Screenwriter Nick Hornby and director John Crowley adapt Colm Tóibín’s celebrated novel about an Irish immigrant in 1950s Brooklyn, with Saoirse Ronan in the starring role. She plays Ellis, a woman finding her way in New York City while also discovering new romance (to an Italian immigrant played by Emory Cohen). Circumstance brings her back to Ireland, where she is fixed up with a local bachelor (Domhnall Gleeson), and she must choose between her old life and new. Opens Wednesday, Nov. 25. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes. Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
BY THE SEA
Angelina Jolie wrote and directed this low-key story of a crumbling marriage, and even finagled her husband (Brad Pitt) to star in it with her. She plays a former dancer, and he is an author — the two are traveling in France in the mid-1970s. They stop for a while at a seaside castle and develop relationships with some of the locals. Rated R. 132 minutes. Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
This Rocky sequel takes the spotlight off Rocky Balboa and puts it on Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), a young man in Philadelphia who doesn’t appear to have much of a shot in life, with only a vague hope to follow in his deceased father’s footsteps. His father, however, is Apollo Creed, so Adonis does the sensible thing and finds his dad’s old buddy Rocky (Sylvester Stallone, of course) to train him for his first major fight. Opens Wednesday, Nov. 25. Rated PG-13. 132 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING: AND OTHER TREASURES FROM THE MAURITSHUIS MUSEUM NETHERLANDS
Phil Grabsky’s documentary, part of his Exhibition on
Screen series, highlights the newly renovated 17th-century Mauritshuis, which opened as a public art museum in 1822 and houses the Netherlands’ Royal Cabinet of Paintings. The film picks up in advance of the museum’s reopening and the return of Vermeer’s most iconic work, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665), from a two-year international tour. The painting has aroused much speculation. The documentary touches on the myriad theories surrounding the its beautiful and enigmatic model and her relationship to Vermeer, an elusive painter of few surviving known works. Not rated. 90 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
In 2015, Pixar Animation Studios releases two films in one year for the first time ever. The first film was this summer’s Inside Out, a relatively complex story of the inner workings of a young girl’s brain. The second film is this one, which appears to be aimed at a slightly younger set. It tells a gentle tale of a boy and a dinosaur who form a friendship and embark on a journey together. Opens Wednesday, Nov. 25. Rated PG. 100 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Putting the “stall” in “installment,” this bleak final film in the Hunger Games juggernaut juggles too many characters and gets bogged down in military tactics and personal drama. It picks up where the first Mockingjay film left off — Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rebels have just rescued Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) — but it quickly sputters. Once Katniss sets out to assassinate the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland), it kicks into high gear with some exciting action sequences, but the script is overloaded with clunky dialogue and ham-handed reminders that real war isn’t all that different from those Hunger Games arenas. Splitting Suzanne Collins’ book into two films certainly made financial sense for the studio, but couldn’t they have given us one exceptional 150-minute movie instead of two mediocre ones? Rated PG-13. 137 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; Dream Catcher. (Laurel Gladden)
THE MET LIVE IN HD: LULU
Artist William Kentridge directs this staging of Berg’s opera about a desirable woman who causes chaos for those attracted to her, broadcast live from the Metropolitan Opera. Marlis Petersen plays the title role, and Susan Graham, Daniel Brenna, and Paul Groves co-star. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Lensic Performing Arts Center. (Not reviewed)
THE NIGHT BEFORE
After enraging North Korea with 2014’s Christmas release The
Interview, Seth Rogen plays it safe this holiday season, and sticks to the kind of comedy he knows best: that of goofy hijinks, grumbling bromance, and a thick cloud of marijuana smoke. He, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie play three friends who party each Christmas Eve and this year seek the mythical soirée called the Nutcracka Ball. Rated R. 101 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas; Dream Catcher. (Not reviewed)
PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT
Not rated. 96 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review, Page 48.
Rated R. 118 minutes. Regal DeVargas. See review, Page 49.
SECRET IN THEIR EYES
Julia Roberts goes to grittier territory than audiences may be accustomed to from her, playing an FBI agent who investigates a case in which a young woman’s body is found in a dumpster, only to discover that it is her own daughter. The culprit walks free from what should have been an open-and-shut case, so she and a colleague (Chiwetel Ejiofor) devote their lives to bringing him to justice, even if that “justice” is off the
books. Nicole Kidman plays their supervisor. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema; Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; Dream Catcher. (Not reviewed)
Rated R. 128 minutes. Regal DeVargas. See review, Page 46.
TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL / LUST IN THE DUST
In 1950s America, Tab Hunter was the idealized image of the all-American heterosexual male. Behind the scenes, he was gay and had to hide it. Jeffrey Schwarz’s affectionate documentary captures Hunter’s swift rise to stardom in a colorful, straightforward manner. Though Hunter doesn’t delve too deeply into the dark chapters of his life, he remains an amiable host of this travelogue to a dying Hollywood of decades past. Not rated. 90 minutes. Also showing at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22, only, is Paul Bartel’s 1985 camp Western Lust in the Dust (filmed in Santa Fe), with Hunter as a mysterious gunman who reluctantly teams up with Divine to look for buried treasure.
Rated R. 84 minutes. Hunter appears on Sunday, Nov. 22, at the 2 p.m. screening of the documentary and the 7 p.m. showing of Lust in the Dust. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Robert Nott) See story, Page 30.
Theeb (Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat) lives with his Bedouin tribe in the wilds of the Ottoman Empire in 1916. His father has died, so Theeb is learning life skills — how to shoot a gun, how to water the camels — from his older brother Hussein (Hussein Salameh Al-Sweil-hiyeen). When Hussein is sent to guide a British officer to a secret location, Theeb follows them. This gorgeous film is told entirely from Theeb’s point of view and is at heart a little boy’s adventure tale — but this tale is tied to how progress has changed the countryside and the livelihoods of the tribes that inhabit it. Plot and character details are finely wrought, with Al-Hwietat turning in a subtle, entrancing performance in which he conveys intimate comfort with heat and sand, the visceral relief of slaked thirst, and a fierce determination not to allow a mysterious stranger to further betray him. Not rated. 100 minutes. In Arabic with subtitles. The Screen. (Jennifer Levin)
In his years on the blacklist, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) eked out a living writing quickie schlock for indie producers Frank and Hymie King (John Goodman and Stephen Root), so there’s some context at least for this disappointing biopic of one of Hollywood’s great writers and important figures. Jailed in 1947 for contempt of Congress for refusing to discuss his personal beliefs and associations, Trumbo, once the movie industry’s highest paid screenwriter, struggled for years, writing through fronts and aliases. In that time he wrote two Oscar-winning scripts (Roman Holiday and
The Brave One), and his relentlessness finally broke the back of the blacklist with his credited screenplay for Kirk Douglas’s
Spartacus. Jay Roach’s movie hits its marks with heavy boots. In supporting roles, Louis C.K. is outstanding, and Helen Mirren caricatures the odious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Cranston proves that fine acting is not enough, if the script isn’t right. Trumbo could have used a pass or two through Dalton Trumbo’s typewriter. Opens Wednesday, Nov. 22. Rated R. 124 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
There have been several recent films that attempt to explain the origins of a longstanding fictional character. Some have been hits (Maleficent), while others have not (Pan). This one gives audiences the secret history of Victor von Frankenstein (James McAvoy) that they never knew, told from the perspective of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe). Opens Wednesday, Nov. 25. Rated PG-13. 109 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
The pleasure in this quiet epic seems almost hidden at first, and its unfolding fills the viewer with awe at director Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s subtlety and daring. The experience is like walking down a gallery of magnificent paintings and suddenly becoming aware that something is moving in each of them. The pace can appear glacially slow, but things are constantly happening. Hou wraps action in stillness and infuses stillness with movement. Candles flicker in a still room. Steam drifts off a cup of tea. As for the story, set in the ninth-century Tang Dynasty, it borders on the undecipherable. A young woman named Nie Yinniang (Qi Shu) has been groomed by a mysterious nun since childhood to be an assassin. She is sent to her home province of Weibo to kill the governor, to whom she was betrothed as a child. There are isolated bursts of action, but the drama is in the morality and aesthetics of the moment, not the hiss of the blade. Not rated. 107 minutes. In Mandarin with subtitles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)
A BALLERINA’S TALE
