PROJECT NIM (PG-13) James Marsh, Oscar-winning director of Man on Wire, helms another high-wire documentary about an attempt in the 1970s to teach a chimpanzee language by raising it as a human being. Don’t expect monkey-in-the-house comedy with this one.
LE QUATTRO VOLTE (NR) An old shepherd lives out his final days in the Southernmost tip of Italy in this uneventful, essentially dialogue-free tale made for old-school art-house film fans.
WINNIE THE POOH (G) Pooh Bear worries about a shortage of honey and the absence of Christopher Robin in this return to the Hundred Acre Wood. Monty Python’s John Cleese narrates Disney’s animated throwback to the gentle whimsy of the Winnie the Pooh films from the 1960s and 1970s.
THE UNDEFEATED (PG-13) Stephen Bannon directs a documentary about former Alaskan governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who may or may not be running for president.
HEARTBEATS (NR) In this Canadian film, two friends (Monia Chokri and
Niels Schneider) develop feelings for the same man (writer/director Xavier Dolan). July 5-17. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
I AM A DREAM CHASER (NR) This documentary presents a behind-the-scenes perspective on show business based on profiles of photographer Derek Blanks, tattoo artist Miya Bailey, stylist Adrene Ashford, choreographer Cici Kelly and native Atlanta filmmaker Rob Hardy. Sat., July 16, 5:30 p.m. $7. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC SINGALONG (1959) The Fox Theatre encourages costumes and audience interaction in this singalong version of the classic adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. July 17. The Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30308. 404-881-2100. http://www.foxtheatre.org/.
VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE (NR) This documentary profiles how the pioneering hairstylist changed fashion and culture. On a double bill with the drama The Imperialists Are Still Alive, about a French artist making her way in Manhattan. July 18-31. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
BAD TEACHER (R ) Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is the embodiment of everything a high school teacher should not be. She drinks, she gets high and she uses inappropriate language. But all that is about to change after she gets dumped by her rich fiancé (the one-way ticket out of her current situation). So the unmotivated badass becomes a highly motivated teacher striving for students' good grades as well as a colleague's heart.
BEGINNERS 4 stars (R ) After the death of his wife, septuagenarian Hal (Christopher Plummer) comes out as gay and reveals that he has terminal cancer. Director/designer Mike Mills presents the charming, heavily-autobiographical tale from the point of view of Hal’s son Oliver, who ruminates on grief and the nature of his parents’ marriage while falling in love with a pretty actress (Mélanie Laurent). This warm, well-observed film avoids twee self-consciousness, give or take the odd scene on roller skates. — Holman
BRIDESMAIDS 3 Stars (R) BFFs Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) lifelong sisterly bond is put to the test when Lillian gets engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. The down-and-out thirtysomething Annie’s patience is put to the test when she tries to wrangle Lillian’s hare-brained band of bridesmaids. Wiig can do no wrong, except in her overly earnest, “you don’t know me” scenes with her Irish cop love interest (Chris O'Dowd). Bridesmaids is as funny as you’d hope a film co-written by Wiig and executive produced by Judd Apatow would be, and even more honest. — Debbie Michaud
BUCK 3 stars (G) This documentary profiles Buck Brannaman, a former child rodeo star turned equine trainer and inspiration for The Horse Whisperer. As Buck travels to America’s small towns and ranches giving horse training clinics, he emerges as an emblem of positive American masculinity, while an extended sequence with a difficult horse near the end has nearly the suspense of the bomb-disposal scenes of The Hurt Locker. — Holman
CARS 2 stars (G) While racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) competes in the World Grand Prix, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and other British spymobiles mistake Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) for an American secret agent. Pixar crafts some clever James Bond spy gadgetry and elaborate cityscapes in the service of the most disposable, insubstantial story they’ve ever offered. An amusing subplot mocks Gremlins, Pintos and other automotive lemons, but Cars 2 rolls out as the Edsel of the Pixar line. — Holman
CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH (NR) Chinese director Lu Chuan helms this epic account of the Japanese siege of the Chinese city of Nanking in Dec. 1937. International film critics have acclaimed City of Life and Death’s black and white cinematography.
