Movies: New and Noteworthy


By Gary Thompson

Alien: Covenant. Director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise with a story of space explorers and colonists (Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup) who investigate a promising planet and find a nettlesome infestation. With Michael Fassbender. R

The Lovers. Deeply offbeat comedy starring Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as a married couple in a stale marriage, each engaged in an affair, leading to unexpected consequences. R

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Based on the popular books for young readers, this fourth film in a series follows Greg (Jason Drucker) on his ill-fated scheme to become famous. PG

Also Opening This Week

Everything Everything A sheltered teen falls for the boy who moves in next door.

Obit Documentary that chronicles the staff obituary writers at the New York Times as they discuss their daily rituals, joys, and existential angst.

Stalker Digital restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 telling of the metaphysical journey of a guide and two men through an area known as the Zone to find a room that grants wishes.

The Wedding Plan When her fiancé dumps her a month before her wedding, Michal - an Orthodox Jew - keeps the wedding date and enlists two matchmakers, certain that God will provide a suitable groom.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by Shawn Brady (S.B.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), and Gary Thompson (G.T.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

I Am Not Your Negro A stunning documentary about James Baldwin's work as an artist and civil rights activist by celebrated Haitian-born director Raoul Peck (It's Not About Love; Lumumba). The film has an ambitious goal: to use footage and narration (read by Samuel L. Jackson) to reconstruct Baldwin's unfinished opus Remember This House, a study of the life and death of assassinated civil rights activists, including Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1 hr. 35 PG-13 (disturbing violent images, thematic material, profanity, and brief nudity) - T.D.

Very Good (***1/2)

Their Finest Funny and moving period drama about a woman (Gemma Arterton) in wartime London who stumbles into a job as a screenwriter on a propaganda movie. Witty, borderline screwball feminist comedy, wrapped in an emotionally powerful look at the uses of art. With Sam Claflin. 1 hr. 57 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Also on screens

Beauty and the Beast *** Live-action version of the 1991 animated classic, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles. Competently staged by Bill Condon, but does not improve on the 2D Disney original. With Luke Evans and Josh Gad. 2 hrs. 9 PG (action violence, peril) - G.T.

Born in China *** Cuddly Disney documentary focusing on a year in the life of a number of animal species, most notably pandas. 1 hr. 16 G - G.T.

The Boss Baby *** Who needs a movie about a tyrannical infant - or an infantile tyrant? You might be surprised to learn that you do. Although advertisements seem to promise little more than an animated comedy about a bratty baby in a business suit (voiced by Alec Baldwin), this is a sweet adventure tale about sibling rivalry that becomes a tribute to family and brotherhood. 1 hr. 37 PG (potty humor) - W.S.

Chuck *** Funny, poignant and true story of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber), whose 15-round bout with Muhammad Ali became the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. With Jim Gaffigan, Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss. 1 hr. 41 R (language) - G.T.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City *** An informative documentary about writer-activist Jane Jacobs, whose innovative ideas about how cities should function put her at odds with powerful, conventional urban planners in the New York of the 1960s. The film quotes Jacobs as saying she developed many of her ideas writing about efforts to revitalize Philadelphia's Society Hill in the 1950s. 1 hr. 33 No MPAA rating - G.T.

Colossal **1/2 Ann Hathaway is an out-of-control Manhattan woman who loses her job and boyfriend (Dan Stevens), then ends up back working in the bar run by an old friend (Jason Sudeikis). Meanwhile, a monster shows up in the Far East. An enjoyably outlandish comedy, until it suddenly curdles into something unpleasant and violent. Hathaway, though, is good in a tricky role. 1 hr. 50 R (language) - G.T.

The Circle ** The technological thriller starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks - about a young woman coming to terms with privacy, ethics, and humanity while working at a Facebook-like company that develops a spherical camera that can be planted anywhere to capture anything and anyone at any time - grows more overworked and plotty and less convincing as the story plays out. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (sexual situation, brief strong language, some mature thematic elements) - W.S.

The Dinner * A gubernatorial candidate (Richard Gere) and his wife (Rebecca Hall) have a fraught dinner in a posh restaurant with his troubled younger brother (Steve Coogan) and the brother's wife (Laura Linney) to discuss a terrible crime committed by their teenage sons. The movie has plenty of dramatic potential, but the dish is all but inedible. Based on the Herman Koch novel. 2 hrs. R (strong language, violence and projectile self-righteousness) - W.S.

The Fate of the Furious **1/2 In this stunt-filled sequel, a hacker (Charlize Theron) blackmails Gino (Vin Diesel) while his buddies (Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne Johnson) try to extricate and exonerate him. Also starring Tyrese, Ludacris, Helen Mirren, and Jason Statham. 2 hr 15 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Ghost in the Shell *** A live-action remake of the Japanese anime classic stars Scarlett Johansson as an antiterror cyborg with escalating questions about her latest mission and her own identity. Conventional action and story, but some interesting and sometimes dazzling visual ideas. With Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Gifted **1/2 A custody drama featuring Chris Evans as a bachelor assigned to raise his late sister's math genius daughter (McKenna Grace). A nice performance by Evans, who elevates the so-so material. With Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate. 1 hr. 41 PG-13 (language) - G.T.

