NOW IN THEATERS
THE BIG SHORT
Adam McKay’s movie, which won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, 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 Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Christian Bale.
Rated R. 130 minutes. Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Steven Spielberg resurrects the fascinating tale of the Cold War prisoner exchange of Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. The story centers on James B. Donovan ( Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn insurance lawyer and former Nuremberg prosecutor who is drafted to represent Abel and uphold the image of the American justice system. As he works with Abel (Mark Rylance), a bond of admiration forms between the two. The first half of the movie hums along nicely, despite an occasional Spielbergian weakness for movie cliché. The second half, which sets Donovan to work arranging the swap, has too many threads to follow and loses focus. Both Hanks and Rylance — who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — are terrific. The movie reaches a powerful dramatic climax with the exchange on a West Berlin bridge and then sputters on a little further, reaching for a feelgood ending. Rated PG-13. 141 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Jonathan Richards)
Light has been focused lately on some ugly corners of the Catholic Church, and Chilean director Pablo Larraín probes these dark precincts with this bitter, angry tale of a sort of halfway house for rogue clerics in a coastal town near Santiago. An act of violence near the beginning brings a Vatican troubleshooter (Marcelo Alonso) to the cottage, perched on a bluff above the beach, where four disgraced priests and one nun live in not terribly repentant isolation, following the house rules by rote, and training a racing greyhound. The newcomer interrogates the men about their transgressions, which he must have known from their dossiers, and threatens to close down the house. And then what? A damning, provocative, and deeply unpleasant movie, and not for the faint of heart when it comes to extended graphic verbal descriptions of sexual abuse. Not rated. 97 minutes. In Spanish with subtitles. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
This spinoff of the X-Men franchise thumbs its nose at superhero tropes right from the opening credits, which include 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. 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)
EDDIE THE EAGLE
Eddie Edwards ( Taron Egerton) is a young British man in the 1980s who dreams of being an Olympic athlete. There’s only one problem — he’s not that athletic. He opts for the ski jump, a sport that requires as much courage as coordination, and eventually becomes the first competitor to represent Great Britain in the event. Hugh Jackman plays his trainer. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Regal DeVargas; Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
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). 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. (Jonathan Richards)
GODS OF EGYPT
This fantasy, which features Egyptian mythology but looks a bit like a Transformers flick, centers on a mortal man (Brenton Thwaites) who teams up with Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to stop Set (Gerard Butler) from taking over the Egyptian empire. Geoffrey Rush plays Ra. Alex Proyas directs. Rated PG-13. 100 minutes. Screens in 3-Dand 2-Dat Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2-D at Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
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 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. 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; 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 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. (Sandy Nelson)
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), while Po the panda (voiced by Jack Black once more) is 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 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
THE LADY IN THE VAN
Alan Bennett’s memoir about a crazed crone who takes up long-term residence in his London driveway comes across as glib in its movie version. Dame Maggie Smith is an estimable actor (to state the obvious), and devoted Maggie-philes will feel obliged to witness her slight variation on what has become her default character. Here that takes the form of a hot-tempered harridan who, like almost every other character in the film, is unappealing. One senses an impressive triumvirate — Bennett, Smith, and director Nicholas Hytner — settling for a rehash of past successes. Indeed, much of the supporting cast is reassembled from the 2006 Bennett/Hytner film The History Boys. The result is stale and predictable. Rated PG-13. 104 minutes.
Violet Crown. (James M. Keller)
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Perhaps the most surprising multiple winner on Oscar night is this action picture, in which director George Miller returns to the film series that first made him famous, putting Tom Hardy in Mel Gibson’s old driver’s seat as Mad Max, a loner steering a militarized vehicle through the post-apocalyptic Australian outback. This time, Max often rides shotgun to a terrific Charlize Theron, as they try to shuttle a handful of women away from a corrupt warlord. The movie is essentially one long action sequence, crafted with incredible art design, imaginative mayhem, and strong acting.
Fury Road is proud of its 1980s B- movie roots and feminist
slant, and it is pulled off with a flair that few contemporary blockbusters can match. Rated R. 120 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
Two brothers in a sheep-raising community — the film is set in Bárðardalur, Iceland — have nurtured a frigid silence for 40 years, despite being neighbors. The bucolic lifestyle of the villagers is shattered when a veterinarian determines that a dreaded disease has infected some sheep and all of their herds must be destroyed. The catastrophe intensifies the enmity of the brothers, Gummi and Kiddi, but before the end they must cooperate to survive ... or do they?
Rated R. 93 minutes. The Screen. (Paul Weideman)
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 (who won his second straight Best Director Oscar for this film) hews closely to them. Mauled by a bear and left to die by his companions, Glass (Academy Award-winner 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. Rated R. 158 minutes. In English, French, Pawnee, and Arikara with some subtitles. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (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)
Joseph Fiennes plays Clavius, a Roman centurion tasked with finding out what happened to the body of Jesus of Nazareth after the crucifixion, and whether its disappearance has anything to do with rumors of a risen Messiah. Peter Firth is Pilate. Rated PG-13. 107 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. It’s the harrowing tale of a young woman (Brie Larson, who won the Academy Award for her performance) 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.
SON OF SAUL
For most of this searing Holocaust drama, director László Nemes keeps his camera close on the head of his protagonist, Saul (Géza Röhrig). The effect is both claustrophobic and distancing. Saul is a prisoner at Auschwitz, a member of the Sonderkommando, crews made up of Jewish prisoners assigned to dispose of the bodies of gas chamber victims. After he comes upon a boy he thinks is his son, much of the rest of the story centers on Saul’s obsession with finding a rabbi to conduct a proper burial. This first feature from Nemes is painful to consider, excruciating to watch, and hard to turn away from. But bleak and punishing as the film is, it leaves us at the end with a thin, pale beam of something akin to hope. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Rated R. 107 minutes. In German, Russian, Polish, Yiddish, and Hungarian, with subtitles. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
It’s not a religion that comes under the glare of
Spotlight, but an institution. In Tom McCarthy’s ode to journalism, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, 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. 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. Applaud you will. Rated PG-13. 135 minutes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Stadium 14. (Michael Abatemarco)
Director John Hillcoat ( The Road) takes on more gritty subject matter with this crime drama, in which the Russian mafia has blackmailed a group of criminals and dirty cops to pull off an elaborate heist. The plan is to kill a rookie cop (Casey Affleck) and, when the police respond, make the theft on the other side of town. Kate Winslet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Woody Harrelson portray some of the cops and robbers.
Rated R. 115 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
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)
Robert Eggers’ period horror, set in 17th- century New England, is a visually haunting film about a Puritan family, banished from their church, who set up a homestead at the edge of a dark wood where, unbeknownst to them, a satanic evil lurks. Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the eldest daughter, comes under suspicion after the abduction of her infant brother Sam. When her brother Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) also vanishes, mother is pitted against daughter, and siblings against one another as fear grips the family in a stranglehold. The Witch is heavy on atmosphere but less so on substance. Although it’s based on folk stories from the period, uneven pacing, stilted dialogue, and mumbled lines undermine the tension. The acting is better than you usually find in a horror film; Scrimshaw gives a gut-wrenching and believable performance. Rated R. 90 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Michael Abatemarco)