Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed movies

OPENING THURSDAY

THE REAPING (R) A former Christian missionary (Hilary Swank) becomes a world-renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena, only to be baffled by biblical plagues in a small Louisiana town in this thriller directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers).

Opening Friday

ARE WE DONE YET? (PG) 2 stars. In this modern interpretation of the 1948 post-war classic, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, family man Nick Persons (Ice Cube) moves from a city apartment to a drool-worthy country mansion but finds himself and his house wrapped around the finger of an outlandish local contractor (a genuinely uproarious John C. McGinley). The laughs are few and far between -- mostly courtesy of McGinley -- though Ice Cube's scowl and introverted, impacted emotions come in handy in expressing homeowner building angst. -- Felicia Feaster

FIRST SNOW (R) 3 stars. See review.

GRINDHOUSE (R) See review.

THE HOAX (R) 4 stars. See review.

MAFIOSO (1962) (NR) 4 stars. See review.

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (NR) 3 stars. See review.

Duly Noted

THE PSA PROJECT The PSA Project challenged filmmakers to cold call an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization, work with them to create a 30- or 60-second broadcastable Public Service Announcement, create full sound design and/or original music, and donate the finished product to the organization. The screening features shorts from Raymond Carr for The Center for Puppetry Arts, Kathy Skinner for Kate's Club, Vinnie Murphey & Sister Smith for Out of Hand Theater, Maxwell Guberman for Citizens for Progressive Transit, Amy Jackson and Mark Burch for PAWS Atlanta, Tim Habegar for The Teen Ensemble at New Street Arts, JD Taylor for Georgia River Network and John Pruner for Moving in the Spirit. April 6-7, 10 p.m., PushPush Theater, 121 New St. 404-377-332. www.pushpushtheater.com.

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.

STEVE REICH MUSIC AND FILM FESTIVAL Program features three 1960s films with soundtracks composed or directly inspired by Reich. Robert Nelson's Plastic Haircut (1963) is a dada-inspired San Francisco romp that features Reich's earliest existing tape-collage piece. Nelson's bitingly satirical Oh Dem Watermelons (1965) features a memorable tape-collage score by Reich. Out of circulation for decades, these films were recently rediscovered and preserved by the Academy Film Archive and will be shown in new prints. Gunvor Nelson's My Name Is Oona (1969), a portrait of the filmmaker's young daughter, uses sound material recorded by Reich and inspired by his tape-loop compositions. April 8, 8 p.m. Eyedrum, Suite 8, 290 MLK Jr. Drive. $7. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.

STREET OF SHAME (1956) Although director Kenji Mizoguchi is known in the West mainly for period dramas such as Ugetsu Monogatari (1953), he also made a number of films dealing with contemporary social problems. This, his final film, provides a sympathetic portrait of women working in a Tokyo brothel. April 11, 8 p.m., Emory University, White Hall 205, Dowman Drive. 404-727-6761. www.filmstudies.emory.edu.

Continuing

300 (R) 4 stars. In 480 B.C., 300 Spartan warriors stand against an army of hundreds of thousands in an ultraviolent action epic that makes the Hercules and Conan movies look like flailing slap-fights. Like Sin City, it's based on a macho graphic novel by Frank Miller and all the backgrounds are computer-generated; unlike Sin City, the painterly images don't overwhelm the emotional investment of such actors as Gerard Butler and Lena Headey as Sparta's king and queen. If it plays like the biggest Army recruiting commercial ever made (particularly given that the bad guys are Iranians -- I mean, Persians), 300 nevertheless conquers its own overwrought tendencies to offer a thrilling, larger-than-life spectacle. -- Curt Holman

AMAZING GRACE (PG) 3 stars. Director Michael Apted (49 Up) examines the attempts of British reformers in Parliament led by William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) to end the Empire's slave trade toward the end of the 18th century. While Apted's own attempts to quicken the film's extended storyline spanning nearly two decades by using flashbacks falls a bit short, the compelling subject matter and Gruffudd's earnest performance are engaging enough. Veteran British actors Albert Finney and Michael Gambon lend a capable hand in supporting roles, with Finney playing a repentant slave-ship captain who eventually penned the famous gospel song of the movie's title. -- David Lee Simmons

AVENUE MONTAIGNE (PG-13) 3 stars. A frothy but entertaining Gallic drama about how the other half lives, Daniéle Thompson's sorta Cinderella story has a beautiful gamine (Cécile de France) taking a job at a chic cafe in the wealthy Avenue Montaigne district of Paris whose unhappy rich inhabitants she watches contemplating life changes. A pianist (Albert Dupontel) wants to give up his career, an art collector (Claude Brasseur) is auctioning off the fruits of his lifelong hobby and a soap opera actress (Valérie Lemercier) contemplates gladly trading her fame and riches to play Simone de Beauvoir on the big screen. If your expectations are low, the film is a diverting, pretty distraction. -- Feaster

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