FAST FIVE (PG-13) Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson reunite for this fifth entry in the Fast & the Furious franchise, with Atlanta and Puerto Rico substituting for Rio de Janeiro. Will the next one be called Speedy Six?
GREEN LANTERN 2 stars (PG-13) A dying alien’s super-powered ring chooses cocky test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) to join an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. This big-screen version of the DC Comics character contains enough material for two movies, including elaborate CGI scenes on alien planets, lite romance with Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard cheerfully hamming it up as evil psychic Hector Hammond. With wildly inconsistent effects, muddled plotting and an inconsistent tone, this Lantern provides scant illumination. — Holman
THE HANGOVER 2 2 stars (R ) Just before his Thailand wedding, dentist Stu Price (Ed Helms) awakens in a squalid Bangkok hotel room with his pals (Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis) but no memory of the previous night’s debauchery. Director Todd Phillips’ follow-up to the hit comedy plays less like a remake than a sequel, given how closely it follows the first script’s template. Helms and Galifianakis remain hilarious in their respective roles, so you may have a good time, but you’ll hate yourself in the morning. — Holman
HORRIBLE BOSSES 3 stars (R ) Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day play three long-time pals who consider killing their horrendous employers — respectively, a corporate back-stabber (Kevin Spacey), a sleazy cokehead (Colin Farrell) and an attractive dentist (Jennifer Aniston) bent on sexual harassment. Horrible Bosses’ performance evaluation includes such knocks as lame car chases, flat characterization and poor follow-through on its wicked premise. Aniston and Farrell (in a hilariously lousy comb-over) give hilarious, comeback-worthy performances but go AWOL for long stretches. Nevertheless, the jokes achieve the baseline amount of laughs and Charlie Day of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” holds his own, like a hyper equivalent to Zach Galifianakis. — Holman
INCENDIES (NR) Two siblings attempt to unravel the mystery of their mother’s life in this Canadian nominee for Best Foreign Language Film set against the backdrop of the conflict in the Middle East.
JUDY MOODY AND THE NOT BUMMER SUMMER (PG) Just when it looks like Judy Moody's summer is doomed to boredom, a dose of fun comes into play. With the help of Aunt Opal (Heather Graham), who is anything but boring, Judy Moody invents her own adventures.
JUMPING THE BROOM (PG-13) Angela Bassett stars in this light-hearted-looking wedding film about a groom (Laz Alonso) from downtown, a bride (Paula Patton) from uptown, and how their families collide over a long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard.
KUNG FU PANDA 2 3 stars (PG) Jack Black reprises his vocal role as Po, the unlikely “Dragon Warrior,” who discovers a link between his fuzzy childhood memories and a vengeful peacock (voiced by Gary Oldman) bent on conquering Ancient China. The screenplay doesn’t live up to its entertaining predecessor and relies on repetitive jokes and a perfunctory theme about seeking “inner peace.” It builds to some unquestionably cool CGI action set pieces, though, and is the rare film that’s enhanced by 3-D presentation, not diminished. — Holman
LARRY CROWNE(PG-13) Tom Hanks plays the title character, a downsized worker at a Wal-Mart-style big box store who enrolls in the local community college to get his degree and encounters a cynical English professor (Julia Roberts). For his second film as a director since his charming That Thing You Do!, Hanks co-wrote the script with My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Nia Vardalos.
MONTE CARLO (PG) Three young friends (Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy) go on a whirlwind vacation to Monte Carlo when one is mistaken for a British heiress.
THE LINCOLN LAWYER (R) Apparently this Lincoln is a comeback vehicle for Matthew McConaughey, who’s getting his best reviews in years as an ambulance-chasing attorney who works out of his car and must reconsider his values when he defends a sleazy rich kid (Ryan Phillippe). Don’t let the title mislead you into thinking that it’s a period piece about Honest Abe’s law practice.
