CITIZEN KANE (1941) 5 stars (NR) Orson Welles' thrilling account of the rise and fall of a newspaper tycoon may or may not be the greatest film ever made, but it's certainly one of the most entertaining great films ever made. Its embrace of then-edgy narrative techiniques help teach audiences how to watch movies, and aspiring creators how to make them. Coca-Cola Film Series, 7:30 p.m. Sat., Aug. 27. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Rd. www.foxtheatre.org
DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965) Near the end of his film career, Boris Karloff starred in this loose adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Colour Out of Space” about a meteorite that causes sinister mutations in a small town. Silver Screen Spook Show. Aug. 27, 1 and 10 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $7-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com
EQUINOX (1970) Check out the rare 35 mm print of this lesser-known monster movie in which stop-motion demons attack a group of young campers. Sat., Aug. 37, 3 p.m. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
JAMES BROUGHTON: BIG JOY (NR) The avant-garde film series presents four short films from the poet and pioneer of West Coast bohemia. Film Love. Fri., Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m. The Philip Rush Center, 1530 DeKalb Avenue. www.frequentsmallmeals.com/film_love.htm
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. Coca-Cola Film Series, 2 p.m. Sat., Aug. 27. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree Rd. www.foxtheatre.org
PULP FICTION (1994) 4 stars (R ) GSU’s Cinefest Film Theatre celebrates its 20th anniversary with a double feature of Quentin Tarantino’s twisty riff on film noir tropes (which incidentally made John Travolta an A-list star) and Danny Boyle’s delirious drug drama Trainspotting. Aug. 26-28. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
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 film’s bizarre touches, like framed photographs of spoons, inspire audiences to throw plastic spoons at the screen, and more. Not to be missed. Tue., Aug. 30, 9:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.
ATTACK THE BLOCK 4 stars (R) After a group of English youngsters mug a London nurse (Jodie Whitaker) one night at an impoverished “council estate,” the neighbors must reluctantly band together to fend off a pack of ravenous alien beasties. Writer-director Joe Cornish, a frequent collaborator with Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright, crafts an extremely fun, low-budget sci-fi action comedy that doesn’t let the sharp social commentary slow it down. Acting newcomer John Boyega comes across like a teenage Denzel Washington as a gang leader who learns to take responsibility for his actions. — Curt Holman
ANOTHER EARTH 2 stars (PG-13) While the human race discovers an alternate Earth in outerspace, a young ex-con (Brit Marling) struggles with the consequences of causing a fatal car accident. One of the darlings of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Another Earth emphasizes the familiar guilt and atonement themes of car-crash movies like Redemption Road while short-changing its sci-fi implications: nobody expresses concern about the other planet crashing into us, for instance, even as it fills the sky. Marling and co-star William Mapother’s subtle acting can’t make up for the film’s sluggish pace. — Holman
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (PG-13) During World War II, an experimental serum turns 90-lb asthmatic Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into super-soldier Captain America, who devotes himself to stopping the high-tech arsenal of The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Captain America flags in its attempt to evoke the same kind of matinee-era thrills as the Indiana Jones flicks or Johnston’s own 1991 comic book adventure, The Rocketeer. Evans makes an appealingly earnest hero, but the more ripped he gets, the less interesting the role becomes. — 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
THE CHANGE-UP Fast-talking player/aspiring actor Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and uptight family man/lawyer Dave (Jason Bateman) swap bodies when they simultaneously pee in a fountain and wish for each other's lives. Did we really need another body-swap comedy? At first glance, no. But writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover) avoid bogging down the story with overly earnest self-reflection. The Change-Up maintains just the right level of tastelessness, and Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin succeeds in breathing new life into one of Hollywood’s favorite film formulas. — Debbie Michaud
CONAN THE BARBARIAN 2 stars (R) In ye olde Hyborian Age, pumped-up warrior Conan (“Game of Thrones’” Jason Mamoa) seeks revenge against a “shadow lord” (Avatar’s Stephen Lang), who plots to conquer the world with a magic mask and the sacrifice of a beautiful monk (Rachel Nichols). For about an hour, you can have fun with Conan the Barbarian as a “good-bad movie” by reveling in the violence, over-the-top behavior, unintelligible dialogue and imaginative production design. After nearly two hours, the lousy writing, incoherent action scenes and fantasy epic clichés will crush your spirits. — Holman
COWBOYS & ALIENS A sexy cowboy (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere in Arizona in 1873 with no memory of his past. As it turns out, he is the only hope against an alien invasion kicking off in the Wild West. Horses, hats and spaceships will all fuse in one big battle.
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is down in the dumps after his wife of two decades Emily (Julianne Moore) shtups a co-worker (Kevin Bacon) and asks for a divorce. To cope, he binges on vodka cran at a swanky local bar where he meets eurotrash Casanova Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), who promptly douches him up and sends him whoring to fill the void left by a loving wife. We get the same old mumbling, asexual Carell, a shining moment from Marissa Tomei as a wacky lay, and a belligerent 13-year-old who thinks he's got it all figured out (there's even an awkward graduation speech for moralizing about crazy, stupid love). Really, it's kind of a crazy, stupid mess. — Michaud
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE (R) Dominic Cooper plays a dual role in this film about an Iraqi forced to be a decoy double for Uday Hussein, Saddam’s psycho son. Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori helms this political thriller.
FINAL DESTINATION 5 3D (R) In the fifth iteration of the franchise’s familiar plot, a group of young people survive the crash of a suspension bridge, only to discover that, having cheated death, they’re doomed to die in outlandish ways.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (R ) Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis play platonic friends who decide to bring their relationship into the bedroom. It sounds just like No Strings Attached, down to having a Black Swan actor as the female lead.
