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di­rec­tors, con­firm Mifune’s last­ing legacy as a screen icon, and the film is worth it for their in­sights and anec­dotes about Mifune. But the movie’s take on the ac­tor is su­per­fi­cial, and mainly as the em­bod­i­ment of the char­ac­ters he played. Not rated. 80 min­utes. In English and Ja­panese with sub­ti­tles. Jean Cocteau Cin­ema. (Michael Abatemarco)

MOANA

Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion’s 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 vol­cano-like 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. Rated PG. 113 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (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 hand­held 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 sel­f­re­al­iza­tion in a des­per­ate ma­cho world. Rated R. 110 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts; Re­gal DeVar­gas; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

A MON­STER CALLS

Lonely, hol­low-eyed twelve-year-old Conor O’Mal­ley (Lewis Mac­Dougall) is “too old to be a kid, too young to be a man.” The same co­nun­drum holds true for this haunted, im­pres­sively crafted tale from di­rec­tor J.A. Bay­ona, told in fan­tas­tic CGI spe­cial ef­fects, an­i­ma­tion, and live drama. Who is it for? Conor is bul­lied at school, but his life’s real tragedy is the can­cer that is killing his beloved mother (Felic­ity Jones) and throw­ing him to­gether with his au­thor­i­tar­ian grand­mother (Sigour­ney Weaver). His ab­sen­tee fa­ther (Toby Kebbell) shows up to help, but he has a new fam­ily in LA. The mon­ster, a giant an­i­mated tree (voiced by Liam Nee­son) man­i­fests it­self to Conor in night­mar­ish ap­pear­ances and growls three Dick­en­sian sto­ries de­signed to help him un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in his life. In re­turn, Conor must tell the mon­ster his own story — about his dark­est fears. The screen­play by Pa­trick Ness, who cre­ated a prizewinning novel from an idea be­gun by a dy­ing friend, is com­plex and mov­ing, with in­sights about mor­tal­ity and sur­vival, and the vi­su­als are strik­ing. But this one is not for the Frozen crowd. Rated PG-13. 108 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (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 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 endgame of re­venge and ret­ri­bu­tion is on. 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)

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

The first side­line story in the Star Wars fran­chise since it came un­der the helm of Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios, Rogue One fol­lows the ef­forts of a des­per­ate group of he­roes on a mis­sion to in­fil­trate an im­pe­rial base and steal the plans for the Death Star. Felic­ity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the daugh­ter of a sci­en­tist who has been forced to work with the Empire on the con­struc­tion of their se­cret weapon. Her hope is to free her fa­ther, but Cas­sian An­dor (Diego Luna) has other plans for the sci­en­tist, who he thinks is a traitor. It’s more down­beat than The Force Awak­ens, but tells its story with the req­ui­site hu­mor and bravura. It’s a chess game in space as the Rogue One crew match their wits against im­pe­rial bad­dies Or­son Kren­nic (Ben Men­del­sohn) and Darth Vader (voiced again by James Earl Jones), in a brief but un­for­get­table ap­pear­ance. The sec­ond half boasts some of the most thrilling ac­tion of any Star Wars film, and with it, much sacri­fice. Rated PG-13. 133 min­utes. Screens in 2-D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (Michael Abatemarco) SING In this an­i­mated com­edy, a koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) runs a fail­ing theater. 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 at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. Screens in 2-D only at Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed) UN­DER­WORLD: BLOOD WARS The Un­der­world film se­ries, about an eter­nal war be­tween vam­pires and a race of were­wolves known as the Ly­cans, is some­how now up to its fifth in­stall­ment since its de­but in 2003. This time, the gun-tot­ing, vam­pire “death dealer” Se­lene (Kate Beck­in­sale once more) strives to end the war once and for all. Rated R. 91 min­utes. Screens in 3-D and 2-D at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. Screens in 2-D only at DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed) WHY HIM? When mild-man­nered fam­ily man Ned Flem­ing (Bryan Cranston) meets brash in­ter­net bil­lion­aire Laird May­hew (James Franco), the boyfriend of his daugh­ter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch), he is ap­palled. With his child­like im­pul­sive­ness and lack of a fil­ter, Laird of­fends Ned ev­ery bit as much as he charms the rest of the Flem­ings. Af­ter it’s made clear that Laird must se­cure Ned’s bless­ing in or­der to pro­pose to Stephanie, a comedic duel com­mences. Rated R. 111 min­utes. Re­gal DeVar­gas; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; DreamCatcher. (Not re­viewed)

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