COLD CREEK MANOR (R) Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone play harried yuppies who flee the big city for a fixer-upper in rural New York State. But when the home's original roughneck owner (a sadly miscast Stephen Dorff) gets out of prison, appropriate heck breaks loose. Woe be to Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) for directing this sad Cape Fear wannabe. --Tray Butler
THE CUCKOO (PG-13) Mixing the absurdity of war with the absurdity of sex, Aleksandr Rogozhkin's darkly comic fable is summarized by Anni, a Lapp war widow: "Four years without a man and then two at once!" She's not complaining. It's 1944. The men are escaped prisoners. Ivan is a Russian officer, Vieko a Finnish pacifist wearing a German uniform. Anni nurses whichever man needs it and beds whoever is healthier. Thanks to subtitles we understand everybody, but none of them understands the others. While Americans have lost their sense of humor about war, Eastern Europeans appear to have found theirs. At Tara Cinema. --Steve Warren
THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS (PG-13) Some soaring Gospel numbers and mildly amusing small-town gags can't absolve Cuba Gooding Jr.'s acting sins in this "underdog" comedy about a small-town choir's bid for excellence. The divinely beautiful Beyoncé Knowles sings "Fever" and Gospel greats like the Rev. Shirley Caesar make joyful noise, but Gooding merely adds bland desperation to the hackneyed plot about a dishonest hustler learning to be honest with himself and others. It's like getting the chance to see terrific musicians, only to find that the cover charge is too high. --Curt Holman
LOST IN TRANSLATION (R) Director Sofia Coppola's (The Virgin Suicides) much-anticipated second film brings together Bill Murray and indie flick ingénue Scarlett Johansson as accidental tourists in Tokyo. Both insomniacs, and both at crisis points in their marriages, the two start a unique friendship that takes them from karaoke clubs to titty bars in a soft-focus search for connection and meaning. Coppola strings together enough tiny brilliant moments to overcome the film's nearly absent plot and produces a sophomore effort almost as sparkling as her first. --TB
THE PETERSBURG-CANNES EXPRESS (PG-13) A beautiful Russian revolutionary plans to escape the title train in this romantic adventure directed by Oscar-winning producer John Daly. At Madstone Theaters Parkside
SECONDHAND LIONS (PG) Secondhand plots, anyone? Robert Duvall, Michael Caine and Haley Joel Osment play two uncles and the boy dumped on them for a summer. Writer-director Tim McCanlies combines tall tales, a child coming of age among eccentric relatives and greedy relatives hovering over a huge inheritance. Caine's never at his best trying to drawl (remember Hurry Sundown?), but he's OK and the other two are great. Be prepared for heavy, family-friendly sentimentality mixed with considerable humor. --SW
SIDE STREETS (1998) (NR) Merchant/Ivory produced this film about five interlocking stories of immigrants in five different boroughs of New York City, featuring Rosario Dawson and Shashi Kapoor. Director Tony Gerber will be in attendance for the 7 p.m. show on Sept. 19 for a Q&A. At Madstone Theaters Parkside
UNDERWORLD (R) If you're staying up nights wondering "What would Romeo and Juliet be like set in modern times with vampires and werewolves?" this Kate Beckinsale / Scott Speedman thriller should let you sleep easy.
THE BAD SLEEP WELL (1959) (NR) Film noir atmosphere and corporate criticism informs Kurosawa's tale of a Hamlet-like man (Toshiro Mifune) who seeks to avenge his father's death. Though well regarded, it's not as acclaimed as Kurosawa's samurai treatments of Macbeth and King Lear. Japanese Film Festival: A Tribute to Akira Kurosawa. Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m. Emory University, 205 White Hall. Free. 404-727-6761.
THE DOCTOR FROM STALINGRAD (1958) (NR) In a Russian P.O.W. camp, a German doctor earns the respect of both his captors and fellow prisoners, but can't avert tragedy. Post-War German Classics. Sept. 24, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.
DOWNSTREAM FILM FESTIVAL (NR) The 2003 Downstream Film Festival features more than 140 documentary, experimental and narrative shorts and feature films include such off-kilter highlights as the crusading killer whale documentary Lolita: Slave to Entertainment, the atmospheric rockumentary You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story and the kooky, locally-produced short musical "Petunia." Through Sept. 21. The Decatur Ballroom Plaza (and other venues), 1121 Commerce Drive. $5 per screening. 770-998-2288. www.downstreamfest.com.
