Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

Opening Friday
CHILDREN ON THEIR BIRTHDAYS (PG) Based on the Truman Capote short story of the same name, this sleepy Southern tale depicts how the friendship of two small-town boys begins to fray when a 13-year-old girl moves into the neighborhood. Featuring Sheryl Lee and Tom Arnold.

CITY OF GOD (R) This gritty crime drama from Brazil uses the flashy, pulp-fiction techniques of Tarantino and Scorsese to draw attention to the violence and crushing poverty in Rio's sprawling slums. Tracking a bloodthirsty drug dealer and a meek photographer from the '60s to the '80s, the filmmakers make the most of every cinematic trick at their disposal, although their greatest resource is a sense of social outrage that mourns how penniless orphans become larcenous killers. --Curt Holman

CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (R) George Clooney directs a feverish biopic of Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell), who would have us believe that, while launching "The Dating Game" and "The Gong Show," he was moonlighting as a CIA assassin. Despite memorable camerawork, Julia Roberts as a Mata Hari and a head-spinning script by Adaptation writer Charlie Kaufman, the film feels joyless, never capturing the hucksterish eagerness to entertain that motivated Barris himself. --CH

DARKNESS FALLS (PG-13) "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" Emma Caulfield stars in this horror picture about a boy menaced by an evil version of The Tooth Fairy (no, really) whenever the lights go out.

Duly Noted
PULL MY DAISY (1958) (NR) Like watching Kerouac and Ginsberg's very own home movies, this Beat production feels improvised (though it wasn't) and more than a little goosey. What passes for story involves a constrained railroad man/sax player (played by painter Larry Rivers) who's sprung from the wifely jailhouse by his fellow overgrown boy Beats including Allen Ginsberg, David Amram and Corso. Like the Beatnik's answer to surfer narrator Bruce Brown, Jack Kerouac provides voice-over narration from his own script. Showing with This Song for Jack, a documentary about the 25th anniversary of On the Road. Jan. 24, 8 p.m., Eyedrum, 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 8. $6. 404-522-0655. --Felicia Feaster

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. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Marietta Star Cinema.

SATIN ROUGE (2002) (NR) A widowed, buttoned-down housewife comes out of her shell when she chances to discover the joys of belly dancing in this charmer from Tunisia. African Film Showcase. Jan. 24-25, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570.

ABOUT SCHMIDT (R) Jack Nicholson does an about-face in his performance as a smaller-than-life midwestern insurance executive facing multiple crises --mostly funny ones -- upon retirement. Election director Alexander Payne's critique of American mediocrity can feel snide and elitist, but also has considerable comic invention, from Schmidt's inappropriate letters to an impoverished African boy to Kathy Bates and Dermot Mulroney as the prospective in-laws from hell. --CH

ADAPTATION (R) One of the best and brightest films of the year, this brilliant follow-up to director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman's Being John Malkovich follows the self-loathing tribulations of Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) as he struggles to adapt cerebral New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean's (Meryl Streep) book The Orchid Thief for the screen. An astoundingly inventive exploration of writing's emotional and psychological complexity, the film also goes far deeper than its clever meta-construction to become a tender, lovely glimpse into the search for elusive dreams and desires in all of our lives. --FF

ANALYZE THAT (R) Sure, "The Sopranos" does the whole mobster/shrink thing with deeper insights and better jokes, but the original comedy with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal provided harmless laughs. The follow-up even nods to the HBO series by having the gangster consult for a similar TV show, but the idea gets wasted. Otherwise, the sequel is like beating a dead horse -- then putting its head in somebody's bed. --CH

ANTWONE FISHER (PG-13) The screenplay's the story here, and Denzel Washington (in his directorial debut) gets out of its way, letting his actors relate it honestly without gumming it up with show-off stylistics. Antwone Fisher wrote the script, based on his own life story, and he and Washington luck out by having engaging newcomer Derek Luke handle the heavy lifting, playing a troubled sailor whose anti-social behavior brings him into contact with a Navy psychiatrist (Washington) who eventually helps him get to the root of his emotional problems. --Matt Brunson


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  • Re: Fresh air

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

    • on June 29, 2016
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