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ALVIN AND THE CHIP­MUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP

This is the fourth film in the cur­rent Alvin and the Chip­munks se­ries, af­ter the orig­i­nal, The Squeakquel, and Chip­wrecked. Ap­par­ently, the movies will live as long as there are bad puns for the ti­tles. In this one, the de­light­fully self­less Chip­munks try to pre­vent their friend Dave (Ja­son Lee) from get­ting mar­ried, out of fears that he’ll ditch them shortly af­ter. Rated PG. 86 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Dream­Catcher. (Not re­viewed)

THE BIG SHORT

Rated R. 130 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. See re­view, Page 44.

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)

EV­ERY THING WILL BE FINE

Glum writer To­mas (James Franco) and his girl­friend Sara (Rachel McA­dams) have reached an im­passe in their re­la­tion­ship, so To­mas re­treats to icy Que­bec to get some work

done. Out in his car one day, he ac­ci­den­tally hits a to­bog­gan and kills a child, the son of Kate, a sin­gle mother (Char­lotte Gains­bourg, whose per­for­mance is a bright spot). For the rest of the film, he — and un­for­tu­nately the au­di­ence — must dully slog through his grief and guilt, mea­sur­ing the ef­fects of the accident on the course of his life in two and four-year in­cre­ments. Wim Wen­ders, who di­rected this in­ter­na­tional co-pro­duc­tion in in­con­gru­ous 3-D, has had some suc­cess in trans­lat­ing a cer­tain kind of still-wa­ters mas­culin­ity to the screen. But Franco’s To­mas is sim­ply shal­low and un­like­able as he’s writ­ten, and the ac­tor doesn’t possess the kind of depth that might ren­der his de­pres­sion sym­pa­thetic. What we end up with is a beau­ti­fully shot snoozer in which nearly ev­ery thing is very much less than fine. Not rated. 118 min­utes. Jean Cocteau

Cin­ema. (Molly Boyle)

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 Sta­dium 14. (Lau­rel Glad­den)

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 Sta­dium 14; Dream­Catcher. (Not re­viewed)

MAC­BETH

Aus­tralian Justin Kurzel’s adap­ta­tion of Shake­speare’s play-that-must-not-be-named (the­atri­cal su­per­sti­tion for­bids the ut­ter­ing of the ti­tle in­side a theater) is pow­er­ful, bru­tal, orig­i­nal, and some­times al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble. The more fa­mil­iar you are with the lan­guage of the play, the bet­ter off you will be, be­cause, as half-whis­pered in hoarse Scot­tish brogues through­out most of the movie, against an in­sis­tent score that is some­times mourn­ful, some­times bom­bas­tic, much of the di­a­logue is lost. The cast, headed by Michael Fass­ben­der in the ti­tle role, and the haunt­ing, saucer-eyed Mar­ion Cotil­lard as his lethal wife, is su­perb, and the film’s per­for­mances work mas­ter­fully to over­come the au­di­tory chal­lenge with their in­ten­sity. The cin­e­matog­ra­phy by Adam Arka­paw is ma­jes­tic, and al­most un­remit­tingly dark. By the time Bir­nam Wood comes to Dun­si­nane, the hell on earth that Mac­beth’s mis­guided am­bi­tion has wrought has be­come tan­gi­ble and ter­ri­fy­ing. Rated R. 113 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Art. (Jonathan Richards)

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)

SIS­TERS

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been comedic part­ners from their early days in Chicago’s Im­provO­lympic in the 1990s through Satur­day Night Live in the 2000s and up to their re­cent run as co-hosts of the Golden Globe Awards. This film finds them us­ing that chem­istry to play sis­ters who throw one last party at their par­ents’ house be­fore it is sold. Rated R. 118 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown; Dream­Catcher. (Not re­viewed)

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)

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAK­ENS

It has been more than 30 years since the Rebel Al­liance de­feated the Em­pire in Re­turn of the Jedi (1983) but now the First Or­der has arisen from the Em­pire’s ashes, seek­ing con­trol of the galaxy. With the help of Finn (John Boyega), a re­formed Stormtrooper, the Re­sis­tance (for­merly the Rebel Al­liance) seeks the as­sis­tance of Luke Sky­walker (Mark Hamill), who some be­lieve is only a leg­end. Finn joins Re­sis­tance fighter Poe Dameron (Os­car Isaac) and Rey (Daisy Ri­d­ley), a scav­enger from the planet Jakku. They’re aided in their ef­forts by Han Solo (Har­ri­son Ford) and Chew­bacca (Peter May­hew) while re­lent­lessly pur­sued by the First Or­der’s Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who’s bent on light­ing up the cos­mos with a Death Star­like weapon of awesome power. But Rey is har­bor­ing a se­cret power of her own that could change all of their des­tinies. Star

Wars: The Force Awak­ens in­tro­duces plenty of new char­ac­ters to root for and brings back beloved se­ries fa­vorites who we have not seen since Re­turn of the Jedi. Helmed by J.J. Abrams, this spir­ited sev­enth chap­ter in the saga is the Star Wars movie you’ve been wait­ing for. Ap­plaud you will. Rated PG-13. 135 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14, Vi­o­let Crown, and Dream­Catcher. (Michael Abatemarco)

THEEB

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-Sweil­hiy­een). 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)

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