COMING THIS WEEK
By Gary Thompson
Daddy's Home 2. Reluctant co-fathers Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg welcome their own fathers (John Lithgow, Mel Gibson) for the holidays. John Cena costars. PG-13
Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery, about a detective (Branagh) solving a murder on a train. Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp. PG-13
Novitiate. In the 1960s South, the desire of a young woman (Margaret Qualley) to become a nun is complicated by the reforms of Vatican II. With Melissa Leo. R
Also Opening This Week
Last Flag Flying Vietnam War veterans reunite when the son of one is killed during the Iraq war. Steve Carell stars.
God's Own Country A young farmer in the north of England numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker for lambing season ignites an intense relationship that sets him on a new path.
The Square Winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The PR campaign for an art museum installation that invites passersby to altruism and reminds them of their role as responsible fellow human beings creates an existential crisis. (Partially in Swedish, with subtitles.)
Gilbert Documentary about brash comedian Gilbert Gottfried shows a more personal story about growing up in Brooklyn and becoming a husband and father late in life.
Very Good (***1/2)
Reviewed by critics Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Dan DeLuca (D.D.), Gary Thompson (G.T.), and Nick Vadala (N.V.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.
The Big Sick Based on comedian Kumail Nanjiani's life, a funny, touching comedy of a Pakistani American caught between his religious family and the American woman (Zoe Kazan) he loves. With Holly Hunter, Ray Romano. 1 hr. 59. R (sexual references) - G.T.
Blade Runner 2049 An imaginative, visually stunning if overlong sequel from Denis Villeneuve that embraces and embellishes Ridley Scott's original 1982 dark vision of a future Los Angeles where police (Ryan Gosling) hunt down synthetic humans, even as the latter grow more like us. With Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas and MacKenzie Davis. 2 hrs. 44 R (violence) - G.T.
Faces Places French New Wave director Agnès Varda and contemporary photographer-muralist JR travel around the villages of France meeting locals, learning their stories, and producing portraits of them displayed on houses, barns, storefronts, and trains. The genuine affection and respect between these two shines in each new encounter, and you're happy to follow them wherever their curiosity takes them. 1 hr. 30 PG (brief nude images and thematic elements) - W.S.
Two Trains Runnin' Two groups of white blues nerds ventured, unbeknownst to each other, into Mississippi in the summer of 1964 hoping to locate and lure back into performing country blues legends Son House and Skip James. Interviews and music fill the film - including appearances by Gary Clark Jr., Buddy Guy, and Lucinda Williams - along with mesmerizing archival footage of House and James in their late phase of revitalized stardom. 1 hr. 22 No MPAA rating - W.S.
Also on Screens
All I See is You *1/2 Botched thriller about a blind woman (Blake Lively) who has her sight restored, leading to problems in her marriage (to Jason Clarke). Interesting visual presentation gives way to ham-fisted thriller about marital discord and eyedrops. 1 hr. 50 R (nudity) - G.T.
American Made *** Tom Cruise stars in this fun but heavily fictionalized portrait of Barry Seal, a drug smuggler who found himself at the intersection of drug cartels and CIA adventurism in Central and South America in the 1970s and 1980s. With Sarah Wright and Caleb Landry Jones. Directed by Doug Liman. 1 hr. 55 R (violence) - G.T.
A Bad Moms Christmas ** The three R-rated moms (Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Kathryn Hahn) must put up with their own mothers (Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, and Susan Sarandon) over the fraught holidays. What once was transgressive has become reflexive. With Peter Gallagher. 1 hr. 44 R (language) - G.T.
Battle of the Sexes **1/2 Women's tennis champ Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and aging male star Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) square off in a publicity-stunt tennis match that ends up proving King's point about the value of female athletes. Some fun moments, but aside from the two leads, the movie is given to caricature and some on-the-nose dialogue. With Andrea Riseborough, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Pullman. 2 hrs. 1 PG-13 (nudity) - G.T.
Bending the Arc *** Documentary about three young people, barely out of their teens - Jim Yong Kim, Paul Farmer, and Ophelia Dahl - who came together 30 years ago in a squatters' settlement in Haiti, determined to provide a world-class level of medical care. Their revolutionary notion to emphasize the training of locals as health-care workers has met with extraordinary, life-affirming success. 1 hr. 42 No MPAA rating. - W.S.
