COMING THIS WEEK
By Gary Thompson
Justice League. World-destroying demons attack Earth, causing Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to call upon Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Camden's Ray Fisher). PG-13
Lady Bird. Coming-of-age comedy about a willful Sacramento teen (Saoirse Ronan) testing the patience of friends and family. With Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, and Lois Smith. R
Last Flag Flying. When his son is killed in action, a Vietnam War vet (Steve Carell) recruits two buddies (Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston) to help him retrieve the body and plan the funeral. R
Also Opening This WeekMudbound Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.
The Paris Opera Documentary goes behind the scenes of one of the most prestigious performing arts venues in the world. Partially subtitled in English.
The Star Animated family feature about a brave donkey, his animal friends, and the first Christmas.
Wait for Your Laugh Documetary about longtime actress and comedian Rose Marie, who started in show business at age 4, called gangster Al Capone Uncle Al, and became known as Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show and the top center square on Hollywood Squares.
Wonder A boy with a deformed face attends a mainstream school for the first time. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay star.
Excellent (****)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.
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 gay relationship. 1 hr. 44 No MPAA rating - W.S.
Very Good (***1/2)
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.
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 ScreensAmerican 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.
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.
Chavela *** Documentary about the late ranchera singer Chavela Vargas, who for decades had been a legendary lesbian seducer of women, among them the artist Frida Kahlo and actress Ava Gardner. An evocative mix of archival material and talking heads includes an intimate 1991 interview with Vargas, when she was mounting a spectacular comeback after a lost decade of alcohol and despair. 1 hr. 33 No MPAA rating - W.S.
Daddy's Home 2 **1/2 Christmas sequel to 2015 comedy has moments that are deliriously silly and delightful and others where it misses the mark. With Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson. 1 hr. 40 PG-13 (suggestive material, some language - W.S.
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.
Gilbert *** Documentary about brash comedian Gilbert Gottfried is mostly an uplifting watch that balances his profane persona with his privately loving, shy -- and cheapskate -- nature. It is, in some spots, an emotional film thanks to the intimacy it shows between Gottfried and his family, but avoids being too saccharine. 1 hr. 36 No MPAA rating (language) - N.V.
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.
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.
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.
Murder on the Orient Express *** Kenneth Branagh's appropriately hammy adaptation of the classic 1930s Agatha Christie mystery about a murder aboard a snowbound train in Yugoslavia, under the nose of master detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) who finds himself inundated with likely suspects - the all-star cast includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad and Daisy Ridley. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.
Novitiate **1/2 In the late 1960s a teen (Margaret Qualley) surprises her non-believing mother (Julianne Nicholson) by entering a convent, where her sincere desire for a spiritual life and profound relationship with God is tested by a demanding Reverend Mother (Melissa Leo) wrestling with the proposed reforms of Vatican II. Thoughtful, beautifully shot, though a little long and eventually consumed by Leo's ferocious, all-in performance. 2 hrs. 3 R (sexuality) - G.T.
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.
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. For all its stylishness and sophistication, the movie never adds up to more than its very attractive parts. (Partially in Swedish, with subtitles.) 2 hr. 22 R (language, some strong sexual content, brief violence) - W.S.
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.