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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)

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. Dream-Catcher.

(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. (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

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