(NR) Fifty Shades of Black — A spoof of a certain insanely popular erotic BDSM romance. With Kali Hawk and Mike Epps. Written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez. Directed by Michael Tiddes. 92 min.(R) for strong crude sexual content including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout. ★★★ The Finest Hours — In 1952, the Coast Guard attempts a daring rescue of an oil tanker during a fierce nor’easter in the frigid Atlantic waters. With Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. Written by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson. Directed by Craig Gillespie. 114 min. (PG-13) for intense sequences of peril. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers 45 Years — A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receive shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives. Directed by Andrew Haigh. Written by David Constantine, Haigh. Starring Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James. 95 min. (R) for language and brief sexuality. (NR) Jane Got a Gun — A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Written by Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis. Starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor. 98 min. (R) for violence and some language. ★★★ ½ Kung Fu Panda 3 — Furry martial artist Po journeys with his longlost father to a panda paradise where he must train his klutzy compadres to fight the evil Kai. Voices of Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni. 95 min. (PG) for martial arts action and some mild rude humor. — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service ★★★★ Son of Saul —“Son of Saul” is an Auschwitz prisoner’s haunting story. It is a stunning feature debut from director Laszlo Nemes, in which a Hungarian prisoner at Auschwitz determines to provide a proper burial for one corpse among many. Is the dead boy Saul’s son in actuality? It’s a question best left to the viewer, and “Son of Saul” is about far more than a simple question of identity. 107 min. (R) for disturbing violent content, and some graphic nudity. Cinema Paradiso, Fort Lauderdale; Movies of Delray; Movies of Lake Worth; Carmike Parisian 20, West Palm Beach. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers ship, loyalty and learning to say sorry, packaged in adolescent, fart-forward humor, relying on gender stereotypes and a bizarre acceptance of talking rodents. 86 min. (PG) for some mild rude humor. — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service Anomalisa — Sad, beautiful, the wittiest film of the year; directors Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman, using stop-motion animation and working from a script Kaufman originally wrote and staged a decade ago, transform the comedy of quiet desperation into an occasion for serious pleasure. 90 min. (R) for strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers ★★ ½ The Big Short — I’m conflicted beyond the usual definitions of “conflicted” regarding director and co-writer Adam McKay’s “The Big Short,” a valiant, zestily acted adaptation of the Michael Lewis nonfiction best-seller about the financial meltdown of 2008. The national and world economies are still mired in the melted cheese of that crisis, a slice of recent history that seems very far away and depressingly present. To tell this story, McKay and co-writer Charles Randolph cope with an ungodly mass of dialogue concerning the risks involved with collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities. I’m an idiot when it comes to finances, both my own and the country’s. To an idiot like me, “The Big Short” comes off as an exasperated blur of a movie, packed with information and loaded with entertaining actors working hard to dramatize and energize. 130 min. (R) for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers The Boy — In an English village, a young American woman is hired to care for an 8-year-old, who appears to be a life-size doll. With Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans and Jim Norton. Written by Stacey Menear. Directed by William Brent Bell. 98 min. (PG-13) for violence and terror, and some thematic material. ★★★ ½ Brooklyn — The American immigrant story comes to life in the lush and lovely “Brooklyn,” directed by John Crowley, with a screenplay adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin’s 2009 novel. In 1950s Enniscorthy, Ireland, young Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) strives for more than what her small town can offer. Without job or marriage prospects at home, she takes the leap across the Atlantic to seek her fortune in New York City. Eilis is desperately homesick until she starts taking accounting classes and meets a charming Italian guy. All too soon, a family death calls her back to the motherland, and Eilis finds that what she left behind wasn’t so bad after all. “Brooklyn” is an evergreen, universal story. It captures the struggles and heartache of any immigrant living in and learning a new country, and it also rings entirely, almost painfully true for any young person who’s left behind a small town life for the siren call of the big city. 111min. (PG-13) for a scene of sexuality and brief strong language. — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service ★★★★ Carol — By now, the critical reception for director Todd Haynes’ “Carol” has built a fortress of prestige around the film itself, much as the title character played by Cate Blanchett goes through her life protected by just the right clothes and makeup. On the fortress wall there are signs declaring this adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt” an important love story, a shattering and beautiful experience, featuring Oscar-worthy performances from Blanchett and Rooney Mara, etc. With a few minor exceptions, practically every decision in the writing, casting, direction and editing of “Carol” was the right one. Like Highsmith’s remarkable novel (the rare lesbian love story of its time with an optimistic coda), it neither unduly ennobles its key characters nor confines them to butch/femme sexual archetypes. It’s about two people in a highly fraught, highly charged situation. 118 min. (R) for a scene of sexuality/nudity and brief language. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers (NR) Closed Season — In 1942 Fritz and Emma hide a Jewish refugee at their remote farm in the Black Forest. As the couple has unhappily remained childless, Fritz suggests an unorthodox deal and asks Albert to conceive a child with Emma on his behalf. The consequences are dramatic: Emma discovers her sexuality, Fritz cannot control his jealousy and Albert feels trapped between the two of them. Against the background of war, an unpredictable drama unfolds that turns offenders into victims and vice versa. 100 min. (U). ★★★ Concussion —“Concussion,” written and directed by Peter Landesman, establishes two things right away — the extreme reverence that people have for football, through a Hall of Fame acceptance speech by Pittsburgh Steeler “Iron Mike” Webster (David Morse), and the bona fides of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), an extremely well-educated Nigerian immigrant and forensic neuropathologist in the Pittsburgh coroner’s office. These are the two conflicting forces throughout the film: the love of the game and the undeniability of science. The basis for the film, the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas (she also wrote the subsequent book “Concussion”), relies more heavily on the latter. 123 min. (PG-13) for thematic
Maggie Smith in “The Lady in the Van.”
(NR) Not reviewed
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