is as disreputable a genre film as Queen of the Damned, but a helluva lot more fun. It tops its 1998 predecessor thanks in no small part to director Guillermo Del Toro of The Devil's Backbone, although Wesley Snipes' half-human, half-vampire renegade still proves a dull superhero. --Matt Brunson

THE CAT'S MEOW (PG-13) Director Peter Bogdanovich makes a modest comeback with a dark comedy about the lethal consequences of a 1924 romantic triangle between Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard), William Randolph Hearst (Edward Hermann) and starlet Marion Davies (Kirstin Dunst). You'd hope for a more insightful consideration of power and hypocrisy, but as a showbiz satire it features amusingly arch dialogue and a superbly cast and costumed line-up of actresses.--CH

CHANGING LANES (R) A traffic accident between an opportunistic lawyer (Ben Affleck) and a recovering alcoholic (Samuel L. Jackson) sets off a dangerous game in which both men try to one-up each other. Neither character is depicted as a hero or a villain in this rare bird of a film, a studio product that largely steers clear of black and white by adorning itself in an appealing shade of gray. --MB

CLOCKSTOPPERS (PG) A teen and his girlfriend stumble across an invention that makes time seem to stand still, and must stop a bad guy from exploiting it. This revisit of the ideas of The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything is directed by "Star Trek's" Jonathan Frakes, who has some experience with temporal anomalies.

CRUSH (R) In this British comedy from first-timer John McKay, Andie MacDowell as a prim prep school headmistress conveys great warmth in her moving portrait of a woman whose happiness is threatened by a conformist society and jealous friends. But Crush at its heart is yet another retrograde story of complaining, miserable singletons (this time in their 40s) who deeply resent their friend MacDowell's giddy romance with a much younger man. --FF

DEUCES WILD (R) This hilariously misguided look at rival 1950s street gangs stars a cast of leather-clad young actors strutting and preening like they're auditioning for Sha Na Na. From the vengeful villian named "Marco Vendetti" to the "rumbles" shot like primitive music videos to Debbie Harry playing a mother with Christmas on the brain, the film plays like a John Waters script that director Scott Kalvert (The Basketball Diaries) somehow took seriously. --CH

THE ENDURANCE: SHACKLETON'S LEGENDARY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION (G) Sir Earnest Shackleton's ill-fated 1914-1916 voyage to Antarctica is captured in an evocative documentary from the creator of Pumping Iron. Mixing Frank Hurley's on-the-scene footage of the ordeal with modern-day interviews and beautifully desolate nature photography, the film puts you in some of the most inhospitable environments imaginable. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the documentary is more often hypnotic than dull, and is guaranteed to shiver your timbers.--CH

E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY (PG) Steven Spielberg's tale of a boy and his alien is no children's movie, but a lovely evocation of the experience of childlike wonder. The anniversary re-release includes spruced-up sound and special effects, a deleted scene or two and some disquieting alterations in the name of political correctness, like the digital replacement of guns with walkie-talkies.--CH

FOR DA LUV OF MONEY (R) With one of those one-word names like "Madonna" or "Sauron," the actor Pierre plays a cash-strapped guy who becomes wildly popular when money from a robbery is stashed in his back yard. Aimed at fans of Friday, the comedy's biggest stars are ventriloquist Willie Tyler and Lester.

FRAILTY (R) Bill Paxton (Apollo 13, A Simple Plan) stars and directs in this unusual thriller about a small-town Texas father who believes he's been called by God to kill demons. Featuring elements of Southern gothic, Bible allegory and even black comedy, the script builds to some clever twists but still feels drawn-out, as if it could be cut to fit a one-hour "X-Files" slot without suffering.--CH

HIGH CRIMES (PG-13) It's a high crime indeed that the once-exciting Ashley Judd now delivers the same spunky-woman-in-peril job in studio-sanctioned programmers like this. It's a shame that Morgan Freeman isn't finding more roles better suited to his awesome abilities. And it's a shame that, in the age of mind-benders like Memento, we're still force-fed reheated pulp more adept at creating massive plotholes than any semblance of suspense. --MB

HOLLYWOOD ENDING (PG-13) Woody Allen plays a director on the skids who gets a second chance to helm a picture from his L.A.-based movie executive ex-wife (Tea Leoni). But chaos ensues when Allen is struck blind and must hide his condition. When Hollywood allows the full slapstick energy of this goofy scenario to flow, things tend to go well. But the long-winded exposition devoted to Allen's relationship with ex-Leoni and his reconciliation with a long-lost son can make the film feel as suffocating as two hours in the smoker's lounge at Hartsfield.--FF

ICE AGE (PG) Ray Romano's sensible woolly mammoth, Denis Leary's duplicitous saber-toothed tiger and John Leguizamo's imbecilic sloth are unique enough for us to pardon the pedestrian plot of this computer-animated film that's like Disney's Dinosaur without the mountainous sentimentality. The prehistoric squirrel Scrat is such a character that you're sorry every time he leaves the screen.--MB

IMAX Majestic White Horses (Not Rated) The pomp, history and legend of the famous Lipizzan horses of Austria and the Spanish Riding School of Vienna gets the really big screen treatment. Through May 23. Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa (Not Rated) Everest director David Breashears' latest IMAX documentary follows an expedition through five distinct climate zones to the top of Africa's highest point. Through September 20. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road.

JASON X (R) Apparently every schlock horror franchise is destined to go to space: it happened to Critters, it happened to Leprechaun and now it happens to Friday the 13th, as the hockey-masked murderer stalks young people on a 25th century spaceship.

