★★ Better Living Through Chemistry — A straight-laced pharmacist’s uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder. Directed and written by Geoff Moore, David Posamentier. Starring Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Sam Rockwell, Ray Liotta, Jane Fonda. 91min. Classic Gateway Theatre, Fort Lauderdale; Living Room/FAU, Boca Raton; Movies of Delray. ★★ ½ Need for Speed — Dominic Cooper and Imogen Poots star in the exuberantly stupid, time-killing and pedestrian-killing movie. It is based on the Electronic Arts gaming franchise begun in 1994, when video games banking on vehicular homicide weren’t yet realistic enough to erase the experiential boundary between animation and live-action escapism. The point of the movie, of course, is to make the mayhem as fakeyrealistic as possible, and that paradox guides a fairly entertaining series of stunts. When the actors are in cars, the movie’s fun. When they get out to argue, or seethe, it’s uh-oh time. Happily, director Scott Waugh comes out of the stunt world himself, and there’s a refreshing emphasis on actual, theoretically dangerous stunt driving over digital absurdities. 130 min. (PG-13) for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers (NR) Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club — Brought together by an incident at their children’s school, a group of single mothers from different walks of life bond, and create a support group that helps them find comedy in the obstacles of life. Starring Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon-Covey. (PG-13) for some sexual material and thematic elements. ★★ Veronica Mars — Everything about the way the movie version of “Veronica Mars” came to pass is more intriguing than the movie itself. Canceled in 2007 by the CWnetwork after three seasons, creator Rob Thomas’ wised-up danger magnet of a teenage sleuth portrayed by Kristen Bell left the show’s ardent core audience hungry for more. Then God created Kickstarter, and nearly 100,000 fans contributed $5.7 million to the campaign bringing Ms. Mars, her detective pop and various skeezes and climbers residing in the fictional, corrupt beach town of Neptune, Fla., to the big screen, making it the first major studio release to open in theaters and online simultaneously. Where does this leave newbies? The film, which is adequate, cares not about the newbies; this one’s strictly for the fan base. 107 min. (PG-13) for sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language. AMC Aventura 24. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers we have “About Last Night” adapted from the ’86 edition by Leslye Headland but closer in quality to the play. In its own way it’s as raunchy as Mamet’s text. But the new movie’s heart belongs to the notion of the happy ending and the belief that we can change, and address our personal deficiencies, and become better, warmer, more loving folk as long as we have the right partner. 100 min. (R) for sexual content, language and brief drug use. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers ★★★★ Aftermath — Returning home to Poland after many years living in Chicago, a man reconnects with his younger brother, and the two are drawn into investigating their village’s dark secrets. With Maciej Stuhr and Ireneusz Czop. Written and directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski. 104 min. (U) In Polish with English subtitles. — Kenneth Turan, Tribune Newspapers ★★★★ American Hustle — So few directors today know how to move a camera around; David O. Russell is one of them. This whole movie is juicy, funny and alive. It sets its tone of blithe truthiness at the beginning, as the words flash on screen: “Some of this actually happened.” Russell treats the1970s Abscam sting operation, and the schlump at its center, con man Irving Rosenfield (played by Christian Bale), as a pivot point for a spacious ensemble comedy — tonefunny and atmosphere-funny, not punchline-funny. “American Hustle” cares little for sorting out the particulars of Abscam. No model of narrative form, the film zigs and zags, chasing after many different characters. And that sprawl activates the film rather than deflates it. 138 min. (R) for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence. — Michael Phillips, Tribune Newspapers (NR) Bethlehem — Bethlehem tells the story of the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Shuttling back and forth between conflicting points of view, the film is a raw portrayal of characters torn apart by competing loyalties and impossible moral dilemmas, giving an unparalleled glimpse into the dark and fascinating world of human intelligence. In Hebrew and Arabic. 99 min. ★★★ Frozen — Big, bright, often beautiful and essentially an action movie, “Frozen” takes the bare bones of the1845 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen” and builds its own contraption. It’s a tale of two sisters. Elsa, blessed/cursed with the emotion-triggered ability to whip up ice and snow in threatening amounts. Anna, nearly killed by her sister’s magic as a young girl, so their parents devote what’s left of their lives to protecting one girl from the other. Co-director and screenwriter Jennifer Lee’s script goes in for a fair amount of complication and political intrigue. The project was tasked with two directors, first-billed Chris Buck and second-billed Lee. The sheer scope of the story, encompassing ice monsters and Broadway power anthems, probably required as much. 100 min. (PG) — Michael Philips, Tribune Newspapers ★★★ ½ Gloria — There is a naturalistic charm to the truth-telling in “Gloria,” a near-perfect film about the very imperfect world of a divorced woman of a certain age. Driving to work, Gloria sings along with one romantic song after another. At night, she slips into a cocktail dress to go dancing at a local club. When no one notices her, she wades into the crowd. Calls to her grown children go to voice mail. Complaints to her apartment manager go ignored. She is an observer determined to be a participant. Which might sound sad. Yet Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s ingenuity in staging the film and an extremely clever script, make “Gloria” one of the most enjoyable movies to come along in a while. 110 min. (R) for sexual content, some graphic nudity, drug use and language. — Betsy Sharkey, Tribune Newspapers
— Some material inappropriate for children under 13.
— No one under 17 allowed.