NOW IN THEATERS
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.
DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
Screenwriter and director Charlie Kaufman’s adult-themed animated feature takes place over the course of a single night and tells the story of Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), author of a book on customer service, and the brief affair he has with Lisa Hesselman (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a shy, self- deprecating fan he meets at a hotel the night before delivering a conference talk. The rest of the characters are voiced by Tom Noonan. The title is a cross between “anomaly” and “Lisa,” and the film is an anomaly itself, an understated, funny, and ultimately tragic emotional drama that’s in line with the themes of Kaufman’s earlier films ( Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Synecdoche, New York) but not their mind-bending story lines. Rated R. 90 minutes.
Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
THE AMAZING NINA SIMONE
The life of incomparable singer, songwriter, and pianist Nina Simone is exhaustively explored in this documentary, with a focus on her role in the civil-rights movement. The film paints her as an artist full of passion and fury. This is the second Simone documentary to see release in the last six months. What Happened, Miss Simone? has a more dramatic narrative arc and is more polished and performancebased than this account. As a result, The Amazing Nina Simone is slightly less engaging, but it is still an important document of an often misunderstood musician. Not rated. 110 minutes.
Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
THE BIG SHORT
Adam McKay’s Oscar-nominated movie (in the Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor categories) is by turns funny, frightening, suspenseful, informative, and tragic. It examines the 2008 near- collapse of the world financial system from the perspectives of four analysts, or teams, who had the vision to recognize what nobody else saw coming: the rottenness of the system, the worthlessness of the packaged mortgages on which the economy was gliding, and the inevitable devastating crash when the bubble burst. They bet against the economy. They bet big. And they won. That McKay is able to explain the financial collapse that cost so many people their homes and savings — and make it entertaining — is a remarkable achievement. Terrific performances come from a cast that includes Academy Award-nominee Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell. And McKay leaves us with a warning: It could happen again. Rated R. 130 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
An American nanny (Lauren Cohan) is hired for a job in a remote English village and finds that her charge is actually a life-size doll. At first, this seems like an easy, if extremely weird, assignment. It becomes more challenging when she suspects that the boy is alive — and evil. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. Regal DeVargas; Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
BOY & THE WORLD
Director Alê Abreu’s Oscar-nominated animated film is an endearing story about a nameless child searching for his father. His journey takes him from the country to the coast and, finally, into the metropolis. Along the way he witnesses the wanton destruction of the rain forest, the dehumanizing effects of factory work, and the military-industrial machine. None of this breaks his indomitable spirit. This is an endearing feature and a delight to behold, full of music and color, with a free-flowing style that takes the boy from one misadventure to the next. Boy & the World, nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, will win your heart. Rated PG. 80 minutes. In Portuguese with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)
In 1950s Ireland, the forward- thinking Rose (Fiona Glascott) has arranged for her younger sister Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) to go to Brooklyn out of 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 new life, living in a boardinghouse teeming with other, brasher young Irish women. She’s introverted and homesick, weeping over her sister’s letters — 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 slight in other hands, and though Nick Hornby’s screenplay is more sentimental than the Colm Tóibín novel it’s based on, the film — in the running for the Academy Award for Best Picture — never dips into treacly territory. The reason for that is Best Actress Oscar-nominee Ronan, whose steely, undemonstrative performance capably anchors the story.
Rated PG-13. 111 minutes. Violet Crown. (Molly Boyle)
This is director Todd Haynes’ second 1950s- era melodrama, after the Douglas Sirk-influenced
Far From Heaven, in which Julianne Moore plays a suburban housewife with a closeted gay husband. This time — in a story adapted from a 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith, which she published under a pseudonym due to its lesbian plotline — it’s glamorous New Jersey housewife Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) who’s gay and nudging the closet door open. She’s going through a difficult separation and divorce from her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler), during the holiday season when she meets Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), an ingénue working the counter at a New York City department store. The alchemy between Therese and Carol is instant, and glorious to behold, as the film centers on the remarkable performances of these two actresses, both nominated for Academy Awards. Every disparate element of the film adds to its virtuosity, from the period designs to the score. Rated R. 118 minutes. Violet Crown.
