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THE BFG

In 1982, direc­tor Steven Spiel­berg and the late screen­writer Melissa Mathi­son col­lab­o­rated on the family-film classic E.T. and struck gold. Here, they tackle a work by beloved chil­dren’s nov­el­ist Roald Dahl, and while it seems like this should be a per­fect fit, the film­mak­ers can never quite sum­mon up the req­ui­site magic. A young girl named So­phie (Ruby Barn­hill) is taken from her or­phan­age by a big, friendly giant (a com­puter-gen­er­ated cre­ation voiced by Mark Ry­lance), and even­tu­ally helps him to get rid of un­friendly gi­ants. The char­ac­ters are underdeveloped, leav­ing us with no af­fec­tion for them or sense of their emo­tional stakes. The pace is glacial and the overall tone aims for whimsy but labors too hard at this goal, and it shows. There are jokey scenes that will please the lit­tlest ones, but older kids will be non­plussed, and par­ents will strug­gle to stay awake. Rated PG. 117 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)

CEN­TRAL IN­TEL­LI­GENCE

Dwayne “The Rock” John­son and Kevin Hart have starred in sev­eral buddy come­dies each, but never to­gether — un­til now. Hart plays Calvin, a man who looks up an old class­mate named Bob Stone on Face­book. Back in school, Bob was over­weight and teased. Now, he looks like The Rock, and he’s a CIA agent. When the mis­matched friends re­unite, they get drawn into some in­ter­na­tional-es­pi­onage shenani­gans. Rated PG-13. 114 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

DARK HORSE

Around the turn of the mil­len­nium, Janet Vokes, a bar­maid in an eco­nom­i­cally de­pressed Wales min­ing town, con­vinced her friends and cus­tomers to pitch in to­gether, pur­chase a thor­ough­bred, and pay for its train­ing. They bought and bred Dream Al­liance, and the horse even­tu­ally en­joyed suc­cess on the rac­ing cir­cuit in the U.K. — at­tract­ing a good deal of me­dia at­ten­tion for how the story up­turned class-struc­ture norms. Through new in­ter­views, dra­matic recre­ations, and archival footage, this doc­u­men­tary tells Dream Al­liance’s story. Rated PG. 85 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Not re­viewed)

THE FALLEN IDOL

In one breath­tak­ing stretch in the late 1940s, Carol Reed made a string of classic thrillers that equal or bet­ter the best of Hitch­cock. They are Odd Man

Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Third Man (1949). This one, about an am­bas­sador’s son (Bobby Hen­rey) who idol­izes the em­bassy but­ler (Ralph Richard­son) and gets him in a heap of trou­ble while try­ing to pro­tect him, has been re­dis­cov­ered as a lost gem in the last decade. It has re­stored some of the stature of Reed as well. Not rated. 95 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Jonathan Richards)

FIND­ING DORY

Out­side of the Toy Story fran­chise, Pixar An­i­ma­tion Stu­dio’s se­quels have been fairly unin­spired trips down fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, and this fol­low-up to the 2003 smash

Find­ing Nemo is no ex­cep­tion. It cen­ters on Dory, the for­get­ful blue fish voiced by Ellen De­Generes. In a rare in­stance when Dory’s mem­ory works prop­erly, she re­calls that her family lives in the Mon­terey area and sets out to find them, aided by old friends such as the clown­fish Mar­lin (Al­bert Brooks) and Nemo (Hay­den Ro­lence). The an­i­ma­tion is col­or­ful, there are some in­ven­tive bits, and an oc­to­pus named Hank (Ed O’Neill) nearly steals the show. It’s ba­si­cally a beat-for-beat re­make of the first film, which will please kids more than adults, and at­tempts to muster fresh en­ergy never quite take off. Rated PG. 103 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)

FREE STATE OF JONES

Matthew Mc­Conaughey stars in this ac­tion movie based on the life of the con­tro­ver­sial his­tor­i­cal fig­ure New­ton Knight. In 1862, the poor Mis­sis­sippi farmer de­serted the Con­fed­er­ate army and later led a re­bel­lion against the Con­fed­er­acy, ul­ti­mately es­tab­lish­ing his own racially in­te­grated com­mu­nity. Gary Ross

(The Hunger Games) di­rects. Keri Russell and Bren­dan Glee­son co-star. Rated R. 139 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

