Short subjectives 

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed movies

Opening Friday


DISTURBIA (PG-13) See review.

THE INVISIBLE (PG-13) High school teenager Nick (Justin Chatwin) becomes trapped in a kind of limbo between the living and dead after being mistaken for someone else and attacked by a disturbed girl (Margarita Levieva). David S. Goyer directed this supernatural thriller based on the novel by Mats Wahl; co-stars Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River).

PATHFINDER (R) A young Norse boy who becomes stranded when his Viking ship is wrecked off the East Coast of North America grows up among the Native Americans, only to defend the tribe against the Vikings who came to destroy them. Action-adventure is directed by Marcus Nispel and stars Karl Urban.

PERFECT STRANGER (R) A reporter (Halle Berry) for a New York City newspaper on the trail to solve the murder of a childhood friend finds herself up against a powerful CEO (Bruce Willis) in this crime thriller directed by James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, Confidence). Co-stars Giovanni Ribisi.

REDLINE (PG-13) The hot young lead singer (Nadia Bjorlin) for an up-and-coming rock band who also happens to be a car freak gets sucked into the world of illicit car races run by restless billionaires in this action film directed by former stunt coordinator Andy Cheng and produced by car collector Daniel Sadek. Co-star Eddie Griffin gained notoriety for crashing the Ferrari Enzo (estimated value: $1.5 million) that Sadek supplied for the movie.

SLOW BURN (R) As if the district attorney (Ray Liotta) doesn't have enough on his hands with a time-sensitive showdown against a gang leader (LL Cool J), he also has to fend off the machinations of a hot assistant district attorney (Jolene Blalock) and a mysterious stranger. Written and directed by Wayne Beach and co-stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taye Diggs, Bruce McGill and Mekhi Phifer.

THROUGH THE EYES OF ANOTHER (NR) Drama about interracial love is directed by Gianpaolo Tescari.


Duly Noted

COMEDY OF POWER (NR) Director Claude Chabrol teams for the seventh time with actress Isabelle Huppert in this caustic portrait of an ambitious professional woman stymied by a society still very much dominated by men. Based on a real-life financial and political scandal involving the French oil company Elf Aquitaine, the film centers on an obsessed examining magistrate, Judge Jeanne Charmant-Killman (Huppert), and the smug, imperious and pampered businessman, Humeau (Francois Berleand), who has the misfortune of capturing her interest. In French with subtitles. French Film Yesterday & Today. Sat., April 14, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre. 1280 Peachtree St. $7. 404-733-4570.

LEMMING (2005) (NR) Young and happily married, high-tech engineer Alain Getty (Laurent Lucas) and his wife, Bénédicte (Charlotte Gainsbourg), are settling nicely into their life in Bel Air, a modern town in the south of France. To celebrate his new position and cement his relationship with his boss, Alain invites Richard Pollock (Andre Dussollier) and his wife Alice for dinner. Things turn from strange to stranger fast after the Pollocks arrive and a furry rodent appears. In French with subtitles. French Film Yesterday & Today. Sat., April 14, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre. 1280 Peachtree St. $7. 404-733-4570.

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.

VOLVER (R) 5 stars. Pedro Almodóvar proves yet again that he is one of the most engaging filmmakers working today. He balances intense feeling and giddy silliness without sacrificing humanity or heart. A devoted mother, played by an intoxicating Penélope Cruz, finds herself disposing of a dead husband, running an illegal restaurant and fending off her mother's ghost. Blending elements of Italian neorealist cinema, classic Hollywood melodramas like Mildred Pierce and outrageous Almodóvarian wit, Volver is an earthy, heartfelt pleasure from top to bottom. Through April 12. Cinefest, GSU University Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. -- Felicia Feaster


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 penned the famous gospel hymn of the movie's title. -- David Lee Simmons

ARE WE DONE YET? (PG) 2 stars. In this modern interpretation of the 1948 postwar 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. -- Feaster

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

BLADES OF GLORY (PG-13) 3 stars. Two figure skaters, played by fey Jon Heder and swaggering Will Ferrell, attempt to put aside their bitter rivalry and become the first man-on-man ice-skating team. Will Ferrell's typical comedies let the funny outfits do half the work, but Blades of Glory improves on the formula with stranger, snappier dialogue ("Get out of my face!" "I'll get inside your face!"), a wonderfully bizarre vision of professional skating and an ability to tweak gay panic without resorting to actual homophobia. Ferrell and Heder make amusing foils, and the film gives "Arrested Development" fans a treat by reuniting Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as a psychotically competitive brother-sister figure skating team. -- Holman

DEAD SILENCE (R) A newlywed (Ryan Kwanten) investigates the death of his wife after they moved to a haunted small town in a thriller directed by James Wan.

