NOW IN THEATERS
Novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland tries his hand at directing with this sci-fi thriller about a computer coder (Domhnall Gleeson) who is chosen by his billionaire boss (Oscar Isaac) to test the AI of a prototype for a humanlike android. Garland shows a keen visual eye with minimalist coolness, and the intimacy of the small cast lets the big questions hang in the air nicely. His story steers clear of convention, thanks in part to the sturdy acting. Rated R.
108 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Robert Ker)
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Carey Mulligan shines as Bathsheba Everdene in this adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel. Headstrong and beautiful, Bathsheba inherits her uncle’s farm and struggles to maintain it while being courted by three very
different suitors, shepherd Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), wealthy bachelor William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), and fast-talking soldier Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge). Bathsheba chooses the wrong man, but it isn’t the end of her. Mulligan captivates with quiet confidence. Certain scenes lack urgency, and Sturridge is a weak link in an otherwise strong cast, but it won’t disappoint fans of period films. Rated PG-13. 119 minutes.
Violet Crown. (Adele Oliveira)
Réné Clément’s 1952 reflection on war and its consequences is a celebrated monument of French cinema, and it even won a special Academy Award for Foreign Language film. While it retains an unflinching emotional quality that is rare in modern cinema, the story, about two children who create a pet cemetery after the 1940 Battle of France, is manipulative in its use of kids and animals in a way that has not aged well. Not rated. 86 minutes. In French with subtitles. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
The great Blythe Danner is onscreen for just about all of this sweet, gentle rumination on aging, dealing with loss, and getting on with life. As Carol, a widow who lives with her dog and plays bridge with her friends (a welcome foursome filled out by Mary Kay Place, June Squibb, and Rhea Perlman), she makes her way through her days one glass of chardonnay at a time. Director and co-writer Brett Haley handles the low-key material with wit and restraint, falling for the obvious only once, in a regrettable speed-dating sequence. Sam Elliott arrives with his gravelly drawl and weathered good looks to bring some romance into her life, and Martin Starr is fine as the pool man with whom she makes an unlikely connection. Rated PG-13. 92 minutes. Violet Crown.
In the latest animated picture by Pixar, the interior of the human mind is portrayed as a control room operated by various emotions. When a girl named Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) moves to a new city and both Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) go missing from the control room, it sets off an adventure through the mental landscape that is full of imagination and ingenuity. The movie aims to jerk tears — sometimes getting too goopy in pursuit of this goal — but it’s a thoughtful, original film that all ages will enjoy. Rated PG. 94 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. Screens in 2-D only at DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
Less is definitely not more if you’re Iris Apfel — the focus of this slight, mostly lighthearted documentary from one of the masters of the genre, Albert Maysles. Apfel is a self-described “geriatric starlet” (she’s ninetythree) and a champion of wildly colorful outfits and oversized accessories. After a highly successful career in interior design (she helped more than one first lady redecorate the White House), she has settled into a new role as a fashion icon and designer’s muse. It’s a pleasure to spend 80-something minutes listening to her thoughts on everything from personal style to aging, and while she doesn’t dispense financial advice, when Iris Apfel talks, people should listen. Rated PG-13. 83 minutes.
The Screen. (Laurel Gladden)
The theme park from the first Jurassic Park film is up and running. To maintain revenue, the park creators must constantly genetically engineer bigger, deadlier dinosaurs. Have they learned nothing? Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard play characters who must try to survive mankind’s latest attempt to play God. There are just enough Spielbergisms in this film, from the perfectly cast kids to the sense of wonder and dread in the first hour, to offer some solid entertainment. Unfortunately, the movie is stretched thin between plots about hasty romance, children of divorce, and the militarization of dinosaurs to the point where it isn’t even clear who the main character is. If you’re there to watch roaring and chomping, however, you’ll get that and then some. Rated PG-13. 124 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
LOVE & MERCY
Beach Boy Brian Wilson is a broken man in his biographical film. Portrayed by two actors, Paul Dano (’60s Brian) and John Cusack (’80s Brian), Wilson is psychologically shattered despite his popularity, wealth, and accomplishments. In the two main periods covered by this movie, Wilson is seen as the victim of loathsome bullies: his father, who beats him; his cousin and bandmate, who fights him at every turn over his new musical direction; and — worst of all — Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti), the psychotherapist who overmedicates him, controls every moment of his life, and rips him off financially. Luckily there’s the angelic Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) who fights to protect him. It’s a must-see for Wilson fans, though it’s not clear whether the film will appeal to those who don’t know or don’t care about his music.
