NOW IN THEATERS
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. Rated R. 130 minutes.
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 Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
THE DANISH GIRL Eddie Redmayne, winner of last year’s best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of 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)
DEADPOOL This spinoff of the X-Men franchise thumbs its nose at superhero tropes right from the opening credits, which includes a list of stereotypes (a British villain, a hot chick) in lieu of the characters’ names. From there, the indestructible super-antihero Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) breaks the fourth wall and makes crude and self-referential gags while en route to killing the British villain (Ed Skrein), who disfigured him, and winning back his hot chick (Morena Baccarin) with the help of some D-listers from the X-Men. The film doesn’t avoid the clichés it lampoons, particularly in telling the character’s
origin story — which is like every superhero backstory, only with more cancer and torture — but the jokes often work, even if they can be overly puerile. The movie was made on the cheap (by superhero-movie standards), and looks it, stretching itself too far over a couple of set pieces. Deadpool provides an irreverent new angle on the spandex genre, but it’s never quite as madcap as it thinks it is. Rated R. 108 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
THE FINEST HOURS In 1952, two oil tankers were capsized by a terrible storm off the coast of Cape Cod. Four Coast Guardsmen were sent to rescue the crews. This film, based on the 2009 book of the same name, tells this true story with disaster-movie effects and what promises to be an inspirational finale. Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster star. Rated PG-13. 117 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal DeVargas. (Not reviewed)
45 YEARS Geoff ( Tom Courtenay) opens a letter to learn that the body of a former girlfriend, Katya, has been found in the Swiss glacier where she fell to her death a half- century before. The news rocks him and his wife, Kate (Charlotte Rampling, nominated for a Best Actress Oscar). Director Andrew Haigh uses this story and the considerable talents of his veteran stars to explore the way lives can turn on a moment. Katya’s life turned and ended on the slip of a foot. Geoff and Kate’s life together — spanning a comfortable 45 years that they’re about to celebrate — turns on the opening of that letter. Geoff is beginning the slow, painful process of losing his ability to remember, and here comes Katya, a distant but vivid memory, preserved in ice, her body as fresh as it was on that fateful day. Courtenay and Rampling deliver on their lifetime of experience, giving us touching, hauntingly nuanced performances that reflect not only the characters they are playing here, but their own youthful selves as well. Rated R. 95 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
HAIL, CAESAR! It’s a major Hollywood studio lot in the early 1950s, and on every corner they’re shooting classic genre pictures — a mermaid extravaganza (Scarlett Johansson), a singing Western (Alden Ehrenreich), a Gene Kelly- esque sailor’s musical (Channing Tatum), a Manhattan penthouse drama (Ralph Fiennes), and a biblical epic: Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the
Christ (George Clooney). The missing genre is a film noir, but that’s in the movie that surrounds all this, the Coen Brothers’ slyly affectionate, winning satire of the dream factories that turned out the movies of their childhood. Granite-faced Josh Brolin is the studio fixer who deals with problems on all of the sets, including the kidnapping of a major star (in Roman costume) by a dastardly cell of Commie screenwriters. There are a few seams and soft spots, but overall it’s glorious fun. Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
HOW TO BE SINGLE Rebel Wilson, who rose to fame thanks in large part to the
Pitch Perfect films, brings her sassy, raunchy on-screen persona to this comedy, in which she plays a young woman who just wants to help a friend (Dakota Johnson) enjoy the single life in New York City. This life naturally involves a lot of pampering, alcohol, clubs, and one-night stands — all attended to with zany aplomb. Rated R. 110 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN WORDS Ingrid Bergman never threw anything away, and Stig Björkman’s docu-portrait draws on her family photographs, reels of home movies, and diaries and journals. Bergman won America’s heart with her enchanting smile and poignant aura of mystery in movies like Casablanca, lost it when she fled Hollywood and husband for a career, affair, marriage, and children (not strictly in that order) with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, and then won it again as time and evolving standards healed the wounds she’d inflicted on the Puritan American psyche. “I regret the things I didn’t do, not what I did,” she tells a reporter. “I was given courage and I was given a sense of adventure. And that has carried me along, with a sense of humor and a little bit of common sense. And it’s been a very rich life.” Not rated. 114 minutes. In English, Swedish, French, and Italian with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE Forty-five years after Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles, her friends, relatives, lovers, and colleagues still get emotional when speculating what more the rock pioneer might have done had she lived beyond her 27th year. We hear from them through interviews, home movies, letters, and rehearsal and concert footage in Amy Berg’s new documentary. Berg’s film allows viewers to discover what made Joplin a legend despite the brevity of her transcendent career. Not rated. 105 minutes. The Screen.
KUNG FU PANDA 3 The third film in the animated Kung Fu Panda saga finds the Furious Five under attack by a supernatural villain named Kai (J. K. Simmons) and Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black once more) reunited with his estranged father (Bryan Cranston). Po and his pop travel to their secret panda community, but when Kai finds the village, Po must train a whole fighting force of kung-fu pandas. The animation and action is up to the series’ typically beautiful, colorful highs, and the jokes land like karate chops, but the first film in the series is still the most novel and affecting. Rated PG. 95 minutes. Screens in 3-Dand 2-Dat Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-Donly at Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS Watching the Oscar- nominated shorts is a speedy tour of international storytelling. In the live-action category, Ave Maria, a family of Israeli settlers crashes their car on the grounds of a convent in the West Bank. In the nuanced live-action drama,
Day One, an Afghan-American woman begins work as an interpreter for the U. S. forces in war torn Afghanistan. In Everything
Will Be Okay, another live-action drama, a divorced father takes his eight-year- old daughter out for a surreal weekend. Among the animation nominees is Bear Street, in which a solitary bear peddles his mechanical diorama. Cloning will play a significant part in the future, especially for those who are well off and hope to live forever; World of Tomorrow, an animated drama, explores this premise. Not rated. Various running times. The Screen. (Priyanka Kumar)
THE REVENANT 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 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)
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, — 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)
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 Catholic Church. McCarthy is careful not to glamorize his reporters. They’re played as hard-working 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 2- D only at Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
THEEB Theeb (Jacir Eid Al-Howeitat) 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-Saliheen). 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-Howeitat 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)
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT In this good-hearted documentary of ideas, Michael Moore sets off for Europe to see what other countries have that we don’t, and claims what he can for the Stars and Stripes. He invades Italy first, then France, and cuts a swath through other European countries, with a side trip to North Africa. In each place he focuses on an aspect of the culture — political, economic, or educational — that he can bring home as booty. On one level, this movie might seem to smack of wide- eyed naiveté. But Moore’s thrust is subversively canny. He hasn’t invaded Europe to expose its rotten underbelly; he’s there to capture the best of its ideas. And in doing so, he provides for all of us — whether we’re liberal, conservative, libertarian, or marching to the drummer of our choosing — a smorgasbord of ideas on which to chew. Rated R.
110 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
ZOOLANDER 2 Ben Stiller once again dons outrageous clothes and puckers up for the camera as the dimwitted supermodel Derek Zoolander. Shortly after the events of that 2001 movie, Zoolander’s wife died, his son was taken from him, and he disappeared into obscurity. The belated sequel finds him seeking redemption with the help of his old pal Hansel (Owen Wilson), and facing off against the evil Mugatu (Will Ferrell) again. There are some humorous gags and in-jokes about the fashion industry, as well as a slew of hit-and-miss celebrity cameos. Some of this is amusing, but none of it really justifies the movie’s existence. Rated PG-13. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14;
Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)