Movies: New and Noteworthy

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"The Man Who Invented Christmas": Dan Stevens (left) stars as Charles Dickens, with Christopher Plummer as Ebenezer Scrooge. KERRY BROWN /Bleecker Street

COMING THIS WEEK: Opening Wedesday

By Gary Thompson

Roman J. Isreal, Esq. An on-the-spectrum lawyer (Denzel Washington) with a keen legal mind is thrust uncomfortably into the limelight when his managing partner dies. With Colin Farrell. R

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. A mother (Frances McDormand) badgers the local police (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) into working harder to solve the murder of her daughter. R

Coco. On the Day of the Dead, a Mexican boy crosses into the spirit realm to learn about his father and origin of his forbidden desire to be a musician. Animated movie from Pixar. PG

Also Opening This Week

Opens Wednesday

The Man Who Invented Christmas The process that led to Charles Dickens' writing A Christmas Carol is at the center of this biopic.

Opens Friday

Tom of Finland Biopic on artist Touko Laaksonen, known to the world as Tom of Finland, whose erotic drawings shaped the fantasies of a generation of gay men, influencing art and fashion.

Aida's Secrets Documentary about two brothers separated as babies after World War II who reunite with each other and their elderly mother, who hid more from them than just each other.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Dan DeLuca (D.D.), David Patrick Stearsn (D.P.S.), 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.

Lady Bird Funny, touching coming of age story about a Sacramento high school senior (Saoirse Ronan) who quarrels with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) about her determination to leave California for a more sophisticated life at an Eastern college. Written and directed with great affection, wisdom and skill by Greta Gerwig. With Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. 1 hr. 33 R (language, sexuality) - G.T.

The Paris Opera Documentary about one of the world's most prestigious performing arts venues is a magic key card that opens doors most civilians will never see - and with a great sense of exactly what backstage stuff is most interesting to opera people. Partially subtitled in English. 1 hr. 51 No MPAA rating. - D.P.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 Screens

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.

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.

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.

Justice League ** This dour, downbeat corner of the DC Universe finds Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gail Gadot) recruiting superheroes Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to combat an invading alien army and an interstellar bad guy (Ciaran Hinds). Directed with a heavy hand by Zack Snyder. With Amy Adams, Diane Lane. 1 hr. 59 PG-13 (violence) - G.T.

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.

Last Flag Flying *** Three Vietnam war buddies (Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston) reunite to bury one man's son, killed in the line of duty in Iraq. The performances of the leads are uneven, but supporting players, including Cicely Tyson, help the movie build to a strong conclusion. Directed by Richard Linklater. 2 hrs. 5 R (language) - 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.

Mudbound *** The harsh realities and race/class complexities of post-WWII Jim Crow South play out in the lives of white and black families farming the same parcel of Mississippi land in Dee Rees' thoughtful adaptation of the Hillary Jordan book. With Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund and Jason Clarke. 2 hrs. 15 R (violence) - 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.

The Star ** Animated feature about the first Christmas told from the perspective of a brave donkey and his animal friends. This version of the story is a whole lot wilder and rollicking than the one we've heard before. Among notable voices: King Herods' sassy camels - Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey. 1 hr. 26 PG (thematic elements) - 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)

Wait for Your Laugh (Not previewed) 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. 1 hr. 25 No MPAA rating.

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.

Wonder **1/2 Sturdy if sometimes sappy adaptation of the R.J. Palacio YA novel about a boy (Jacom Tremblay) with facial deformities enduring his first days at middle school. Cast includes Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Mandy Patinkin. 1 hr. 43 PG - 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.