Rated PG-13. 120 minutes. Violet Crown. (Steve Terrell)
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Director George Miller returns to the film series that first made him famous, putting Tom Hardy in Mel Gibson’s old driver’s seat as Mad Max, a loner steering a militarized vehicle through the post-apocalyptic Australian outback. This time, Max often rides shotgun to a terrific Charlize Theron as they try to shuttle a handful of women away from a corrupt warlord. The movie is essentially one long action sequence, crafted with incredible art design, imaginative mayhem, and a pride in its B-movie roots and feminist slant. Rated R. 120 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)
MAGIC MIKE XXL
Director Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 Magic Mike was a left-field hit that delighted viewers of both genders and helped revitalize Matthew McConaughey’s career. Neither Soderbergh nor McConaughey is back for the sequel, but star Channing Tatum is, and there should be enough beefcake and humor to enjoy an encore. Rated R. 115 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
This movie looks at the unsung heroes of America’s war on terror abroad: the dogs. The title character is one such canine, who returns from Afghanistan traumatized by his handler’s death. He is adopted by members of the fallen Marine’s family, and they all help each other heal. Thomas Haden Church is the lead human. A word of advice: Bring tissues. Rated PG. 111 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
With the success of The Fault in Our Stars barely a year behind us, the time seems ripe for a quirky, indie teenage comedy about cancer. Thomas Mann plays Greg, a self-absorbed boy who is made to hang out with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a girl with leukemia. As time passes, they become friends and he begins to truly care for her. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Regal DeVargas.
The disaster movie is back in a big way with this film. How big? It features the dramatic destruction of all of Los Angeles when the Big One hits. That’s not big enough for you? Well, it also stars beefed-up muscleman Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a helicopter pilot who must rescue his daughter. Rated PG-13. 114 minutes. Screens in 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
The possibility of a mega-drought in the Southwest makes it relevant that we acquaint ourselves with the work of Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photographer who is the subject of this documentary, co-directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Salgado, the photographer’s son. The elder Salgado began his career as an economist, but he soon realized that the photographs he took with his wife’s camera on trips to Africa gave him more joy than the economic developments reports he wrote. With his wife’s consent, he
made a risky, and ultimately satisfying, decision to switch course and attempt a career as a photographer. Rated PG-13.
110 minutes. Violet Crown. (Priyanka Kumar)
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Everyone’s back — most notably Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Bill Nighy — for another stay in the hotel for retired Brits in India. This time, Richard Gere brings an American twist to the proceedings, getting a few of the women all atwitter. Rated PG.
