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Film Clips

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed films

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Opening Friday

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 3 stars (PG) "SpongeBob SquarePants" veteran Tim Hill's film chronicles the Chipmunks' rise to hyperpitched harmonizing fame and their narrow escape from the pitfalls of child stardom. On the human side, Jason Lee as Dave Seville looks uneasy living life in a partially CGI world, whereas David Cross, playing an exploitative record exec, basks in his screen time. -- Allison C. Keene

I AM LEGEND (PG-13) See review.

I WANT SOMEONE TO EAT CHEESE WITH (NR) See review.

Duly Noted

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) (R) Francis Ford Copolla's film rendition of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness returns as a timeless commentary on the madness of war. Tues., Dec. 18. 14th St. Playhouse, 173 14th St. 404-733-4738. www.14thstplayhouse.org.

PARTLY CLOUDY In this local film premiere, an unexpected twist causes two people to fall in love with the same man. Directed by local film producer Bobby M. Peoples Sr. Sat., Dec. 15. Plaza Theatre. 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the musical horror spoof follows an all-American couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a drag queen/mad scientist from another galaxy. Midnight, Fri. at Plaza Theatre, and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

Continuing

3:10 TO YUMA 4 stars (R) Christian Bale plays a tough but indebted rancher hired out to help escort a ruthless, charismatic outlaw (Russell Crowe) to the prison train that gives the film its title. After such revisionist Westerns as Unforgiven and HBO's "Deadwood," director James Mangold (Walk the Line) offers a pleasingly old-fashioned oater full of horses, six-guns, rugged landscapes and even more rugged actors. -- Curt Holman

AMERICAN GANGSTER 3 stars (R) This sprawling crime drama set in Vietnam War-era Harlem pits Denzel Washington's fastidious rising mob boss against Russell Crowe's doggedly honest narcotics cop. As usual, director Ridley Scott crafts images that mark him as an artist of color and light, but the premise's shades of gray elude him, particularly the implication that the mobster's success represents a triumph of African-American enterprise. -- Holman

ATONEMENT 4 stars (R) An intelligent but confused adolescent girl (Saoirse Ronan) tells a lie that separates two young lovers (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy). Joe Wright crafts an insightful adaptation of Ian McEwan's acclaimed novel that begins with an intimate look at the passions and frustrations at a country estate, and expands to include the destruction of WW II. -- Holman

AUGUST RUSH (PG) A fairy tale-esque drama about an orphaned musical prodigy who uses his talents to find his absentee parents. Kristen Sheridan directs.

AWAKE (R) Hayden Christensen plays a man who awakens during open-heart surgery to find the anesthesia has left him aware, but paralyzed.

BEE MOVIE 2 stars (PG) After discovering life outside the hive and meeting a human florist (Renee Zellweger), a young bee (Jerry Seinfeld) sues the human race for the honey industry's exploitative practices. The closer Bee Movie hovers to Seinfeld's appealing brand of observational humor, the bigger laughs it finds, but the script flits in too many different directions. -- Holman

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD 4 stars (R) Octogenarian director Sidney Lumet takes the hipster genre of choice -- the bloody, chronologically scrambled heist movie -- and turns it into a weighty family tragedy that's still nastily entertaining. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (in one of the year's best performances) and Ethan Hawke play desperate brothers whose ill-fated plan to rob their own parents takes on the dimensions of Cain, Abel and Oedipus. -- Holman

BELLA 2 stars (PG-13) A haunted chef (Eduardo Verástegui) and a pregnant waitress (Tammy Blanchard) leave their jobs at a trendy restaurant to spend a romantic, soul-baring day in Manhattan. This heartfelt but overly sentimental film from Alejandro Gomez Monteverde celebrates food, family and New York, but the leading actors' performances are a little blank and the ending too convenient by half. -- Holman

BEOWULF 4 stars (PG-13) The Anglo-Saxon epic poem of strapping Beowulf (voiced by Ray Winstone) and his monstrous adversaries gets brought into the 21st century with director Robert Zemeckis' "performance-capture" animation techniques (a form that's still a work in progress, but has improved significantly since The Polar Express). For all the CGI monsters, including misshapen ogre Grendel, the real attraction is the revisionist screenplay, which reimagines the heroic tale into a tragedy about the corruption of power. -- Holman

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM 3 stars (PG-13) In the third Bourne movie, amnesiac superspy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) crosses the globe to reclaim his memory and outwit his former CIA spy masters (including David Strathairn). Paul Greengrass also directed the trilogy's previous entry and again masterfully employs shaky camera work and soundtrack percussion to raise the audience's pulse rate; he could make doing laundry unbearably exciting. Nevertheless, given the identical plots (and impassive acting from Julia Stiles) in all three, it's no wonder Bourne can't remember anything. -- Holman

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