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Movie Guide

March 31, 2006



New in theaters
ATL (PG-13)

Director: Chris Robinson. With T.I. Harris, Big Boi, Lauren London (105 min.)

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It's not easy to turn drug dealing and poverty into good, clean fun at the cinema. But with the help of director Chris Robinson's camera, which lovingly floats over the gritty, fake-jewel encrusted surfaces of the "dirty south," "ATL" (Atlanta, that is) is sweet as iced tea. It's a simple coming-of-age story: Rashad (Harris) and his friends are unsure of the life they face after high school graduation. Despite a few pitfalls (the adult worlds of money and sex) "ATL" makes navigating the trials, tribulations, and Southern twangs of life on the wrong side of the tracks look relatively painless. Ultimately, ATL is a ghetto Disney story, where even perilous villains are defanged. Grade: C+
- Matt Bradley

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (PG-13)

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig. With Daniel Johnston and his family. (110 min.)

Daniel Johnston grew up in a conservative Christian household in Texas in the 1970s and was preciously gifted as a songwriter while still in high school. He also became increasingly delusional. In the early '80s, he handed out cassettes of his self-made albums to friends and journalists and built a cult reputation that, at its high point, had several major record labels bidding on him. (Ultimately the deals fell apart.) Johnston's music, discursive and piercingly personal, is featured heavily in the film, as well as his artwork, which is "primitive" in the best sense. Director Jeff Feuerzeig, extensively utilizing home movies, chronicles the eerie and oddly inspiring story of Johnston's ongoing battles to survive - both as artist and human being. Grade: B+
- Peter Rainer

Slither (R)

Director: James Gunn. With Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks. (96 min.)

James Gunn, writer of "Dawn of the Dead," honors the monsters-from-space genre with buckets of ick and chuckles by pitting the hapless denizens of a sleepy Southern burg against Borg-like alien interlopers. Gunn, who started off with schlockmeisters Troma Films, calls on that no-budget sensibility and lets the writing do the talking, with us doing the shrieking and most memorably, the laughing. Grade: B
- Robert Newton

Still in Release
Inside Man (R)

Director: Spike Lee. With Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster. (129 min.)

Even with these stars and this director, do we really need another bank robbery heist flick? Lee pulls off a nice switcheroo at the end, but there's nothing terribly dynamic about it. Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon," which only looks better with the years, took its cue from the energy of New York. "Inside Man" takes its cue mostly from other movies. Grade: B-
- P.R.

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