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Robert Ze­meckis’ tale of ro­mance and in­trigue in World War II starts off like a rip­ping yarn, as Cana­dian RAF pi­lot and spy Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) para­chutes into the Moroccan desert and hooks up with his con­tact, the beau­ti­ful French agent Mar­i­anne Beauséjour (Mar­ion Cotil­lard). Their as­sign­ment is to in­fil­trate Nazi cir­cles in Casablanca and carry out an as­sas­si­na­tion by pos­ing as a French mar­ried cou­ple. This de­cep­tion is so suc­cess­ful that they fall in love, marry, and set­tle down in Lon­don, where they have a baby and Mar­i­anne retires while Max con­tin­ues in wartime in­tel­li­gence. But there’s a catch, and the last half of the film de­votes it­self to a rev­e­la­tion that will test their mar­riage and their very lives. The movie, like the cou­ple, is much hap­pier in Casablanca, with der­ringdo em­braced by lush lo­cales. Cotil­lard is beau­ti­ful, sexy, and mys­te­ri­ous, but glum sto­icism does not show Pitt to his best ad­van­tage. The plot strains with Panzer-sized holes, and by the end, the movie labors to tap the tear ducts in the Lon­don rain. De­spite all that, there’s some old-fash­ioned fun to be had. Rated R. 124 min­utes. Regal DeVar­gas. (Jonathan Richards)

AQUAR­IUS

Clara has lost a lot. Her youth is long gone, her hus­band is long dead, her nest is empty, her right breast is a dis­tant mem­ory, and now they’re com­ing for her home. But she has a lot left, too. She has plenty of money, an in­domitable at­ti­tude, an un­quench­able beauty, and a lust for life — and she has the great So­nia Braga to play her. A de­vel­oper wants to tear down the sea­side Aquar­ius apart­ment build­ing, in which Clara is the lone re­main­ing ten­ant; as she digs in her heels, things get ugly. Di­rec­tor Kle­ber Men­donça Filho has built this story around a num­ber of themes that in­clude fam­ily, class, sex, dig­nity, and preda­tory business prac­tices. Braga is the main event here — her im­pe­ri­ous, stylish, gutsy Clara is the pri­mary rea­son to see this movie, but not the only one. Not rated. 142 min­utes. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)

AR­RIVAL

Rising di­rec­tor Denis Vil­leneuve, adapt­ing Ted Chi­ang’s story about large space­crafts that have landed all over Earth, of­fers a quiet thriller that plays like an art­house ver­sion of Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind. Amy Adams stars as a bril­liant linguist who, along with a physi­cist (Jeremy Ren­ner), is charged by an Army colonel (For­est Whi­taker) to com­mu­ni­cate with the aliens. This the­mat­i­cally rich story un­folds slowly, of­ten with­out mu­sic, but never feels slow. It of­fers philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions about how we ex­pe­ri­ence life and em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of lan­guage and to­geth­er­ness — the story’s big­gest bar­ri­ers are not be­tween peo­ple and aliens but be­tween Earth’s na­tions. Ex­pect a few big plot twists, which not only dazzle you with their clev­er­ness but also add re­newed emo­tional heft to ev­ery­thing that has come be­fore. Rated PG-13. 116 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED

This is the first year in some time that there hasn’t been a new As­sas­sin’s Creed video game. In­stead, fans of the se­ries have this

movie to en­joy, while non-gamers may scratch their heads and won­der how a man (Michael Fass­ben­der) can travel back in time and men­tally in­habit the body of an an­ces­tor (also Fass­ben­der) who is a 15th-cen­tury Span­ish as­sas­sin. Mar­ion Cotil­lard and Jeremy Irons also star. Rated PG-13. 108 min­utes. Screens in 2-D and 3-D at Regal Sta­dium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

COL­LAT­ERAL BEAUTY

Will Smith plays a man who was once suc­cess­ful and con­fi­dent but is now an emo­tion­ally dev­as­tated shell af­ter a tragic death. He be­gins the heal­ing process when Love (Keira Knightley), Death (He­len Mir­ren), and Time (Ja­cob La­ti­more) come to him in hu­man form. Kate Winslet and Ed­ward Nor­ton play peo­ple who try to help him. Rated PG-13. 97 min­utes. Regal DeVar­gas; Regal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

