OPENING THIS WEEK
HARD TO BE A GOD Scientists from Earth travel to a sister planet where rain, fog, mud, and war are constants, filth is as universal as air, teeth are bad, literacy is a crime, and life is cheap. The camera follows, and sometimes stands in for, Don Rumata (Leonid Yarmolnik), one of the visiting researchers, who is accepted, more or less, as a god on this bleak planet. There’s little discernible story as Don Rumata moves through the monochrome muck. The film extends over nearly three hours, but the brilliant black-and-white cinematography by Vladimir Ilin and Yuri Klimenko, along with the overwhelming environment created by director Aleksei German and his team, make this remarkable epic simultaneously repellent and hard to turn away from. It’s a film buff’s film, a cult-classic-to-be. Not rated. 177 minutes. In Russian with subtitles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)
INFINITELY POLAR BEAR
Superb performances, from a cast led by Mark Ruffalo and the exquisite Zoe Saldana as his wife Maggie, lift this unusual family comedy/drama. Ruffalo is Cameron Stuart, the scion of a wealthy and pedigreed Boston clan whose bipolar disorder (misconstrued by the younger daughter as polar bear) has brought him and his family to the poverty level. When Maggie decides to pursue an MBA at Columbia to develop some earning power, Cam takes on the raising of the kids while she’s away. Writer-director Maya Forbes based this on her own story, and her own daughter (Imogene Wolodarsky) plays her young self. Cam can be impulsive, violent, embarrassing, irresponsible, and often exhilarating fun. Forbes doesn’t skim over the dark side, but she brings home an intensely personal, painfully funny, deeply touching story.
Rated R. 90 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
JOURNEY TO ITALY The latest film in the Auteurs series is Roberto Rossellini’s 1954 drama about a couple from England (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) who travel to Naples to handle a recently inherited estate. Their marriage goes through a rocky spell during this visit, and teeters on the brink of collapse. Not rated. 97 minutes. In English and Italian with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
A MURDER IN THE PARK
Rated PG-13. 93 minutes. The Screen. See review, Page 68.
The film version of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was a hit in 2014, and now comes another adaptation of one of his young-adult novels. It’s once more a life-affirming, comingof-age romance, this time about a young man (Nat Wolff) who helps his high-school crush (Cara Delevingne) get revenge on her ex-boyfriend. When she then disappears, he takes up a quest to find her. Rated PG-13. 139 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and other characters from classic video games are invading the planet. The hour of the geek has arrived, as the only people who can stop them are former arcade champions, played by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones). Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. Screens in 2-D only at Jean Cocteau Cinema; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Jake Gyllenhaal follows up his acclaimed performance of a journalist who embraces darkness (in Nightcrawler) by playing a boxer who falls into darkness after his wife is murdered. Mired in drugs and depression, he must step into the ring to earn enough money to get his daughter back. Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams co-star. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directs. Rated R. 123 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
3 1/2 MINUTES, 10 BULLETS
Not rated. 98 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review, Page 66.
Ed Helms hops into the family vehicle once manned by Chevy Chase in this sort-of remake of the 1983 film National Lampoon’s
Vacation. He plays a grown-up Rusty Griswold, son of Chase’s Clark Griswold, who has inherited his father’s knack for getting into goofy adventures on the way to the amusement park Walley World. Christina Applegate plays his wife. Opens Wednesday, July 29, with a Tuesday preview at Regal Stadium 14. Rated R. 99 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
THE VATICAN TAPES
It’s been several months since we’ve had a ripoff of The Exorcist. Director Mark Neveldine helps us meet our quota with this story of a woman (Olivia Taylor Dudley) who is infected by evil. Her only hope is in the healing hands of Father Lozano (Michael Peña). Rated PG-13. 91 minutes. Regal Stadium 14.
WOODY ALLEN RETROSPECTIVE
Violet Crown and Jean Cocteau Cinema are showing Woody Allen films in advance of the filmmaker’s upcoming Irrational Man. This week, two of Allen’s finest works — which don’t appear on the big screen very often — come to Jean Cocteau Cinema. At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 28, the 1986 dramedy Hannah and Her Sisters screens. Dianne Wiest and Michael Caine won Academy Awards for their performances in this story, which stitches together the divergent lives of an extended family. At 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, Allen’s 1979 film Manhattan takes center stage. This movie’s plot centers around the complicated love life of a divorced TV writer (Allen, Diane Keaton, and Mariel Hemingway star), but the real romance on display is between Allen and New York City, conveyed here through George Gershwin’s soaring music and Gordon Willis’ glorious black-and-white photography. Hannah and Her Sisters: Rated PG-13. 103 minutes. Manhattan: Rated R. 96 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
Pac attack! Pixels, at Regal Stadium 14, Violet Crown, Jean Cocteau Cinema, and DreamCatcher in Española