Spike Lee’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, set against the gang violence of Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, is written entirely in rhyming verse. It ’s an effective conceit that makes this artful but flawed unapologetic polemic not only watchable, but riveting. Lysistrata ( Teyonah Parris) organizes a neighborhood sex strike to stop gang violence and drive- by shootings that decimate families. Performances are strong, although Chicago serves more as a stage set than a living city. Rated R. 127 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jennifer Levin)
Will Ferrell effectively played the milquetoast to Mark Wahlberg’s tough guy in the 2010 buddy- cop romp The Other
Guys, and now they bring the same dynamic to a family comedy. Ferrell plays a mild-mannered executive who is trying to be the best father to his stepchildren that he can, until one day the real dad (Wahlberg) comes roaring in on his motorcycle and makes him look like a total square. Linda Cardellini plays the mom who is caught between them. Rated PG-13. 96 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
THE DANISH GIRL
Eddie Redmayne, winner of last year’s best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the ALS-burdened physicist Stephen Hawking, tosses his hat in the ring again with another Oscar- nominated performance as Lili Elbe, née Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who in the early 1930s became a transgender pioneer. Perhaps even better is Alicia Vikander, who brings enormous sympathy to the role of Einar’s artist wife, Gerda, without the benefit of torment or confusion on which to hang her character. Director Tom Hooper has crafted a beautiful picture. But there’s a sense of emotional distance that the movie never quite manages to shake. Maybe it’s too tasteful, too careful. What Lili Elbe did was terrifyingly bold. The movie is elegant and safe. Rated R. 120 minutes. In French, German, and English with subtitles. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
Robert De Niro plays Dick Kelly, a smirking old- timer who makes inappropriate comments to women who are a fraction of his age. After his wife passes away, Dick tricks his grandson (Zac Efron) into taking him to Florida for spring break. Rated R. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
THE 5TH WAVE
In this film adaptation of the young-adult novel of the same title, Earth has been hit by four waves of alien attacks, which have left the planet nearly entirely destroyed. With the fifth one looming, young Cassie (Chloë Grace Moretz) — one of the few remaining survivors — attempts to rescue her five-year-old brother (Zackary Arthur) from an alien camp. She meets a boy her age (Alex Roe), and together they set out to save her brother, and perhaps the world. Rated PG-13. 112 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
IP MAN 3
This series focuses on the life of Ip Man, the man who popularized the Wing Chun version of kung fu and even taught Bruce Lee. Perhaps because of legal complications that prevent the filmmakers from telling Lee’s part of the story (Chan Kwok Kwan does play Lee in a small role), the movies spin a fable that is partly biographical and mostly fantasy. This time around, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) defends his son’s school from gangsters and faces a rival (Zhang Jin) who wants to be known as the Wing Chun master. Ip Man 3 pops with color and some vibrant fight sequences, but is blandly goofy — the fight scene with Mike Tyson is not even the silliest moment — and awkwardly staged. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. In English and Cantonese with subtitles. Regal DeVargas. (Robert Ker)
NORM OF THE NORTH
Rob Schneider voices Norm, a polar bear who must leave the Arctic Circle, and soon finds himself in New York City along with his best buds, who are three lemmings. After adjusting to his new surroundings, Norm finds a job as the mascot for a corporation. He begins to have doubts about the position when he learns the company is looking to completely destroy the climate of his home. Rated PG. 86 minutes. Regal Stadium 14.
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. 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)
The adventures of Hugh Glass, one of the legendary mountain men of the American frontier, make for spellbinding storytelling. Whether they make a spellbinding movie is most likely to be found in the eye of the beholder. The facts of this tale are grisly, and director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (last year’s Oscar-winner with Birdman) hews closely to them. Mauled by a bear and left to die by his companions, Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) incredibly survived, made it back over hundreds of miles of wilderness to civilization, and sought revenge on the men who had abandoned him. A man being attacked by a bear is riveting cinema; a man dragging himself over hundreds of miles of frozen landscape is not. The true story of Hugh Glass is a testament to man’s capacity for endurance. For better or for worse, so is the movie, which has nonetheless drawn 12 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actor. Rated R. 158 minutes. In English, French, Pawnee, and Arikara with some subtitles. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Jonathan Richards)
RIDE ALONG 2
The pairing of Ice Cube’s bad cop with Kevin Hart as the belligerent, often-annoying brother-in-law was such a hit that the duo is getting back into the squad car for a sequel. This time, the setting shifts to Miami, but the premise remains the same: There’s a bad guy to fight, a few action sequences, and lots of odd- couple comedy. Rated PG-13. 101 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
This adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel (with a screenplay by the author) from director Lenny Abrahamson is both suspenseful and deeply moving, — and in the running for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, and Actress. 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)
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 Catholic Church. 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, and Liev Schreiber. 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. The film is up for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor and Actress.
Rated R. 128 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
It has been more than 30 years since Return of the Jedi (1983) but now the First Order has arisen from the Empire’s ashes, wanting control of the galaxy. With the help of Finn (John Boyega), a reformed Stormtrooper, the Resistance seeks the assistance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who some believe is only a legend. Finn joins Resistance fighter Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Chewbacca while pursued by the First Order’s Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), who’s bent on lighting up the cosmos with a Death Star-like weapon. Helmed by J. J. Abrams, this spirited seventh chapter in the saga is the Star Wars movie you’ve been waiting for — and nominated for several Oscars, including Best Visual Effects and Score. Applaud you will. Rated PG-13. 135 minutes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
When physicist Jim Beale ( Chad McKnight) approaches venture capitalist Klaus Meisner (Michael Ironside) for help in completing a time-travel device, he doesn’t count on the sudden appearance of Abby (Brianne Davis), a femme fatale Meisner may have sent to steal Beale’s secrets. Beale goes back in time to discover the truth about Abby, navigating multiple dimensions in which more than one version of himself appears, having a devastating effect on his health. A thriller in the tradition of Blade Runner, Synchronicity pays its homages but never feels derivative. This is a thoughtful and engaging sci-fi noir. Rated R. 101 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Michael Abatemarco)
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, nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is told entirely from Theeb’s point of view and is at heart a little boy’s adventure tale — but this story 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)
13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI
Director Michael Bay takes a break from the Transformers series to bring his whiz-bang action sequences, oversaturated color, hyperkinetic editing, and jingoism to tell the story of the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Based on the book by Mitchell Zuckoff, this movie centers on six members of a security team who fought to defend the compound. A beefed-up John Krasinski leads the cast. Rated R. 144 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
Shoot to kill: Natalie Portman in Jane Got A Gun, at Regal Stadium 14 and Regal DeVargas
Marlon Wayans in Fifty Shades of Black, at Regal Stadium 14 and DreamCatcher in Española