DUPLEX (PG-13) Throw Momma From the Train director Danny Devito presents a dark comedy about a couple (Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore) trying to throw a maddening old lady from their rent-controlled Manhattan apartment.
THE PRINCESS BLADE (NR) Shinsuke Sato's cost-conscious, comic-book-based revenge story depicts a young woman (Yumiko Shaku) from a secret society of assassins who literally crosses swords with her order. With moody, bluish cinematography and a setting that combines past and future by putting swords alongside computers, The Princess Blade takes a fresh stab at the conventions of martial arts movies. Shaku makes a fiercely effective heroine but the film's strengths get ultimately undercut -- no pun intended -- by budget limitations and the gratuitously grim, bloody resolution of the romantic subplot. At Madstone Theaters Parkside. --Curt Holman
THE RUNDOWN (PG-13) This sadistic but fun flick with surprisingly coherent action sequences introduces a new action-comedy team in The Rock and Seann William Scott. The Rock seeks to bring Scott back from South America, where he's searching for a golden artifact that could also buy the locals' freedom from ugly (but funny) American Christopher Walken. It's brutal, it's loopy and you have to be sick to enjoy it ... as much as I did. --SW
SO CLOSE (R) A pair of sisters (Qi Shu and Vickie Zhao) work as stylish assassins in Hong Kong director Corey Yuen's action film filled with gadgets, high-tech heists and swordfights. At Landmark Midtown Cinema.
STOKED: THE RISE AND FALL OF GATOR (NR) Helen Stickler's documentary features fame, booze, groupies and murder -- while confining itself to the world of professional skateboarding. Stickler captures both the star power that made Mark "Gator" Rogowski one of pro skateboarding's first celebrities, as well as the violent, self-destructive tendencies that led to his 31-year prison sentence. While appropriately horrified by Gator's crimes, Stoked finds plenty of humor in campy '80s video artifacts and its colorful, burnt-out interviewees. At Landmark Midtown Cinema. --CH
TATTOO: A LOVE STORY (NR) This low-budget love story concerns the unlikely romance between a frigid school teacher (Megan Edwards) and a gruff tattoo artist (Virgil Mignanelli) with -- what else? -- a heart of gold. Not much revolutionary in terms of plot or cultural commentary, but a couple of well-placed Deadhead jokes might make the hippies giggle. Producer Stephen Davies will be in attendance at the 7:15 p.m. shows on Sept. 26 and 27. At Madstone Theaters Parkside. --Tray Butler
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (PG-13) Devastated divorcee Diane Lane travels to Italy at the behest of lesbian best friend Sandra Oh. There she buys an old villa and starts a new life while the audiences get a mini-tour of the country. Audrey Wells adapted the book by Frances Mayes and directed Lane in a tour de force that's aimed at women but should be painless for most men. --SW
THE ESCAPE (2001) (NR) Argentine director Eduardo Mignogna adapts his own novel, a tale of seven prisoners' daring getaway from Buenos Aires' National Penitentiary in 1928. Latin American Film Festival. Oct. 3, 7 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Auditorium. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org, and Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m., Madstone Theaters Parkside, 920 Roswell Road, 404-252-2000
IN THOSE DAYS (1947) (NR) Germany's tempestuous history from 1933 to 1947 is revealed through the story of a single automobile and its seven owners. Post-War German Classics. Oct. 1, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut Inter Nationes, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.
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 age 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. 25, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565.
RED BEARD (1965) (NR) In Akira Kurosawa's final collaboration with Toshiro Mifune, the actor plays a humane doctor at a 19th century public medical clinic who teaches compassion to an arrogant intern (Yuzo Kayama). Japanese Film Festival: A Tribute to Akira Kurosawa. Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. Emory University, 205 White Hall. Free. 404-727-6761.
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.
