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Short Subjectives May 23 2007

Offside, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Valet

Opening Friday

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BUG(R) See review.

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OFFSIDE 3 stars (NR) See review.

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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END (PG-13) See review.

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THE VALET 3 stars (PG-13) In this French farce, a parking valet pretends to be the boyfriend of a supermodel when her real lover's wife gets suspicious.

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Duly Noted

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CASABLANCA (1942) 5 stars (NR) Arguably the most atmospheric and cleverly written romance Hollywood ever made, with delightful supporting players and superb musical choices. Humphrey Bogart plays a cynical nightclub owner torn between love and idealism when his long-lost soulmate (Ingrid Bergman) turns up married to a resistance fighter (Paul Henreid). Round up the usual suspects and see it again. Screen on the Green. May 31 at dusk. Piedmont Park meadow near 10th and Monroe. Free. 404-878-2600. -- Curt Holman

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DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE (1962) (NR) Legendary Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni received his first Oscar nomination for his role as a married Sicilian nobleman who falls in love with another woman and, as divorce was illegal at the time, decides to murder his wife. Italy Atlanta Film Festival. Thurs., May 31, 6:30 p.m. Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, 980 Briarcliff Road. $10 donation. 404-798-6679. www.italyatlantafilms.com.

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-- Felicia Feaster

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KLIMT 3 stars (Not Rated) Chilean director Raul Ruiz offers a typically surreal take on the life of Austrian secessionist painter Gustav Klimt, more fantastic snapshot of the painter's sexual preoccupations and hotheaded temperament than conventional biopicture. John Malkovich plays the painter as a sexually promiscuous maverick whose story begins in the hospital where he lays weakened by syphilis. Fans of Klimt will enjoy the director's translation of the decadent, heady world of the turn-of-the-century Vienna that nurtured painters such as Klimt and Egon Schiele (Nikolai Kinski) though Ruiz's stream-of-consciousness style (influenced by the Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler) may irritate just as many. Wed., May 30, 7 p.m. Goethe Zentrum, 1197 Peachtree St. $3-$4. 404-892-2388. www.german-institute.org.-- Felicia Feaster

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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. It's all fun and games until Meat Loaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

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Continuing

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28 WEEKS LATER 3 stars (R) Following the outbreak of the "rage" virus in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later that turned most of the population of mainland Britain into crazed berserkers, this sequel takes up after the crisis has passed — or so it seems. Under U.S. military control, English civilians such as a haunted father (Robert Carlyle) and his two children (Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton) move back to a London safe zone until all hell breaks loose again. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo may surpass Boyle's ability to craft jittery, unnerving thrill scenes, but the script's harsh anti-U.S. sensibility relies on plot points too nonsensical to be easily ignored in the film's last half-hour. -- Holman

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AFTER THE WEDDING 3 stars (R) One of this year's Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language film, this Danish drama depicts a schoolteacher in India (Casino Royale's bad guy Mads Mikkelsen) who returns to his native Denmark to woo a potential philanthropist and discovers family ties he didn't know he had at a wedding. Thanks to the cast's realistic responses to some melodramatic plot points and Susanne Bier's energetic storytelling, After the Wedding combines fish-out-of-water humor and heated family conflicts without feeling like a Danish soap opera. -- Holman

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ARE WE DONE YET? 2 stars (PG) In this modern interpretation of the 1948 postwar classic Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House family man Nick Persons (Ice Cube) moves from a city apartment to a drool-worthy country mansion but finds himself and his house wrapped around the finger of an outlandish local contractor (a genuinely uproarious John C. McGinley). The laughs are few and far between — mostly courtesy of McGinley — though Ice Cube's scowl and introverted, impacted emotions come in handy in expressing homeowner building angst. -- Feaster

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AWAY FROM HER 5 stars (PG-13) An exceptionally accomplished and thoughtful directorial debut feature from the actress Sarah Polley. An absolutely luminous Julie Christie delivers one of the best performances of her career as a Canadian woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease, who along with her husband (Gordon Pinsent) makes the difficult decision to enter a nursing home. What happens after she does is unpredictable, emotionally harrowing and an incredibly moving statement about marriage, old age, death and dying. Not to be missed. -- Feaster

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BLACK BOOK 4 stars (R) In the Netherlands in 1944, a Jewish fugitive (Carice van Houten) turns femme fatale as an anti-Nazi resistance fighter, only to discover that things aren't as black-and-white as it seems. Dutch director Paul Verhoeven returns to his homeland after making such lurid, visceral Hollywood product as Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troopers, with results that can be both thrilling and ridiculously melodramatic. Instead of coming across as a caricature of femininity, Van Houten's star-making performance always feel credible and anchors the film despite its borderline-ludicrous plot twists. -- Holman

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BLADES OF GLORY 3 stars (PG-13) Two figure skaters, played by fey Jon Heder and swaggering Will Ferrell, attempt to put aside their bitter rivalry and become the first man-on-man ice-skating team. Will Ferrell's typical comedies let the funny outfits do half the work, but Blades of Glory improves on the formula with stranger, snappier dialogue ("Get out of my face!" "I'll get inside your face!"), a wonderfully bizarre vision of professional skating and an ability to tweak gay panic without resorting to actual homophobia. Ferrell and Heder make amusing foils, and the film gives "Arrested Development" fans a treat by reuniting Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as a psychotically competitive brother-sister figure skating team. -- Holman

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BOY CULTURE (NR) A successful Seattle-based male escort describes his tangled relationships with his two roommates and an older male client. Directed by Q. Allen Brocka.

