FEMME FATALE FILM FESTIVAL (NR) GSU’S Cinefest spends the weekend ogling at/cowering from dangerous women with a collection of exploitation films, including Invasion of the Bee Girls, Lady Terminator, Ninja III: The Domination, Savage Streets and probably the most respectable of the lot, Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45. Expect these films to make Sucker Punch look like “The View.” Sep. 16-18. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798. www2.gsu.edu/~wwwcft.
THE HEALING PASSAGE: VOICES FROM THE WATER (NR) In this documentary, artists, historians and healers contemplate the best way to confront and recover the legacy of three centuries of transatlantic slave trade. Movies With a Mission. Sun., Sep. 18, 3 p.m. Atlanta-Fulton Central Library Auditorium, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. Free. www.sankofaspirit.com/movies_with_a_mission_atlanta
JAMES NARES: FILMS FROM THE NO WAVE (NR) "James Nares, Films from the No Wave" showcases a cross-section of super 8mm and video work long thought lost, but recovered in storage earlier this decade. Rarely seen outside of New York, artist James Nares' films will premiere in Atlanta thanks to Andy Ditzler's Film Love at 8 PM on Friday, September 16 at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. The films oscillate between the cold structural rigor of filmmakers like Ernie Gehr, Paul Sharits and Michael Snow and the meditative mythological personal expressionist aesthetic of Stan Brakhage.
Film Love. Fri., Sep. 16, 8 p.m. Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. 535 Means St. $5. www.thecontemporary.org
APOLLO 18 (PG-13) This “found-footage” style thriller reveals that the final, officially-canceled 1974 lunar mission in fact made it to the moon, where two astronauts were stalked by something sinister. And you thought Apollo 13 had a problem.
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
BUCKY LARSON: BORN TO BE A STAR (R ) Bucky Larson (Nick Swardson) is an average Midwestern bag boy contented with his life and his “don’t thank me, thank the bowl” haircut from his Mother. When he is fired from Fooder’s and some dusty porn movies from the garage reveal his parents’ porn star past, Bucky’s future becomes clear. He must move to L.A. and learn the family trade. Don Jonson also stars as Bucky’s porn director/mentor, and the hilarious Kevin Nealon makes a cameo.
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
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
COLUMBIANA (R) “Star Trek’s” Zoe Saldana stars in this action film as a young woman out for revenge on the drug dealers who killed her family. A friend of mine suggested this be called Panty Assassin.
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
CONTAGION 4 stars (R ) A virulent disease spreads across the globe, beginning with Gwyneth Paltrow’s corporate traveler. Can intrepid CDC workers (including Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and a scene-stealing Jennifer Ehle) find a cure? Director Steven Soderbergh brings both a compelling cinema verite style and an A-list cast to what’s essentially a throwback to a 1970s disaster movie. After an agonizingly creepy first half, Contagion loses some of its focus with some oddly sharp critiques of rumor-mongering bloggers and the Chinese. — Curt 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 DEBT 3 stars (R) Oscar-winner Helen Mirren and the suddenly-ubiquitous Jessica Chastain effectively play the same role, separated by decades, in this espionage drama about three Israeli intelligence agents who share a secret about a 1966 mission in East Berlin. Shakespeare in Love director John Madden makes a comeback with this twisty espionage drama co-starring Tom Wilkinson and Ciarin Hinds (with Martin Csokas and Avatar’s Sam Worthington as their younger selves). (This actually opened Wednesday.) — Holman
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK 3 stars (R) A young girl (Bailee Madison) visits her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes) at the spooky New England mansion they’re trying to restore, only to discover that tiny, hostile creatures live in its walls. Guillermo del Toro produced and co-wrote this adaptation of a 1973 made-for-TV movie, and director Troy Nixey gives a Hitchcockian flair to the set pieces. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark lacks the richness of del Toro’s original films like Pan’s Labyrinth but works as a creepy-crawlie mood piece. — Holman
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.
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
THE FUTURE (R) A self-absorbed artsy couple (Miranda July and Hamish Linklater) attempt to get their lives together before making the big step of adopting a kitten. Director Miranda July also provides the voice of the narrator, Paw-Paw the kitten.
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.
A GOOD OLD FASHIONED ORGY 2 stars (R) This year’s latest raunchy comedy depicts a group of friends, all nearing 30 years old, who contemplate plan a Labor Day sex party before the loose their party house in the Hamptons. As conceived by writer/directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, self-absorption and aggressively annoying tics define the friends (who include Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine and a bunch of women who look like models). The film’s last act reveals a surprisingly open mind about sexual experimentation for a mainstream comedy without matching the insights of an indie film like Humpday. — Holman
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. — 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.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER 2 stars (R) Paul Rudd plays a genial dimwit who couch-surfs with this three neurotic sisters after serving a little jail time. Rudd’s guileless hippie complicates the lives of the self-absorbed Manhattan intelligentsia, but despite a great cast (including Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Zooey Deschanel, Steve Coogan and Adam Scott), the film has the glossy sheen and contrived plotting of a Hollywood rom-com. Despite being one of Hollywood’s most likable actors, Rudd seems too smart to make a credible dumb guy. — Holman
REDEMPTION ROAD 2 stars (PG-13) A hard-drinking wannabe bluesman (co-writer Morgan Simpson) tries to get his life together with the help of a mountainous country music fan (Michael Clarke Duncan). Duncan seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself, but Simpson lacks the magnetism to make the audience care about his character’s personal problems. At least director Mario Van Peebles assembles terrific blues performances that sound great. — Holman
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
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.
SENNA (NR) This profile of the Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna is one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the year.
SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G) An ambitious young golfer (Lucas Black) finds himself stranded in Utopia, Texas, in this Christian drama starring Robert Duval, Melissa Leo and Kathy Baker. The premise sounds a little like Pixar’s first Cars.
SHARK NIGHT 3D (PG-13) A group of college friends find their leisure time on a salt-water Louisiana lake disrupted by some ravenous party-crashers with conspicuous teeth and dorsal fins. Fans of violent horror films should take the PG-13 rating as a red flag.
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.
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
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
WARRIOR (PG-13) Directed by Gavin O'Connor, Warrior depicts two brothers, a Marine veteran (Tom Hardy) and an ex-fighter-turned-teacher (Joel Edgerton), who each return to the mixed martial-arts ring and end up on a collision course. Hardy might be the biggest draw after his breakout role in Inception and upcoming turn as roided-out Batman villain Bane in next summer's The Dark Knight Rises.
@ JF Williams "And now I have even more of a reason to totally ignore…
If only he'd continued to throw strikes the way he tweets.
Wow! Look what I missed...didn't miss anything I was at the beach. I burned gas…
At-large voting is a crock and a crime when it's conducted this way. Get rid…
If it is John Rocker writing the tweets they are pretty good.
I bet many of these at-large county voting systems were propped up when John F…