GE­NIUS

The ti­tle of Scott Berg’s 1978 Na­tional Book Award­win­ning Max Perkins: Edi­tor of Ge­nius has been edited down to its am­bigu­ous key­word, and the book comes to the screen un­der the un­cer­tain hand of Michael Grandage, a noted Bri­tish the­ater direc­tor mak­ing his screen di­rec­to­rial de­but. Perkins was the Scrib­ner’s edi­tor who dis­cov­ered and nur­tured Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hem­ing­way, and F. Scott Fitzger­ald. The film takes on the daunt­ing task of mak­ing book edit­ing cin­e­matic. The heav­i­est lift­ing falls to Colin Firth, who does a cred­i­ble job as Perkins, wear­ing a be­mused scowl, which is re­quired to re­flect a gamut of emo­tions, and a fe­dora, which re­mains clamped to his head through nearly ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment, un­til one, which reg­is­ters with a thump. The movie suf­fers from Brit syn­drome, that af­flic­tion that in­sists on casting English or Aus­tralian ac­tors as quintessen­tially Amer­i­can char­ac­ters (think Tom Hid­dle­ston’s Hank Wil­liams), with Jude Law as Wolfe, Guy Pearce (for­giv­ably ex­cel­lent) as Fitzger­ald, Do­minic West as Hem­ing­way, Ni­cole Kid­man as Wolfe’s lover Aline Bern­stein, and the lone Amer­i­can, Laura Lin­ney, as the long-suf­fer­ing Mrs. Perkins. Rated PG-13. 104 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Jonathan Richards)

NDEPENDENCE DAY: RESUR­GENCE

In 1996, In­de­pen­dence Day was among a new wave of ac­tion block­busters that boasted big bud­gets and a sur­pris­ing amount of heart, much of that due to the hard work of Will Smith, who won over ‘90s movie­go­ers with his alien-fight­ing comic blus­ter (see also 1997’s Men in Black). Two decades later, this se­quel doesn’t have Smith, but does bring back direc­tor Roland Em­merich and ac­tors Jeff Gold­blum, Vivica A. Fox, and Bill Pull­man, as a be­lea­guered for­mer pres­i­dent who must once again save his coun­try from an alien in­va­sion. There’s plucky new blood, too, in the form of Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher, but the soul­less script suf­fers from at­ten­tion­d­eficit dis­or­der, and its nods to­ward the charm­ingly cheesy one-lin­ers of the orig­i­nal movie mostly fall flat. Gold­blum tries valiantly, but even his charisma is no match against a film more con­cerned with count­ing how much time is left un­til alien an­ni­hi­la­tion than the ac­tual hu­man feel­ings of its cen­tral char­ac­ters. Rated PG-13. 120 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Molly Boyle)

LAST CAB TO DAR­WIN

This Down Un­der charmer makes good use of the fa­mil­iar tem­plate of the old guy hit­ting the road in trou­bling cir­cum­stances. In Jeremy Sims’ film, he’s Rex McRae (Michael Ca­ton), a cab­bie in the lit­tle town of Bro­ken Hill, New South Wales. He’s re­ceived a grim med­i­cal di­ag­no­sis: stom­ach can­cer, metas­ta­sized, a few weeks to live. His taxi is the ve­hi­cle in which he will take to the high­way. His des­ti­na­tion is Dar­win, across three thou­sand kilo­me­ters of dusty, scenic out­back. His goal is the clinic of Dr. Ni­cole Farmer (Jacki Weaver), a pioneer of le­gal­ized eu­thana­sia. En route he picks up a cou­ple of pas­sen­gers: Tilly (Mark Coles Smith), a free-spir­ited in­dige­nous youth who fixes Rex’s wind­shield and hitches a ride, and Julie (Emma Hamil­ton), a pretty young Bri­tish nurse who’s see­ing the world. De­spite a few as­pects that don’t seem thor­oughly thought through, Last Cab is a fine mix of sen­ti­ment and flinty crust. And Ca­ton’s tac­i­turn Rex is a lovely fel­low to take a trip with, even one to a des­ti­na­tion like this. Not rated. 123 min­utes. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)

THE LEG­END OF TARZAN

Direc­tor David Yates helmed the last four Harry

Pot­ter films and brings the same at­ten­tion to de­tail to Edgar Rice Bur­roughs’ lit­er­ary leg­end in this thor­oughly en­ter­tain­ing tale of Tarzan. The ti­tle char­ac­ter (Alexan­der Skars­gård), hav­ing ac­cli­mated to Lon­don life, is coaxed into re­turn­ing to the jun­gle, where he finds a Bel­gian min­ing com­pany threat­en­ing both the hu­man and an­i­mal com­mu­ni­ties. From there, it’s all pulpy adventure with vine-swing­ing, train-hop­ping, ape-fight­ing, al­li­ga­tors, shirt­less men, and dam­sels in dis­tress. The de­light­ful sup­port­ing cast in­cludes Christoph Waltz as a mus­tache-twirling vil­lain and Sa­muel L. Jack­son as an Amer­i­can gun­fighter, all of whom are decked out in imag­i­na­tive pe­riod cos­tumes. While the script could have used another draft, the ro­mance is un­der­cooked, and some of the edit­ing jumps around in weird ways, this stuff is all for­giv­able in a movie meant for sim­ple, swash­buck­ling es­capism. Rated PG-13. 109 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Robert Ker)