FRIGHT NIGHT 4 stars (R) This new version of the 1985 action-comedy adds a bit of logic and finesse in this franchise reboot. Buffy and Mad Men writing alum Marti Noxon gives distinct voices to each character and director Craig Gillespie crafts a horror movie that has more “umph” than your average scarefest and more nail-biting moments than some recent action flicks. For those new to Fright Night, expect a full-throttled action comedy that bares fangs as a suspenseful horror movie. — Ed Adams
GLEE: THE 3D CONCERT MOVIE (PG) This tribute film to the musical TV phenomenon presents some of the student characters singing pop hits in concert, along with the documentary-style stories of three “Gleeks” whose lives have been influenced by the Fox show.
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 GUARD 3 stars (R) A whoring, drug-abusing Irish police officer (Brendan Gleeson) makes a particularly mismatched buddy with an African-American FBI agent (Don Cheadle) trying to thwart a team of drug dealers on Ireland’s coast. Gleeson gives a zesty, Falstaffian performance as “the guard,” an aggressively witty, middle-aged hedonist distracted by his reawakening conscience. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh (brother of In Bruges’ Martin McDonagh) offers all set-up and no follow-through, with a plot that resorts to predictably self-conscious dialogue and redemptive shoot-outs. — HolmanTHE 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
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 4 stars (PG-13) Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) lays siege to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as Harry Potter and his pals close in on the means to overthrow the magic noseless fascist. The eighth, final and shortest of the Harry Potter films superbly blends nonstop action scenes with effective emotional grace notes that draw on the franchise’s decades-long history. Daniel Radcliffe’s intensity as Harry helps anchor the film in reality while director Daniel Yates frequently clear, uncluttered visual approach improve on J.K. Rowling’s original novel.—Holman
THE HELP 2 stars (PG-13) In Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s, a white would-be journalist (Emma Stone) attempts to enlist African-American housekeepers (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) to write about about Southern race relations from their point of view. In adapting the bestselling novel by Atlanta's Kathryn Stockett, writer/director Tate Taylor retains too much of the book's sprawling plot spends too much time trying to establish The Help as a feel-good Southern comedy-drama like Steel Magnolias. The film conveys the African-American characters' anger and captures plenty of winning details about the South, but uses Bryce Dallas-Howard's manipulative, racist socialite as nearly a scapegoat for Southern racism. — Holman
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
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
ONE DAY (PG-13) Adapted by David Nicholls from his novel of the same name, this film follows the love and friendship of two 1988 college graduates (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) by revisiting them on July 15 for two decades.
strong>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.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 4 stars (PG-13) James Franco plays a geneticist whose flawed Alzheimer’s cure creates a superintelligent chimpanzee named Caesar (in a stunning motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis), who leads his fellow apes to take up arms in San Francisco. Rise delivers the best extended “breakout” sequence since Toy Story 3 and Serkis’ Caesar provides one of the year’s most sympathetic performances of any species. This thoroughly entertaining reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise lays groundwork for potentially intriguing sequels. — Curt Holman
SALVATION BOULEVARD (NR) A Dead-head turned born-again-Christian (Greg Kinnear) gets on the wrong side of the ruthless leader of a megachurch (Pierce Brosnan) in this comedy-drama co-starring Jennifer Connelly and Marisa Tomei.
SARAH’S KEY (PG-13) In modern-day Paris, a journalist (Kristen Scott Thomas) finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the round-up of Jews in 1942.
THE SMURFS The tiny blue creatures found their way back on the big screen, this time in 3D. The magical Smurfs are forced to flee their perfect world as they are being hunted down by the evil wizard Gargamel. Their frantic escape magically leads them to a world wholly different from theirs; New York City. In between dodging yellow cabs, befriending a New York couple and fleeing from an evil cat, they must find their way back into the world where they belong.
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN The story focuses on a friendship between two women destined to last an eternity. Isolated by their families, Snow Flower (Jennifer Lim) and Lily (Christina Y. Jun) communicate using a secret code. Through many obstacles the friendship faces, the film explores how cultural norms tied up women in 19th century China.
SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (PG) Robert Rodriguez jump-starts his Spy Kids franchise with a new cloak-and-diaper team that must prevent a villain called the Timekeeeper (Jeremy Piven) from wreaking havoc. Not pre-screened for critics, the film takes place in “4D,” which includes 3D glasses and “AromaScope” scratch-and-sniff cards. Hey, the last Spy Kids movie was 3D in 2003, so maybe smelly movies will be the next big thing. — Holman
TABLOID 4 stars (R ) Oscar-winning director Errol Morris finds a fascinating subject in the strange case of Joyce McKinney, who became the center of a 1977 London tabloid scandal involving kidnapping, kinky sex and Mormonism. McKinney makes a fascinating subject as a fading Southern belle with a gift of gab, while a pair of aging British journalists exude cheerful contempt for their subjects. Tabloid arrives in theaters with perfect timing for a film about journalistic excess, even though the juicy details can distract Morris from the bigger picture. — Holman
30 MINUTES OR LESS 3 stars (R ) An underemployed pizza delivery guy (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg) gets strapped to a bomb and blackmailed to steal a fortune by two trashy ne’er-do-wells (Danny McBride and Nick Swarsdon). McBride plays a predictable version of his arrogant redneck character, but Eisenberg finds a great onscreen partner in Aziz Ansari as the pizza boy’s best friend and highly reluctant accomplice. Disappointing compared to previous slobby summer comedies like Superbad, the film at least has more laughs and energy than Horrible Bosses or The Hangover Part 2. — 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
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