NOW IN THEATERS
Screenwriter and director Charlie Kaufman’s adultthemed 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 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 ( Synecdoche, New
York) but not their mind-bending story lines. Rated R. 90 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas. (Michael Abatemarco)
THE BIG SHORT
Adam McKay’s movie 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. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen stars in his first lead role since 2012’s The Dictator, playing Nobby, an uncouth football hooligan bumming around his hometown of Grimsby in England. When Nobby discovers his long-lost brother (Mark Strong) is in London, he sets off reunite with him, only to find that he is an MI6 assassin. The unlikely duo must then team up to save the world. Rated R. 83 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT The title credit reads Falstaff, but it is now generally known by its subheading, Chimes at Midnight. Orson Welles embodies the title character in a screenplay he cobbled together from the Shakespeare plays in which Sir John appears. The story is one of friendship and betrayal. Prince Hal (an excellent Keith Baxter) is heir to the English throne of his father (John Gielgud) but spends his time carousing with a pack of wastrels, hosted by the tavern keeper Mistress Quickly (Margaret Rutherford) and led by the larger-than-life figure of Falstaff. The betrayals between Hal and Falstaff are many and mutual, but they are leavened with a spirit of mischief and sport, until the terrible final break. Greeted with a tepid response upon its original release in 1966, this film is now considered one of Welles’ masterpieces. Welles himself called it his favorite. “If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie,” he once said, “that’s the one I would offer up.” Not rated. 115 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)
DEADPOOL 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)
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). 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 2- D only at Regal Stadium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
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 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)
THE HATEFUL EIGHT Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film centers on a couple of bounty hunters bringing their scores into a little Wyoming town to collect their rewards. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) hitches a ride on a stagecoach chartered by a colleague named John Ruth (Kurt Russell), who is handcuffed to a nasty piece of work called Daisy Domergue, played with venomous glee by Jennifer Jason Leigh. And filling out the coach party is another hitchhiker, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be on his way to become the new sheriff of Red Rock. When they take shelter from a winter storm in a way station, and the rest of the tale unfolds in one room, like an Agatha Christie story, with mayhem, gore, foul language, and lots of blood. Leading the pack of swaggering, full-throated performances is Jackson, who is about as tough and smooth and vengeful as a man can be. And driving it all is Tarantino’s terrific screenplay, loaded with clever, nasty, exuberant dialogue and his love of movies. It comes back to town as one of the 70 mm “roadshow” screenings. Rated R. 168 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
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)
LONDON HAS FALLEN
This sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen takes the action from the White House to the United Kingdom. Gerard Butler is once more Secret Service agent Mike Banning, in London for the funeral of the prime minister. When Banning discovers a shadowy plot to kill all of the world leaders at the funeral, it’s up to him to save the day. Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, and Aaron Eckhart are among the returning cast members. Rated R. 99 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not reviewed)
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, but before the end they must cooperate to survive ... but do they? Rated R. 93 minutes.
The Screen. (Paul Weideman)
Akira Kurosawa’s 1985 masterpiece springs to life in a recent 4K restoration. Set in 16th-century Japan, it tells the story of an aging warlord, Hidetora Ichimonji ( Tatsuya Nakadai), who has a vision and soon after renounces his kingdom, dividing it among his three sons, Taro (Akira Terao), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu), and Saburo (Daisuke Ryu). After Hidetora’s two older sons betray him, his fool proclaims: “Heaven is very far away, but hell can be reached in a day.” Ran illustrates, as richly as has been done, how very close hell can be. Rated R. 162 minutes. In Japanese with subtitles. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Priyanka Kumar)
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 hews closely to them. Mauled by a bear and left to die by his companions, Glass 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)
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)
THE 17TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS
Producer Ron Diamond curated a diverse selection of 11 international animated shorts that delight from the start with John Lewis and Janette Goodey’s The Story of Percival
Pilts (who lived his whole life on stilts). Hand-drawn animation, stop-motion work, animated clay painting, and computer animation are all featured in this selection. The shorts run the gamut from Irish filmmaker Conor Whelan’s poignant Snowfall to the exuberant Iranian film Stripy, with its not-so-subtle message about nonconformity, and they range from the comedic to the dramatic. They tell tales of high (very high) hopes, intimate and personal struggles, a house slowly sinking into the sea, a woman too tall for her suitors, and the destruction of forests. Not rated. 97 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Michael Abatemarco)
It’s not a religion that comes under the glare of Spotlight but an institution. In Tom McCarthy’s 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.