DOC­TOR STRANGE

The em­i­nently watch­able trio of Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Tilda Swin­ton, and Chi­we­tel Ejio­for ush­ers au­di­ences be­yond the veil in this ex­pertly pitched adap­ta­tion of the trip-o-delic comics cre­ated by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Cum­ber­batch’s Dr. Stephen Strange, an ar­ro­gant sur­geon who en­rolls at a meta­phys­i­cal dojo af­ter sus­tain­ing in­juries to his hands, is a flawed but lik­able hero and a re­luc­tant con­vert to the “mystic arts.” Though there are tid­bits for the Mar­vel faith­ful, the movie re­fresh­ingly keeps ref­er­ences to the brand’s endless tie-in prod­ucts to a min­i­mum. It’s also the rare film that truly ben­e­fits from com­puter an­i­ma­tion and 3-D cin­e­matog­ra­phy, which are well suited to its pandi­men­sional set­tings. Cum­ber­batch and com­pany keep things lively, de­liv­er­ing the snappy di­a­logue with pre­cise comic timing. Per­haps the most en­ter­tain­ing char­ac­ter — a mag­i­cal cloak — has no lines at all. Rated PG-13. 115 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Sta­dium 14. (Jeff Acker)

THE EAGLE HUN­TRESS

Train­ing golden ea­gles to aid the Kazakh hunters of Mon­go­lia has been a tra­di­tional skill, handed down from fa­ther to son, for gen­er­a­tions. The Eagle

Hun­tress tells the dra­matic story of one girl, thir­teen-year-old Aishol­pan Nur­gaiv, who trains with her fa­ther to be the first fe­male eagle hunter in her fam­ily. This mov­ing doc­u­men­tary by di­rec­tor Otto Bell, nar­rated by Daisy Ri­d­ley, bal­ances a por­trait of Kazakh fam­ily life and cul­ture with breath­tak­ing aerial footage of the Al­tai Moun­tains by cin­e­matog­ra­pher Si­mon Ni­blett. Aishol­pan in­hab­its a harsh, un­for­giv­ing ter­rain, where the Kaza­khs live in sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with their en­vi­ron­ment and hunt out of ne­ces­sity. An in­ti­mate look at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween fa­ther and daugh­ter, the film is a feel­good, in­spi­ra­tional story for all ages, es­pe­cially for young girls. Rated G. 87 min­utes. In Kazakh with sub­ti­tles. Regal DeVar­gas. (Michael Abatemarco)

FAN­TAS­TIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

J.K. Rowl­ing’s screen­writ­ing de­but ex­pands the world of wiz­ardry she cre­ated in the Harry Pot­ter books to 1920s New York, cen­ter­ing on the au­thor of a ref­er­ence guide to mag­i­cal crea­tures. The plot is con­vo­luted, and the com­put­eran­i­ma­tion depart­ment gets car­ried away, in­dulging in pro­tracted car­toon­ish chase se­quences as Newt Sca­man­der (Ed­die Red­mayne) and a trio of com­pan­ions (Kather­ine Water­ston, Ali­son Su­dol, and Dan Fogler) at­tempt to herd a menagerie of es­caped beast­ies. Por­tions of the movie are too scary for younger kids, while the sen­ti­men­tal­ity and oc­ca­sional corni­ness may test adults’ patience. But Rowl­ing’s core themes — re­spect for di­ver­sity, the value of learn­ing and open-mind­ed­ness, and the im­por­tance of sup­port­ive friend­ships — in­fuse the scram­bled nar­ra­tive with warmth, and there is comic chem­istry be­tween the ac­tors. Rated PG-13. 133 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Sta­dium 14. (Jeff Acker)

HARRY BEN­SON: SHOOT FIRST

The pho­tog­ra­pher Harry Ben­son is best known for his im­ages of the Bea­tles hav­ing a pil­low fight and be­ing “punched” by Muham­mad Ali. He is one of the world’s great­est pho­to­jour­nal­ists, hav­ing cap­tured not only great mo­ments with celebri­ties — among them Queen El­iz­a­beth II, Jac­que­line Kennedy, Nelson Man­dela, Dolly Parton, Win­ston Churchill, Tru­man Capote, and Bianca Jagger — but also the drama of the Amer­i­can race riots, famine in a So­ma­lian refugee camp, a KKK rally, and the shoot­ings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. This doc­u­men­tary of­fers fas­ci­nat­ing de­tails about his pho­tog­ra­phy along­side in­ter­views with Ben­son, now eighty-six, and with Dan Rather, Joe Na­math, Bryant Gum­bel, and Henry Kissinger. Not rated. 87 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Paul Wei­de­man)

A KIND OF MUR­DER

In this thriller based on a novel by Pa­tri­cia High­smith, Wal­ter Stack­house (Pa­trick Wil­son) is a 1960s ar­chi­tect who leads the per­fect life — un­til a femme fa­tale (Ha­ley Ben­nett) shows up and se­duces him. Soon he be­comes ob­sessed with an un­solved mur­der and imag­ines what it might be like to kill his wife (Jessica Biel). Rated R. 95 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Not re­viewed)

