Thursday, January 1, 2015

Life, Life, Love

New and Noteworthy: Movies


By Steven Rea

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes "It was a virus created by scientists in a lab," Keri Russell explains. "You can't blame the apes." And you probably can't blame 20th Century Fox, either. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the 2011 reboot of the simian sci-fi series, made close to $500 million worldwide. Its sequel stars Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Jason Clarke. PG-13

Rage If Liam Neeson can do it, why not Nicolas Cage? A daughter is abducted, and a dad with serious combat skills does what he can - going after the bad guys with a vengeance. And with rage, plenty of rage. R

Venus in Fur David Ives' award-winning theater piece, about an actress auditioning for a play, becomes a movie directed by Roman Polanski. His wife, Emanuelle Seigner, stars as the aspiring thespian. No MPAA rating


Also Opening


 Hellion Two brothers get into increasingly serious trouble while their father attempts to cope with the emotional pain of losing his wife.


Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), and David Hiltbrand (D.H.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

Read complete reviews at

The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson's eighth, and most teeming, film is a between-the-wars comic caper set in a fictitious central European land where Ralph Fiennes is the concierge of an elegant alpine hostelry. When a wealthy guest dies and the will is read, a mad dash for money and a prized painting ensues. With Adrien Brody, Willem Defoe, F. Murray Abraham, Saoirse Ronan, and newcomer Tony Revolori. Sublime. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.


Very Good (***1/2)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 One of the most delightful surprises of the year, this DreamWorks Animation sequel is an intelligent, sensitive, and beautifully realized morality play that will fascinate children and parents alike. Five years after he ended the war between dragons and Vikings, young hero Hiccup and his fellow dragon-riders face off against a dreaded enemy named Draco, who subjugates dragons, using fear and torture to make them do his bidding. 1 hr. 42 PG (adventure action and some mild rude humor) - T.D.

The Immigrant Marion Cotillard is nothing less than amazing as a destitute Pole who arrives at Ellis Island in 1921 and falls in with a smooth-talking pimp (Joaquin Phoenix). James Gray (Two Lovers, The Yards) directs this half-crazy, fascinating yarn. R (nudity, violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Life Itself A touching, inspiring documentary portrait of Roger Ebert, the famously prolific thumb-slinging movie critic whose life story is the stuff of movies itself - and whose resilience in the face of an 11-year struggle with cancer is nothing short of extraordinary. R (adult themes) - S.R.

Obvious Child Jenny Slate stars as a Brooklyn comedienne who finds herself pregnant following a messy, drink-fueled one-nighter, in this low-key indie set in a world of stand-up, breakups, and visits to Planned Parenthood. Philadelphia native Gabe Liedman costars. 1 hr. 29 R (profanity, sexual content, adult themes) - T.D.

Snowpiercer A global-warming experiment goes awry and Earth freezes, leaving survivors to circle Earth on a train driven by perpetual motion. Class war breaks out between those in back and those in front. All aboard for Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Chris Evans. 2 hrs. 06 R (violence, language, smoking, drug use) - T.D.


Also on Screens

Begin Again **1/2 Keira Knightley, bringing those daunting cheekbones to bear on a mawkish music-biz screenplay, is the best thing about John (Once) Carney's New York City melodrama. Mark Ruffalo is the down-on-his-luck industry veteran who thinks he can turn the heartbroke English songstress into a star. With Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, Catherine Keener, and Hailee Steinfeld. 1 hr. 44 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Deliver Us From Evil ** A New York City cop (Eric Bana) and an unorthodox priest (Edgar Ramirez) who specializes in exorcisms join forces to investigate a series of possessions that are terrorizing the city. 1 hr. 58 R (bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout, profanity) - T.D.

Earth to Echo *** Any similarities to E.T. are strictly intentional in this thoroughly winning kiddie sci-fi caper, as boys help a stranded little alien escape first the authorities and then the atmosphere. 1 hr. 31 PG (action sequences) - D.H.

Tammy **1/2 Melissa McCarthy goes on a crazy, low-rent road trip with her boozy grandma (Susan Sarandon) in a raucous comedy that goes off the rails in its second half. 1 hr. 36 R (profanity, adult themes) - D.H.



Think Like a Man Too *1/2 Kevin Hart oversees the couples therapy comedy, a sequel to the 2012 hit based on Steve Harvey's bestseller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. PG-13 (crude sexual content, partial nudity, language, and drug material) - W.S.

Transformers: Age of Extinction 3D ** Director Michael Bay outdoes himself in the latest pulverizing chapter of his robot franchise. It's much longer and much louder than any of the previous demolition extravaganzas. Mark Wahlberg provides the puny human element. 2 hrs. 45 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - D.H.

22 Jump Street **1/2 Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, not exactly the millennials' answer to Abbott and Costello but working a sympatico stupid-com groove, are back in the sequel to 21 Jump Street. This time the undercover cops go to college to bust a drug ring. Winkingly ironic dumb jokes - anatomical, scatalogical, sexual - ensue. R (profanity, sex, drugs, cartoon violence, adult themes) - S.R.

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