NOW IN THEATERS
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, sportsmovie 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; 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) HEART OF A DOG 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. Not rated. 75 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
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 DeVargas; Regal Stadium 14. (Laurel Gladden) IN THE HEART OF THE SEA Director Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, starring Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy, should have been a masterpiece. Based on the nonfiction book of the same title by historian Nathaniel Philbrick, the film tells the true story of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex that was sunk by a sperm whale and served as the inspiration for Herman Melville’s
Moby-Dick. It’s masterfully shot and beautifully acted, but unfortunately rather drowns under the weight of ponderous storytelling and a cheesy script that strip the beautifully dark story and skillful actors of all their rightful complexity and human reality. It’s as if Howard suddenly realized he was making a movie about cannibalism and had to cover it up by glossing over the hard facts of the story with trite sentiments and inappropriately uplifting music. Rated PG-13. 121 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher; Violet Crown. (Tantri Wija)
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)
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. Dream-Catcher.
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. (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. (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. (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) ROOM This adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel (with a screenplay by the author) from director Lenny Abrahamson is both suspenseful and deeply moving. It’s the harrowing tale of a young woman (Brie Larson) and her son (Jacob Tremblay) who are being held captive in a grungy 11-by-11-foot garden shed. It’s no one’s idea of a feel-good story, and in less capable hands, it could easily have been dark, melodramatic, or sensationalist. Instead, Abrahamson has created a gripping tale of survival and a tender depiction of a mother and son who save each other. Rated R. 118 minutes.
Regal DeVargas. (Laurel Gladden)
SPOTLIGHT It’s not a religion that comes under the glare of
Spotlight, but an institution. In Tom McCarthy’s splendid, crackling ode to journalism, the “Spotlight” investigative team at The Boston Globe tackles pedophilia and its coverup within the Church. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003. McCarthy is careful not to glamorize his reporters. They’re played as hardworking stiffs by a superb cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, and Liev Schreiber, and it will be hard to overlook any of them come Oscar time. This movie will evoke comparison to All the
President’s Men. There’s a lot of the same shoe-leather approach, conducted here in an even lower key, which in a perverse way gives it even more drama. McCarthy keeps nibbling at the question of how this story could have remained buried for so long. Part of it has to do with the power of the Church, and the shame of the victims. And some of it has to do with the cozy relationships among the city’s power institutions. At the end of the film, the truly staggering extent and reach of this scandal is revealed. Rated R. 128 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan
Richards) TRUMBO 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, and his relentlessness finally broke the back of the blacklist with his credited screenplay for Kirk Douglas’ 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. Rated R.
124 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
Dippy chips: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, at Regal Stadium 14 and DreamCatcher in Española