Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Life, Life, Love

New and Noteworthy: Movies

Actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane and filmmaker Richard Linklater attend an Official Academy Members Screening of Boyhood at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on July 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
Actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane and filmmaker Richard Linklater attend an Official Academy Members Screening of Boyhood at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on July 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)
Actors Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane and filmmaker Richard Linklater attend an Official Academy Members Screening of Boyhood at The Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International on July 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) Gallery: New and Noteworthy: Movies

COMING THIS WEEK

By Steven Rea

Get On Up Chadwick Boseman, having played baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42, tries on a different kind of legend: the Godfather of Soul. With that unmistakable rasp, unmistakable pompadour, and unmistakable dance moves, a biopic of James Brown. From Tate Taylor, director of The Help. PG-13

Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt, token Earth man, joins a team of alien misfits, including a gunslinging talking raccoon (the voice of Bradley Cooper) and a treelike humanoid (the voice of Vin Diesel), to try to save, well, the galaxy, in this Marvel Comics movie adaptation. Zoe Saldana and Glenn Close also show. PG-13

Magic in the Moonlight Woody Allen's latest is a 1920s period piece set in the south of France, where an ace magician (Colin Firth) is dispatched to expose a young American psychic (Emma Stone) hoodwinking the well-heeled locals. Prestidigitation and romance ensue. PG-13

Also Opening

More coverage
  • Hoffman at his finest in imaginative 'A Most Wanted Man'
  • 'Boyhood': Man, is it good
  • 'Lucy' in the sky with brains
  • Alive Inside This documentary looks at a social worker's effort to show the role music can play in reaching those with memory loss.

    Cabin Fever: Patient Zero Friends on a cruise unleash a deadly, flesh-eating virus.

     Code Black This documentary takes viewers inside the war zone that is the country's busiest emergency room.

      Land Ho! A pair of senior former brothers-in-law embark on a road trip through Iceland.

    Louder Than Words David Duchovny and Adelaide Kane star in this drama about parents who build a children's hospital after the death of their daughter.

     Step Up All In The stars from the previous installments in this dance series return for a big competition in Las Vegas.

    Excellent (****)

    Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), and David Hiltbrand (D.H.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

    Read complete reviews at www.inquirer.com/movies.

    Boyhood Richard Linklater's unassuming masterpiece follows a Texas kid (newcomer Ellar Coltrane) from grade school to college dorm, reconvening cast and crew (including Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the parents) a few weeks every year for 12 years, and its carefully observed series of small moments take on quiet, metaphoric power. The faces and features of the actors - children and adults - change, and good stuff, bad stuff, the funny, the sad, the transformative, the banal, all happen in real time. Because, for once in the movies, time is real. 2 hrs. 46 R (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

    Venus in Fur Wickedly smart and wickedly playful, Roman Polanski's adaptation of David Ives' Tony-nominated play works on so many levels it's dizzying. A two-character piece about power, perversion, subjugation, seduction, the battle of the sexes, and the relationship between an actress and her director, it stars Polanski's wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Mathieu Amalric, who bears a striking resemblance to Polanski. 1 hr. 36 No MPAA rating (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Very Good (***1/2)

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 One of the most delightful surprises of the year, this DreamWorks Animation sequel is an intelligent, sensitive, and beautifully realized morality play that will fascinate children and parents alike. Five years after he ended the war between dragons and Vikings, young hero Hiccup and his fellow dragon-riders face off against a dreaded enemy named Draco, who subjugates dragons, using fear and torture to make them do his bidding. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) - T.D.

    The Immigrant Marion Cotillard is nothing less than amazing as a destitute Pole who arrives at Ellis Island in 1921 and falls in with a smooth-talking pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). James Gray (Two Lovers, The Yards) directs this half-crazy, fascinating yarn. R (nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Life Itself A touching, inspiring documentary portrait of Roger Ebert, the famously prolific thumb-slinging movie critic whose life story is the stuff of movies itself - and whose resilience in the face of an 11-year struggle with cancer is nothing short of extraordinary. R (adult themes) - S.R.

    A Most Wanted Man One of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last performances is also one his greatest - as the rumpled, chain-smoking chief of a covert antiterrorist unit in modern-day Hamburg. The actor lives and breathes the role. A taut thriller, adapted from John le Carré's 2008 novel, full of tradecraft and moments of quiet terror, with a stellar supporting cast. 2 hrs. R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

    Obvious Child Jenny Slate stars as a Brooklyn comedienne who finds herself pregnant after a messy, drink-fueled one-nighter in this low-key indie set in a world of stand-up, breakups, and visits to Planned Parenthood. Philadelphia native Gabe Liedman costars. R (profanity, sexual content, adult themes) - T.D.

    Snowpiercer A global-warming experiment goes awry and Earth freezes, leaving survivors to circle the globe on a train driven by perpetual motion. Class war breaks out between those in back and those in front. All aboard for Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans. R (violence, language, smoking, drug use) - T.D.

    Violette This impressive film brings to life the long relationship between French writers Violette Leduc and Simone de Beauvoir. 2 hrs. 12 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, profanity, sexuality, smoking) - T.D.

    Also on Screens

    And So It Goes *1/2 Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton team for the first time in a wincingly sappy three-quarter-life rom-com about a Scrooge-like widower and a wifty lounge-singing widow and the unexpected appearance of a cute-as-a-button grandchild, ready-made to melt hearts. Rob Reiner directs and shouldn't have. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes **1/2 Unnecessarily slow and somber sequel to the 2011 reboot of the classic sci-fi franchise from another century. The apes are dominant, living a life of peace in the misty woods north of San Francisco, but then the humans come asking favors, armed with guns. With Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis' performance-capture turn as Caesar, leader of the highly evolved primates. PG-13 (violence, action, adult themes) - S.R.

    Lucy *** French action director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Nikita) outdoes himself in this English-language comic book fantasy starring Scarlett Johansson as a student whose brain becomes supercharged after a drug overdose. Clever, drenched in irony, the flick is at turns a violent, noirish mob thriller, a speculative sci-fi yarn about the mysteries of the brain and an existential inquiry about the meaning of life. 1 hr. 30 R (Strong bloody violence, sexuality, smoking, drug use, profanity) - T.D.

    Planes: Fire & Rescue *1/2 Dusty, the converted cropdusting plane, is back and this time he's battling forest fires. This animated kids' film is better than the original, but that's not saying much. 1 hr. 23 PG (peril) - D.H.

    The Purge: Anarchy **1/2 In this sequel to the 2013 hit, a young couple fights for survival as the annual purge rolls around. 1 hr. 43 R (adult subjects, profanity, strong bloody violence) - W.S.

    Very Good Girls *** Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen are best friends determined to lose their virginity before they go off to college in Naomi Foner's gentle, bittersweet coming-of-age story, set in a New York City that doesn't quite feel real - but the emotions ring true. 1 hr. 31 R (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

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