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DELTA FARCE (PG-13) Starring Blue Collar Comics Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall, the film follows three inept Iraq-bound soldiers who are accidently dropped in Mexico. Hilarity ensues. Directed by C.B. Harding.

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DISTURBIA 3 stars (PG-13) A likable but troubled teen (Shia LaBeouf) under house arrest turns self-appointed neighborhood watch and suspects the guy next door (David Morse) of being a murderer. Director D.J. Caruso proves interested in the voyeuristic POV shots of the premise, at least as a technical exercise, and LaBeouf and Morse lend snap to their roles. Despite being a transparent Hitchcock imitation, Disturbia persuasively argues that the time may be ripe to revisit Rear Window's themes, thanks to advances in picture phones, digital cameras and other gadgets of the YouTube generation. -- Holman

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THE EX (PG-13) From director Jesse Peretz, this comedy stars Zach Braff and Amanda Peet as newlyweds Tom and Sophia. When Sophia decides the family should return to Ohio so she can be a stay-at-home mom and Tom can work for her father, life as a new family unit gets a bit more complicated when an old flame of Sophia's (Jason Bateman) threatens to break up their love nest.

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FAY GRIM 1 star (R) Indie-precious auteur Hal Hartley returns with a sequel to his 1998 Henry Fool starring Parker Posey as a Queens housewife (as if), strapped with a delinquent teenage son (Liam Aiken) and a brother (James Urbaniak) in prison, who finds out the husband Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan) she thought was dead may actually be alive and wanted by the CIA for his subversive international activities. Hartley's usual droll, mannered comic style does not mix well with his feeble attempts at Syriana-style geopolitical skulduggery in this laborious, emotionally hollow affair.-- Feaster

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FRACTURE (R) Crime thriller starring Anthony Hopkins as a meticulous engineer accused of murdering his adulterous wife. Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) plays the district attorney in charge of bringing him to justice. Directed by Gregory Hoblit (Hart's War) and co-stars David Strathairn and Embeth Davidtz.

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GEORGIA RULE (R) Never straying too far from tabloid caricature, Lindsay Lohan stars in this emotionally diarrhetic melodrama as Rachel, a sexually promiscuous hell-raising California girl parked with her earthy, sensible grandmother (Jane Fonda, a real woman in a cast of cheap imitations) in Idaho for the summer. Gary Marshall attempts to wrassle some big social issues like alcoholism (Rachel's mom played by Felicity Huffman is a lush) and incest to the ground. But Marshall's dingbat, superficial sensibility triumphs in the end, making even molestation seem as inconsequential as prostitution was in Pretty Woman.-- Feaster

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GRINDHOUSE 3 stars (R) Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez team up for a self-contained double feature that pays homage to sleazy exploitation films of the 1970s and the seedy cinemas that screened them. Rodriguez's zombie spoof Planet Terror goes almost exclusively for juvenile gross-outs, although Rose McGowan creates an iconic character as a go-go dancer turned zombie killer who's like a cross between Wonder Woman and the Bride of Frankenstein. Tarantino takes Death Proof more seriously by affectionately introducing the strong, likeable female characters (including Rosario Dawson and stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself) stalked by a psycho stunt driver (Kurt Russell). Apart from Death Proof's breathtaking final car chase, Grindhouse's most appealing qualities are its hilarious fake movie trailers and its evocation of the scratchy prints and missing reels of old film prints. -- Holman

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HOME OF THE BRAVE (R) Directed by Irwin Winkler, this war drama stars Samuel L. Jackson and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as returning Iraq war veterans adjusting to life back at home.

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HOT FUZZ 3 stars (R) A London supercop (co-writer Simon Pegg) finds himself transferred to a seemingly crime-free English village, which turns out to be far more dangerous than it seems. Pegg and director/co-writer Edgar Wright satirize action-movie clichés with the same blend of affection and adrenaline that they brought to their zombie romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead. Pegg and Wright pen an air-tight screenplay, charged with the vocabulary of Hollywood shoot-em-ups (tight close-ups and booming sound effects can accompany the most mundane actions). Partnered again with Nick Frost as a bumbling police officer, Pegg and Wright display a sense of humor that should be registered as a lethal weapon. To hear an exclusive podcast interview with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, visit atlanta.creativeloafing.com and click on Flicks. -- Holman

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IMAX THEATER Hurricane on the Bayou (NR) Shot before and after the unprecedented devastation of Hurricane Katrina by director Greg MacGillivray, this documentary brings into focus the startling loss of Louisiana's rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands that are New Orleans' first line of defense against deadly storms. Starring Meryl Streep, Allen Toussaint II and Tab Benoit. Wired to Win: Surviving the Tour de France(NR) explores the minds of cyclists training for the Tour de France and studies the effects of the race on their brains. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu.