Misty Copeland quickly rose to stardom despite the fact that she hadn’t studied ballet until she was a teenager. By age fifteen, she was named the best ballet dancer in Southern California by the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards. By eighteen she had joined the American Ballet Theatre, where she eventually became the first African-American to be named principal dancer. This documentary is narrated by Copeland. Not rated. 85 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Steven Spielberg resurrects the fascinating tale of the Cold War prisoner exchange of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. The story centers on James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn insurance lawyer and former Nuremberg prosecutor who is drafted to represent Abel and uphold the image of the American justice system. As he works with Abel (Mark Rylance), a bond of admiration forms between the two. The first half of the movie hums along nicely, despite an occasional Spielbergian weakness for movie cliché. The second half, which sets Donovan to work arranging the swap, has too many threads to follow and loses focus. Both Hanks and Rylance are terrific. The movie reaches a powerful dramatic climax with the exchange on a West Berlin bridge and then sputters on a little further, reaching for a feel-good ending. Rated PG-13. 141 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; Dream Catcher. (Jonathan Richards)
R.L. Stine’s popular young-adult horror books get a film adaptation — but it’s not the kind you might expect. A young boy named Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves to a new neighborhood, where he meets Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose father is the author Stine (Jack Black). When they and another boy (Ryan Lee) open up one of Stine’s manuscripts, all of the monsters are set free. Rated PG. 103 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
Adam Sandler lends his goofy accent to Dracula once again in this sequel to the 2012 animated hit. This time, the gang of monsters (including voice work by Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and David Spade) tries to help the count’s half-human grandson unleash his inner monster. Mel Brooks voices the kid’s human hating great-grandfather. Rated PG. 89 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; Dream Catcher. (Not reviewed)
LABYRINTH OF LIES
The year is 1958. Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) is an ambitious young prosecutor in the Frankfurt DA’s office, and he’s never heard of Auschwitz. Neither has anyone else in the brave new world of postwar Germany. The slate and the national memory bank have been wiped clean; there are no ex-Nazis, only former freedom fighters. The Holocaust is American propaganda. Then a camp survivor recognizes a former Auschwitz guard teaching at a public school, a journalist brings the story to Radmann’s office, and the prosecutor digs into the story. What he finds is shattering,
a nation in denial with a heavy reckoning to make. The result is the German Auschwitz trials of the mid-‘60s, where, though only a handful of Nazis were convicted, Germany was finally brought to confront and deal with the horrors of its recent past. Based on real events, Giulio Ricciarelli’s political procedural has echoes of Costa-Gavras’s Z (1969), if not quite the pulsepounding excitement of that classic. Rated R. 124 minutes. In German with subtitles. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER
Vin Diesel takes a break from street racing in the Fast and the
Furious franchise to fight witches in this supernatural action tale. He plays Kaulder, an immortal warrior locked in an eternal struggle against an all-powerful Witch Queen hell-bent on wiping out humankind. Kaulder, the last of his kind, must team up with a good witch (Rose Leslie) to prevail. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine co-star. Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Dream Catcher. (Not reviewed)
LOVE THE COOPERS
The first Christmas movie of 2015 is this ensemble dramedy about a family that gets together for a holiday reunion that nearly goes off the rails — despite the mother and father (Diane Keaton and John Goodman) wanting everything to go perfectly. These kinds of movies are typically only as good as the cast, and this one includes Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, Amanda Seyfried, Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde, and some cute kids. Rated PG-13. 118 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
Mark Watney (Matt Damon) may have been stranded on the Red Planet too early to get the memo about water on Mars, but he makes do with ingenuity and a cocky wit. Left behind for dead by his beleaguered crewmates after a Martian storm, he has to rely on can-do American spirit and science smarts (he’s the team’s botanist) to grow enough food to last him until a rescue mission can be mounted. Director Ridley Scott is back in space, and he keeps things lively in the thin atmosphere forty million miles from home. The movie is much more than a one-man show. Jessica Chastain heads a strong team aboard the spacecraft, Jeff Daniels and Chiwetel Ejiofor run things at NASA, battling over humanitarian, scientific, and political considerations as they work to bring their man back home. Damon gives a star performance. The great thing about this film is that it makes intelligence cool. Rated PG-13. 141 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
MY ALL AMERICAN
The number of inspirational football movies seemingly grows with each passing week, and the latest one is by Angelo Pizzo, a guy who knows something about inspirational sports movies, having written Hoosiers and Rudy. This time, he also gets in the director’s chair, to tell the true story of Freddie Steinmark (Finn Wittrock), a scrappy underdog who earned an unlikely place on the University of Texas team and was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. Aaron Eckhart plays his coach. Rated PG.