Blade of the Immortal *** Japanese action gore-meister Takashi Miike makes his 100th movie, this one (based on a manga comic) about an undead samurai (Takuya Kimura) who uses his zombie powers to help a young woman (Sota Fukushi) take revenge on an evil warlord. Lots of action, some of it numbing, but the photography is gorgeous. 2 hrs. 20 R (violence) - G.T.
Brad's Status ** A man (Ben Stiller) takes his teen son (Austin Abrams) on a tour of a prestigious university, prompting comic introspection. A few laughs and some insights, but in the end it's a movie examining the problems of a man who really doesn't have any. With Jenna Fischer, Michael Sheen, Luke Wilson. Written and directed by Mike White. 1 hr. 40 R (language) - G.T.
The Florida Project *** Engaging slice-of-life look at residents of an Orlando motel, the adults living paycheck to paycheck, their free-range kids having an improbably wonderful time on the ragged fringe of the Magic Kingdom. Written and directed by Sean Baker. With Willem Dafoe, Brooklyn Prince. 1 hr. 45. R (language) - G.T.
Geostorm **1/2 This passable action film is buried under a tsunami of political muck. After interconnected satellites positioned around the planet to stop severe weather malfunction, the creative mastermind (Gerard Butler) who was fired for his snippy attitude is brought back to solve the problem. 1 hr. 49 PG-13 (action scenes, violence) - W.S.
Goodbye Christopher Robin ** Hello, nap. Stultifying story of A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his creation of Winnie the Pooh, which broadens into a story of the way the Milnes exploited their own son to cash on the Pooh phenomenon. With Margot Robbie. 1 hr. 47 PG-13 (language) - G.T.
Jane **1/2 Documentary about famed paleoanthropologist Jane Goodall that is culled from recent interviews and over 100 hours of previously unseen footage of her work with wild animals is an intermittently effective biography, marred by a frequently intrusive Philip Glass score. 1 hr. 30 No MPAA rating - W.S.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer ** Yorgos Lanthimos provocation about a prosperous surgeon (Colin Farrell) with a young fan who turns out to be a stalker and a sociopath, forcing the physician into a sick game of gruesome choices. The movie's icy affections and snarky asides get in the way of whatever humanity it's intended to have. With Nicole Kidman. 1 hr. 59 R (violence) - G.T.
Kingsman: Golden Circle **1/2 A blue-collar British lad (Taron Egerton) recruited to a posh spy service journeys to the U.S., where he links up with his American counterparts (Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry) to pursue a cheerfully demented drug dealer (Julianne Moore). Has some of the wit and energy of the original, but has come down with a case of sequelitis - it's too long and overstuffed with CGI and cameos. 2 hr. 20 R (language, sexuality) - G.T.
LBJ **1/2 Woody Harrelson delivers an outsize performance as President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Jennifer Jason Leigh transforms herself into Lady Bird, and Richard Jenkins is a standout as the Georgia senator Richard Russell. But Rob Reiner's film feels like a 1980s miniseries rather than a complete and fulfilling production. 1 hr. 29 R (crude language) - W.S.
Loving Vincent *** Each of the movie's 65,000 shimmering frames is a high-resolution photograph of an oil painting based on Vincent van Gogh's work in this speculative narrative attempting to penetrate the myth of the artist. 1 hr. 35 PG-13 (thematic elements, some violence, sexual material, smoking) - W.S.
Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House ** Liam Neeson stars in this timely but tepid drama about the man better known as Deep Throat, a high-ranking FBI official who leaks information on the Watergate investigation to the press in order to combat the dangerous overreach of the Nixon administration. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (language) - G.T.
Marshal *** Chadwick Boseman stars as a young Thurgood Marshall in 1940 trying to clear a black man (Sterling K. Brown) of rape charges in this fact-based courtroom drama. Featuring Josh Gad and Kate Hudson. 1 hr. 58 PG-13 (language) - G.T.
