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Capsule reviews of recently reviewed films

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OPENING FRIDAY
A PERFECT GETAWAY A romantic vacation in Hawaii is interrupted by the violent attacks of a mysterious stalker.

HOPE AND REDEMPTION: THE LENA BAKER STORY An earnest and sympathetic portrayal of racial injustice in 1940s southwest Georgia. The film is based on the true story of Baker (Tichina Arnold), an African-American who, in 1945, became the first and only woman sentenced and executed in Georgia’s electric chair for killing a white mill owner (Peter Coyote). — David Lee Simmons

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT This remake of a horror classic asks how far revenge should go.

MISS MARCH A couple dude-brahs chase down the centerfold model that they used to know.

CROSSING OVER 2 stars See review.

GOMORRAH 3 stars See review.

DULY NOTED
THE ROOM The worst movie ever, starring director and financier Tommy Wiseau, gets another crowd-jeering, single-night run at the Plaza. Call for price. Tues., March 17. 9:30 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.

CONTINUING
AZUR AND ASMAR 2 stars (PG) For his fourth animated feature, awesomely-named French director Michel Ocelot spins an Arabian Nights-style fairy tale about a privileged, blue-eyed infant weaned at the same breast as his nursemaid's son, and how they grow into rivals in a quest to find and win the hand of the Djinn Fairy. Subtitled The Princes' Quest for its English translation, the film may have more value as education and entertainment, with Ocelot's digital designs capturing the cultural details of a medieval Muslim country while laying out a worthy ‘Can’t we all get along?’ message. — Curt Holman

BEAUTY IN TROUBLE 4 stars (NR) Set in Prague after a disastrous flood, a down on her luck mother of two (Anna Geislerová) becomes involved with a wealthy intellectual expat after her thug husband (Roman Luknár) steals the wrong car. Don’t expect for this love story to turn out like Pretty Woman though, director Jan Hrebjek is more interested in exploring the differences between good intentions and sexual desire than crafting another fairy tale. — Wyatt Williams  

CHE 2 stars (R) Benicio del Toro stars as Argentinian-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara in director Steven Soderbergh's epic-length biographical examination. Based on Guevara's own journals, Che takes place in two parts, the first detailing the successful Cuban revolution, the second Guevara's failed efforts in Bolivia. Soderbergh and del Toto deserve credit for their documentary-style approach, but the emotionally remote material and four-and-half-hour running time may not provide ample reward for the demands it makes on the audience. — Holman

CIAO 2 stars (R) A man’s unexpected death leads to an unexpected bond between his bereaved best friend (Adam Neal Smith) and an Italian graphic designer (co-writer Alessandro Calza). Malysian-born director/co-writer Yen Tan presents Ciao as an unadorned character study of Andrea and Jeff’s brief encounter one weekend in Dallas. It’s easy to admire the film’s dedication to long scenes of casual talk, but hard to connect with its frequently stilted, borderline banal conversation. — Holman

THE CLASS 4 stars (Not rated) In this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, teacher and award-winning novelist François Bègaudeau plays a fictionalized version of himself, a middle-school French instructor who struggles with his confrontational middle-school students. Compared to Hollywood inspirational teacher-dramas like Dangerous Minds, The Class could be a remedial course, focusing on the institutional and cultural challenges that make education an uphill battle. Primarily set in the classroom, the film reveals complex conflicts and proves that educational problems have no easy answers. — Holman

CORALINE 4 stars (PG) When spunky tween Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her family move into a remote boarding house, she discovers a deceptively appealing ìother worldî full of magical wonders. Henry Selick, director of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, helms another film of stop-motion animated splendors reminiscent of such fantastical coming-of-age stories as Alice in Wonderland and Pan’s Labyrinth. Definitely try to see it in 3-D, which fits the stop-motion format like a hand in glove, but be warned that the wild images may be too creepy for little kids. — Holman

FANBOYS 2 stars (PG-13) In late 1998, a group of Star Wars fans road-trips from Ohio to Marin County, Calif., to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut of The Phantom Menace. First scheduled for release in 2007, the film became a geek cause celebre when the studio contemplated cutting out a wan subplot in which one of the friends is dying of cancer. Even with the cancer plot included, the characterizations are thin, the cameos predictable and the craft generally amateurish, suggesting that films like Clerks set the bar for comedies about fandom culture way too low. — Holman

GRAN TORINO 3 stars (R) For possibly his last screen role, Clint Eastwood plays a pistol-packing, bigoted Korean war vet who becomes reluctantly involved with his Hmong neighbors. Gran Turino’s ideas are about as obvious as a bad Stephen King adaptation, but there's something irresistible about the film's middle section, when Eastwood bonds with a young man (Bee Vang) over manual labor. — Holman

THE INTERNATIONAL 2 stars (R) An Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and a New York City attorney (Naomi Watts) try to build a case against a corrupt global bank, but all their potential witnesses end up dead. Inspired by the BCCI banking scandal of the 1990s, The International hits the national mood just right – what better time to attack financial institutions than during a global financial meltdown? Run Lola Run director offers technically proficient spy-type thrills, but the film wavers uncertainly between loud action movie and tub-thumping economic populism. — Holman

PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND 3 stars (PG-13) Elle Fanning plays Phoebe, a quirky schoolgirl who reveals increasingly severe obsessive-compulsive symptoms after taking the lead role in Alice in Wonderland. The film venerates Phoebe's free-spirited drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson) and ridicules rule-obsessed authority figures like Campbell Scott's stammering principal, but Phoebe's condition, which includes Lewis Carroll-style hallucination, seems more serious than an active imagination. — Holman

THE READER 4 stars (R) A German law student (David Kross) discovers that his older-woman fling (Kate Winslet) from his teenage years was a former guard at Auschwitz. The Hours’ Stephen Daldry directs one of the season's richest and most challenging films, in which the central relationship unfolds as a powerful, two-pronged character study as well as providing sturdy metaphors for a nation's guilt, responsibility and forgiveness. Playing the same character in different decades, Kross and Ralph Fiennes show how short relationships can reverberate across a person's life, but Kate Winslet owns the film with her career-best leading performance. — Holman

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD 2 stars (R) A young, miserably married couple (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) seek to escape the suburban rat race of 1950s America in this adaptation of Richard Yates’ acclaimed novel. Seldom has such an intelligent, impeccably-mounted production seemed so out of sync with the cultural zeitgeist: DiCaprio and Winslet dig deeply in their performances, but its hard to feel sorry for such superficial, prosperous characters at a time of foreclosures and layoffs. — Holman

TWO LOVERS 2 stars (R) Joaquin Phoenix's bizarre recent behavior upstages his performance in director James Gray's romantic triangle about a depressed would-be photographer (Phoenix) who vacillates between his attraction to an unstable, alluring neighbor (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the nice Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw) hand-picked by his parents. Phoenix's Brando-esque method acting suggest that family ties and bipolar disorder have blunted his role's true passions, but he also falls prey to a habit of over-playing his characters as innocent or ‘slow.’ The actresses make stronger, more relaxed impressions, including Paltrow’s self-destructive beauty and Isabella Rosellini's loving, unpretentious mother. — Holman

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