118 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
THE PEANUTS MOVIE
Charles Schulz’s classic creation gets a 21st-century makeover with this feature film, which boasts beautiful computer animation in a Sunday-strip style. The gist hasn’t changed much over the decades: Charlie Brown (voiced by Noah Schnapp) is trying to be the cool kid to impress the Little Red-Haired Girl (Francesca Capaldi). Otherwise, the movie dutifully if somewhat mechanically checks off nearly every famous trope and quirk of the property. But the sentiment is sweet and the jokes offer up chuckles, particularly for little ones. Rated G. 93 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Violet Crown; Dream Catcher. (Robert Ker)
The latest film by Denis Villeneuve brings us inside an attempt by a shadowy U.S. task force to take down a Mexican drug lord. The details are vague, and that’s partly because we’re shown the mission through the eyes of an FBI agent (Emily Blunt) who is often kept in the dark. She follows the orders of a casually no-nonsense chief (Josh Brolin) and the sicario, or hit man, who travels alongside him (Benicio Del Toro). The story can get very dark, but the film is mesmerizing due to its virtuoso acting, lean script, moral ambiguity, and efficient editing as well as the towering cinematography of Roger Deakins, who captures the rural and urban desert landscapes as evocatively as anyone in film ever has. Rated R.
121 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Robert Ker)
Bond, James Bond, is back, in boilerplate. To be fair, it’s rousing boilerplate: there’s the humdinger of an opening action sequence that destroys urban real estate and civilian life on a mind-boggling scale; the return to London for a severe reprimand; the discovery of a diabolical conspiracy that will end the world as we know it; the car chases, careening helicopter rides, international settings, alpine vistas, subterranean lagoons worthy of Phantom of the Opera; the beautiful women, who strip to reveal a chaste shoulder (the only real nudity is in the credits); the jumbo-sized villain for muscle, and the compact one (Christoph Waltz) for silky menace. Bomb-rigged LED screens count down the minutes and seconds to disaster. For relevance there are echoes of 9/11 and NSA information harvesting. The explosions are deafening, dwarfed only by the score. Bond is remarkable — he can go for hours without sex, is roused to it by life-threatening danger, and delivers smooth one-liners in the face of death. Sam Mendes (Skyfall) directs, and Daniel Craig bids goodbye to the franchise with dour aplomb. Rated PG-13. 148 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; Dream Catcher. (Jonathan Richards)
This telling of the feminist movement’s battle to gain the right to vote in the 1910s comes with some powerful women of its own. Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) wrote the script, and director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) brought it to life. Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, and Meryl Streep star. Rated PG-13.
106 minutes. Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
In 2010, the attention of the world’s media turned to a group of 33 miners, who were trapped inside Chile’s San José Mine for more than two months. This film dramatizes their plight, with Antonio Banderas starring as Mario Sepúlveda, the man who became the face of the miners through the videos he sent to the rescue operation. Juliette Binoche, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Gabriel Byrne also star. Rated PG-13. 120 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas; Dream Catcher. (Not reviewed)
Four college buddies. A dozen barely trained wild horses. Gorgeous scenery across America’s Western public lands from Mexico to Canada. Combine these with excellent cinematography and one gets Unbranded ,a documentary that is part coming of age, part celebration of public land, and part even-handed commentary on a difficult dilemma for people managing the country’s ever-growing wild-horse herds. The opening scene sets the tone for this alternately hilarious and heartbreaking film. It suffices to say that wild horses and prickly cholla didn’t mix well on the ride’s first day in 2013, and the cowboys paid the price. Still, “there’s not enough quit in any of us not to make it,” says Ben Thamer in the film, one of the four Texas A& M University buddies on the ride along with Ben Masters, Jonny Fitzsimons, and Thomas Glover. By the end, the friends and two filmmakers have ridden the wild horses across Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, through the Grand Canyon and across Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Staci Matlock)
Irish need apply: Emory Cohen and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, at Violet Crown
Dino-mite: The Good Dinosaur, at Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown
Grieving woman: Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Secret in Their Eyes, at Jean Cocteau Cinema, Regal Stadium 14, Violet Crown, and DreamCatcher in Española