Capsule blurbs of recently reviewed moviesOpening Friday
· CAPOTE 5 stars. (R) See review.
· COTE D'AZUR (NR) In this sun-drenched French sex comedy, romance blossoms at a family beach house with little regard for age or gender.
· DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY (G) Dakota Fanning, arguably Hollywood's most bankable new actor, plays a young girl whose faith turns a broken-down nag into a champion racehorse. There's probably an evil glue factory owner in the film somewhere.
· DOOM (R) In this action flick based on the notorious "first person shooter" video game of the same name, you get to watch The Rock blow away mutant aliens, rather than have the pleasure of doing it yourself.
· GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS 5 stars. (R) Elijah Wood sheds a little of his hobbitish image by playing an expelled Harvard student who falls in with British football hooligans, led by the charismatic Charlie Hunnam. At heart it's an old-fashioned social melodrama that slows down considerably whenever Matt's concerned family barges in. Director Lexi Alexander, a former female kickboxer, brings high-impact authority to the intense, cinema verite brawl scenes, and Hooligans' script relies on convincing reportage about the rituals, rivalries and music of hooliganism. -- Curt Holman
· KINGS AND QUEEN 4 stars. (NR) See review.
· NATIONAL LAMPOON'S BARELY LEGAL (R) Three horny high schoolers, despite their lack of sexual experience, start a home-grown porno company to raise money for a car. Will Horatio Sanz and Tom Arnold bother putting this on their resumes?
· NORTH COUNTRY 4 stars. (R) See review.
· REEL PARADISE (NR) Hoop Dreams director Steve James follows indie film champion and writer John Pierson as he encounters a steep cultural divide when he tries to run a cinema on Fiji.
· SEPARATE LIES (R) In the Bedroom's Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson star in this English marital drama about secrets and passions that erupt following a car accident. It's directed by Gosford Park's Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes.
· STAY 3 stars. (R) See review on page 56.
· BATMAN BEGINS 3 stars. (PG-13) Memento director Christopher Nolan and American Psycho actor Christian Bale prove a perfectly matched dynamic duo as they explore the psychological trauma that turned millionaire orphan Bruce Wayne into a masked vigilante. Nolan and Bale bring undeniably gritty intensity to the film's first half, but as it works to its conclusion, it's hard to overlook the silliness of the villains' Evil Scheme or the miscasting of too-cute Katie Holmes as a tough D.A. It's still the best Batman movie ever made, and the only one in which the Caped Crusader, instead of his villains, is the star. Oct. 21-Nov. 3, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft. -- Holman
· DUCK SEASON (2004) (NR) This low-budget comedy follows the exploits of Flama and Moko, two teens whose plans to eat junk food and play video games find unexpected interruptions. Latin American Film Festival. Sat., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.
· FIRECRACKER (NR) Steve Balderson's quirky drama stars Mike Patton and Karen Black, each in dual roles, as well as a supporting cast of real-life carnival "freaks" including The Enigma, Lobster Girl and George the Giant. Thurs., Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. 931 Monroe Drive. 404-872-5796.
· FRIEDRICH SCHILLER: TRIUMPH OF A GENIUS (1940) (NR) This biopic focuses on the youthful setbacks and, yes, triumphs of renowned German playwright Friedrich Schiller (Horst Caspar). Wed., Oct. 26, 7 p.m. Goethe Institut, 1197 Peachtree St., Colony Square. $4. 404-892-2388.
· HOTEL RWANDA 4 stars. (PG-13) Don Cheadle superbly portrays a middle-class Rwandan hotel manager who rescues hundreds of Tutsis during the country's 1994 genocide. Irish filmmaker Terry George uses suspense film techniques to seize our attention for the film's angry themes, holding the nations of the West directly responsible for their inaction during the massacres. Hotel Rwanda combines a compelling narrative with moral clarity better than any political film of the past year. Oct. 20, Cinefest, GSU Student Center, Suite 211, 66 Courtland St. $5 ($3 until 5 p.m.). 404-651-3565. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft. -- Holman
· PROUD 2 stars. (PG) In his last film, the late Ossie Davis stars as an old man who schools his college-age grandson about his days as a sailor in the segregated American armed forces during World War II. Though the period details are somewhat shoddy and the acting and drama are strained and dramatically overripe, the film (financed by Tommy Hilfiger and produced by his daughter) has a worthwhile message about the moral dilemma faced by black soldiers fighting for the American dream when racism keeps them from achieving it back home. The sneak preview screening is presented by the fourth annual Spaghetti Junction Urban Film Festival. Mon., Oct. 24, 7 p.m. Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center. Free. www.sjuff.com. -- Felicia Feaster
· THE ROCK AND REEL FESTIVAL (NR) Paste magazine presents a festival of 30 rock bands and 20 hours of independent films, including a short film competition and High and Dry, a documentary about Tucson's music scene. The event will be held at such Decatur locations as East Decatur Station and PushPush Theater. Oct. 22-23. $15-25. 404-378-8872. www.pasterocknreel.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.
· SYLVIA'S GIFT (2003) (NR) This delicate drama presents the video diary of Sylvia, a teen pianist and organ donor, and examines the posthumous effects of her "gifts" on three ailing people. Latin American Film Festival. Fri., Oct. 21, 8 p.m., Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. and Wed., Oct. 26, Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.
· THE ARISTOCRATS 4 stars. (NR) George Carlin, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman, John Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and scores of other comedians take turns telling -- or commenting on -- an old, notoriously offensive joke usually reserved for other comedians instead of their audiences. Depending on your tolerance for humor based on every imaginable human depravity, you might not always find The Aristocrats a funny gag, but this documentary (from Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette) earns some honest laughs while offering fascinating -- and uncomfortable -- insights into the minds of professional jokemeisters. -- Holman
· THE CONSTANT GARDENER 4 stars. (R) In this flashy, faithful adaptation of John Le Carré's espionage best seller, Ralph Fiennes plays impressively against type as a meek diplomat in Africa investigating the murder of his activist wife (Rachel Weisz). Director Fernando Mereilles brings a similar intensity and eye for telling detail that marked sizzling City of God and makes The Constant Gardener one of the rare political thriller's that's actually about politics. Too many characters seem to exist simply for exposition instead of insight, but the film stirringly blends suspenseful paranoia, tragic romance and indignation at corporate misdeeds in the Third World. -- Holman
· EL CRIMEN FERPECTO (NR) In Alex de la Iglesia's dark comedy, a rivalry between department store employees leads to increasingly violent and complicated twists. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.
· DOMINO 1 star. (R) Keira Knightley plays Domino Harvey, daughter of movie star Laurence Harvey and privileged Beverly Hills teen turned weapon-loving bounty hunter. Despite putting an intriguing real person at its center, director Tony Scott submerges promising performances under a morass of hyperactive editing and overheated cinematic stunts. Domino ends up resembling a failed gene-splicing experiment between Natural Born Killers and the attention-deficient films of Guy Ritchie. -- Holman
· ELIZABETHTOWN 2 stars. (PG-13) Kirsten Dunst's quirky flight attendant inspires Orlando Bloom's disgraced athletic shoe designer during a visit to Kentucky for his father's funeral. Writer-director Cameron Crowe revisits similar themes from Jerry Maguire, but the mix of mannered love story, corporate satire and family comedy never hangs together. The great music makes Elizabethtown feel like Crowe's latest awesome mix tape, with a movie around it. -- Holman
· EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED 4 stars. (PG-13) Elijah Wood plays a Brooklyn writer who travels to the Ukraine in search of his past. Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz is divine as Wood's flaky tour guide, who leads him on an initially loopy and then poignant journey to the Jewish shtetl his grandfather escaped during WWII. A fine, affecting first film from actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber. -- Feaster
· THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE 2 stars. (PG-13) A morally conflicted, atheist attorney (Laura Linney) defends a brooding priest (Tom Wilkinson) of negligent homicide in the wake of an unsuccessful exorcism. With an Oscar-caliber cast and a premise that blends courtroom drama with supernatural conflicts, this supernatural thriller promises scares and thoughtful content, and fails to deliver them both. You'd do better with a Halloween episode of "Law and Order" than Exorcism's lame legal plot points and muddled spirituality. -- Holman
· FLIGHTPLAN 2 stars. (PG-13) On the heels of Red Eye comes this month's aerial thriller. This one, about a widow (Jodie Foster) whose daughter disappears during an intercontinental flight, quickly begins its narrative descent and eventually explodes on contact, creating fireballs of flaws so massive, they obliterate entire theater auditoriums and even singe the concession stands. Foster's performance deserves a better showcase -- instead, she's much like the lone suitcase that's left on the baggage claim belt, circling wearily while surrounded by an atmosphere of indifference. -- Matt Brunson
· THE FOG (PG-13) From the department of unnecessary remakes comes this retread of John Carpenter's modestly entertaining 1980 thriller about a coastal town menace by sea-going spooks wreathed in fog. It stars Clark Kent from "Smallville" and the bitchy blonde from "Lost."
· THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN 4 stars. (R) Can a sheltered, geeky electronics store employee ("The Daily Show's" Steve Carell, who co-wrote the script) discover the joys of man-on-woman action, or will fate conspire comedically against him? This raunchy but surprisingly sweet comedy with a relaxed, engaging cast takes great pleasure in examining society's sexual obsessions and the anxiety it engenders. It's a little long, but like the cable cult-flick Office Space, it gets plenty of mileage from taking place in the same generic, chain-store America where must of us live, work and play. -- Holman
· GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK 5 stars. (PG) In the early 1950s, Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) used his CBS show "See It Now" to take on Senator Joe McCarthy's "witch hunt" tactics. Every creative decision pays off in George Clooney's second film, a black-and-white homage to the "greatest generation" of broadcast journalists, whose courage in the face of enormous pressures makes the Bush Administration press corps look timid by comparison. The film succeeds enormously well at getting you under the skin of Murrow's reporters and anticipating the increasing influence of entertainment on broadcast news. See it now. -- Holman
· THE GOSPEL 2 stars. (PG-13) Atlanta filmmaker Rob Hardy wrote and directed this heavy-handed tale of an R&B star who returns to his estranged father's church seeking redemption. Some soaring numbers from some of gospel music's biggest stars and a charismatic performance from "The Wire's" Idris Elba as an ambitious, media-savvy pastor provide the brightest spots in this unsubtle retelling of the prodigal son parable. -- Holman
· THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (PG) An amateur, working-class golfer (Holes' Shia LaBeouf) takes on the defending British champion at the 1913 U.S. Open. Expect lots of triumphant, feel-good sports movie rah-rah.
· IMAX THEATER -- The Living Sea (NR): Humpback whales, golden jellyfish and giant clams star in this documentary about the diversity of undersea life, with music by Sting and narrated by Meryl Streep. Closes Fri., Sept. 30. Mystery of the Nile (NR): This IMAX adventure follows a small group of reporters and filmmakers as they travel 3,000 miles up the Nile River. Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets (NR): This exploration of one of America's greatest natural wonders retraces the canyon's history, from Native Americans to modern-day whitewater rafters. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu.
· IN HER SHOES 3 stars. (PG-13) An initially acrid look at sibling rivalry, this stars Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette as Maggie and Rose, two sisters who have nothing in common except their shoe size. After a falling out, irresponsible Maggie heads to Florida to meet the grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) she never knew, while insecure Rose remains in Philadelphia in an effort to get her own life back on track. It isn't hard to guess how this will play out, but the pleasures rest in the journey more than the destination. Diaz and Collette are both excellent, though they're effortlessly matched by MacLaine. Even when the movie surrounding her turns soft, this wily veteran remains its pillar of strength: Espousing tough love at every turn, she provides In Her Shoes with its own hard-won terms of endearment. -- MB
· INTO THE BLUE (PG-13) This thriller stars The Fast and the Furious' Paul Walker and Sin City's Jessica Alba as divers who run afoul of dangerous criminals when they discover a downed cargo plane on the ocean floor. (Hey, is this a remake of The Deep? Sure sounds like The Deep.)
· JUNEBUG 4 stars. (R) This deeply charming, tender story about a Southern homecoming, bristles with honest observation and wit, much of it transmitted by Amy Adams as a pregnant Southern ball of fire. George (Alessandro Nivola) and his sophisticated new wife, Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz), head from their Chicago home to visit his folks in North Carolina where they find a South defined by close, unspoken family ties and no small amount of heartbreak, as captured by first-time director Phil Morrison and screenwriter Angus MacLachlan. -- Feaster
· JUST LIKE HEAVEN 2 stars. (PG-13) In sort of an undead Goodbye Girl, the intangible specter of a workaholic doctor (Reese Witherspoon) haunts the depressed, slobby hunk (Mark Ruffalo) who sublet her apartment. Witherspoon and Ruffalo improve on overly familiar material and Jon Heder, who played the title role in Napoleon Dynamite, has a small, scene-stealing role as a slacker psychic. -- Holman
· MARCH OF THE PENGUINS 2 stars. (G) This French documentary, a kind of inferior, nonflying version of Winged Migration, concerns the annual migration of Antarctica's emperor penguins from their bachelor digs across inhospitable climes to their mating grounds. The doc features adorable birds, cloying, hard-to-take narration from Morgan Freeman and the not exactly original assessment that nature is cruel. -- Feaster
· MEMORY OF A KILLER (R) Called The Alzheimer Case in its native Belgium, this police thriller follows two police detectives on the trail of a ruthless murderer, despite the senior partner's memory-impairing illness.
· PROOF 2 stars. (PG-13) Director John Madden's film joins Gwyneth Paltrow's Sylvia and that other bug house drama Girl, Interrupted in the sorority of films about beautiful, tortured women that give paltry indications of what that pain feels like. Paltrow has delivered the actorly goods in previous work such as Shakespeare in Love, but her mumbling monotone becomes irritating as a too-easy shorthand for depression. Her golden girl radiance could have used a brown rinse to convince us she is the self-defeating, shut-in math genius worried that she may have inherited her brilliant father's (Anthony Hopkins) propensity for mental illness. -- Feaster
· ROLL BOUNCE (PG-13) The artist known as Bow Wow stars in this coming-of-age comedy set primarily in a 1970s roller rink. If you've been longing for a throwback to the era of Roller Boogie, this is your chance.
· THE THING ABOUT MY FOLKS (PG-13) For this week's family road trip comedy, Paul Reiser wrote, produced and stars in this schmaltzy project about a son trying to patch things up between his bickering parents (Peter Falk and Olympia Dukakis).
· THUMBSUCKER 5 stars. (R) An endearing, lo-fi angst-fest about a kid (Lou Taylor Pucci) who at 17 years old is still sucking his thumb, this adaptation of Walter Kirn's novel is also an insightful vision of a world where hypnosis and pharmaceuticals are the pathways to success, though they can't hide the mess the world is in. Boasting a sublime cast including Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio as the thumbsucker's equally damaged parents and Vince Vaughn as a dingy debate coach, Thumbsucker manages to go deep and provide some pretty scathing commentary on American life without being glib or cruel about it. -- Feaster
· TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE 3 stars. (PG) A misunderstood young artiste (voiced by Johnny Depp) finds himself married to a half-skeletal dead woman (Helena Bonham Carter) in this stop-motion animated film co-directed by Tim Burton. The morbid animation style and Danny Elfman songs evoke memories of The Nightmare Before Christmas, but the thin story fails to measure up. Nevertheless, nearly every frame of Corpse Bride offers a clever, memorable image, and the comedy clicks in the last act when the dead reunite with the living. -- Holman
· TWO FOR THE MONEY 2 stars. (R) Al Pacino's back in full manic mode in this malnourished morality tale not dissimilar in structure to other Pacino vehicles in which he serves as a shady mentor to a hot young actor (The Devil's Advocate, The Recruit, etc.). Here, he plays Walter Abrams, the head of a sports consulting firm who finds his protégé in Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), a naïve guy with a near-psychic ability to accurately handicap gridiron match-ups. Brandon's picks make both men rich, but personality conflicts threaten to derail both their careers. The film's entertainment value can be found in its incoherence -- this movie is so ludicrous on so many fundamental levels (unexplained character motivations, clumsy scene transitions) that it almost crosses over into camp territory. -- Brunson
· THE UNTOLD STORY OF EMMET LOUIS TILL 4 stars. (NR) Keith Beauchamp's documentary is one of the rare films to make a difference in the real world: as a work in progress, it inspired the justice department to reopen the notorious, 50 year-old lynching case of teenage Emmet Till in Mississippi. Beauchamp breaks no stylistic ground in the film, but the chronicle of injustice in the Jim Crow era South remains as shocking now as then, and features powerful archival material of Southern racism and the birth of the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. -- Holman
· WAITING ... (R) This raunchy comedy stars Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Justin Long as the restless, partying, sex-obsessed waitstaff of a chain restaurant called "Shenanigan's."
· WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT 3 stars. (G) Inane inventor Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his silent, sensible dog Gromit take on an oversized rabbit-monster before their town's beloved vegetable competition. Compared to Chicken Run and the Claymation duo's short films, Were-Rabbit's script feels thin and puns feel forced, but the film's brilliant set-pieces wittily lampoon horror film clichés. -- Holman
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