EYEDRUM FILM AND VIDEO NIGHT (NR) This neo-structuralist film event features such Atlanta artists as Roxanne Lowery, Richard Gess and curator Oliver Smith working directly on celluloid to transform found 16 mm footage into something new. Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m. Eyedrum. 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. $3. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.
HIGHLIGHTING HOWARD (NR) The "Reflecting Black" film series presents a program of independent films by Howard University graduates, students and faculty. Reflecting Black. Sept. 21, 5 and 7 p.m. 100 Auburn Ave. $5. 678-406-0843.
KIAROSTAMI 101 PART II: THE PHOTOGRAPHER (2003) (NR) Jamsheed Akrami offers a frank and funny "video portrait" of Abbas Kiarostami, Iran's most acclaimed filmmaker, in this documentary presented free as a introduction to Kiarostami's Ten at 8 p.m. Iranian Film Today. Sept. 20, 7 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. Free. 404-733-4570. www.high.org. --FF
L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE (R) This utterly charming, hip and modern story follows French graduate student Xavier (Romain Duris) on his chaotic journey from his Parisian home to the warm and sexy embrace of Barcelona. Cedric Klapisch continues to mine the hipster humanism he delivered so beautifully in 1997's When the Cat's Away. Despite its sweet, entertaining timbre, Klapisch's coming-of-age story perfectly conveys the bewitching effects of a change of locale and has profound insights about the need to hold onto one's identity in this frantic world. Sept. 18, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. --FF
THE MEDIA PROJECT (NR) The IMAGE Film and Video center's youth-oriented cinematic program offers a slate of short world premieres from aspiring filmmakers aged 15-19. IMAGE Film & Video Center. Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m. Atlanta Fulton Public Library, Central Library, One Margaret Mitchell Square. Free. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.
NAQOYQATSI (PG) Following the acclaimed Koyaanisquatsi (Hopi for "life out of balance") and Powaqqatsi ("life in transition"), Godfrey Reggio completes his trippy trilogy of montage documentaries with "war as a way of life," which includes images of high-tech combat as well as the damage modern society inflicts on human nature. Yo Yo Ma joins the trilogy's composer, Philip Glass. Sept. 19-25, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.
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.
THE SHEIK (1921) (NR) The Silent Film Society of Atlanta presents the film that made an international sex symbol out of Rudolph Valentino, who plays a desert chieftain wooing a "civilized" woman (Agnes Ayres). Featuring music by Frisky Berlin. Sept. 19, 8:30 p.m. Eyedrum. 290 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. $5. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.
STANDING ON MY SISTERS' SHOULDERS (NR) This winner of the 27th Atlanta Film Festival Audience Award documents the key efforts of women in Mississippi's civil rights movement. IMAGE Film & Video Center. Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 450 Auburn Ave. Free. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org.
TEN (2002) (NR) Acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami structures this drama around 10 scenes set in the front seat of a car, where a woman (Mania Akbari) encounters a variety of characters. Iranian Film Today. Sept. 20, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org. --FF
UNDER THE MOONLIGHT (2001) (NR) A Tehran seminary student questions his plans to become a mullah when his ceremonial clothes are stolen and he discovers a hidden community of outcasts. Iranian Film Today. Sept. 19, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.