THE LOB­STER

Gor­geous cine­matog­ra­phy and a fas­ci­nat­ing premise an­chor this dystopian film about love and ro­mance. David (Colin Farrell) has lost his wife, so he is sent to a ho­tel, where he has 45 days to find a new part­ner or be turned into an an­i­mal. Res­i­dents of the ho­tel hunt a tribe of lon­ers who live in the nearby woods, where cou­pling is pun­ish­able by maim­ing. Many high-level ac­tors — in­clud­ing Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly — con­trib­ute in­tensely con­trolled per­for­mances, but there is more style than sub­stance to this story. Rated R. 119 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Jen­nifer Levin)

LOVE & FRIEND­SHIP

This de­li­cious com­edy of man­ners has the ex­quis­ite fla­vor of a scrump­tious high tea at Har­rods. It’s based on Lady Su­san, a lit­tle-known comic novella that Jane Austen wrote when she was about eigh­teen. At the cen­ter of it all is Lady Su­san, played to con­niv­ing per­fec­tion by Kate Beck­in­sale. She is a beau­ti­ful widow de­scribed as “the most ac­com­plished flirt in all Eng­land,” who has lit­tle trou­ble wrap­ping men around her lit­tle fin­ger as she be­gins shop­ping in earnest for a rich hus­band for her­self and one for her daugh­ter Fred­er­ica (Morfydd Clark). Wit is of­ten present in Jane Austen adap­ta­tions, but it gen­er­ally plays a sup­port­ing role to ro­mance. Here, it’s front and cen­ter. Amer­i­can direc­tor

Whit Still­man and his mar­velous cast have more fun than should be le­gal with this ma­te­rial. Rated PG. 92 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

A MID­SUM­MER NIGHT’S DREAM

Visual magic is mother’s milk to Julie Tay­mor (cre­ator of the Dis­ney stage hit The Lion King), and she quaffs it by the quart in this daz­zling 2013 stage pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare’s screw­ball com­edy, filmed over four days of its New York run. Tay­mor has had suc­cess in the past with Shake­speare, and here she lights up the stage with breath­tak­ing ef­fects while cre­at­ing the space for some su­perb per­for­mances. Most mem­o­rable of these is the cap­ti­vat­ing Kathryn Hunter as a rub­ber-limbed, raspy-voiced, wise­crack­ing Puck, do­ing the bid­ding of the King of the Fairies, Oberon (David Hare­wood). Ti­ta­nia is played by the ethe­real Tina Benko, white-robed and front-lit by wand lights jut­ting from her bo­som. Puck, putting “a gir­dle round about the earth in forty min­utes,” brings back the blos­som, but after that, things do not go ac­cord­ing to plan, and mer­ri­ment en­sues. In an age of ac­tion movie CGI ef­fects, it’s ex­cit­ing to see what real-life, hands-on stage magic can pro­duce. The shad­ows here do not of­fend. Rated PG. 144 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

MIKE AND DAVE NEED WED­DING DATES

Zac Efron and Adam Devine play two brothers who man­age to ruin ev­ery event they at­tend with their aw­ful be­hav­ior. To pre­vent them from ru­in­ing their sis­ter’s wed­ding, their par­ents make them bring dates. The plan backfires when the women (Anna Ken­drick and Aubrey Plaza) turn out to be wilder than their es­corts. Rated R. 98 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

THE MU­SIC OF STRANGERS: YOYO MA AND THE SILK ROAD EN­SEM­BLE

Cel­list Yo-Yo Ma, thor­oughly charis­matic and in­tro­spec­tive in this doc­u­men­tary, unites mu­si­cians from all over the world (with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on the Mid­dle East and Asia) as the Silk Road En­sem­ble. This en­gross­ing film high­lights Ma along with other mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing Chi­nese pipa player Wu Man and Ira­nian ka­mancheh player Kay­han Kal­hor — and ties it to­gether with out­stand­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, crisp edit­ing, and pre­dictably won­der­ful mu­sic. Rated PG-13. 96 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Robert Ker)

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR

The lat­est film adap­ta­tion of a John le Carré spy novel stars Ewan Mc­Gre­gor as Perry, a teacher who meets Dima (Stel­lan Skars­gård), a pow­er­ful mem­ber of the Rus­sian mob, while on va­ca­tion. Dima, wish­ing to be­come an in­for­mant for the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment in ex­change for sanc­tu­ary, gives Perry a list of names to pass along to MI6. The list con­tains peo­ple in­volved in money laun­der­ing, in­clud­ing politi­cians through­out the United King­dom. Soon, Perry finds him­self en­tan­gled by both sides of the con­spir­acy. Rated R. 107 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas. (Not re­viewed)