Tyler Perry's MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY (PG-13) Based on the musical play of the same name, Madea’s Big Happy Family depicts a dysfunctional family brought together by their mother’s illness, who needs the tough love of Madea (Tyler Perry) to knock some sense into them. Bow Wow (formerly “Lil Bow Bow”) stars with Perry, David Mann, Loretta Devine and “Old Spice Guy” Isaiah Mustafa.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS 4 stars (PG-13) A frustrated screenwriter (Owen Wilson) with an unsupportive fiancée (Rachel McAdams) vacations in Paris and discovers that, at the stroke of midnight, he can travel in time to hobnob with the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Woody Allen’s most joyous and satisfying film since the early 1990s finds big laughs in its whimsical premise, gently satirizing the Lost Generation as much as it venerates them. Plus, Allen carries the film’s ideas into wiser areas than you might expect. Hey, this guy’s pretty smart. — Holman
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS A divorced and career driven father (Jim Carrey) learns to appreciate the important things in life with the unexpected arrival of penguins in his polished New York apartment. This family comedy shows that loving creatures can not only transform an apartment (in this case into an ice kingdom), but also touch people's hearts.
PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES 3 STARS (R ) This documentary presents a tumultuous being in the journalism business from the point of view of the reporters and editors on the Times’ Media desk, who cover some of the very stories they live through. Former crack addict turned columnist David Carr makes an engagingly curmudgeonly supporting player and Old Media’s staunchest defender in the face of on-line start-ups eager to write the Times’ obituary. The film covers the rise of WikiLeaks and the iPad as well as the agony of layoffs, and the scattershot approach emulates the perspective of reporters, who file a story and then move onto the next. — Holman
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES 2 stars (PG-13) Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) leads a race to the Fountain of Youth between his old nemesis Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush), swashbuckling hottie Angelica (Penelope Cruz), fearsome, magical Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and some random Spanish guys. Chicago director Rob Marshall takes the helm for another loud, wearying romp on the high seas. McShane makes a reliably entertaining bad guy, but On Stranger Tides struggles to establish Penelope Cruz as Jack’s abiding love interest, but they don’t seem to particularly like or trust each other. The franchise should drop anchor now before the Tides get any lower.
RANGO 4 stars (PG) Through dumb luck and tall tales, a chameleon known as Rango (Johnny Depp) convinces the desperate denizens of Dirt that he’s a hero capable of solving their water shortage, even though he’s just a former house pet with delusions of being an actor. It’s slow to start and kids probably won’t get the jokes about Western clichés, vision quests and pretentious actor behavior. Where Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean films let Johnny Depp improvise on rock stars and pirate lore, Rango riffs on master thespians and spaghetti westerns with brilliant animation and thoroughly entertaining set pieces. — Holman
RIO A love bird and her Minnesota-bred macaw. Jewel and Blu meet in Rio and head out on adventures together.
SOMETHING BORROWED 2 stars (PG-13) More like Something blew. Insecure, dowdy Rachel (“Big Love’s” Ginnifer Goodwin) wrestles with guilt when she has an affair with Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the fiancée of her overbearingly free-spirited best friend, Darcy (Kate Hudson). As a wisecracking pal, “The Office’s” Jon Krasinski is the only cast member allowed to be funny, so this laugh-deficient comedy mostly consists of Hudson behaving like a jerky narcissist and Goodwin and Egglesfield blandly mooning over each other. — Holman
SOUL SURFER (PG) When sharks attack, teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) loses her left arm. Unwilling to give up her love for the water, she learns to surf with one arm and eventually becomes a pro surfer.
