Short Subjectives 

Capsule reviews of recently released movies

Opening Friday

· AKEELAH AND THE BEE (PG) The spate of spelling bee films (Spellbound, Bee Season) continues with this tale of a girl (Keke Palmer) from Los Angeles attempting to compete in the National Spelling Bee. The cast includes What's Love Got to Do With It? co-stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne.

· THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON 3 stars. (PG-13) See review.

· HARD CANDY 2 stars. (R) See review.

· RV (PG) Robin Williams borrows a page from Chevy Chase's Vacation franchise in Barry Sonnenfeld's comedy about a man who takes his family on a trip to the Colorado Rockies and encounters a bizarre band of campers. Along for the ride are Jeff Daniels, Cheryl Hines and "Arrested Development's" Will Arnett and Tony Hale.

· STICK IT (PG-13) A rebellious young gymnast (Missy Peregrym) throws an elite gymnastics program run by a legendary trainer (Jeff Bridges) off-balance.

· STONED 2 stars. (R) See review.

· UNITED 93 3 stars. (R) See review.

Duly Noted

· ATLANTA HIP-HOP FILM FESTIVAL (NR) Atlanta's second annual hip-hop film festival includes such screenings as the concert film Dead Prez: It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop; Scene Not Heard, a documentary about Philadelphia's contribution to hip-hop; and New Flavors: The Emergence of Southern Hip-Hop. Fri.-Sun., April 27-30. Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, and Auburn Avenue Research Library, 101 Auburn Ave. 678-438-8820.

· BEACH PARTY (1963) The Starlight Six Drive-In celebrates the 30th anniversary of Trader Vic's Atlanta with an evening of tiki torches, live rock music and this cult-fave, sand-and-surf teeny-bopper flick with Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and music from Dick Dale and the Del Tones. On a double bill with White Savage. Fri., April 28, dusk. Starlight Six Drive-In, 2000 Moreland Ave. $10. 404-627-5786.

· BOATS OUT OF WATERMELON RINDS (2004) (NR) In the late 1960s, two boys living in a small Turkish village struggle to build a movie camera and become film directors. Discovering Turkish Cinema. Fri., April 28, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. Free. 404-733-4570.

· BREAKFAST ON PLUTO 4 stars. (R) Abandoned on the doorstep of a priest (Liam Neeson) as a baby, a young Irish transvestite (Cilllian Murphy) takes a wide-eyed ramble through 1970s Ireland and England in search of his birth mother. Co-adapting Patrick McCabe's novel, director Neil Jordan veers from humor to drama and from realism to fantasy, as if Pluto's spirit is too big to be confined to a single genre. You never know what will turn the next corner of this picaresque comedy -- Brutal IRA terrorists? Brendan Gleeson in a funny animal costume? -- that boasts rich period detail, an intriguingly pacifist viewpoint, and Murphy's dreamily detached performance. April 28--May 4. Cinefest, GSU University Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. -- Curt Holman

· DOCUFEST ATLANTA Activist documentaries and profiles of unique individuals dominate this debut film festival, including Bob Smith, U.S.A., about seven men who share the same name; The Sandman's Garden, about self-taught artist Lonnie Holley; and Walking the Line, a look at the conflicts over the U.S./Mexican border. Through April 30. PushPush Theater, 121 New St., Decatur. $5-$30. 404-377-6332.

· ISTANBUL TALES (2005) (NR) This love letter to Istanbul unfolds as a series of five vignettes, each by a different film director and inspired by a different fairy tale. Discovering Turkish Cinema. Sat., April 29, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. Free. 404-733-4570.

· THE LANGUAGE WE CRY IN (NR) This documentary reaches across hundreds of years and thousands of miles to find traces of 18th-century Sierra Leone in the Gullah communities of modern-day coastal Georgia. Thurs., May 4, and Sat., May 13, 6 p.m. APEX Museum, 135 Auburn Ave. Free. 770-234-5890.

· 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 Meat Loaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

· SUGIHARA: CONSPIRACY OF KINDNESS (NR) This documentary profiles Chiune Sugihara, Japan's consul general in Lithuania in World War II, whose efforts to help Jewish refugees inspired the world to call him "the Japanese Schindler." Fri., April 28, 10 a.m., and Sun., April 30, 11 a.m. Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road. Free. 404-842-1400.

· TRANSAMERICA 2 stars. (R) Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives") deserves praise for her well-observed performance as Bree Osbourne, a pre-op male-to-female transsexual anxiously awaiting her sex change operation. A hitch is thrown in her plan when an adult son (Kevin Zegers) she didn't know she had turns up and the pair drive from New York to California, meeting various kooks along the way. For a road movie about a trannie trying to keep her true gender a secret from her male prostitute son, Transamerica is a weirdly conventional film that ends up making Bree's prissy she-male ways the butt of too many jokes. Thurs., April 27. Cinefest, GSU University Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. -- Felicia Feaster


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