Film Clips: The Legend, Cars 2, Bad Teacher and more

This weekend’s openings


  • Gemma LaMana © 2010 Sony Pictures Digital Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • Cameron Diaz stars in Columbia Pictures’ comedy “Bad Teacher”

BAD TEACHER (R ) Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is the embodiment of everything a high school teacher should not be. She drinks, she gets high and she uses inappropriate language. But all that is about to change after she gets dumped by her rich fiancé (the one-way ticket out of her current situation). So the unmotivated badass becomes a highly motivated teacher striving for students’ good grades as well as a colleague’s heart.

One of the most expensive Dutch-language productions offers a unique perspective on emigration to New Zealand. Inspired by the true story of a 1953 aircraft carrying mostly young women on their way to join their fiancés, the plot revolves around four friends and their paths to love, trouble and self-discovery.

BUCK 3 stars (G) This documentary profiles Buck Brannaman, a former child rodeo star turned equine trainer and inspiration for The Horse Whisperer. As Buck travels to America’s small towns and ranches giving horse training clinics, he emerges as an emblem of positive American masculinity, while an extended sequence with a difficult horse near the end has nearly the suspense of the bomb-disposal scenes of The Hurt Locker. — Holman

CARS 2 stars (G) While racecar Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) competes in the World Grand Prix, Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and other British spymobiles mistake Mater the tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) for an American secret agent. Pixar crafts some clever James Bond spy gadgetry and elaborate cityscapes in the service of the most disposable, insubstantial story they’ve ever offered. An amusing subplot mocks Gremlins, Pintos and other automotive lemons, but Cars 2 rolls out as the Edsel of the Pixar line. — Holman

CONAN O’BRIEN CAN’T STOP 3 stars (R ) This tour film follows the late night talk show host from the conception of his 2010 “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” through its final performance in Atlanta. Despite O’Brien’s image as the nicest, most self-deprecating man in showbiz, the film finds him at a low ebb, enraged over his treatment by NBC, exhausted by nonstop touring and surprisingly snippy with his staff. As an examination of the compulsive nature of performance, O’Brien comes across as a junkie who scarcely gets back what he puts in. — Holman

REJOICE AND SHOUT 2 stars (PG) Don McGlyn’s digest of more than a century of Gospel music contains all the raw material you’d find in a Ken Burns documentary, but without the shape or narrative drive. The film authoritatively spans from its roots in plantation music to contemporary Christian hip-hop and explains the evolution of the sound. The film’s academic ambitions cover too much ground, but at its best, the film serves as kind of jukebox of great performance clips, from national treasure Mahalia Jackson to lesser-knowns like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who sings “Down By the Riverside,” then segues into a guitar solo worthy of Chuck Berry. — Holman

TRUE LEGEND (NR) Famed martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix, Kill Bill) helms this period piece fight spectacle in which good and evil brothers engage in mortal combat with brawling styles like the Five Venom Fists.

ROBBIE LAND (NR) “Floridaland and Other 16MM Works” presents the latest cinematic offerings of Atlanta visual artist R. Land, who frequently manipulates the filmed image for his impressionist portrayal of Florida’s forgotten locales. Film Love. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, 75 Bennett St., 404-367-7000.

ROBOT MONSTER (1953) 1 star (NR) A robotic invader stalks Earth’s last eight surviving humans in a legendary sci-fi turkey. The costume of the alien “Ro-Man” — a diving helmet atop a chubby gorilla suit — is an icon of Hollywood camp. Silver Scream Spook Show, June 25, 1 and 10 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939.

THE ROOM (2003) 1 star (R ) This hilariously incompetent, sub-Skinemax-level romantic triangle has become a wildly entertaining monthly viewing party, a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau strikes a freaky presence as a long-haired, heavy-lidded, thick-accented bank employee cuckolded by his vicious fiancée (Juliette Danielle). The film’s bizarre touches, like framed photographs of spoons, inspire audiences to throw plastic spoons at the screen, and more. Not to be missed. Tue., June 28, 9:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939.

UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (NR) Cinefest presents the Atlanta premiere of the acclaimed Thai film of a elderly man with a terminal illness who experiences visions of his dead wife, his reincarnated son and other strange experiences. June 20-July 3. Cinefest Film Theatre, Georgia State University, 66 Courtland St., Suite 240. 404-413-1798.