VELVET GOLDMINE (1998) (R) Far From Heaven director Todd Haynes salutes the glam rock scene with a film that looks and sounds like a movie that 1970s glam rockers might have made themselves -- which isn't always a good thing. Jonathan Rhys Meyers pouts vacantly as the David Bowiesque central character, but the film gets strong support from Christian Bale, Toni Collette and especially Ewan MacGregor as a raw punk rocker. Out on Film. Sept. 28, 7 p.m. Starlight Drive-In Theatre, 2000 Moreland Ave. $6. 404-352-4225. www.outonfilm.com. --CH
WINDOW OF THE SOUL (2001) (NR) The documentary focuses on 19 people from around the world with different degrees of visual impairment, who speak literally and metaphorically about how they see the world. Interviewees include filmmaker Wim Wenders and neurologist Oliver Sachs. Latin American Film Festival. Oct. 4, 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
AMERICAN WEDDING (R) The third slice of American Pie trilogy finds Jason Biggs' pie-fornicator preparing to walk down the aisle with Alyson Hannigan's flute-fetishist. As bellowing Steve Stifler, beetle-browed Seann William Scott hogs the screen time without showing much comedic ability beyond making faces and raising his voice. But Biggs and Hannigan remain charmingly horny, and compared to Pie 2, American Wedding showers gags in quantity, even if their quality can be a crap shoot. Sometimes literally. --CH
THE ANIMATION SHOW (NR) "King of the Hill" and "Beavis & Butt-Head" creator Mike Judge teams with Don Hertzfeldt, animator of the uproarious short "Rejected," to present an evening of cutting edge new animated films, including such Oscar nominees as "Das Rad" and "Mt. Head." At Lefont Garden Hills Cinema
ANYTHING ELSE (R) Woody Allen goes after the youth market (insert your own joke) in a comedy that's as much about young lovers Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci as Woody's mentoring friendship with Biggs. Ricci can have sex with any man but the one she lives with (Biggs), but he can't give the heave-ho to her, his useless shrink or his small-time agent (Danny DeVito). Allen provides the expected intellectual humor in a film that's at least as far from the director's worst as it is from his best. --SW
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
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. --TB
DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR HH (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
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (R) This is not the finest moment for director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Dangerous Liaisons). Based on an interesting premise about a kidneys-for-passports black market operated from a seedy London hotel, this Hollywood-style thriller centers on a principled African immigrant determined to expose the ring. A bland romance between the principled former doctor (Chiwetel Ejiofar) and a Turkish immigrant (Audrey Tautou) weighs the film down. Frears emphasizes thriller cliches over a sustained examination of the feelings of immigrants. --FF
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 Beyonce Knowles sings "Fever" and Gospel greats like the Reverend Shirley Caesar make joyful noise, but Gooding merely adds bland desperation to the hackneyed plot about a 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. --CH
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. --SW
IMAX THEATER: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (NR) The greatest survival story of the 20th century lends itself to IMAX treatment. Kevin Spacey narrates Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to cross Antarctica by dogsled without his usual sarcasm but without overselling it either. The visuals combine Frank Hurley's original photographs and film footage, which retain amazing clarity, with recreations of the original expedition. Through Dec. 6. Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey (NR) This world music sampler with the emphasis on percussion was filmed on five continents by the creators of the stage musical Stomp. The Stomp cast is augmented by a dozen acts representing the sounds that have influenced them, performing for about two minutes each. For all the time, money and effort involved the result should have been better. Through Feb. 6. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu. --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
LE DIVORCE (PG-13) A shrewd, tasty little comedy about the cultural divide between America and France, this Merchant/Ivory production concerns Roxy (Naomi Watts), an American poet in Paris, who discovers Old World sexism in the French legal system when her husband deserts her for his mistress. Kate Hudson is her sister, dispatched from Santa Barbara to look after the newly pregnant Roxy. While Roxy stews, Isabel (Hudson) begins an adulterous affair with a right-wing politician and falls in love with French social customs involving lingerie, sex, Hermees handbags and haute cuisine. --FF
