Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Life, Life, Love

New and Noteworthy: Movies

From left, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson star in "Frank," Lenny Abrahamson´s globe-trotting road pic. (Magnolia Pictures)
From left, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson star in "Frank," Lenny Abrahamson's globe-trotting road pic. (Magnolia Pictures)


By Steven Rea

Frank Michael Fassbender wears a giant papier-mache head as the frontman of an art rock band in Lenny Abrahamson's curious road pic, set in England, Ireland, and Austin, Texas. Maggie Gyllenhaal co-stars, and Domhnall Gleeson plays the wet-behind-the-ears aspiring musician invited to tag along. R

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar An IMAX nature doc about those raccoon-tailed, kangaroo-hopping, DayGlo-eyed primates that live on that huge island off the east coast of Africa. Morgan Freeman narrates. G

Sin City: A Dame to Die For Down these mean streets a man must go - and a few women, too - in the follow-up to the uber-noir adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel. The stark black-and-white tableaus are brightened only by the red of some sucker's blood, or by Eva Green's lipstick. With Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis. R


Also Opening


Are You Here Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Amy Poehler star in this comedy about the battle for a large inheritance between a sister, her brother, and the brother's best friend.

 If I stay While in a car-crash induced coma, a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) has an out-of-body experience during which she must decide whether to go on living.

 Life After Beth A young man's deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead.

 When the Game Stands Still Jim Caviezel stars as football coach Bob Ladouceur, who led an obscure high school team on an American sports-record 151-game winning streak.


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

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.

Calvary Brendan Gleeson stars as a good priest in a bad world - in the beautiful west country of Ireland - in John Michael McDonagh's stormy whodunit. A furious, darkly funny look at the nature of faith, and the nature of man. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, 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. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) - T.D.

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.

Rich Hill This impressive documentary chronicles the lives of three boys growing up in an impoverished Midwestern town. 1 hr. 31 No MPAA rating (adult subjects, language, smoking) - 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.


Also on Screens

The Expendables 3 1/2 Sylvester Stallone enlists faces both old and new (but mostly old) for this raucous, redundant sequel - a mercenary film about mercenaries. With Jason Stathan, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson. Antonio Banderas and Ronda Rousey. 2 hrs. 6 PG-13 (Vioelnce, profanity, adult themes). - D.H.

The Giver A seemingly utopian society, its citizens devoid of memories or feelings, gets shaken up when a young charge (Brenton Thwaites) is assigned to be the Receiver of Memories from the time before "Sameness." Jeff Bridges is the gravelly voiced old timer who imparts a bygone civilization's flashbacks of war, and tumult, but also of happiness and beauty. And so a veritable can of worms is opened in this solid adaptation of Lois Lowry's much-read children's novel. 1 hr. 34 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt rounds up a team of outer-space misfits. Their mission: Does it matter? This breezy comic-book adaptation is the first sci-fi movie to spoof itself. 2 hrs. 2. PG-13 (violence, profanity) - D.H.

The Hundred-Foot Journey 1/2 Helen Mirren is a snooty restaurateur who doesn't like it when a family from Mumbai rolls into her quaint little French town, setting up their eatery right across the rue. An impossibly overstuffed culinary culture clash rom-com, but probably impossible not to enjoy. Especially if you're a foodie. 2 hrs. 02 PG (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Into the Storm 1/2 A series of deadly tornadoes that wreak havoc in a town leads some to flee, but others to channel their inner storm-chaser. 1 hr. 29 PG-13 (sequences of intense destruction and peril, language, some sexual references) - T.D.

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.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Uninspired reboot of the jokey '90s franchise, with Megan Fox as intrepid news reporter April O'Neil, friend to those adolescent, anthropomorphic reptiles schooled in the martial arts. Will Arnett and William Fichtner also show up. PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.


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