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THE INVISIBLE (PG-13) High school teenager Nick (Justin Chatwin) becomes trapped in a kind of limbo between the living and dead after being mistaken for someone else and attacked by a disturbed girl (Margarita Levieva). Supernatural thriller from David S. Goyer features Marcia Gay Harden.

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LUCKY YOU (PG-13) Set in Las Vegas' high-stakes poker world, Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) struggles with personal challenges (including a complicated relationship with his father, poker legend L.C. Cheever, played by Robert Duvall) while trying to win the World Poker Championship and the heart of Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore). From director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, Wonder Boys).

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MEET THE ROBINSONS (G) A schoolboy inventor travels to the future and meets a lovably eccentric family. This computer-animated family flick is based on A Day With Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, whose playfully retro children's books inspired the kid's shows "Rolie Polie Olie" and "George Shrinks," not to mention the cool designs of Robots.

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THE NAMESAKE 2 stars (PG-13) Mira Nair's (Monsoon Wedding) latest foray into cross-cultural ennui is a bit of a disappointment. When her adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri's novel is focused on recent newlyweds Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irfan Khan) as they make the difficult immigrant's journey from bright, warm Calcutta to grim Queens in the '70s the film succeeds beautifully. But when Nair's attention turns to their dour teenage hatchling Gogol (Kal Penn) in this epic family drama of cultural collision between the old world and the new, the film loses some energy. Gogol's bratty angst just doesn't carry the emotional gravitas of his parents' loneliness and yearning and every time the attention is on the younger generation's problems the film suffers. -- Feaster

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NEXT (PG-13) Cris Johnson (Nicholas Cage) is able to see a few minutes into the future — a gift that sometimes causes him more trouble than it's worth. Sick of being treated like a science project by the government, he flees to Las Vegas to see if he can make something out of always knowing what comes next. Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel also star. Directed by Lee Tamahori.

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PERFECT STRANGER 1 star (R) Without big names Bruce Willis and Halle Berry, this stupidly serpentine sex thriller with an unbearably hackneyed twist ending would have been direct-to-cable fare. Like soft-core Nancy Drew, Berry is a maverick reporter who decides to use her sleuthing expertise, sex appeal and the help of a computer genius colleague (a wasted Giovanni Ribisi) to go after an advertising bigwig (Bruce Willis) she believes is behind a friend's gruesome murder. Very little seems plausible or even especially entertaining in this crass, throwaway thriller from the wildly uneven James Foley (At Close Range, Two Bits). -- Feaster

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SHREK THE THIRD 2 stars (PG) Slovenly ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) shirks his royal duties by trying to enlist the only other heir, meek teen Arthur (de facto king of pop Justin Timberlake). Smug and self-congratulatory, Shrek the Third lacks the freshness and energy of its predecessors and takes perfunctory potshots at such cutting-edge topics as high school, dinner theater, hippies and vain, snobby princesses (although such voice actresses as Amy Sedaris offfer amusingly ditzy turns). -- Holman

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SPIDER-MAN 3 4 stars (PG-13) In the third and most entertaining of director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, the darker impulses of normally sunny superhero Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) take over thanks in part to an alien parasite that provides him with a black costume and a bad attitude. Awkwardly paced and top-heavy with new characters, Spider-Man 3 nevertheless keeps the conflicts rooted in character while improving on the spectacular special effects of the earlier films. If it's a little tiresome to see girlfriend Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) constantly in peril, the creativity and excitement of freaky, poignant villains such as the Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) take up the slack in Raimi's web. -- Holman

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VACANCY (R) Nimród Antal's horror film stars Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale as a couple forced to spend the night in a roadside motel after their car breaks down. After finding hidden cameras in the room and a terrifying snuff film playing on the VCR, they realize they must escape before they become the stars ­-- and victims — of a real-life horror flick.

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WAITRESS (PG-13) From director Adrienne Shelly comes this romantic comedy about a small town waitress who is pregnant with her abusive husband's baby and finds love with the new doctor in town.

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YEAR OF THE DOG 4 stars (PG-13) Screenwriter Mike White's (Chuck & Buck, School of Rock) directorial debut is a gingerly misanthropic anti-chick flick about a woman, Peggy (Molly Shannon) crazy for dogs who goes through a radical life change when her beloved beagle, Pencil, dies. Defying every expectation about where such stories are "supposed" to go, this deadpan comedy and wonderfully openhearted film is a small triumph of go-it's-own-way indie cinema. Shannon is a revelation playing an utterly idiosyncratic and lovable woman who sees life very differently from the people around her. -- Feaster



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