PATHS OF THE SOUL

This movie has many of the same el­e­ments as an An­drei Tarkovsky film: rav­ish­ing nat­u­ral land­scapes, life­like rhythms, mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters, and spir­i­tual clar­ity. A group of peo­ple from the vil­lage of My­ima de­cides to un­der­take the Bud­dhist “bow­ing pil­grim­age” to the holy Ti­betan cap­i­tal, Lhasa. Chi­nese film­maker Yang Zhang di­rects this sen­si­tive film about the spir­i­tual life of Ti­betans. Cross­cul­tural pol­li­na­tion be­tween the Chi­nese and the Ti­betans is still rare, and the film is a light­house that shows how il­lu­mi­nat­ing such col­lab­o­ra­tions can be, not only for those in the re­gion, but also for the rest of us. Not rated. 115 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Priyanka Ku­mar)

THE PURGE: ELEC­TION YEAR

If the 2016 elec­tion cy­cle can seem like Amer­ica is slip­ping into ut­ter chaos, then here is a hor­ror film that takes this im­pres­sion to its ex­treme. A se­quel to the mod­est 2013 hit about the one night a year where all crime in Amer­ica is le­gal (called “the purge”), this film cen­ters on the head of se­cu­rity (Frank Grillo) for a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date (El­iz­a­beth Mitchell) who is run­ning on the bold plat­form that the purge might not be a great idea. Rated R. 105 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

THE SE­CRET LIFE OF PETS

In struc­ture, the lat­est en­try in the sum­mer an­i­ma­tion sweep­stakes is Toy Story adapted to do­mes­tic an­i­mals. What mis­chief goes on when the hu­mans aren’t around? What ad­ven­tures do these lov­able crit­ters get up to? But Pets never rises to the Toy Story level of imag­i­na­tion. The first part of the movie is con­tent to imag­ine the shenani­gans your four-legged pals might ac­tu­ally be in­volved in when you close that door. But there are 90 min­utes to fill, and be­fore long, we’re off to car chases, phys­i­cal may­hem, and all sorts of rep­tiles and birds of prey, led by a rogue bunny who has it in for hu­mankind. There are some un­de­ni­ably funny mo­ments, but also long stretches where you can check your watch or make men­tal gro­cery lists. The movie is voiced by an all-star cast led by Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart. Re­mem­ber when an­i­mated fea­tures pro­vided em­ploy­ment for poor anony­mous work­ing stiffs in Hol­ly­wood? What kid re­ally cares if the cat is Lake Bell or the fal­con is Al­bert Brooks? Rated PG. 90 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal DeVar­gas; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

THE SHAL­LOWS

Blake Lively plays a surfer who trav­els to a re­mote beach to catch some waves by her­self. Just be­fore night­fall, she is at­tacked by a mas­sive shark, but man­ages to find safety on a small rock some 200 feet from shore. Un­for­tu­nately, when the tide comes in, her sanc­tu­ary will dis­ap­pear un­der­wa­ter, which gives her un­der 12 hours to fig­ure out her es­cape. Shark hor­ror is an al­ways-wel­come sum­mer fix­ture go­ing back to the days of Jaws, and this film has some ter­rific B-movie se­quences and some epic wo­man-ver­sus­na­ture images. It’s never re­ally scary or sus­pense­ful, though, thanks to some too-flashy film­mak­ing — the sub­ject mat­ter calls for cheap film stock and grind­house aesthetics, not HD dig­i­tal video and re­al­ity-TV gloss. Rated PG-13. 87 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker)

SWISS ARMY MAN

Daniel Rad­cliffe con­tin­ues his ad­mirably ec­cen­tric post-Harry Pot­ter ca­reer by star­ring in a black com­edy that could be his most bizarre movie yet. He plays Manny, found washed up on the beach and pre­sumed dead by a lost trav­eler named Hank (Paul Dano). Some­how, Manny be­gins to show signs of life and be­comes a zom­bie-like hu­man tool that Hank can use for sur­vival, and they be­come friends as they find their way home. Rated R. 95 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

YARN

Au­thor Bar­bara King­solver con­trib­utes a nar­ra­tive voice-over about the fun­da­men­tal na­ture of wool in this doc­u­men­tary homage to knit­ting and cro­chet­ing. Yarn fol­lows fe­male fiber artists from Poland, Ice­land, and Ja­pan as they push past what they con­sider to be a sex­ist bias in the art world against any medium as­so­ci­ated with hand­i­crafts, a bias strong enough to cause some of them to leave their home coun­tries and seek ac­cep­tance else­where. Not rated. 76 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Jen­nifer Levin)

Band of Out­siders, at Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts

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