LOST IN TRANSLATION (R) Director Sofia Coppola's (The Virgin Suicides) much-anticipated second film brings together Bill Murray and indie flick ingenue 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 through 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 MAGDALENE SISTERS (R) Actor/director Peter Mullan's film is hyperbolic and at every turn rigged to inspire outrage. But it is also a highly effective, darkly engrossing condemnation of the checkered history of religious abuses of power. The drama takes place at one of Ireland's "Magdalene Asylums," which operated from the 19th century until 1996 as a virtual prison for girls accused of "moral crimes" ranging from being raped, to out-of-wedlock childbirth to flirtatiousness. Mullan's women-in-prison formula follows three young girls who are nearly destroyed by the sadism of the nuns who oversee their work in the asylum's grueling laundries. --FF
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
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
OPEN RANGE (R) Kevin Costner (who also directed and co-produced) plays a conflicted cattle driver pitted against a greedy land baron. A sleepy opening and sometimes tedious pacing make the first hour drag, but Robert Duvall's fine performance as a fatherly cow poke keeps things moving along until the explosive final gun battle, which is worth the wait. --TB
THE ORDER (R) Two words: Holy shit. Composed mostly of dull conversations, The Order is about the "Sin Eater" (Benno Furmann), who redeems people dying outside the Catholic church by taking their sins into himself -- with fava beans and a good Chianti (well, bread and salt). After 600 years he's ready to pass the job on to a young priest (Heath Ledger) as his chosen successor. Ledger goes through the movie with a pained expression, as will viewers. Shannyn Sossamon is the love interest required for films about modern priests. --SW
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 okay 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. At Madstone Theaters Parkside.
SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER (PG) Director Robert Rodriguez's playful use of 3-D effects -- complete with red-and-blue glasses -- make the third Spy Kids film a gimmicky delight. Half-pint secret agent Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) enters a virtual video game to save the world's children from the maniacal Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone). Coherence runs low, especially if you don't know gaming jargon, but the visual creativity soars sky-high (imagine Tron meets Looney Tunes), and some clever Matrix satire sets up the year's funniest cameo. --CH
STEP INTO LIQUID (NR) The pictures are worth thousands of words, but that doesn't stop surfilosophers from adding thousands more in Dana Brown's continuation of the work of his surfer documentarian father, Bruce Brown (the Endless Summer movies). Well timed to appeal to extreme sports fans, Liquid highlights new wrinkles (tow-in surfing and foil boards) and old, wrinkled (and some younger) surfers in locations from Chile to Vietnam to Wisconsin. Gnarly, dude, but next time shut up and surf. At Landmark Midtown Cinema. --SW
S.W.A.T. (PG-13) Veteran TV director/actor Clark Johnson makes good with his big-screen directing debut with an adaptation of the 1970s cop show that lags in some parts and proves anticlimactic in others. Samuel L. Jackson leads a team of newly-recruited quasi-loose cannons, including Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez, in guarding a vaguely international criminal (Olivier Martinez), who offers $100 million to anyone whom can spring him. Non-stop action ensues when every criminal in L.A. takes him up on the offer. Training Day it ain't, but in a summer full of overblown sequels, S.W.A.T.'s simple cop-flick formula is a nice relief. --AS
SWIMMING POOL (R) A standoffish English mystery writer (Charlotte Rampling) and her publisher's trampy French daughter (Ludivine Sagnier) become mismatched roomies in Francois Ozon's psychological thriller. The actresses give emotionally and physically revealing performances (Ozon seems besotted with Sagnier's lithe form) and the titular pool becomes a supple symbol of the human psyche. The thought-provoking final twist can't compensate for some routine ideas about releasing inhibitions or the film's lack of confidence with its melodramatic turns. Swimming Pool spends too much time splashing around in the shallows. --CH
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
UNDERWORLD (R) Kate Beckinsale's pistol-packing vampire gets the hots -- or whatever vampires get -- for werewolf-to-be Scott Speedman, in defiance of their species' century-spanning feud. Less Romeo meets Juliet than Anne Rice meets The Matrix, this sleekly-shot but confusing supernatural shoot-em-up scarcely even gives us a good look at the werewolves. It's like watching a drawn-out Marilyn Manson video, but the final third becomes so absurd, it's fun to howl at. --CH
In the latest 'Emory Looks at Hollywood' episode, Judith Evans Grubbs, Emory Professor of Roman…
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