Our critics recommend...
By Steven Rea
The Best Man Holiday A sequel to 1999's The Best Man, with Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, and Regina Hall back again, for a yuletide-themed reunion dramedy. R
The Book Thief The story of a girl in Nazi Germany who saves books from the bonfires, then helps hide a Jewish fugitive in her foster parents' home. With Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, and Emily Watson. PG-13
Dallas Buyers Club Matthew McConaughey in the true-life story of Texas electrician/rodeo dude/homophobe Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed HIV-positive and became an unlikely crusader for experimental AIDS treatments. R
Also Opening This Week
The Broken Circle Breakdown A radically different, but deeply in love Belgian couple find their relationship put to the test when their daughter falls ill.
Charlie Countryman An American (Shia LaBeouf) falls for a woman (Evan Rachel Wood) he meets while traveling to Europe, but soon discovers she is also coveted by a violent gangster.
The Square This documentary looks at the Egyptian revolutionary upheaval that resulted in the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.) and David Hiltbrand (D.H.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.
All Is Lost Robert Redford delivers the performance of his career in J.C. Chandor's majestic, melancholy film about a solo mariner, stranded on his sailboat in the Indian Ocean. There is incredible tension in this ordeal, this man's efforts to survive, to find rescue, and Redford - an icon of the American movie experience for more than half a century now - makes that tension deeply palpable. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Blue Is the Warmest Color Yes, there is a lot of sex. Graphic sex between two young women. But that's only part of what this extraordinary film is about. This three-hour portrait of a French high school student (an amazing Adèle Exarchopoulos) is shot with a close-up intensity that brings the character out from the screen and into your heart. It's emotional 3-D! 2 hrs. 59 NC-17 (graphic sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Captain Phillips Based on the real-life story of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates, with Tom Hanks in the title role as a steady-as-she-goes veteran forced to face his own mortality. Paul Greengrass (the second and third Bourne films, United 93) masterfully orchestrates the intense, suspenseful drama. 2 hrs. 14 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Enough Said Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini (in his final leading role) are divorced parents, each with a college-bound daughter, who meet, date, and take a real liking to each other. And then the trouble begins. A smart, funny movie for grown-ups from the hugely talented writer director Nicole Holofcener. 1 hr. 33 PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Gravity A transcendent, zero-g tale of survival, with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as orbiting astronauts caught in a debris storm, quite literally at the end of their tether. A technological marvel, and an emotional, spiritual, and physical voyage of stratospheric suspense. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
12 Years a Slave The remarkable, essential story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor gives body and soul in the lead, and Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt are part of a superb supporting cast. 2 hrs. 13 R (violence, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Very Good (***1/2)
About Time A young man travels back in time with the purpose of improving his life by finding a girlfriend. The task turns out to be more difficult than expected. Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams star. 2 hrs. 03 R (obscenity and some sexual content) - W.S.
How I Live Now A magical, apocalyptic coming-of-age story, adapted from Meg Rosoff's young-adult novel and directed with pulsing verve by Kevin McDonald. A teen love story, steeped in alienation and hurt, fused with a near-future nightmare thriller. Saorise Ronan stars. 1 hr. 52 R (violence, intense action, gore, profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Also on Screens
Carrie *** Chloë Grace Moretz is the taunted, traumatized, telekinesis-powered teen in Kimberly Peirce's rethink of Brian De Palma's high school horror classic. Not anything the world needed, but not bad. From the director of Boys Don't Cry. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Ender's Game *** A space adventure adapted from Orson Scott Card's 1985 sci-fi novel about a bunch of smarty-pants kids recruited for battle against an alien invasion. Harrison Ford and Viola Davis are the military parental units in charge. Asa Butterfield, thin and nerdy and awesomely earnest, is "the One" chosen to lead the fight, if only he can overcome the bullying from his fellow junior cadets. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (violence, intense action, adult themes) - S.R.