FIREHOUSE DOG (PG) The world's most famous -- and Hollywood's most pampered -- pooch is separated from his owner and ends up as the mascot of a hapless fire station. There, he helps a 12-year-old boy (Josh Hutcherson) and his father, a veteran fire chief, turn the station into the city's finest. Directed by Todd Holland.

FIRST SNOW (R) 3 stars. Memento's Guy Pearce plays a flooring salesman in the Southeast who undergoes an existential crisis when a middle-of-nowhere fortune-teller (a superb J.K. Simmons) predicts that he's going to die. First-time filmmaker Mark Fergus uses the isolating effects of wide-open spaces to powerful effect in this thoughtful character study with elements of film noir thrillers. First Snow sags in the middle, but Pearce finds the heart of a slick hustler who finds unexpected depths in the face of mortality. -- Holman

GRINDHOUSE (R) 3 stars. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez team up for a double feature paying homage to sleazy exploitation films of the 1970s and the seedy cinemas that screened them. Rodriguez's zombie spoof Planet Terror goes almost exclusively for juvenile gross-outs, although Rose McGowan creates an iconic character as a go-go dancer turned zombie killer who's like a cross between Wonder Woman and the Bride of Frankenstein. Tarantino takes Death Proof more seriously by affectionately introducing the strong, likeable female characters (including Rosario Dawson and stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself) stalked by a psycho stunt driver (Kurt Russell). Apart from Death Proof's breathtaking final car chase, Grindhouse's most appealing qualities are its hilarious fake movie trailers and its evocation of the scratchy prints and missing reels of old film prints. -- Holman

THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 (R) What started with the Carter family clearly didn't end with the Carter family in the sequel to the remake directed by Martin Weisz. Co-stars Michael McMillan and Jessica Stroup.

THE HOAX (R) 4 stars. Lasse Hallstrom's (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) rollicking adaptation of the true tale of literary charlatan Clifford Irving who sold a faked biography of reclusive nut and billionaire Howard Hughes to his publisher McGraw-Hill is a tale of deception for our times with a marvelously cagey and charismatic lead performance by Richard Gere. -- Feaster

I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE (R) 2 stars. A bland comic remake of French director Eric Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon starring, written and directed by Chris Rock about a Manhattan banker with a perfect home life in the suburbs, children and a pretty wife who nevertheless lusts for a sexpot (Kerry Washington) who tempts him away from home and hearth. Nothing new in the marital angst genre in this unsatisfying, mostly unfunny, oddly bitter translation of Rock's standup comedy to film. -- Feaster

IMAX THEATER Deep Sea (NR) Get an up-close-and-personal look at sea turtles, giant octopi and other strange and colorful marine life in this visit to the ocean floor. Greece: Secrets of the Past (NR) This documentary explores the archeological secrets of Ancient Greece and features the Parthenon in its original glory as well as the volcanic eruption that buried the island of Santorini. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300.

THE LAST MIMZY (PG) Directed by Robert Shaye and based on the sci-fi short story by Lewis Padgett, Mimzy tells the story of two children who discover a mysterious box containing strange devices they think are toys. The "toys" begin to teach the children extraordinary things, and soon the family learns the "toys" are part high-tech electronics, part organic and contain important secret messages about the future.

THE LOOKOUT (R) Directed by Scott Frank (Academy Award-nominated screenwriter for Out of Sight), The Lookout follows Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a once-promising high school athlete who becomes mentally impaired after a tragic accident. After finding work as a janitor, Chris becomes part of a heist at a bank that employs him. The film also stars Jeff Daniels and Isla Fisher.

MAFIOSO (1962) (NR) 4 stars. Alberto Sordi plays an exuberant, fast-talking technician at an auto plant who brings his urban Italian family to visit his small Sicilian hometown. Alberto Lattuada's rediscovered comedy anticipates The Godfather and "The Sopranos" with its deft combination of humor, drama and pulp crime story as the hero grapples with the demands of both his real family and the local crime syndicate. The first half provides enough laughs to be called National Lampoon's Sicilian Vacation but Mafioso turns almost entirely dramatic in its last half hour as it reveals the way one's relatives and "La Famiglia" can make us offers we can't refuse. Co-stars Norma Bengell. -- Holman

MEET THE ROBINSONS (G) A schoolboy inventor travels to the future and meets a lovably eccentric family. This computer-animated family flick is based on A Day With Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, whose playfully retro children's books inspired the kid's shows "Rolie Polie Olie" and "George Shrinks," not to mention the cool designs of Robots.