Going in Style ** Three retired steelworkers (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin) plot to rob the bank complicit in getting rid of their pensions. Good-natured slapstick, but almost infallibly unfunny. With Ann-Margret. Directed by Zach Braff. 1 hr. 37 PG-13 (drug use, language) - G.T.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. **1/2 The gang's all here in this somewhat bloated, self-serious sequel, but the irreverent energy of the original is in short supply. 2 hrs. 17 min. PG-13 - G.T.

Hounds of Love *** A kidnapped girl tries to free herself by pitting her captor/lovers against each other. 1 hr. 48 R (Adult themes) - W.S.

How to be a Latin Lover (Not previewed) An aging gigolo (Eugenio Derbez) tries to woo a widower (Raquel Welch) with the help of his estranged sister (Salma Hayek). With Rob Lowe. 1 hr. 55 PG-13 (crude humor, sexual references and gestures, brief nudity)

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ** Guy Ritchie attempts a radically modernized and uptempo version of the classic story, though ultimately he manages to strip the characters of the mythic stature while offering the small consolation of wisecracks and video game visuals. With Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, and Djimon Hounsou. 2 hrs. 3 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

Life **1/2 In this Alien knockoff, space station astronauts (including Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Rebecca Ferguson) try not to get knocked off by the strange organism their probe has brought back from Mars. Sometimes exciting, never original. 1 hr. 44 R (violence) - G.T.

The Lost City of Z **1/2 British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) surveys the South American jungle in this languid epic, a nice-looking movie that nevertheless finds itself up the Amazon without a paddle. 2 hrs. 21 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. **1/2 Dash Shaw adapts his own graphic novel into a feature animated film - presenting high school as a disaster movie, with intermittent laughs. Featuring the voices of Jason Schwartzman and Maya Rudolph. 1 hr. 15 PG-13 (sexual references) - G.T.

Norman *** Richard Gere gives the most annoying performance of his career - by design - in this offbeat movie about a New York nebbish swept up in big-time finance and Israeli politics. Saves its narrative surprises for the very end. 1 hr. 58 R (language) - G.T.

The Promise ** Well-intentioned epic about the Armenian genocide of 1915 has history, but its central love story is flat, and the movie suffers. With Oscar Isaac, Charlotte La Bon, and Christian Bale. 2 hr. 10 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

A Quiet Passion *** Cynthia Nixon stars as famously reclusive American poet Emily Dickinson in this drama from writer-director Terence Davies, co-starring Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine. 2 hrs. 5 mins. PG-13 - W.S.

Saban's Power Rangers (Not previewed) The resurrected kiddie show about teens-turned-superheroes that has a seemingly endless shelf life gets a big-screen reboot with the help of Bryan Cranston and Penn's Elizabeth Banks. Distributed by Lionsgate. 2 hrs. 4 PG-13 (sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and some rude humor).

The Sense of an Ending **1/2 Divorced loner (Jim Broadbent) is forced to reconsider faulty "memories" of his past, making him abandon self-constructed ideas of himself. Based on Julian Barnes' novel, with Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery. 1 hr. 48 PG-13 (sexuality) - G.T.

Smurfs: The Lost Village *1/2 The third theatrical feature centering on a tiny blue humanoid forest has enough bright colors and slapstick humor to enchant its target audience of small children, but anyone much taller than a Smurf may turn blue long before the final credits. 1 hr. 21 PG (Contains mild action, rude humor, a color palette offensive to the eye) - W.S.

Snatched **1/2 Party girl (Amy Schumer) drags her straight-laced mother (Goldie Hawn) on a trip to Ecuador, where they are kidnapped. Decent star chemistry gives way to standard action-comedy material, and gross-out laughs that are more gross than funny. 1 hr. 30. R (Language) - G.T.

Song to Song ** The latest from visual stylist Terrence Malick is a movie about lovers and musicians – Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara in the thrall of a wicked producer (Michael Fassbender). Malick makes another argument for the divine, and, as usual, it's infernally hard to watch. 2 hrs. 10 mins. R (sexual content) - G.T.

Truman ** Foreign buddy road-trip movie. Truman is the dog who joins them on their journey. 1 hr. 40 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - W.S.

Unforgettable * Katherine Heigl goes all psycho girlfight on Rosario Dawson in a revenge thriller that would be completely forgettable except it's so ridiculously bad. 1 hr. 40 R (sex, violence) - G.T.

The Wall **1/2 Taut action gives way to an increasingly far-fetched plot in Doug Liman's movie about a pinned-down American soldier (Aaron-Taylor Johnson) matching wits with an Iraqi sniper. 1 hr. 21 R (Violence) - G.T.

The Zookeeper's Wife **1/2 Jessica Chastain stars in this dutiful if sometimes mechanical true story of Antonina Zabinski, a Polish woman who helped save hundreds of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation of WWII. With Daniel Bruhl. 2 hrs. 6 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.