Rated R. 128 minutes. Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
This follow-up to the giant-monster film Cloverfield may confound anyone expecting a sequel. The movies are like two long episodes of The Twilight Zone, both shepherded by producer J. J. Abrams, sharing a supernatural slant and that’s it. This time, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up from a car accident in a cellar. The strange man with her (John Goodman) insists that an apocalyptic event has occurred outside and that he is keeping her safe, but she’s not so sure. It mostly plays out as a claustrophobic horror film, and Goodman is menacing in one of his darker roles, but it’s hard to stay invested in the basement drama with the lingering mystery above. When that mystery is finally revealed, it’s too silly to truly satisfy. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)
“We have registered 300 unstable mountainsides in Norway today. It’s only a matter of time before the next big rockslide.” Thus begins the Norwegian flick The Wave. This story is a nail- biting, edge- of-your-seat thriller that boasts amazing special effects and beautiful scenic photography. It’s set in the town of Geiranger, nestled among Norway’s mountains and fjords. Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) is a geologist monitoring unstable areas in the region for impending rock slides. The town was devastated by one such event in 1905, which resulted in a massive tsunami, and it wouldn’t be a disaster movie if such a thing didn’t happen again. The Wave grabs you from the opening scenes and doesn’t let up. It’s a simple story, and while it doesn’t escape genre clichés, it’s effectively told, with some fine acting by the cast and a realistic look and feel that puts most Hollywood
disaster films to shame. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun. Rated R. 105 minutes. In Norwegian with subtitles. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Michael Abatemarco)
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 he 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. 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 to chew on. Rated R. 110 minutes. Regal DeVargas.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
The wonderful Tina Fey has accumulated a lot of goodwill for her witty television work, but she has trouble shedding that image when she takes to film and tries to disappear into a character. This messy vehicle isn’t much help. As Kim Baker (shortened by an “r” from the real- life model, Kim Barker), a desk jockey at a New York news station who volunteers for on- camera reporter duty in Afghanistan in 2003, she plunges into a chaotic war-zone frenzy of action and partying. It ’s at least an hour before you care what’s going on. It’s nominally a comedy, but the laughs are rare enough to remember them individually. New Mexico stands in for Afghanistan, and does well. There are good actors on hand, but all of them, including the ones playing Afghans, are Anglos (Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott) with facial hair and accents. The title is from the military phonetic alphabet for WTF, a sentiment that applies here. Rated R. 112 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Regal DeVargas. (Jonathan Richards)
This powerful, devastating commentary on identity and deception has been adapted by screenwriter/director Dana Rotberg from a novel by the great Maori writer Witi Ihimaera. It deals with the mountains to be climbed and the prices to be paid in denying one’s heritage. The story, set in the early 20th century in a brutally racist rural New Zealand, summons Paraiti (the Maori singer/songwriter Whirimako Black), a village elder and medicine woman, to the aid of a haughty young white gentlewoman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), and her Maori servant Maraea (Rachel House) to help conceal a dark secret that could potentially ruin the young woman’s marriage and her place in her world. Essentially a three- hander, beautifully played by all three women, and exquisitely shot by New Zealand’s Alun Bollinger, it was that country’s entry in the 2013 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Rated R. 96 minutes. In English and Maori with subtitles. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (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. Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
THE YOUNG MESSIAH
The latest film about the life of Jesus stars young Adam Greaves-Neal in the role. Based on Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the story centers on Jesus’ childhood, as he flees Egypt for his home in Nazareth and discovers more about who he is and what he is destined to become. Sean Bean also stars as Severus. Rated PG-13. 111 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
Disney’s latest animated comedy takes place in the town of its title — an impressively realized and visually clever city full of talking animals. It is here that a rabbit police officer (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin), fresh from the country on her first day on the job, learns that certain animals are disappearing. She forms an unlikely alliance with a fox (Jason Bateman), a small-time con man, to blow the lid off the conspiracy. The trail perhaps takes them on one plot turn too many, adding to a slightly bloated running time. However, the mystery is satisfying, the animation is extraordinary, the jokes are cute and funny, and the moral — about trust, understanding, and not judging others or letting yourself be judged based on race (in this case, animal species) — is touching and timely. Rated PG. 108 minutes. Screens in 3- D and 2- D at Regal Stadium 14; Dream-Catcher. Screens in 2- D only at Violet Crown (Robert Ker)