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IDENTITY (R) Ten strangers -- including John Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet -- are stalked by a crazed killer in a remote motel on a dark and stormy night. Director James Mangold's bipolar thriller means to be a serious exploration how personality dictates destiny as well as a silly slasher flick on a par with the Halloween sequels. The schlock side wins out, but not before scripter Michael Cooney makes revelations that try to out-twist "The Twilight Zone" and leave heads spinning -- both figuratively and literally.--CH
IMAX Whales (NR) Follow orca, blue, humpback, right whales and dolphins through oceans around the globe in this doc narrated by Patrick Stewart. Through May 23. Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure This lavishly-photographed film recreates Sir Earnest Shackleton's disastrous 1914-16 Antarctic expedition. Opening May 24. Coral Reef Adventure (NR) Ocean explorers Howard and Michele Hall journey to some of the world's largest, most beautiful and most endangered coral reefs. Through Sept. 1. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. www.fernbank.edu.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY (PG-13) The Douglas clan's answer to the Fondas' On Golden Pond might easily have been called On Golden Turkey, as a wretched beginning initially hints that this might be one of the year's worst films. Fortunately for all involved (especially the audience), this schizophrenic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink melodrama rights itself enough to ascend to the level of a rampaging mediocrity. Kirk and Michael Douglas head the cast as members of a family that must cope with potential affairs, underachieving offspring, flatulent relatives and other factors that prevent them from becoming as cozy a clan as the Waltons.--MB
THE JIMMY SHOW (R) Frank Whaley directs himself in a dramedy about a failed New Jersey inventor who embarks on a career in stand-up comedy. Co-starring Carla Gugino and Ethan Hawke. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.
LAUREL CANYON (R) Director Lisa Cholodenko brings a sexy warmth and affection to her emotionally jostled couple, Sam (Christian Bale) and Alex (Kate Beckinsale), conservative New Englanders recently transferred to Los Angeles and trying to save their relationship from the myriad temptations of Sam's rich hippie record producer mother (Frances McDormand) and her intoxicating, uninhibited lifestyle. This worthy follow-up to Cholodenko's impressive debut High Art creates an easygoing erotic ambiance without sacrificing the soulful complexities of her characters. At United Artists Tara Cinemas.--FF
LAWLESS HEART (R) Written and directed by British filmmaking team Tom Hunsinger and Neil Hunter (Boyfriends ), this drama uses a funeral as the entry point to tell three romantic stories. The sudden death of Stuart (David Coffey) forces his boyfriend, father and friend each to re-examine their lives. At Lefont Plaza Theater.
A MAN APART (R) A Traffic for the action crowd, A Man Apart takes an unblinking view of drug cartels before eventually revealing its true colors as a generic shoot-'em-up. Vin Diesel, whose magnetism apparently only blossoms when he's playing flippant anti-heroes (Pitch Black, XXX), is all chiseled nobility as a DEA agent on the trail of drug dealers, and the result is a dull performance that points out the actor's limitations. Director F. Gary Gray has proven himself to be an effective director of action flicks (The Negotiator, Set It Off), but here his talents have deserted him.--MB
THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST (PG-13) An amnesiac discovers love and friendship among Helsinki's down and out in this dry Finnish comedy that suggests that an identity might be more trouble than its worth. Director Aki Kaurismdki sets a hip, deadpan tone for his humor reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch's work, but shoots his film with the faded-Technicolor romanticism of Old Hollywood. At Lefont Plaza Theater--CH
THE MATRIX RELOADED (R) Writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski discover that "cool" has its limits in the first of their two sequels to The Matrix. Hacker-turned-Messiah Neo (Keanu Reeves) engages in a post-apocalyptic war between besieged humans and sentient machines, but the sequel only rarely captures the terror and wonder of the first film. Neo's fight against 100 duplicates of Hugo Weaving's aridly humorous Agent Smith lives up to the film's hype, but for every impressive money shot there's a tedious speech about causality and choice that down-shifts the narrative into Park. --CH
A MIGHTY WIND (PG-13) Three soulful Sixties folk acts gather for a reunion concert in New York City, with the attendant tensions and personal traumas in Christopher Guest's (Best in Show) latest mockumentary. The film is a study in very low-key comedy that offers a pitch-perfect rendition of folky social protest anthems, behavioral tics and dress codes, but which may be a little too under-the-cultural-radar for a large audience.--FF