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THE AS­SAS­SIN

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)

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. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

BROOK­LYN

In 1950s County Wex­ford, Ire­land, the for­ward­think­ing Rose (Fiona Glas­cott) has ar­ranged for her younger sis­ter Eilis (Saoirse Ro­nan) to go to Brook­lyn out of clear-eyed ne­ces­sity — Eilis can’t find a de­cent job, and there are few other prospects for her in Ire­land. In New York, Eilis set­tles into a clois­tered new life, liv­ing in a board­ing­house teem­ing with other, brasher young Ir­ish women. She’s in­tro­verted and home­sick, weep­ing over her sis­ter’s let­ters, re­act­ing like a star­tled deer when­ever any­one ad­dresses her di­rectly — un­til she meets Tony (an adorable Emory Cohen), an Ital­ian-Amer­i­can plumber who’s sweet on Ir­ish girls and loves the Brook­lyn Dodgers. Such a con­ven­tional plot would be slighter ma­te­rial in other hands, and though Nick Hornby’s screen­play is more sweetly sen­ti­men­tal than the Colm Tóibín novel it’s based on, the film never dips into trea­cly ter­ri­tory. The rea­son for that is Ro­nan, whose steely, un­demon­stra­tive per­for­mance ca­pa­bly an­chors the story. Rated PG-13. 111 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown.

(Molly Boyle)

CREED

This Rocky se­quel takes the spot­light off Rocky Bal­boa and puts it on Ado­nis John­son (Michael B. Jor­dan), the son of Rocky’s ri­val and friend, Apollo Creed. Sick of liv­ing in the shadow of a fa­ther he never knew, Ado­nis heads to Philadel­phia and seeks out Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to train him to fight. The film fol­lows a sat­is­fy­ing, if pre­dictable, sports-movie arc, but of­fers an strong ro­man­tic sub­plot (with Tessa Thomp­son), ex­cel­lent act­ing, and a won­der­ful, au­then­tic feel for ur­ban Philadel­phia. Stallone was nom­i­nated for an Acad­emy Award for his 1976 per­for­mance as Rocky. Don’t be sur­prised if he is nom­i­nated for play­ing that char­ac­ter again. Rated PG-13. 132 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; Dream­Catcher. (Robert Ker)

THE GOOD DI­NOSAUR

The lat­est film by Pixar An­i­ma­tion Stu­dios is aimed closer to the tod­dler au­di­ence than the more­so­phis­ti­cated In­side Out. It’s a sim­ple tale of a di­nosaur (voiced by Ray­mond Ochoa) who gets lost from his fam­ily and finds his way home with the help of a hu­man boy (Jack Bright). In this imag­in­ing, di­nosaurs are agrar­ian and highly in­tel­li­gent, while hu­mans are wild an­i­mals, which makes for a nice twist. Alas, the di­nosaurs of­ten speak with dis­tract­ing and ex­ag­ger­ated Southern ac­cents. The story might be too sim­plis­tic and clichéd for any­one over the age of eight, but should still win all but the stoni­est of hearts over by the end. The real draw, how­ever, are the gor­geous land­scapes, which re­sem­ble Colorado and New Mex­ico as con­ceived by Hayao Miyazaki. This is one beau­ti­ful film. Rated PG. 100 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Vi­o­let Crown; Dream­Catcher. (Robert Ker)

GOOSE­BUMPS

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)

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; Dream­Catcher. (Lau­rel Glad­den)

THE IN­TERN

In the lat­est movie by writer and di­rec­tor Nancy Mey­ers, Robert De Niro plays a re­tired wid­ower who can’t fig­ure out what to do with all of his time, so he be­comes an in­tern for the founder of an on­line fash­ion site (Anne Hath­away). The jokes stem from the tough old-timer at an in­ter­net start-up, the heart­warm­ing bits from the boss lean­ing on sturdy wis­dom. Rated PG-13.

121 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Not re­viewed)

KRAM­PUS

Ac­cord­ing to Euro­pean folk­lore, Kram­pus is a horned fig­ure who pun­ishes chil­dren who mis­be­have. This hor­ror movie pits the mon­ster against a fam­ily whose mem­bers can’t be nice to one an­other. Soon, they start dis­ap­pear­ing one by one. The scares come with a darkly comic el­e­ment, pro­vided in part by a cast full of peo­ple with com­edy back­grounds, in­clud­ing Adam Scott, Toni Col­lette, and David Koech­ner. Rated R. 98 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Dream­Catcher. (Not re­viewed)

THE LET­TERS

One doesn’t ex­pect a com­plex “warts and all” biopic of Mother Teresa, but even as ha­giog­ra­phy, her life could have yielded a much more en­gag­ing film than this one. Juliet Steven­son plays Teresa, mostly while go­ing through a cri­sis of faith dur­ing her time help­ing the poor in In­dia. She’s up for the role, and co-stars Rut­ger Hauer and Max von Sy­dow are pre­dictably ex­cel­lent. Un­for­tu­nately, the di­a­logue they de­liver is painfully ex­pos­i­tory, and de­spite the fact that the film doesn’t look cheap, the stag­ing fre­quently re­sem­bles a soap opera. Teresa’s devo­tion and tire­less work is un­de­ni­ably in­spir­ing, but cin­ema this bad crushes the spirit. Rated PG. 114 min­utes.

Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Robert Ker)

LOVE THE COOPERS

This ensem­ble dram­edy is 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. Dream­Catcher.

(Not re­viewed)

THE MAR­TIAN

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)

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; Dream­Catcher. (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 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Dream­Catcher. (Robert Ker)

THE PEARL BUT­TON

Chilean film­maker Pa­tri­cio Guzmán creates a lyri­cal and wrench­ing es­say on the wa­tery beau­ties of his coun­try, with its thou­sands of miles of coast­line, its van­ish­ing in­dige­nous coastal tribes, and its other “dis­ap­peared”: the de­sa­pare­ci­dos who van­ished un­der Pinochet’s bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ship. Guzmán’s sub­jects are the wa­ters of Earth, the wa­ters of the uni­verse, and the spe­cific wa­ters of Patag­o­nia, where 10,000 years ago the first in­hab­i­tants ar­rived by wa­ter and lived by, near, and on the wa­ter for num­ber­less gen­er­a­tions un­til Euro­pean set­tlers ar­rived and be­gan to sys­tem­at­i­cally ex­ter­mi­nate them. The ex­quis­ite beauty of Katell Djian’s

cin­e­matog­ra­phy, the ex­tra­or­di­nary ethno­graphic pho­to­graphs of a dis­ap­pear­ing peo­ple, the heart-rend­ing rec­ol­lec­tions of a hand­ful of sur­viv­ing Kawésqar el­ders, and the reflections of a few con­tem­po­rary po­ets and oceanog­ra­phers and philoso­phers work to­gether to weave an en­chant­ing, ex­hil­a­rat­ing, and pro­foundly dis­turb­ing work of cin­e­matic poetry. Not rated. 82 min­utes. In Span­ish and Kawésqar with sub­ti­tles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)

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