NOW IN THEATERS
Part travelogue, part existential journey, part ugly duckling fable, and part Harlequin romance, this tale of two people by Uruguayan-born director Juan Feldman is the kind of guilty pleasure that satisfies even as you scoff. Marcia Gay Harden is touching as a numbed-by-life librarian who takes a last holiday in Costa Rica with plans to end it all there. The real delight of this picture is Spanish star Óscar Jaenada (Cantinflas), as the tour guide who shows lonely American women a good time. The postcard-perfect cinematography by Salvador Vallo sets it all off in gorgeous hues. There are no surprises, but none are promised, and the three stars — Harden, Jaenada, and Costa Rica — show us a good time. Not rated. 91 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Jonathan Richards)
In this stoner comedy, Jesse Eisenberg plays a slacker convenience store clerk who is shocked to discover that he’s actually a CIA agent under such deep cover that he was hypnotized until awakened with a special code word, and is now possessed of talents that allow him to kill people with ease. These skills come in handy when a lot of people show up to take him out. Kristen Stewart plays his girlfriend. Rated R. 96 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
BEST OF ENEMIES
At the tumultuous 1968 presidential nominating conventions, William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal faced off in a series of televised debates as part of ABC’s convention coverage. By this time they were already polar-opposite cultural icons and abiding enemies. Directors Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville have culled the series of 10 debates in which Buckley and Vidal engaged, and put together a fascinating portrait of a time when intelligence was admired in the national discourse. As ABC’s courtly anchorman Howard K. Smith moderates, they circle and jab, and smile, and smile. The unforgettable climax came in debate number nine, at the apocalyptic Democratic Convention in Chicago. Not rated. 87 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL
This is a sexually graphic, boundary-busting coming-of-age story told by Minnie (Bel Powley), an aspiring cartoonist living in 1976 San Francisco with her hard-partying mother (Kristen Wiig) and her younger step-sister (Abby Wait). The movie looks beautiful and the acting is fantastic. Adult viewers’ 20/20 hindsight is implicit in the storytelling, the vision of which is dark enough to resemble the real lives of high-school girls who grew up fast in the city.
Rated R. 102 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jennifer Levin)
DIGGING FOR FIRE
Director Joe Swanberg’s movies seem to drift, absorbed in the moment, through a structure that has a vague idea of where it’s going but no special plan of how to get there. A young couple — Tim (Jake Johnson), a teacher, and Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt), a yoga instructor — have a gig
housesitting in the Malibu hills for a few weeks for a wealthy client of hers. Poking around, Tim stumbles on an intriguing find: a rusted handgun and a long bone that might have human provenance, and decides to dig for a body. The game is on, and it’s kept afloat by the screen presence of its cast, which sprinkles in actors like Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Judith Light, and Sam Elliott. Rated R. 85 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
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. Regal DeVargas. (Not reviewed)
THE END OF THE TOUR
In 1996, Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky accompanied David Foster Wallace on the last few days of his book tour for Infinite
Jest. The article was never published, but after Wallace’s suicide, Lipsky used the interview tapes as the basis for a bestselling memoir about the road trip. The End of the Tour — the film adaptation of the memoir — is a narrow perspective on Wallace, colored by time and Lipsky’s journalistic slant. Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky are adequate. Rated R.
106 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jennifer Levin)
The latest attempt to bring the classic Marvel comics property to the big screen begins with promise, as filmmaker Josh Trank (Chronicle) frames the quartet as young, intelligent people who seek to improve the world through science and discovery. It gives the impression of optimistic 1980s films until everyone gets superhero powers about halfway in. At that point a different film comes crashing in and clobbers all of this goodwill with cynicism and crude clichés. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, and Jamie Bell show terrific chemistry until they’re reduced to yelling tired lines about teamwork.
Rated PG-13. 100 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Robert Ker)
Two high school acquaintances, Simon (Jason Bateman) and Gordo (Joel Edgerton) meet, apparently by chance, 25 years later, when Simon and his wife, Robyn (Rebecca Hall), move from Chicago to Simon’s hometown of LA for his new job. Gordo presses the friendship with an insistence that soon becomes uncomfortable and unnerving. Simon is cocksure and charismatic, Robyn is fragile and sympathetic, and Gordo is a disturbingly blank slate. Edgerton, the Aussie star who here makes his directing debut, infuses this creepy tale of stalking, revenge, and a dark past with deep psychological suspense and anxiety. The film sometimes feels unpolished around the edges, but at its core, the three stars keep it taut and nerve-wracking. Rated R. 108 minutes. Regal DeVargas; Regal Stadium 14. (Jonathan Richards)
HITMAN: AGENT 47
The popular video-game series Hitman was given a film adaptation in 2007, which missed its mark. Apparently, there are enough people who care enough about the property to give it a second shot, and so here is round two, this time starring Rupert Friend as the bald-headed hired gun. Rated R. 96 minutes.
Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
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.
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; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
In Woody Allen’s latest, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives as a philosophy professor at a small New England college. He’s preceded by a reputation as a thinker, drinker, and womanizer, and soon students are flocking to his lectures and women are laying siege to his bed. One is Rita (Parker Posey), a dissatisfied married professor. Another is Jill (Emma Stone), a bright, saucer-eyed undergraduate. Abe has lost his lust for life, and for lust, but it’s rekindled when he and Jill overhear a conversation that inspires him to undertake a fateful, existential action. Allen’s scenes neatly lay out the issues, but you are always aware of the armature beneath them. But like most of this director’s work, it’s intelligent entertainment of an above-average stripe. Rated R. 96 minutes. Regal DeVargas.
KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET
Liam Neeson leads an all-star cast as Mustafa, a wise man incarcerated in a foreign country, in this animated adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s beloved story. As Mustafa prepares to journey back to his homeland, he speaks with the villagers where he lives in exile, dispensing his spiritual and philosophical teachings. He talks of love, marriage, children, death, and other subjects, and each theme is illustrated by a different animated sequence by, among others, Tomm Moore
(The Secret of Kells), Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues), and Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat). The simple story is unnecessarily complicated by so many artistic visions vying for attention. Rated PG.
84 minutes. Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
KURT COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK
It’s been more than 20 years since Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and the mystique surrounding him remains as large as ever. This documentary by Brett Morgen, the first to be authorized by Cobain’s immediate family, attempts to humanize him. The film includes never-before-seen footage from both the stage and his personal life. Not rated. 145 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Director Guy Ritchie gave Sherlock Holmes an action-packed, sexy, stylized gloss in two recent films. Now, he does the same for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1960s television show. Henry Cavill is Napoleon Solo, a CIA agent who partners with Illya Kuryakin, a KGB operative (Armie Hammer), to save the world from a criminal network with access to nuclear weapons. Rated PG-13. 116 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
This is an authentic climbing film about three men who attempt to summit a difficult knifeshaped peak at the headwaters of the Ganges River. The climb, attempted unsuccessfully by many, involves both dangerous ice-and-snow and rock-face techniques. Shot professionally by two of the three climbers, the film makes the acts of climbing, from screwing in anchors to winching up supplies through thin air, immediate. It also offers a unique view into the lifestyle and the value of trust among climbers. What happens between the two Meru attempts, both led by celebrated mountaineer Conrad Anker, is as important to the narrative as the climb itself.
Not rated. 90 minutes. Violet Crown Cinema. (Bill Kohlhaase)
The gibberish-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 language, the filmmakers rely on tepid visual humor and tired comic beats. Rated PG. 91 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; 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 with a crackerjack action sequence at the Vienna Opera House. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (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)
Owen Wilson sets aside the funny business and tries his hand as the hero in an action-thriller. He plays a man who relocates his family to Southeast Asia, only to find their lives are in danger when the country is engulfed by a violent coup. Lake Bell and Pierce Brosnan co-star. Rated R. 103 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Nelly Lenz (Nina Hoss), a Jewish cabaret singer in Berlin before the war, emerges from Auschwitz with her face shattered. The surgeon who reconstructs it advises her that she can have any look she wants. Nelly just wants her old face, and her old life, back. At the center of that life was Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), her handsome husband. He spots her at the Berlin club where she used to sing, and is struck by her resemblance to his dead wife. She goes along with his scheme for her to impersonate Nelly in a scam to recover his wife’s inheritance. It doesn’t take much searching to find the plot of Vertigo in this tense, beautifully played film noir as Johnny drills Nelly in how to look and sound like his lost wife. it’s expertly constructed, expertly played, and the finale is devastating. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. In German with subtitles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)
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. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
RICKI AND THE FLASH
Every once in a while, Meryl Streep takes a break from high drama and lets her hair down. In this comedy, written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jonathan Demme, she plays a musician who didn’t make it as a rock star, and returns home to her family. Kevin Kline co-stars. Rated PG-13. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE
Aardman Animations created Shaun the Sheep as a foil for its beloved Wallace and Gromit in the 1995 short film A Close Shave. Shaun, who is equal parts cute and crafty, proved so popular that he spun off into his own delightful TV show, and now his first movie. The tomfoolery centers around Shaun and his flock heading to the big city, trying to blend in, and avoiding their farmer. Rated PG. 85 minutes. Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
The first Sinister movie (2012) was regarded as one of the scarier horror movies of the past few years. Get ready for more sleepless nights with this sequel, which involves a single mother, a farmhouse where a family was once murdered, a box of snuff films in the basement, and a boogeyman. Rated R. 97 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; 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. Rated R. 123 minutes. Regal DeVargas; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
In the late 1980s, the hip-hop crew NWA stormed the national scene with a double-platinum record, FBI threats, and more. With police brutality of AfricanAfrican youth in the news once more, the time seems right for a biopic about the group that made headlines 25 years ago with an anti-police song. The film doesn’t fully explore this context, instead painting a rollicking portrait of the band’s meteoric rise and equally rapid splintering. The script stretches itself thin and whitewashes some unpleasant events, but is surprisingly sympathetic to all parties (including the shifty manager Jerry Heller, played by Paul Giamatti) and superbly acted. Rated R. 147 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
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. This time, instead of a man-child, 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 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, the movie mostly overcomes romantic cliché to offer a refreshingly feminist take on the genre. Rated R. 122 minutes. 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; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
A WALK IN THE WOODS
In 1998, Bill Bryson published a humorous and insightful bestselling book about his attempt at a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail at a relatively advanced age, with Stephen Katz, an overweight, recovering-alcoholic friend. Robert Redford soon snapped up the film rights and now, the movie is here, with Redford as Bryson and Nick Nolte as Katz. Rated R. 104 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
It’s possible that there has never been a movie that targets millennials as blatantly as this one. Zac Efron plays a twentysomething who is somehow both broke and living a life of leisure and glamour in California, and who just wants to get his DJ career going. He and his friends host parties, hang out with women in bikinis, talk about developing apps, and just try to live while they’re young. Rated R. 96 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Listen to Me Marlon at Center for Contemporary Arts