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Flicks - Blood Sports and Threesomes

CL critic Felicia Feaster's five picks for the Atlanta Film Festival

Murderball ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image

Most films about disability are a pity party. But not Murderball, a Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary about a team of rugby players confined to wheelchairs by spinal cord injuries. This film conveys the rough-and-tumble nature of a sport so dangerous, its players often have metal pins placed in their necks to prevent further spinal injury. The testosterone frenzy of the rugby matches is rendered with a ripping, stylish fury. But when directors Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro probe deeper into these men's lives, we see how much of their fighting spirit and determination occurs beyond the extreme-sports battleground. Murderball ropes us in with sport, but bucks the feel-good arc of the disability-film genre. Everyone, after all, goes home with his own cross to bear, victory or no victory. A postscript of the Team USA introducing disabled Iraq War vets to rugby is a harrowing affirmation of the long road ahead for the disabled. Sat., June 11 at 6 p.m. Rialto Center for Performing Arts, 80 Forsyth St. 404-651-4727. www.rialtocenter.org. Murderball opens July 22 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. 678-495-1424. www.landmarktheaters.com.

Three of Hearts?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image

And you thought Tom Cruise was touchy-feely. Initially, viewers may be freaked out by the three principals in this documentary about a long-term ménage a trois in Manhattan. The lovers — Sam, Samantha and Steven — are all deeply schooled in therapy culture. They appear ridiculously self-absorbed as they endlessly detail how two perfectly happy gay men decided to take on a straight woman as their third wheel, and eventually marry and make babies, too. Listening to the talky trio endlessly harangue friends, family and the filmmakers about the inner workings of their sex life falls into the category of "too much information." But as tensions arise and love turns sour, Three of Hearts develops a greater appreciation for its subjects. Despite the radical nature of this ménage a trois, the pitfalls of marriage, a shared business and child-rearing prove undeniably ordinary. Sun., June 12 at 3:30 p.m. Atlanta-Fulton Central Library, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-1700. www.afplweb.com/central.

Rize?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image

This documentary details how a subculture of dance gave poor black kids a sense of identity and escape from the nihilism of their daily lives. The electric Rize, shot by famed fashion photographer David LaChapelle, is enormously moving on many levels. The film focuses on the "clowning" and "krumping" dance phenomena that originated in Watts, an inner-city neighborhood in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, LaChapelle is more drawn to the visual power of the dance than to the obligatory insertion of stories about hard-knocks childhoods replete with drug-addict moms and gang-banging dads. In the dance sequences, Rize really explodes, highlighting clowning and krumping's astonishing electric shivers and symbolic bodily expressions of rage and angst. Blending elements of African tribal movements, Maori war dance, breakdancing, stripper booty-shaking and martial arts, the extensive dance footage gives Rize a heady, narcotic jolt. The sheer release and exorcism of creativity is apparent as these kids living in doom-plagued neighborhoods turn their frustrations into art. Sun., June 12 at 6 p.m. Atlanta-Fulton Central Library. 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-1700. www.afplweb.com/central.

Kill Your Idols?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image

Kill Your Idols is a somewhat disjointed effort from first-time filmmaker S.A. Crary. But undoubtedly, music fans will dig the blood sport as members of the late '70s no-wave scene like Lydia Lunch and the Swans' Michael Gira lash out at what they see as the all-flash, anti-innovation new kids on the block like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the ludicrous cock-rockers ARE Weapons. "Manufactured" and "cynically put together" are just some of Lunch's choice put-downs for this new breed of market-savvy rockers. In the meantime, bands like Sonic Youth and Gogol Bordello affirm that powerful music and genre-busting can arise from no-wave's dust. Crary supplements some rather pedestrian interviews with short bursts of live performances from a variety of no-wave and next-wave bands at New York's music venues. Sat., June 11 at 7 p.m. Atlanta-Fulton Central Library, 1 Margaret Mitchell Square. 404-730-1700. www.afplweb.com/central.

Aprés Vous Image ?Image ?Image ?Image ?Image

In this goofy, escapist French black comedy, Antoine (Daniel Auteuil) is a self-assured, respected waiter at an upscale French brassiere. He rescues a despondent stranger named Louis (Jose Garcia) from a suicide attempt and becomes thoroughly enmeshed in the man's life. The well-intentioned Antoine eventually secures this bumbling depressive a job as the restaurant's sommelier, and even tries to reunite him with his former girlfriend. In the usual screwball-comedy fashion, every good deed is rewarded with a domino effect of ensuing chaos, which is enough to drive even patient Antoine to despair. Sun., June 12 at 1 p.m. Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive. 678-495-1424. www.landmarktheaters.com.

FELICIA.FEASTER@CREATIVELOAFING.COM