NOW IN THEATERS
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)
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 makes his directing debut here, 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. (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.
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.
Jimmy Gralton, the only Irish citizen ever to be deported from Ireland, is the subject of Ken Loach’s 28th feature film, written by Paul Laverty and based on the play by Donal O’Kelly. The performances and production values are exquisite, though the political and religious contexts of the Irish countryside in the early 1930s might be too complex for American audiences. But the themes of identity, community, and oppression of the powerless resonate clearly. Rated PG-13.
109 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jennifer Levin)
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)
LEARNING TO DRIVE
Wendy (Patricia Clarkson), a New York book critic in the midst of a failing marriage, takes driving lessons from Darwan, a Sikh Indian (Ben Kingsley). A professor in India who was imprisoned for his religious beliefs, Darwan is now a part-time cab driver in the U.S., where he has won political asylum. As she learns to drive, these two people from very different backgrounds bond over their problems and form a friendship. Based on a New Yorker essay by Katha Pollitt. Rated R. 90 minutes.
Regal DeVargas. (Not reviewed)
LISTEN TO ME MARLON
Filmmaker Stevan Riley got access to hundreds of hours of audiotape of Marlon Brando reflecting on his life and his art, and has fashioned a remarkable exercise in something like documentary autobiography. The tapes, which the actor recorded over the course of much of his life, include musings on roles, celebrity, self-criticism, family, and the highs and lows of his long career. The tapes are buttressed with film clips, TV interviews, screen tests, and TV coverage of several tragedies in his life, including the murder trial of his son and the suicide of his daughter. While this documentary is by no means a complete picture, it’s a fascinating self-portrait of the man who was one of our greatest actors — when he felt like it. Not rated. 95 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
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. Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
This is an authentic climbing film about three men who attempt to summit a difficult knife-shaped 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 immediate, from screwing in anchors to winching up supplies through thin air. 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. (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 weaves them together with unhurried skill, abetted by the great McKellen. Rated PG. 103 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN
Based on the mega-selling, faith-based book, this movie tells the tale of Don Piper (Hayden Christensen), a Baptist minister who gets into a car accident, nearly dies, and returns to regale us with stories of seeing his grandmother and singing in choirs.
Rated PG-13. 121 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed) 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.
THE PERFECT GUY
Fresh from a breakup in which her whole life came crashing down, Leah (Sanaa Lathan) rebounds with someone who seems like the ideal partner (Michael Ealy). Before long, however, he starts to creep her out. Is he truly dangerous? Rated PG-13. 100 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; 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. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
RIDE THE PINK HORSE
Robert Montgomery’s 1947 film noir, based on Dorothy Hughes’ novel of the same title, follows its protagonist (played by Montgomery) down a dark path of corruption and cynicism as he plots to blackmail the man responsible for his buddy’s death. A good but not quite great example of the genre, the film is unusual in placing its hero in a small New Mexican town during Fiesta, allowing for the repeated appearance of Zozobra, a symbol of doom. Criterion recently produced a restored digital copy of the film, and the Jean Cocteau Cinema is screening it. Not rated. 101 minutes.
Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Nott)
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.
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)
THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED
Frank Martin — the gruff, no-nonsense mercenary — is back for his fourth go-around. This time, however, Jason Statham is resting his knuckles, ceding the part to Ed Skrein. There’s little chance that Skrein will kick as much butt or mumble as threateningly as Statham, but director Camille Delamarre probably hopes that if he fills the screen with enough beautiful women and fast cars, then nobody will notice. Rated PG-13. 96 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
UN GALLO CON MUCHOS HUEVOS This comic adventure is the first animated film from Mexico to get a wide release in America (the English title is A Rooster With Many Eggs). The story, which is the latest entry in a popular series, centers on a weak rooster who finds the strength to confront an evil rancher with the help of a bunch of goofy eggs. Not rated. 98 minutes. In Spanish without subtitles. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
The latest film by M. Night Shyamalan centers on two children (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who spend a week at their grandparents’ house. When they stay up past their strict bedtime, they learn that Nana (Deanna Dunagan) gets up to some pretty weird stuff at night. When Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) also starts acting strange, the question becomes whether or not they’ll survive the visit. Rated PG-13. 94 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas; 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)
Filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick (Fireproof ) offer up another faith-based movie. This time, they focus on a family that is splintering apart until the mom (Priscilla C. Shirer) meets an older woman (Karen Abercrombie) who keeps a “war room,” where she gets her praying done. Soon enough, it’s time for the family to go to “war.” Rated PG. 120 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Frenemy territory: Katherine Waterston and Elizabeth Moss in Queen of Earth, at Jean Cocteau Cinema