MANCH­ESTER BY THE SEA

Writer/di­rec­tor Ken­neth Lon­er­gan tells a tale steeped in the cold of a coastal New Eng­land win­ter, and in the per­mafrost an­guish of ter­ri­ble per­sonal tragedy. Casey Af­fleck is re­mark­able as Lee Chan­dler, liv­ing as a su­per in an apart­ment com­plex in Bos­ton when he gets the news that his older brother Joe (an out­stand­ing Kyle Chan­dler) has died of a heart at­tack. Re­turn­ing to his home­town of Manch­ester, Lee dis­cov­ers that Joe has left him with the re­spon­si­bil­ity for his six­teen-year-old son Pa­trick (Lu­cas Hedges, ex­cel­lent, among a cast of equally fine per­form­ers). But it’s old demons that tor­ment Lee’s soul, and run­ning into for­mer friends and ac­quain­tances, as well as his ex-wife Randy (Michelle Wil­liams), bring them un­bear­ably to the sur­face. Lon­er­gan moves back and forth in time seam­lessly through flash­backs. One ter­ri­ble mis­take has de­stroyed Lee’s life, but tragedy has to be cov­ered over to go on liv­ing, though it can’t be es­caped. Lon­er­gan keeps the story com­pelling, some­times very funny, filled with sub­tlety, and al­ways real. Rated R. 137 min­utes. Regal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

MOANA

Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion has been on a cre­ative and com­mer­cial hot streak, and their lat­est is a crowd-pleas­ing take on Poly­ne­sian mythol­ogy. Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), the daugh­ter of a Pa­cific Is­lands chief­tain, is cho­sen to save her peo­ple, and with the burly demigod Maui (Dwayne John­son), she sets sail to re­turn a mys­ti­cal stone to a vol­cano­like vil­lain. Lively mu­sic, in part by Lin-Manuel Mi­randa of

Hamil­ton fame, buoys the film’s first half, while imag­i­na­tive ad­ven­ture se­quences pep­per the voy­age’s back end. The film’s run­ning time is fat­tened by an over­long first act and ex­ces­sive bick­er­ing be­tween Moana and Maui, but it’s a win­some bit of es­capism and an­other strong effort by the stu­dio to stick a pin in the Dis­ney princess stereo­type. It’s also as­ton­ish­ing how much com­puter an­i­ma­tion has im­proved in the last decade — the trop­i­cal vi­su­als are so gor­geous and vivid that it’s nearly be­yond be­lief. Rated PG. 113 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Regal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker)

MOON­LIGHT

Writer-di­rec­tor Barry Jenk­ins has crafted a powerful Os­car con­tender with his story of an African-Amer­i­can boy grow­ing up sen­si­tive and sex­u­ally un­cer­tain in the ma­cho jun­gle of a Mi­ami slum. We see his cen­tral char­ac­ter, Ch­i­ron, as a child (Alex Hib­bert), a teenager (Ash­ton San­ders), and a man (Tre­vante Rhodes). He has a drug-ad­dicted mother (Naomie Har­ris), no fa­ther, a crack-deal­ing men­tor

(Ma­her­shala Ali), a gang of tor­ment­ing bul­lies, and one friend, Kevin, played in suc­ces­sion by Jaden Piner, Jhar­rel Jerome, and An­dré Hol­land. With up-close vi­su­als and hand-held cam­era work, Jenk­ins en­hances the sense of a claus­tro­pho­bic ex­is­tence with no es­cape. He gets great work from his team of ac­tors as Ch­i­ron moves from child­hood to the adult world. It’s a sen­si­tive, mov­ing story of grow­ing up, com­ing out, and self-re­al­iza­tion in a des­per­ate ma­cho world. Rated R. 110 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

NOC­TUR­NAL AN­I­MALS

Tom Ford’s sopho­more fea­ture (his first was 2009’s

A Sin­gle Man) is grip­ping, sweet, bit­ter, and vi­o­lent. The story un­folds in three lay­ers. The first is the present, where Su­san (Amy Adams) lives un­hap­pily in her gilded world, which is re­plete with a hand­some hus­band, a gor­geous house, and an up­scale LA art gallery job. A pack­age ar­rives. It’s the man­u­script of a novel from her ex-hus­band Ed­ward (Jake Gyl­len­haal), and it plunges us into the next layer — a night­mare of a story. Su­san be­gins to read into the novel’s vi­cious events a com­men­tary on their mar­riage and its wrench­ing breakup. En­ter De­tec­tive Bobby An­des (a su­perb Michael Shan­non), and the end game of revenge and ret­ri­bu­tion is on. The movie’s third layer takes us back to when Ed­ward and Su­san were young and in love. De­spite his oc­ca­sional fond­ness for hit­ting the nail on the head, Ford has con­structed a com­plex and en­gross­ing movie and as­sem­bled a cast that de­liv­ers su­perbly, from cameos to rel­a­tive un­knowns to the terrific trio of Adams, Gyl­len­haal, and Shan­non that tops the bill. Rated R. 116 min­utes. Regal DeVar­gas. (Jonathan Richards)