The Meyerwitz Stories (New and Selected) *** An amusing comedy from Noah Baumbach starring Dustin Hoffman as a New York patriarch whose selfishness continues to echo in the lives of his grown children (Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Grace Van Patten). With Emma Thompson. 1 hr. 50 No MPAA rating - G.T.
mother! *** Part psychological thriller, part anarchic horror flick, Darren Aronofsky's latest stars Jennifer Lawrence as the long-suffering muse of her husband, a writer's-blocked poet played by Javier Bardem. Their creepy old mansion fills inconveniently with guests who overstay their welcome as the movie becomes an all-out carnival of chaos. 2 hrs. 1 R (disturbing violence, some sexuality, nudity, language) - N.V.
The Mountain Between Us *1/2 A strange lack of chemistry between leads Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in this story of two people stranded by a plane crash on a snowy mountain peak who hike to safety. With Beau Bridges. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (sexuality) - G.T.
My Little Pony: The Movie **1/2 Buttressed by strong voice talent and amusing bits of business amid the nonstop action and pony personality quirks, the movie lays on the sweet without too much of the sticky. With 13 songs, including "Rainbow," performed by Sia as a pony whose mane covers half her face, in a nod to the pop star's onstage persona. 1 hr. 39 PG (mild action) - W.S.
Only the Brave *** Based on the tragic true story of Arizona firefighters battling a deadly fire in 2013. Josh Brolin gives a solid, subtle performance as their leader, heading a good cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller. Impressively photographed. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (language) - G.T.
Snowman * A mutilated thriller about dismembered women starring Michael Fassbender as a detective in Oslo on the trail of a serial killer. The badly edited story is nonsensical, which makes the movie's lurid flourishes seem grotesquely cruel. With Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Sevigny, and Toby Jones. 1 hr. 59 R (violence) - G.T.
Suburbicon *1/2 Misfired black comedy from director George Clooney, adapting a Coen brothers script about a postwar suburban father (Matt Damon) reacting brutally to a home invasion. Related storylines about racism are poorly handled, and the movie's garish tonal shifts are jarring. With Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac. 1 hr. 45 R (violence) - G.T.
Thor: Ragnarok *** Mercifully funny diversion into a quirky corner of the Marvel universe, with Cate Blanchett as the vengeful and power-mad sister of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) ascending the throne and banishing her brother to a prison planet, where he recruits the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to his cause. With Jeff Goldblum, Tom Hiddleston. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.
Tyler Perry's Boo 2: A Madea Halloween (Not previewed) Madea and the gang go on vacation and end up at a haunted campground, pursued by ghosts and goblins. Starring Tyler Perry, Cassie Davis, and Patrice Lovely. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (sexual references, drug content, language, some horror images)
Viceroy's House **1/2 Hugh Bonneville is Lord Louis Mountbatten, who, as the last viceroy of India is entrusted to end British control in 1947 and partition the nation to create Pakistan, at the same time that violence between Muslims and Hindus escalated. The true story is more affecting than the fiction of this drama. 1 hr. 46 No MPAA rating (limited language, riots) - W.S
Victoria & Abdul *** Judi Dench stars as Queen Victoria, who late in life develops a rejuvenating friendship with an Indian servant (Ali Fazal) who teaches her about the customs of his native land, to her delight and to the consternation of her scandalized staff. With Eddie Izzard, Olivia Williams. Directed by Stephen Frears. 1 hr. 52 PG-13 (language) - G.T.
Wind River **1/2 Taylor Sheridan's screenplay has smart dialogue, likable neo-western heroes in cowboy hats, sudden open-carry shootouts, a capable woman navigating a man's world, and some searing social commentary, but, as a rookie director, Sheridan gets lost trying to assemble these elements into a tight package. 1 hr. 41 R (strong violence, disturbing images including a rape, language) - G.T.
Wonderstruck **1/2 Todd Haynes' imaginative adaptation of the Brian Selznick YA novel about the lives of two children (Oakes Fegley, Millicent Simmonds), separated by half a century, somehow connected through New York's Museum of Natural History. The offbeat story, isolating characters in separate story threads, contributes to a lack of emotional connection and impact. 1 hr. 55 PG-13 (language) - G.T.