THE NAMESAKE (PG-13) 2 stars. Mira Nair's (Monsoon Wedding) latest foray into cross-cultural ennui is a bit of a disappointment. When her adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri's novel is focused on recent newlyweds Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Khan) as they make the difficult immigrant's journey from bright, warm Calcutta to grim Queens in the '70s, the film succeeds beautifully. But when Nair's attention turns to their dour teenage hatchling Gogol (Kal Penn) in this epic family drama of cultural collision between the old world and the new, it loses energy. Gogol's bratty angst just doesn't carry the emotional gravitas of his parents' loneliness and yearning and every time the attention is on the younger generation's problems the film suffers. -- Feaster

PAN'S LABYRINTH (R) 4 stars. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's gothic fairy tale concerns a little girl (Ivana Baquero) who escapes the violence of the adult world in prolonged fantasies of descent into a magical underworld overseen by an enormous talking faun, Pan. Del Toro (Hellboy), supported by an excellent cast of female actresses, delivers an achingly beautiful parable about the willful desire of children to imagine an alternative reality. -- Feaster

PREMONITION (PG-13) 3 stars. Sandra Bullock plays a housewife who begins doubting her sanity after his husband's death when she experiences her days out of sequence. Reminiscent of the premises of both Memento and Groundhog Day, director Mennan Yapo's supernatural thriller intrigues the audience with Bill Kelly's reasonably clever script instead of horror-house jolts. -- Holman

PRIDE (PG) Sunu Gonera's fact-based film follows inner-city Philadelphia swim coach Jim Ellis' (Terrence Howard) fight to build a swim team in one of Philly's toughest neighborhoods in the 1970s. Driven by his love of competitive swimming, Ellis refurbishes an abandoned recreational pool with the help of its custodian Elston (Bernie Mac). Recruiting teens from the streets, Jim struggles to transform a motley team of novices into capable swimmers -- all in time for the upcoming state championships. Supporting case includes Tom Arnold and Kimberly Elise.

THE REAPING (R) Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was tragically killed, and has since become a world-renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the biblical plagues, she realizes that science cannot explain what is happening and she must regain her faith to combat the dark forces threatening the community. Directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and co-starring AnnaSophia Robb and David Morrissey.

REIGN OVER ME (R) 2 stars. Don Cheadle plays a bored, disrespected dentist who learns to enjoy life again when he renews his friendship with his college roommate (Adam Sandler), who's become an immature, unstable recluse following his family's death on Sept. 11. As in Punch-Drunk Love, Sandler proves he can convey a stillness on screen that serves him well as a dramatic actor, and he's well-paired with Cheadle's sympathetic, understated performance. While writer/director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger) brings some unexpected complexity, a subplot about an obsessed patient (Saffron Burroughs) trivializes mental illness, while the use of pop songs to provide emotional texture proves particularly heavy-handed. -- Holman

SHOOTER (R) 2 stars. Playing a sniper with a testosterone-dripping name of Bob Lee Swagger, Mark Wahlberg follows up his Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Departed with a dumber "political" action film. His covert military sniper gets coaxed from retirement to avert an assassination, only to be framed and become the target of a national manhunt. The script convincingly portrays the nuts-and-bolts details of marksmanship, and Training Day director Antoine Fuqua can stage a competent action scene, but the film relies on so many clichés that you can cherry-pick your pet peeves (like a Southern school teacher apparently unable to speak proper English), and the film's "patriotic" philosophy seems to boil down to vengeful anarchy. ­-- Holman

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (NR) 3 stars. Like Red River on peyote, this visually astounding Thai film features homoeroticism, eye-gouging colors and über-emotions as it riffs on the hyperbolic qualities of Eastern cinema, American Westerns and river-of-tears Douglas Sirk melodramas. A forbidden love between a beautiful rich girl and a vengeance-mad Thai cowboy is the least interesting element of a film whose crazed visual splendor is the real selling point. -- Feaster

TMNT (PG) After the defeat of their old archenemy Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei Splinter becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Directed by Kevin Munroe; voice cast includes Kevin Smith and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

WILD HOGS (PG-13) 1 star. Simple-minded comedy has the audacity to reference Deliverance in one scene, yet the only folks who'll be squealing like a pig are the ones who fork over 10 bucks, only to find themselves royally screwed after enduring its inanities. Four Cincinnati bunglers (John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) decide to embark on a midlife-crisis road trip to the West Coast. The "gay panic" humor is so rampant that it's reasonable to wonder if cast and crew wrapped each shooting day by beating up a homosexual off-screen. -- Brunson

ZODIAC (R) 4 stars. As if refuting his own overly stylish, dramatically thin serial-killer film Se7en, director David Fincher focuses on the institutional weaknesses and moral ambiguities in his procedural thriller about the pursuit of California's notorious "Zodiac" murderer. Mark Ruffalo's police inspector wrestles with the challenges of building a case, while Jake Gyllenhaal's newspaper cartoonist becomes increasingly obsessed as the killer remains at large for years. Fincher doesn't stint on disturbing crime scenes, but also makes Zodiac one of the rare serial killer films that, instead of almost glorifying mass murderers as supervillains, weighs in with insights as to how such criminals seize the public and private imagination. -- Holman


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    • Local band Manchester Orchestra, who provided the soundtrack, probably would have appreciated a shout-out.

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