OF­FICE CHRIST­MAS PARTY

When an up­tight CEO (Jen­nifer Anis­ton) threat­ens to shut down a branch of her tech com­pany man­aged by her slacker brother (T.J. Miller), he and his chief tech­ni­cal of­fi­cer (Ja­son Bateman) try to save their of­fice in the tried-and-true comedic-movie fash­ion: by throw­ing a rip­ping keg­ger. Nat­u­rally, it gets out of hand. Olivia Munn and Kate McK­in­non costar. Rated R. 105 min­utes. Regal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

PAS­SEN­GERS

Mystery shrouds the plot of this sci­ence-fic­tion film di­rected by Morten Tyl­dum (The Imi­ta­tion Game). A cou­ple aboard a space­craft (Chris Pratt and Jen­nifer Lawrence) are awak­ened 90 years be­fore they reach their des­ti­na­tion — but why? As they strive to figure out what hap­pened — and if it is more than a mi­nor mal­func­tion — they be­gin to fall in love. Rated PG-13. 116 min­utes. Screens in 2-D and 3-D at Regal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. Screens in 2-D only at DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Rated PG-13. 133 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Regal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. See re­view, Page 45.

SEA­SONS

From the film­mak­ers who made the Os­carnom­i­nated doc­u­men­tary Winged Mi­gra­tion comes this story of life in de­cline amid the forests and moun­tains of Europe. It’s a sober­ing, poetic look at the loss of an­i­mal species, con­trast­ing hu­man ac­tiv­ity with the frag­ile majesty of the an­i­mal world. While it takes its time to de­velop a the­sis,

Sea­sons has re­spect and awe for its sub­jects, be they wild horses, squir­rels, owls, elk, or bears. Co-di­rec­tors Jac­ques Per­rin and Jac­ques Cluzaud don’t hu­man­ize the an­i­mals, and yet by the logic of their ac­tions and be­hav­iors, their per­son­al­i­ties are high­lighted. The un­der­ly­ing con­text is that of an an­i­mal king­dom un­der threat, where ever-di­min­ish­ing habi­tats and the ex­ploita­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources have led to ex­tinc­tions and species en­dan­ger­ment. It’s a poignant and of­ten breath­tak­ing por­trait of these ma­jes­tic and beau­ti­ful — and in­creas­ingly rare — denizens of the nat­u­ral world. Rated PG. 97 min­utes. In French with sub­ti­tles. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)

SING SHE SINGS TO THE STARS

Filmed in New Mex­ico, She Sings to the Stars is a slow-mov­ing but powerful ex­plo­ration of hu­man con­scious­ness, a film that blends sci­ence fic­tion and drama. Fate — or per­haps an alien in­tel­li­gence, or per­haps God — con­spires to bring Lyle, a ma­gi­cian on a long hot drive through the desert on his way to a per­for­mance, and Third (Je­sus May­orga), a gas sta­tion at­ten­dant who dreams of a bet­ter life in Los Angeles, to­gether at the mod­est home of Ma­bel (Fannie Loretto), a Na­tive Amer­i­can grand­mother liv­ing in the South­west. Ma­bel doesn’t so much em­body the stereo­type of the wise and mys­ti­cal Na­tive el­der but tran­scends it, and Loretto gives an un­der­stated, au­then­tic de­but per­for­mance. The men squab­ble as Ma­bel, at­tuned to the rhythms of the earth, im­parts lessons through her ex­am­ple of sim­ple liv­ing and be­ing. The fea­ture by di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Cor­co­ran is an at-times-sur­real ex­plo­ration of the magic of the ev­ery­day world and an al­le­gory for our era. Not rated. 106 min­utes. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Michael Abatemarco) In this an­i­mated comedy, a koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) runs a fail­ing the­ater. To save it from go­ing out of business, he hatches an idea to host a singing com­pe­ti­tion in which his an­i­mal friends sing pop­u­lar songs, bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether and al­low­ing some of his friends to show off their exhibitionist sides. Reese Wither­spoon, Scarlett Jo­hans­son, and Seth MacFar­lane pro­vide voices for some of the con­tes­tants. Rated PG. 108 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D Regal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. Screens in 2-D only at DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

A pas­sage to In­dia: Dev Pa­tel in Lion, at Vi­o­let Crown

Let’s have an­other cup of cof­fee: Ha­ley Ben­nett and Pa­trick Wil­son in A Kind of Mur­der, at Jean Cocteau Cin­ema

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