AMERICAN SPLENDOR (R) Harvey Pekar's comic book American Splendor holds a mirror up to his mundane life as a Cleveland file clerk. Filmmakers Shari Stringer Berman and Robert Pulcini hold a mirror to the mirror and create dizzying reflections in a film that features the real Pekar as narrator and a superbly cast Paul Giamatti playing him. At times the film's use of animation and word balloons feels like self-conscious gimmickry, but Berman and Pulcini justifiably focus on the tension between the real Pekar and his comic book persona, and Hope Davis delightfully captures the bohemian quirks of Pekar's neurotic but loving third wife. --CH
CABIN FEVER (R) Five college students see their post-exams mountain getaway ruined by a pesky attack of the flesh-eating virus in Eli Roth's first film, which benefits from a nasty sense of humor and a slow-burning mood of paranoia. Cabin Fever lacks the innovation of recent horror flicks like 28 Days Later or The Blair Witch Project, and the last 15 minutes fall apart even more completely than the dripping, disintegrating heroes, but Roth proves an attentive student of early Sam Raimi and David Cronenberg. --CH
DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR (PG-13) The last David Spade film, Joe Dirt, was an irreverent throwaway with a few hilarious moments, but here he dips his toes in the dangerous waters of family-oriented, heartwarming comedy. He plays a waning child star who hires a "normal" family to experience the childhood he never had. The film's only wit comes from Spade's trademark sarcasm and from cameos by actual former child stars like Emmanuel Lewis and Leif Garrett. Everything else faintly reeks of pandering and misguided ambition. --Andrew Stewart
FREAKY FRIDAY (PG) Teenage Anna (Lindsay Lohan) and her mother Tess (Jamie Lee Curtis) learn it's not easy to be each other when they trade bodies for a day in this unnecessary remake of 1976's grandmother of body-switch movies. Only Curtis' performance raises the production values -- barely -- above the level of a movie made for the Disney Channel. Big remains the champion of the genre. --Steve Warren
THE GATEKEEPER (R) Juan Carlos Frey writes, directs and stars in this message-driven suspense film about a U.S. Border patrol agent who moonlights for a right-wing vigilante group to keep out illegal immigrants by any means possible. At Madstone Theaters Parkside
THE HOUSEKEEPER (NR) Four months after his wife leaves him Jacques (Jean-Pierre Bacri) hires a housekeeper, Laura (Emilie Dequenne). Filmmaker Claude Berri, being French, causes one thing to lead to another until the pair develops a perfect symbiotic relationship. But will it last? A nice little story, efficiently told, that will give some men fantasy fodder and be a reality check for others, depending on what they choose to focus on. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. --SW
JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 (R) Far superior to the original installment, this flick is basically a grab bag of crazy. And therein lies its success. In the first 10 minutes alone, the tone meanders through Americana, loss, teen angst, homoeroticism, and racial tension before crash landing into a truly enjoyable creature feature. Ostensibly, the leads are some bland teen models portraying average High School students, but The Creeper, rendered by actor Jonathan Breck and some nifty CGI, is the real body-part-swallowing star of the show. It's a mess, but a fun and exciting mess that unabashedly delivers scares, laughs and serious harpooning action. --Steve Yockey
MATCHSTICK MEN (PG-13) A con artist (Nicolas Cage) afflicted with obsessive-compulsive tics gets a new outlook on life when he meets the teenager daughter (Alison Lohman) he never knew he had. Cage's twitchy, showy performance feels like a technical exercise, but the affectionate give-and-take of the father and daughter holds the film together. Like many other recent con man movies, Matchstick Men means to bamboozle the audience, but even if you see through its tricks, the film's central relationship is strong enough to keep you from feeling swindled. --CH
MONDAYS IN THE SUN (R) In Spain's sadly funny Oscar contender seven friends in the port of Cadiz worked at the shipyard until they were laid off. One took a job as a security guard, one opened a bar, one still looks for work; the others are content to drink and sit in the sun. Director and co-writer Fernando Leon de Aranoa lets us get to know the men gradually and observe the effects of prolonged unemployment in a hopeless economy. This isn't a feel-good movie but Mondays won't get you down like rainy days do. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. --SW
ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (R) Robert Rodriguez's third film in the El Mariachi trilogy he inaugurated in 1992 shows signs of wear and tear. Antonio Banderas returns as the gunslinger/musician with revenge on his mind as he goes after the general planning to assassinate Mexico's president. But the outrageous gunplay and ironic violence borrowed from Hong Kong films has now become as tired as old-style Hollywood action formula, while Rodriguez's indie irreverence has soured into cynicism in this cryptically plotted, banal mayhem. --FF
THIRTEEN (R) Former production designer Catherine Hardwicke makes her impressive, volatile directorial debut in this girl-focused anti-Kids focused upon the complex relationships that back-drop teenage self-destruction. This lacerating, powerful tale of a good girl (Evan Rachel Wood)'s descent into drugs, sex, shoplifting and self-mutilation under the faster-pussycat guidance of wild girl Evie (Nikki Reed) was based on Reed's own damaged California childhood in the fast lane. Hardwicke's smart direction gives it a sense of social urgency. --FF
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