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Friday, May 14, 2010

Film Clips: This weekends movie openings and more

click to enlarge Common and Queen Latifah star in Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Just Wright" out Friday.
  • Common and Queen Latifah star in Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Just Wright" out Friday.

OPENING TODAY

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD 3 stars (PG) Korean director Kim Ji-Woon helms an energetic but thin homage to Sergio Leone’s epic Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. An upstanding bounty hunter, a sadistic assassin and a goofy petty thief contend with bandits, Japanese soldiers and each other while racing to find a treasure in the Mongolian badlands. The film features a spectacular chase scene on horseback near the end, and Song Kang-ho gives an amusing performance as “the Weird,” but his co-stars lack screen presence and the film feels like a well-designed, expensive doodle on Western conventions. – Curt Holman

LETTERS TO JULIET 2 stars (PG) Magazine fact-checker Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), while vacationing in Verona with her distracted fiancée (Gael Garcia Bernal), writes a response to a lovelorn English girl’s 50 year-old letter to Juliet. Sophie ends up joining the now-elderly writer (Vanessa Redgrave) and her priggish grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) on a search for the long-lost “Romeo.” The film works the charms of Vanessa Redgrave’s sunny (but one-note) performance, but the initial insults turned romantic banter between Claire and Charlie couldn’t be more rote, and the film seems actively terrified of surprising its audience. As a sleep aid, Letters to Juliet could drive Ambien out of business. -- Holman

ROBIN HOOD 2 stars (PG-13) Cynical archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) impersonates stalwart knight Sir Robert Locksley and ends up defending the people of Nottingham against French invaders, a double-dealing English agitator (Robert Strong) and onerous taxation. Director Ridley Scott’s attempt at a Robin Hood Begins story becomes ensnared in convoluted history lessons that incorporate the Crusades, nasty King John and the Magna Carta, leaving the title character (and Crowe’s acting) surprisingly passive. Amid weak dialogue and a blur of background roles, the film only hits its targets with Cate Blanchett’s tough performance as Lady Marian and the final battle by the white cliffs of Dover. -- Holman

DULY NOTED

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) 5 stars (NR). Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert play a reporter and a socialite (respectively) who bicker then fall in love on a cross-country trip. The first film to win all five major Academy Awards, it’s must-see viewing for anyone depressed by the sorry state of today’s unfunny romantic comedies. Races & Chases. May 14, 8 p.m. Free-$7. Sifly Plaza, High Museum, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.high.org.

RAGING BULL (1980) (NR) Robert De Niro gives an astonishing, transformative performance as boxer Jake La Motta, who struggles to control his combativeness outside the ring. Arguable the pinnacle of De Niro and director Martin Scorsese’s collaborations. May 20, 7:30 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com

REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA (2008) (NR) A cult following surrounds this bizarre rock opera about illicit organ transplants in a post-apocalyptic future. Starring Alexa Vega, Anthony Stewart Head and Paris Hilton. May 15, 10 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com

RECENTLY REVIEWED

BABIES 3 stars (PG) French director Thomas Balmes presents this rugrats-eye-view of the lives of four infants born in Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco. Essentially a plotless film that offers little you wouldn’t get from watching 79 minutes of Youtube, it nevertheless features impressive and undeniably cute footage of babies in their natural habitats. Babies implies that the children of the developed world may be overly coddled compared to their Third World counterparts, who seem perfectly happy to play in the dirt. -- Holman

THE RED RIDING TRILOGY 4 stars (R ) Three directors film three separate adaptations of crime novels by David Peace, exploring serial murders and police malfeasance in West Yorkshire in 1974, 1980 and 1983, respectively. Man on Wire director James Marsh directs the second and most gripping installment, as Paddy Considine uncovers crooked cops amid the search for the Yorkshire Ripper. While the first installment (featuring Andrew Garfield as a police reporter) relies on a few too many crime clichés, the trilogy collectively offers a grim but compelling account of institutional corruption and the depressing capacity of human beings to tolerate corruption. -- Holman

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