Free Birds ** Turkeys in a time machine? That's the rather desperate premise of this flaccid animated film that sends a couple of gobblers back to the first Thanksgiving. Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler do the voices. 1 hr. 31 PG (crude humor) - D.H.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa ** MTV reality star Johnny Knoxville eighty-sixes himself - that is, he puts on old-age makeup, a wig and pretends he's 86 - in this R-rated road pic in which his obnoxious octogenarian travels the land in the company of his 8-year-old grandson. Stuff happens. 1 hr. 32 R (strong crude and sexual content throughout, profanity, graphic nudity, drug use) - W.S.
Last Vegas *1/2 Four aging lifelong friends attempt to relive their youth in Las Vegas in celebration of one's engagement. Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, and Kevin Kline star. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (profanity, partial nudity, sexual situations, hemorrhoid jokes) - T.D.
Thor: The Dark World **1/2 The sequel to 2011's Thor is darker and messier, with much of the action restricted to Asgard and the Nine Realms - where a freaky alignment has allowed the long-banished Dark Elves to reemerge and make trouble for the God of Thunder. Chris Hemsworth, in red cape and breastplate and wielding his magic hammer, is back in the title role. 2 hrs. PG-13 (action, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Reviewed by Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Jim Rutter (J.R.), David Patrick Stearns (D.P.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.) .
New This Week
17 Border Crossings (FringeArts) Thaddeus Phillips takes us on another of his magical journeys. Opens Wednesday.
Elf (Walnut Street Theatre) Buddy is large for an elf - and large of Christmas spirit, too. In previews, opens Wednesday.
Miracle on South Division Street (Montgomery Theater) The Nowaks of Buffalo suffer a Christmas crisis of faith. Previews Wednesday and Thursday, opens Friday.
4000 Miles (Philadelphia Theatre Company) A directionless young man and his reclusive grandmother help each other out in Amy Herzog's tender, Obie-winning play. Ends Sunday.
Cock (Theater Exile) A funny, sensitive production of Mike Bartlett's play about a dithering guy caught in a bisexual love triangle. Extended through next Sunday. - W.R.
The Convert (Wilma Theater) A girl in 1895 southern Africa finds Christianity, then confusion, in this drama by Danai Gurira. Ends Sunday.
The Devil's Music (People's Light and Theatre) Fans will love this Bessie Smith bioshow, but those unfamiliar will find few touchstones to care about. Through Nov. 24. - J.R.
I Am My Own Wife (Theatre Horizon) The Pulitzer-winning true saga of an East German transvestite who lived an amazing life. Through Nov. 24.
Macbeth (Hedgerow Theatre) The "Scottish play" is given a post-World War I setting in this terrific, terrifying production. Through next Sunday. - J.R.
Once (Academy of Music) Guy and Girl meet, sing, fall in love. Winner of eight Tony Awards. Ends Sunday.
Pride and Prejudice (Bristol Riverside Theatre) It's the 200th birthday of Jane Austen's masterpiece. Through Nov. 24.
RFK (New City Stage) This one-man show about the last years of Robert Kennedy's life returns. Through Nov. 24.
She Stoops to Conquer (Quintessence Theatre Group) She's high-born, playing low-born, and he's in her sights, in Oliver Goldsmith's comedy. Through Nov. 24.
Stick Fly (Arden Theatre) A well-to-do African American family gets together and begins coming apart in Lydia Diamond's contemporary drawing-room play. It works. Through Dec. 22. - D.P.S.
We Are Proud to Present . . . (InterAct Theatre Company) This play, about actors creating a play about an African genocide, first numbs, then stuns with its ferocity. Ends Sunday. - D.P.S.
The Woman in Black (Act II Playhouse) This two-character ghost story twists and turns. Previews Tuesday-Thursday, opens Friday. Through Nov. 24.
You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up (Penn's Landing Playhouse) And this critic seconds that. Through Nov. 24. - W.R.
Blackfish ***1/2 This excellent documentary looks at the deadly consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity for human entertainment. 1 hr. 23 PG-13 (disturbing subject matter, some violence, animals in peril) - T.D.
Philadelphia Orchestra on the Radio
Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI (90.1 FM), hear a rebroadcast of the season's first subscription concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra. As part of the ensemble's two-year cycle of Beethoven's symphonies, Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Symphony No. 9, with soloists and the Westminster Choir and Symphonic Choir. Also on the program: Beethoven's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage and Nico Muhly's Bright Mass With Canons.