122 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Not reviewed)
SET FIRE TO THE STARS
In 1950 a young poet named John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah Wood) undertook to bring the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) to America for a reading tour of colleges and universities. To concerns that Thomas’ reputation as a rowdy drunk could present a problem, Brinnin flippantly replies, “How much trouble can one poet be?” For the answer, see this modestly appealing little black-and-white film directed by Andy Goddard and co-written by him and Jones. The movie gives short shrift to the poet’s spellbinding readings, but there are nice performances all around and a memorable ghost story from writer Shirley Jackson (Shirley Henderson). Not rated. 97 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Jonathan Richards)
SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION
A chance meeting with the remarkable musician Seymour Bernstein inspired Ethan Hawke to direct this intimate and beguiling documentary. Bernstein withdrew from a serious career as a concert pianist when he decided that touring did not make him happy, and he devoted himself instead to teaching, contemplating, and loving music. He is the sort of elder sage anyone would benefit from spending time with, and viewers cannot help but derive inspiration from their exposure to this kind, sensitive, compassionate soul. Rated PG. 84 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (James M. Keller)
The indomitable Melissa McCarthy launches a franchise with this fast-paced, hilarious send-up of the Bond template. She plays Susan Cooper, a CIA desk jockey working the computers at Langley and piping instructions into the ear of dashing agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When things go awry, Susan is sent into the field to prevent a nuclear device from falling into the hands of terrorists. Writerdirector Paul Feig keeps things lively, and hits the feminist and overweight notes with wit and compassion. The acting is crisp, the action is explosive, and the dialogue is funny, though it undercuts itself by leaning harder on the scatological than necessary. Rated R. 120 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak), an Estonian, agrees to remain behind and help a friend harvest his tangerines when the rest of the villagers flee ethnic conflicts in Georgia during the civil war in 1992. Two soldiers on opposite sides of the war survive a brutal shootout in the village, and Ivo takes the injured men into his home to recover from their wounds — but the enemies continue their fight, trading weapons for barbs and insults. Zaza Urushadze’s poignant, and often comic, anti-war film tells the story of a man caught in the middle of other men’s war. Time and proximity to one another have a humanizing effect on the soldiers as they transcend their differences. Tangerines is a moving film, nominated this year for an Academy Award for best foreign language film. Not rated. 87 minutes. In Estonian, Russian, and Georgian with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
The foul-mouthed teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and his dopey owner (Mark Wahlberg) are back for another go-around. This time, Ted aims to get married and have kids, but before he does the former he must legally prove he’s a person, and to do the latter, he must find a surrogate. If you are hoping to watch a stuffed animal make many jokes about masturbation and bodily fluids, then you’ll get your money’s worth here. Rated R. 115 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
As counterprogramming to the recently opened big Terminator movie, the Jean Cocteau Cinema offers the original 1984 Terminator film. Before Arnold Schwarzenegger ever promised he’d be back, he was here: chasing down Linda Hamilton with the fate of humankind in the balance. It’s violent by today’s standards and not as good as the sequel, but this film by James Cameron is still an iconic moment in 1980s blockbuster cinema. Rated R. 107 minutes.
Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
The year is 2029 and John Connor (Jason Clarke) is fighting a losing war against the robots. Connor sends a lieutenant named Kyle (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to prevent the robots from stopping the human resistance before it begins. Alas, the 1984 Kyle returns to is not the one we know, and is some kind of alternate reality. But who cares about this nonsense? Arnie’s back! Old man Schwarzenegger faces off against a CGIrendered young Schwarzenegger, and that’s all that matters. Rated PG-13. 125 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
THE WATER DIVINER
Russell Crowe directed and stars in this historical drama about an Australian farmer in 1919 who learns that his sons died in the Battle of Gallipoli. After his wife kills herself, he travels to Turkey to bring his sons’ bodies home and learns that one of them may still be alive. Rated R. 111 minutes. Regal DeVargas.
The children of the Angulo family grew up in an apartment on New York’s Lower East Side, sheltered from nearly all contact with the outside world, home schooled by their mother, fearing their father, and watching lots and lots of movies. As the family’s six boys, who dub themselves “the Wolfpack,” transition into young men, they find the courage to step outside and, with movies as their frame of reference, embrace the life they were taught to fear. Crystal Moselle’s documentary tackles a fascinating subject but leaves too many stones unturned. There’s another story in there somewhere, waiting to be told. Rated R. 80 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
WOMAN IN GOLD
Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann in this art-world thriller, based on true events. More than 50 years after a 1907 portrait of Altmann’s aunt is taken from her husband by the Nazis, their niece teams with an American lawyer (Ryan Reynolds) to fight the Austrian government for it to be returned to her family. The painting is Gustav Klimt’s iconic Portrait of Adele BlochBauer I. Rated PG-13. 109 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
National treasure: The New Rijksmuseum, at CCA Cinematheque
For better or verse: Celyn Jones and Elijah Wood in Set Fire to the Stars, at Jean Cocteau Cinema