KISSING JESSICA STEIN (R) The misadventures of a singleton in the city gets a gimmicky reworking in this film about a New York journalist and a Chelsea art chick who, tired of the lameoid men around, decide to date each other. Some clever writing by stars and screenwriters Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen can't dispel the sense that this is just a calculated reworking of a hackneyed suffering-single formula.--FF

LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT (PG-13) This schizophrenic picture's success begins and ends with Angelina Jolie, cast as a TV reporter who comes to reassess her values after a street prophet (Tony Shalhoub) informs her she has a week to live. Director Stephen Herek and writers John Scott Shepherd and Dana Stevens are too much the consummate hacks to provide the serious sections with the import they require. But with the appeal of Jolie and co-star Edward Burns, it represents a serviceable feature -- or something like it.--MB

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (PG-13) Adapting the first and longest book of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, Peter Jackson offers an all-but-perfect fantasy epic that's no simple piece of story-book escapism. Jackson offers a full immersion in an imaginary world, and even when some virtual environments look fake, they bristle with personality. Thrilling -- and exhausting -- at a full three hours, Fellowship's greatest achievement is that it never loses sight of the human side of its fanciful story. --CH

MONSOON WEDDING (R) Beneath the initially frenzied energy and silliness of Mira Nair's film is an affectionate, moving portrait of how the imminent marriage of a New Delhi father's only daughter leads to a profound reassessment of the meaning of family, the one tradition worth holding onto in this meditation on the clash of new and old in modern India.--FF

MONSTER'S BALL (R) The relationship between a racist death row guard (Billy Bob Thornton) and a condemned prisoner's wife (a remarkable Halle Berry) provides the fulcrum for a stunning, unpredictable treatment of Southern race relations. Little-known director Marc Foster and screenwriters Milo Addica and Will Rokos capture the rural South while avoiding sugarcoating or stereotypes, take on challenging subjects without hysteria or contrivance, and get Oscar-worthy performances from some of the least likely of actors.--CH

MURDER BY NUMBERS (R) This fitfully entertaining thriller casts Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling as two privileged high school seniors who elect to pull off the perfect murder. As long as the film places them front and center, it avoids the standard "cop flick" trappings. Much of the running time is frittered away on scenes involving the troubled detective on the case, shakily played by top-billed star (and executive producer) Sandra Bullock.--MB

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER (R) Ryan Reynolds plays the title character, a party-hearty seventh-year college student in this chaotic campus comedy. National Lampoon attempts to pass the cinematic torch by casting Tim Matheson of Animal House as Van Wilder's father.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN (PG) An teenaged Idaho farm boy (Christopher Gorham) becomes a Mormon missionary in the South Seas in this lush film based on a true story.

PANIC ROOM (R) Pop stylist and zeitgeist-surfer David Fincher goes gimpy in his latest dull, unimaginative pseudo-thriller about a recent divorcee (Jodie Foster) and her teenage daughter (Kristen Stewart) who wage a psychological battle with a trio of criminals (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam) who have invaded their Manhattan mansion looking for a $3 million treasure. --Felicia Feaster

THE ROOKIE (G) This overly familiar formula film won't move anyone who's already seen their share of follow-your-dream flicks. What little juice this gets comes courtesy of its actors, especially Dennis Quaid as a high school baseball coach who takes one last shot at his dream of pitching in the major leagues. The leisurely direction, 129-minute running time and clichéd script provide little sense of joy.--MB

THE SCORPION KING (PG-13) In the ripe-cheese tradition of those grade-Z sword-and-sorcery epics that play on late-night cable, we now get this prequel to The Mummy Returns which casts The Rock as a monolith of a leading man whose undeniable screen presence constantly wages war against his wooden line delivery. Thanks to its awareness of its own limitations, this is watchable enough, but you'll be satisfied after an hour.--MB

SPIDER-MAN (PG-13) The long-awaited adaptation of the Marvel comic book works because director Sam Raimi and scripter David Koepp turn their movie into a successful tightrope act between soap opera and spectacle, retaining the personal elements that made the comic book so popular while also providing special effects that thankfully never overwhelm the story. As Peter Parker, the boy who becomes a superhero, Tobey Maguire is wonderfully appealing.--MB

THE SWEETEST THING (R) Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair clearly are all gifted comediennes, and all three deserve to have their efforts showcased in a movie much better than this one. Ostensibly about a romantic comedy, the film lathers on a series of gross-out gags so ineptly staged, they produce apathy rather than laughs or even disgust.--MB

THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE (PG-13) Director Clare Peploe (a.k.a. Mrs. Bernardo Bertolucci) fashions a delightful tale of mistaken identities and mismatched couplings in the Age of Reason. Mira Sorvino's princess spends a lot of the film in male drag, and while she might not give Hilary Swank much of a run for her money, she invests her manly alter ego with a swagger and tenor that puts Gwyneth Paltrow to shame.--Bert Osborne

WORLD TRAVELER (R) Billy Crudup plays a successful architect who suddenly becomes disillusioned with his middle-class success and goes out on the road. Co-starring Julianne Moore and David Keith.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (NR) A heartbroken woman takes off on a road trip with two randy teenage boys and the trio talk, laugh, bicker and have sex. How director Alfonso Cuaron turns this seemingly trite scenario into a metaphysical meditation on life, fate, death, the sublime and torturous aspects of sex, and the class divisions of modern Mexico is a thing of beauty.--FF

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Film Clips

Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly
Restaurant Review: Bread & Butterfly

Search Events

  1. ‘HOTTLANTA’ spotlights Atlanta’s dance culture

    Upstart producer Mr. 2-17’s first feature film chronicles local dancers and crews
  2. How Bomani Jones went from Clark Atlanta to ESPN 1

    Sports writer and on-air personality’s wild ride to media stardom
  3. 'Anomalisa' transcends artificiality of animation

    Puppet-like characters crave connection in quirky, heartbreaking tale from Charlie Kaufman

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation