BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME 2 stars (PG-13) In a rural North Carolina town in 1970, a progressive Methodist minister (Rick Schroder) and a young African-American activist (Nate Parker) agitate for change and social justice after a notorious hate crime. Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, writer-director Jeb Stuarts docudrama rings true in its portrayal of the lingering effects of Jim Crow and the tensions surrounding a race-based murder trial. Unfortunately, made-for-TV-style restraint muffles the films potential impact and the two protagonists spend much of the time as spectators to the action. Curt Holman
CREATION ( PG-13 ) Charles Darwin is having a banner year. February 2009 marked his 200th birthday, while On the Origin of Species celebrated its 150th anniversary last November. Now U.S. audiences have the chance to see Creation, a melodramatic biopic that desperately tries to inject tension into the story of historys most controversial evolutionary biologist. Wyatt Williams
THE OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2010 (NR) The annual collection of the Academy Award nominees for live action and animated shorts feature such uproarious cartoons as the darkly satiric Logorama and the latest adventure of Wallace and Gromit, A Matter of Loaf and Death. The live-action line-up includes three wrenching shorts about suffering children, most notably Indias Kavi, which depicts the physical and psychological abuse of a boy effectively enslaved at a brick factory. The Napoleon Dynamite-style Swedish comedy Instead of Abracadabra comes as a major relief. Holman
SHUTTER ISLAND (R) 4 stars Based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island is Scorseses first film since winning the Oscar-for The Departed and his fourth consecutive collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. As Ted Daniels, a Massachusetts-based U.S. Marshall in 1954, DiCaprio sports a self-conscious Boston accent. Nevertheless, Shutter Island marks DiCaprios most moving performance in a Scorsese film. Daniels tries to track down a delusional, child-murdering inmate sorry, patient who seemingly escaped from a locked cell. Shutter Islands mysteries build until it touches on every facet of Cold War-era paranoia this side of the Dharma Initiative. Holman
THE WHITE RIBBON 3 stars (R) The Horror and the Perplexity might be a more appropriate name for The White Ribbon, with its relentlessly cruel and discomforting vision of family dynamics and the social compact. Nevertheless, the film recounts an arresting narrative in spite of its nearly two-and-a-half hour running time. Holman
ANGEL OF MINE (2009) (NR) Catherine Frot (Me and My Sister) and Sandrine Bonnaire star in this psychological thriller about a woman on the eve of divorce who grows obsessed with a young girl with a striking resemblance to her deceased daughter. French Film Yesterday and Today. Feb. 20. 8 p.m. High Museum, Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. $7. www.high.org.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL 4 stars (R ) A cash-strapped college sophomore (Jocelin Donahue) takes a babysitting job for a sinister couple (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov) with a spooky, remote Victorian mansion. Writer-director Ti West has already found a following for The House of the Devils loving evocation of the horror (and fashion) styles of the late 1970s and early 80s. Like a better-rounded Paranormal Activity, the nifty, low-budget fright fest focuses on carefully creating mood and character rather than gore effects. But it has those, too. Feb. 15-21, showtimes vary. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St. SE, Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft. Holman
THE ROOM (2003) 1 star (R ) This hilariously incompetent, sub-Skinemax-level romantic triangle has become a wildly entertaining monthly viewing party, a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau strikes a freaky presence as a long-haired, heavy-lidded, thick-accented bank employee cuckolded by his vicious fiancée (Juliette Danielle). The films bizarre touches, like framed photographs of spoons, inspire audiences to throw plastic spoons at the screen, and more. Not to be missed. Screens Tues., Feb. 23, 9:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
FILM LOVE PRESENTS: MARTIN SCORSESE PORTRAIT FILMS With the release of Scorsese's new movie Shutter Island, Film Love is presenting two of the legendary director's intimate short films. Both films revolve around some of the most important people in Scorsese's life. The first, Italianamerican being about his parents and the second, American Boy: A Profile of Steven Prince, about his friend and roomate for whom the film is named. Screens Fri., Feb. 26, 8 p.m. $7. Eyedrum, 290 MLK Jr. Drive SE. 404-522-0655. www.eyedrum.org.
WILD OCEAN Viewers can start with the coast of South Africa and then go under the sea to understand various relationships on and off the shore, as well as understand how people are working to prevent the beauty that is the ocean. Now through March 11. $8-$13. Showtimes vary. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6400. www.fernbankmuseum.org.
VAN GOGH: BRUSH WITH GENIUS Come any old starry night and have a martini while you watch and learn things you never knew about the man behind the artist. I hear they even let you keep both ears. Double Feature with The Old Man and the Sea. Showing exclusively during Martinis & IMAX®.Through March 26. $10-$13. Fri., 8 and 10:15 p.m. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6400. www.fernbankmuseum.org.
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA Come view one of Hemingways greatest works the way he would want you to, with a drink in one hand. Or come enjoy it just the way he would, with a drink in both hands. Double Feature with Van Gogh: Brush of Genius. Showing exclusively during Martinis & IMAX®.Through March 26. $8-$13. Fri., 8 and 10:15 p.m. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6400. www.fernbankmuseum.org.
PRECIOUS 3 stars (R) With the 82nd Academy Awards looming, there is no better time to check out the nominated films. Here's your second chance to see Precious, the film adaptation from Sapphire's novel Push about a young girl seeking to rise above the tragedies of the abusive and only world she's ever known. Feb. 22-28, showtimes vary. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St. SE, Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
44 INCH CHEST 2 stars (R) The writers of Sexy Beast reunite with two of the stars of the 2000 gangster film, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane, for another film that savages innocent civilians and the English language with equivalent violence. Winstone plays a heartbroken mobster whos been dumped by his wife, while his mates (including Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt and Stephen Dillane) attempt to help him exact vengeance. The casts verbal volleys of the cockney dialogue proves highly diverting at first, but the flashy flashbacks, dream scenes and movie clips fail to pad the underdeveloped plot, so 44 Inch Chest leaves viewers feeling deflated. Holman
THE LAST STATION 4 stars (R) Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren justly earned Oscar nominations for their portrayals of Count Leo and Countess Sofya Tolstoy in this livelier-than-usual literary biopic. Dramatizing the last days of the author of War and Peace, The Last Station offers a surprisingly pertinent critique the media spotlight as reporters hang on every bit of gossip in a power struggle between the Countess and Tolstoys literary adviser (Paul Giamatti) over how the author with bequeath his copyright. A romantic subplot starring James McAvoy as a bumbling, adoring Tolstoy fan overplays the films themes about the paramount importance of love, but otherwise The Last Station seems relevant to an age of paparazzi and bloggers a century later. Holman
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF (PG) A troubled teenager (Logan Lerman) discovers that his father was actually the Greek deity Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and finds himself in the middle of a conflict between gods, monsters and a summer camp populated with half-bloods like himself. Hoping that the Harry Potter lightning will strike twice, Chris Columbus directs this adaptation of a popular American Young Adult novel series. Holman
THE WOLFMAN 3 stars (R) In this remake of Universals iconic 1941 horror film, Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins take over the Lon Chaney Jr. and Claude Rains roles as an ordinary man who transforms into a werewolf, and his horrified father. One can only hope that director Joe Johnston fares better with retro horror than Van Helsings Stephen Sommers. Holman
(Photo Liam Daniel)
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