SUPER 8 3 stars (PG-13) In the summer of ’79, a group of middle-schoolers making a horror movie on Super 8 film accidentally record a train crash that unleashes something very, very dangerous on a small Ohio town. Director J.J. Abrams makes Super 8 as a slavish homage to the early blockbusters of Stephen Spielberg (who executive-produced), and clearly loves his scruffy young heroes and spectacular, overblown set pieces. The more grown-up plots involving military cover-ups, grief and forgiveness feel far more perfunctory, although it’s an entertaining movie overall. Super 8? More like Perfectly Good 8. — Holman
THOR 3 stars (PG-13) Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Norse god of thunder, faces exile on Earth as a powerless (but still cut) human as part of the evil scheme of his resentful brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Superfluous 3-D effects and too many characters clutter the latest film in the Marvel Comics “Universe,” but Shakespearean director Kenneth Branagh still gives the film the derring-do of an Old Hollywood swashbuckler, with help from Hemsworth’s performance as a god who grows up. Other scene-stealers include Natalie Portman’s astrophysicist, Idris Elba’s celestial sentry and a marauding suit of armor called The Destroyer. — Holman
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON 2 stars (PG-13) Big-rig robot Optimus Prime (the voice of Peter Cullen) and the righteous Autobots discover that the 1969 moon landing secretly discovered a spacecraft from the robots’ home planet, which could hold the means for the evil Decepticons to conquer the Earth. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) whines about the challenge of finding a job out of college. Director Michael Bay’s third giant robot film is sexist, bigoted and homophobic some of the time, along with being garish and vulgar all of the time. But Dark of the Moon also features breathtakingly intricate and destructive action sequences that look awesome in 3-D, so give the devil his due. — Holman
TREE OF LIFE 3 stars (PG-13) Famously enigmatic director Terrence Malick meditates on childhood and God’s relationship to humanity in his alternately breathtaking and stultifying coming-of-age film. Loosely autobiographical, Tree of Life primarily follows young Jack (Hunter McCracken) growing up in 1950s Waco, Texas, to a stern Dad and nurturing mom (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, both excellent), with interludes of Jack as an angsty adult (Sean Penn) as well as scenes of the evolution of life on Earth, complete with dinosaurs. At well over two hours Tree of Life’s whispery voice-overs and lack of conventional narrative puts your patience to the test, but as a beautifully-photographed tone poem, it’s undeniably impressive. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. — Holman
TRIGUN: BADLANDS RUMBLE 3 stars (NR) A flamboyant bankrobber, a vengeful beauty and a goofball pacifist gunslinger, among other bizarre characters, clash in a desert town. This Japanese anime based on a manga series draws on Hollywood Westerns, interplanetary science fiction and a little steampunk for a schizophrenic adventure that flirts with incoherence but delivers highly imaginative animated action scenes. — Holman
TROLL HUNTER 3 stars (NR) In Norway, three film students apparently majoring in Blair Witch studies trail an alleged bear poacher (Otto Jesperson) to the Scandinavian wilderness, only to discover that he hunts bigger, deadlier game than they ever imagined. The horror film doesn’t break much new ground and the monster effects look pretty phoney, but Troll Hunter builds an atmosphere of menace, showcases Jesperson’s gruff, Ron Pearlman-esque charisma and builds a monstrous mythology around creatures that, thankfully, are not vampires, werewolves or zombies. — Holman
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (PG-13) Not the sequel to Like Water for Chocolate, this adaptation of the popular novel stars Twilight’s Robert Pattinson as a Depression-era veterinary student who takes a job with a traveling circus and falls for one of the performers (Reese Witherspoon). Filmed in Georgia.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS 4 stars (PG-13) Mutation researcher Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and vengeful Holocaust survivor Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) unite to find other super-powered individuals and thwart the scheming Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) from provoking the Cuban Missile Crisis. McAvoy, Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (as shape-shifting Mystique) ground the angst and racism metaphors in credible, affecting relationships. Director Matthew Vaughn revitalizes the X-Men franchise by flashing back to the “Mad Men”-era 1960s, so for much of its running time, it feels more like a fast-paced, retro spy flick than yet another superhero movie. — Holman
ZOOKEEPER 1 star Typically in a film featuring intelligent or talking animals there's some balance between the overall story and the amount of interaction held with humans. This is not the case in Zookeeper. In the film, Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) a senior zookeeper at the Franklin Park Zoo strikes out with his girlfriend, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). He bumbles so miserably in trying to rekindle his relationship with her the animals of the zoo break their code of silence to help him win her affections. One of the many problems with Zookeeper is the animals simply run amuck. Director Frank Coraci depends too heavily on the adorable creatures and less on a convincing story. If kids are young - or you are stoned enough, you'll get a couple of chuckles from James' awkward tumbles and Sandler's, thumb and poop jokes. Overall, no matter how many adorable animals you add into Zookeeper's crazy mix, you're in for one very bad experience. — Edward Adams
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