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This bleak, ex­is­ten­tially un­funny por­trait of a sad-sack stand-up comic at the very bot­tom of the show-biz bar­rel is an ex­er­cise in suf­fer­ing on both sides of the screen. Gregg Turk­ing­ton (known as the Co­me­dian) per­forms in cheap bars and pris­ons, where he sel­dom raises as much as a weary chuckle with his act of bad, of­fen­sive rid­dles launched with a wail­ing nasal “Why….?” He ex­co­ri­ates pa­trons with vi­cious, cor­ro­sive di­a­tribes. By day, he wan­ders numbly on tours of Cal­i­for­nia desert at­trac­tions. By night, af­ter his show, he makes pa­thetic calls to the an­swer­ing ma­chine of his daugh­ter Maria. A few rec­og­niz­able ac­tors ap­pear, no­tably John C. Reilly as a suc­cess­ful rancher cousin. Tye Sheri­dan plays his open­ing act, a silent clown who jumps about clap­ping his hands. Why? This can’t have been any fun to make, and it surely isn’t to watch. Rated R. 103 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Jonathan Richards)


Artist and per­former Lau­rie An­der­son’s ex­per­i­men­tal doc­u­men­tary uses the story of her dog Lo­la­belle to tie to­gether sev­eral philo­soph­i­cal and autobiographical nar­ra­tives. It’s a ten­der and im­pres­sion­is­tic film, which was mostly shot us­ing an iPhone. An­der­son also uses home movies, an­i­ma­tion, draw­ings, and pho­to­graphs, de­scrib­ing mo­ments in her own life as well as those of oth­ers: friends and fam­ily — as well as the na­tion it­self. Through­out, she brings the nar­ra­tive back to her dog who she treats with re­spect, dig­nity, and love. An­der­son de­tails the ex­pe­ri­ences of the dog’s life, death, and af­ter­life from the per­spec­tive of Ti­betan Bud­dhist the­ol­ogy, mus­ing on Lo­la­belle’s jour­ney and the paths we take in our own lives. Screens Fri­day, Dec. 11, and Satur­day, Dec. 12, only. An­der­son ap­pears at both screen­ings for a Q & A. Not rated. 75 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco) See story, Page 32.


Rated PG-13. 121 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. Screens in 2-D only at Dream­Catcher. See re­view, Page 46.


Be­fore di­rec­tor Brad Bird achieved glory at Pixar with The In­cred­i­bles and Rata­touille and filmed Tom Cruise and Ge­orge Clooney in live-ac­tion films, he helmed this 1999 an­i­mated fa­ble about a friend­ship be­tween a lonely boy in 1957 Maine who be­friends a gi­ant robot from outer space and tries to keep the mil­i­tary from get­ting to him. The plot sounds very sim­i­lar to E.T. but is based on a 1968 chil­dren’s novel by Ted Hughes, and Bird lov­ingly crafted it as an homage to 1950s science-fic­tion films. The an­i­ma­tion (a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional and com­puter-gen­er­ated) is beau­ti­ful, and the film over­flows with heart. This re­mas­tered version con­tains two new scenes. Rated PG. 86 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Robert Ker)


Not rated. 111 min­utes. In French, Ital­ian, English, Ara­bic, and Bissa, with sub­ti­tles. The Screen. See re­view, Page 44.


The se­ries of high-def­i­ni­tion screen­ings con­tin­ues with a show­ing of the Three Tenors’ 1999 Christ­mas con­cert in Vi­enna. The tenors — Lu­ciano Pavarotti, Plá­cido Domingo, José Car­reras — sing a reper­toire of sa­cred and pop­u­lar Christ­mas songs. 11:15 a.m. Sun­day, Dec. 13, only. Not rated. 81 min­utes. The Screen. (Not re­viewed)

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAK­ENS J.J. Abrams takes the helm for the highly an­tic­i­pated sev­enth in­stall­ment of Ge­orge Lu­cas’ mythic space opera, which re­unites fa­mil­iar faces as well as in­tro­duc­ing new char­ac­ters. The plot picks up 30 years af­ter the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Re­turn of the Jedi (1983). Luke Sky­walker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Har­ri­son Ford), Princess Leia (Car­rie Fisher), Chew­bacca (Peter May­hew), and other char­ac­ters from the orig­i­nal Star Wars join Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who changes his al­liance, Rey (Daisy Ri­d­ley), a scav­enger on the planet Jakku, and X-wing fighter pi­lot Poe Dameron (Os­car Isaac) in a fight against the First Or­der — Em­pire loy­al­ists who splin­tered off af­ter the crush­ing de­feat in Lu­cas’ orig­i­nal tril­ogy — for univer­sal dom­i­nance. Opens Thurs­day, Dec. 17. Rated PG-13. 135 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and glo­ri­ous 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14, Vi­o­let Crown, and Dream­Catcher. (Not re­viewed)


An Ital­ian fam­ily moves to ru­ral Tus­cany to be­come bee­keep­ers. Soon, their idyl­lic lives are dis­rupted by a re­al­ity TV con­test and a trou­bled young boy. Sam Louwyck plays the fa­ther as both im­pos­ing and in over his head, but the heart of the story rests with his daugh­ters and their strange com­ing of age. Writer and di­rec­tor Alice Rohrwacher filmed the movie in Su­per 16 and ob­serves the fam­ily in long, pa­tient shots. But her sto­ry­telling be­trays her vis­ual sense, as some scenes feel bloated while some sub­plots are given short shrift, im­part­ing the nar­ra­tive with an awk­ward, lop­sided feel. Not rated. 110 min­utes. In Ital­ian with sub­ti­tles. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Robert Ker)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away: Star Wars: The Force Awak­ens opens Thurs­day, Dec. 17, at Re­gal Sta­dium 14, Vi­o­let Crown, and Dream­Catcher in Es­pañola

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