NOW IN THEATERS
Amy Winehouse was a talent too big for her small body, a body she was hellbent on destroying with drugs and booze. Using interviews, home movies, and news footage, director Asif Kapadia has documented the rise, fall, and early exit (at twenty-seven) of this tragic diva, a North London Jewish girl with a big voice and tiny self-esteem. Even if you weren’t a fan, you’ll be impressed by her talent, though her intensely personal numbers sound less like songs than sung journal entries. As this fresh, appealing girl gets sucked into the terrifying maelstrom of fame and paparazzi, surrounded by parasites that include her father and her husband, you watch in fascinated horror. It’s an agonizingly slow trainwreck, a good half hour too long, but still unsettling and memorable.
Not rated. 128 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
Marvel Entertainment offers a palate-cleanser after the overstuffed Avengers: Age of Ultron with this relatively small heist picture about Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief who finds a suit that allows him to shrink himself and communicate with ants. The shrinking effects are indeed outstanding and the use of scale is occasionally inventive. Unfortunately, it takes a full 90 minutes to really get to that. In the meantime, you’re treated to flat jokes, a daddy-issues plot, and a tedious parade of all the clichés of superhero-origin movies. Michael Douglas co-stars as the retired Ant-Man of yesteryear. Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
This coming-of-age comedy centers on three teenagers in Inglewood, California, who make up a geeky clique that is passionately interested in uncool hobbies — most notably, 1990s hip-hop. When Malcolm (Shameik Moore) finds a backpack of drugs left behind by a dealer (rapper A$AP Rocky), the kids realize that moving the drugs could make their dreams come true. Rated R. 115 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
THE FAREWELL PARTY
The moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding assisted suicide are at the heart of Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon’s film about a group of friends in an Israeli retirement community who begin assisting one another to hasten their deaths and end suffering from terminal illness and chronic pain. At the behest of his friend Yana (Aliza Rosen), Yehezkel (Ze’ev Revach), an amateur inventor, builds a euthanasia machine to help end the life of Yana’s husband. When word of the device gets around, requests for assisted suicide start pouring in, and Yehezkel finds himself in a quandary, particularly when his wife Levana (Levana Finkelstein), who is opposed to Yehezkel’s new venture, falls ill. The Farewell
Party employs humor that helps its grim subject go down a little easier but never makes light of old age or its characters’ predicaments. Not rated. 95 minutes. In Hebrew with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe. (Michael Abatemarco)
GÜEROS Mexican director Alonso Ruiz Palacios offers up one of the finest debut features in years, and evocative and energetic look at aimless youth in a time of turmoil. It’s 1999 in Mexico, and teenage Tomás (Sebastián Aguirre) is forced to stay with his brother (Tenoch Huerta) at university in Mexico City. They join two other people to look for an aging rock star amid university protests. Their whole journey passes like a dream, fueled by an experimental sound mix and Damian Garcia’s black-and-white photography, which glides from one gorgeous and surprising image to the next, as if the film’s sole purpose is to find new ways to express the mundane. Not rated. 106 minutes. In Spanish with subtitles. The Screen, Santa Fe. (Robert Ker)
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)
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 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (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 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.
The theme park from the first Jurassic Park film is up and running. To maintain revenue, its creators must constantly genetically engineer bigger, deadlier dinosaurs. 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 too thin between plots that 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 2-D only at Regal DeVargas; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
The jibberish-spouting pill-shaped yellow thingies from the Despicable Me movies get their own spinoff, and if you’re wondering if the characters are interesting enough to warrant their own movie, the answer is no. The setting is the 1960s, and the Minions, trying to find their way in the world, join up with Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) to help her conquer England. The animation is nice but the movie never survives the fact that its protagonists don’t actually talk. Without the benefit of language, the filmmakers rely on tepid visual humor and tired comic beats. The Minions are never as cute as the film’s massive marketing campaign insists they are, and by the time we hit the third-rate action of the climax, they’ve really overstayed their welcome. Rated PG. 91 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — ROGUE NATION
The fifth Mission: Impossible film shows no sign of the franchise slowing down: Tom Cruise takes hairpin turns on a motorcycle, hangs off the back of an airplane, dives into deep-water tanks without scuba gear, and a lot more. All this action is hung on a loose cat-and-mouse game between Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), head of the would-be world conquerors called the Syndicate. Director Christopher McQuarrie, along with his cinematographer and editor, give the film an evocative look and elegant pacing. The film falters in the home stretch, dragging on with a generic gunfight, but otherwise it’s a brisk and enjoyable action pic. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
It is 1947. Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is ninety, long retired, living in seclusion in Sussex, and keeping bees. He is cared for by his widowed housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney), and her precocious young son Roger (Milo Parker). Holmes is engaged in writing his own recollections of his final case, one that still troubles him, the case that led him to give up detecting. Watson’s account of the affair tricked it out with success, but Holmes remembers it differently — to the extent that he can remember it at all. That great mind is beginning to slip its moorings. There are three story strands covering different periods and places, and director Bill Condon, adapting Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel A
Slight Trick of the Mind, weaves them together with unhurried skill, abetted by the great McKellen. Rated PG. 103 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
THE NEW RIJKSMUSEUM
Oeke Hoogendijk’s two-part documentary completes a trifecta that began with Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery and continued with Johannes Holzhausen’s The Great Museum. Hoogendijk’s feature is the most accessible and deals with the restoration of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, a building that houses masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Dutch Masters. Its narrative structure follows the political and financial pitfalls that plagued the project and staff, including inflating costs and a change of leadership. It’s a dramatic telling that entertains and inspires. Not rated. 110 minutes. In Dutch, French, and English with subtitles, Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
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.
Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D only at 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)
THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT
In 1971, a psychologist at Stanford University established an experiment to examine the psychological effects of prison, on both sides of the bars. The gig paid $15 a day, which was enough to draw a crowd, and 24 volunteers were chosen for the two-week study. Half were assigned (by a secret coin flip) as guards, half as inmates, in a makeshift prison set up in the psych department building. The results, as played out in this intense reenactment directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, were startling and appalling, with the students playing guards becoming increasingly sadistic and brutal. The situation escalated dangerously, and the plug was pulled on the study after only six days. The cast of young actors playing the students is terrific, and Billy Crudup as the bearded, intense Dr. Philip Zimbardo is Mephistophelian as he watches the roleplaying unfold on remote monitors. The notorious experiment was funded in part by the U.S. Dept. of Naval Research, and it chillingly anticipates and illuminates the horrors of Abu Ghraib.
Rated R. 120 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
Comedy superstar Amy Schumer is everywhere this summer, and Trainwreck gives us a chance to see why. From a loosely autobiographical script written by Schumer, Judd Apatow directs a bold, funny spin on familiar Apatow territory. The rom-com plot, as it usually does in Apatow-land, concerns the maturing of an irresponsible wild child. But this time, instead of a man-child (see Knocked Up or This Is 40), Apatow focuses on a young woman (Schumer) who has commitment problems, a father grappling with MS, and an unhealthy appetite for destruction. When her boss at the silly men’s magazine where she works assigns her to profile a sports doctor (a charming Bill Hader), she must overcome these obstacles to accept the love of a good man. With the help of a talented supporting cast, including a surprisingly solid performance from basketball star LeBron James, the movie mostly overcomes romantic cliché to offer a refreshingly feminist take on the genre. Rated R. 122 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Molly Boyle)
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. Rated R. 99 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Meryl Streep rocks hard in Ricki and the Flash, at Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown
Julia Flores making Cents, at Regal Stadium 14