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BEING JULIA (R) Based on Someset Maugham's novel Theatre, this stage drama stars Annette Bening as London's leading actress in the 1930s and features such supporting players as Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon and Juliet Stevenson.
BIRTH (R) Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer gets a little spooky in this nod to Rosemary's Baby's New York gothic. Nicole Kidman plays a widow approached on the eve of her second marriage by a creepy 10-year-old kid claiming to be her dead husband. The claustrophobic tone and supernatural flourishes seem cribbed from better movies, and many viewers will have to suspend major disbelief to buy scenes like the one where Kidman bends herself in half to soulfully kiss her miniature reincarnated husband. Some may find Birth intense and spooky, but others may have a hard time suppressing a laugh at Glazer's pretentious ghost story. -- FF
BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (R) Yo-yo dieting Renée Zellweger packs the junk back in her trunk to reprise her role as the ditzy, plumpish London diarist, torn between her dashing but reserved boyfriend (Colin Firth) and her caddish ex (Hugh Grant). As the prat-falling, foul-mouthed Bridget, Zellweger hilariously embodies modern female insecurities, but Edge of Reason recycles too many of the prior film's big moments. The unnecessary sequel to the first novel becomes an unnecessary sequel to the first movie. -- CH
COWBOYS AND ANGELS (NR) In this coming-of-age comedy, an aspiring artist (Michael Legge) moves to Limerick, where his gay roommate (Allen Leech) gives him lessons in being cool to attract his unrequited love (Amy Shiels).
ENDURING LOVE (R) Changing Lanes director Roger Michell presents another thriller based on intense bonds formed during a traumatic incident. The fallout from a hot air balloon rescue gone bad leaves a college professor (Daniel Craig) stewing in his own guilt and resisting the unwanted attentions of fellow would-be rescuer, Jed (Rhys Ifans). Playing Jed with a gentle but unsettling passivity, Ifans always manages to evoke the vibe of an ex-hippie-turned-born-again Christian. The film crosses into run-of-the-mill stalker movie territory, but to Michell's credit, the narrative stays taut and engaging, thanks to detail-oriented camerawork, artful editing and the always-welcome presence of Samantha Morton. -- CJ
FINDING NEVERLAND (PG) Director Marc Forster finds a connection between Scottish author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his most famous creation, Peter Pan. Both desire to avoid the bitter realities of death and growing up by escaping to a Neverland of perpetual childhood. Depp gives a magical performance in this wonderfully bittersweet, loose adaptation of Barrie's life, which imagines how his friendship with four young boys and their widowed mother (Kate Winslet) -- and their shared experience of death -- might have inspired him to create Peter Pan. -- FF
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (PG-13) Surprisingly, Friday Night Lights entertains audiences who don't care about sports nearly as much as it delights high school football fans. In 1988, Odessa, Texas, stands behind the Permian Panthers but supports Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) only as long as they win. When star player Derek Luke suffers injuries in the opening game, things look bleak until a third-string junior moves up to replace him. The story gets melodramatic, especially through Tim McGraw's over-the-top character, but for the most part it earns its cheers and tears. -- Steve Warren
THE GRUDGE (PG-13) Takashi Shimizu realizes every director's dream of remaking a film with more money and the lessons learned on the first attempt. Based on his Japanese ghost story Ju-on, The Grudge takes place in Tokyo but almost everyone speaks English, with numerous American characters on hand. Exchange student Sarah Michelle Gellar faces ghostly entities in a house with an attitude. The original structure seems slightly dumbed down for Americans but the most memorable visuals and hokey scare tactics have been retained. -- SW
I HEART HUCKABEES (R) A "screwball sophistry" could describe this fast-talking, deep-thinking comedy from Three Kings director David O. Russell. A frustrated environmental activist (Jason Schwartzman) finds himself torn between the forces of order, represented by Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman's "existential detectives," and a nihilistic -- but sexy -- French intellectual (Isabelle Huppert). Huckabees tests your tolerance for deadpan whimsy but pays off with persistent laughs and relevant commentary on suburban sprawl and celebrity-obsessed corporate culture. -- CH
IMAX THEATER: Amazing Journeys (NR) Here's the movie Imax was made for! Neither didactic nor evangelical, it appeals to all ages and images you'll never forget. The film examines migration -- of monarch butterflies, gray whales, red crabs, zebras and wildebeest, birds and humans. Director George Casey adds cinematic touches of comedy, drama and suspense to avoid a dry documentary feel in what may be the best Imax film yet. Forces of Nature (NR) Volcanoes and tornadoes and earthquakes, oh my! Not to mention the scientists who study them to improve their forecasting ability in hopes of saving lives. It's like watching the best of the Weather Channel on a giant screen -- without getting your local forecast. NASCAR: The Imax Experience (PG) Stock car racing seems a perfect subject for 3-D Imax but this survey course -- "NASCAR 101" -- doesn't begin to realize the potential. Fans have seen it all before and if non-fans had any interest, they'd be fans. The film includes surprisingly little racing footage, and cuts away too quickly from the shots that put you in the action. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu. -- SW
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