Movies: New and Noteworthy

Charlie Brown and Snoopy in "The Peanuts Movie."


By Steven Rea

Labyrinth of Lies Germany's official entry in the foreign-language Oscar sweepstakes, set in 1958, about an idealistic young prosecutor determined to bring former SS officers at the Auschwitz death camp to justice. R

The Peanuts Movie Computer-animated adaptation of Charles Schulz's iconic comic strip, featuring that nervous, self-doubting Everyboy, Charlie Brown, his faithful pooch, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang, including Linus, Lucy, and Schroeder. The late Schulz's son and grandson hatched the plot; the family-centric feature commemorates Peanuts' 65th anniversary. G

Spotlight Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Liev Schreiber lead an impressive ensemble cast in a drama based on the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of pedophile priests in the Catholic church. Tom McCarthy directs. R

Also Opening This Week

The Assassin A female assassin is faced with a life-altering dilemma in Tang Dynasty-era China. Mandarin with subtitles.

I Smile Back A wife and mother with a reckless streak (Sarah Silverman) tries to straighten her life out before she loses everything.

Jafar Panahi's Taxi A day in the life of a Tehran cab driver is at the center of this Iranian drama. Farsi with subtitles.

Spectre A message from James Bond's past leads him into battle with a sinister organization bent on world domination. Daniel Craig returns as 007.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Molly Eichel (M.E.), and Gary Thompson (G.T.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review. Read complete reviews at

Room A young woman and her 5-year-old are held captive in a garden shed - the only reality the boy, born there, has ever known. Amazing, gripping, scary, beautiful adapatation of the Emma Donoghue novel (by the writer herself), deftly directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are extraordinary as the mother and son. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) -S.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

Black Mass Johnny Depp utterly transforms himself in the role of James "Whitey" Bulger, the Boston mobster who racketeered and murdered his way to power in the '70s and '80s. Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), with strong performances from Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, and Dakota Johnson. Dark, bloody, harrowing. 2 hrs. 02. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Bridge of Spies Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's taut Cold War thriller, a based-on-true-events spy-swap yarn set in New York and East Berlin, steeped in paranoia and period detail. 2 hrs. 22 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

99 Homes Drama about flipping and foreclosing Florida properties with Andrew Garfield as a construction worker who gets evicted, along with his mother and his little boy, from their family home. Michael Shannon is the real estate broker who forces them out. A wary alliance is forged in Ramin Bahrani's Great Recession tale. 1 hr. 48 R (profanity) - G.T.

Learning to Drive Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley team up for a small, artfully crafted story of companionship, loneliness, resilience. She's a New York literary critic who has just been dumped by her husband; Kingsley is an Indian Sikh who gives the suddenly shell-shocked and single middle-age woman driving lessons. The driving metaphors don't need any added emphasis: Put the car (and your life) in forward; be aware and anticipate; control your rage; know where you're going. 1 hr. 30 R (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

The Martian Matt Damon gives a commanding, oftentimes darkly comic performance as an astronaut left for dead by his NASA crewmates when they beat a hasty retreat from Mars. With a limited supply of food and water and no means of communication, he has to figure out how to survive and how to contact Mission Control, hoping they can bring him home. Stirring, suspenseful, science-rooted stuff from director Ridley Scott; with Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña. 2 hrs. 21 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Victoria Laia Costa has the title role, as a young woman living and working in Berlin, who meets four mugs and agrees to spend the night with them. They have something they have to do, and she tags along. By the time the sun's coming up, she and one of the guys have turned into a kind of Euro hipster Bonnie and Clyde. Shot in one nimble, single two-hours-plus continuous take. Thrilling cinema, and just plain thrilling, too. No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.

Also on screens

Burnt **1/2 Bradley Cooper plays a hot chef (in both buzz and looks) who tries to mount a comeback after booze and drugs and self-regard destroy his rep. If you don't go into diabetic shock from the movies more saccharine moment, you will still be conscious at the end. 1 hr 40 R (language) - G.T.

Crimson Peak ** A 19th-century Englishwoman (Jessica Chastain) discovers the man she has married is keeping dark secrets from her. 1 hr. 59 R (sex) - G.T.

Everest *** Dramatic thriller based on the true story of the struggle for survival faced by members of a Mount Everest climbing expedition when they are caught in a blizzard. 2 hrs. 01 PG-13 (intense peril and disturbing images) - G.T.

Experimenter *** Peter Sarsgaard turns in a perfect performance - dry, perceptive, subtle - as social scientist Stanley Milgram in Michael Almereyda's wildly inventive biopic. 1 hr 30 PG-13 - G.T.

Friends and Romans **1/2 What if you plucked a group of extras playing gangsters in a low-budget mob movie and dropped them into a production of Shakespeare? That's the conceit in this endearing, enjoyable, and surprisingly clever farce about the joys of acting and the power of community theater to unite neighbors. Michael Rispoli - best known as Jackie Aprile in The Sopranos - stars and produced. 1 hr 28 No MPAA rating (profanity, some violence, sexuality) - T.D.

Goosebumps *** R.L. Stine's horror-for-kids books get a meta adaptation. Stine (played by Jack Black in full camp mode) is a character; the monsters he's created have leapt off the page and into real life and it's up to him, his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush), neighbor Zach (Dylan Minnette), and Zach's bestie, Champ (a great Ryan Lee), to recapture them. 1 hr. 43 PG (scary situations, rude humor) - M.E.

He Named Me Malala *** Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim's understandably deferential documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for her insistence that she, and all girls, had the right to an education. A polished piece of advocacy filmmaking. Inspiring, to say the least. 1 hr. 27 PG-13 (graphic news footage, adult themes) - S.R.

Jem and the Holograms ** The beloved 1980s cartoon, about young Jerrica Benton, who transforms into rock star Jem, is updated for the YouTube generation with director Jon M. Chu (Step Up 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) at the helm. 1 hr. 48 PG (reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some profanity) - W.S.

The Last Witch Hunter ** Vin Diesel is a witch hunter cursed with eternal life (does that explain the Fast and Furious franchise?). Elijah Wood and Game of Thrones' Rose Leslie costar as his present-day cronies. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (violence, profanity) - G.T.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials *** The saga continues with the Gladers facing their most difficult challenge yet. 2 hrs. 11 PG-13 (violence and action, some thematic elements, substance use, language) - G.T.

Meet the Patels *** This adorable documentary about actor Ravi Patel trying to find a suitable wife also shines a light on what's it like to be the child of immigrants, wanting to live an assimilated life, while also honoring culture. 1 hr. 28 PG (thematic elements) - M.E.

Our Brand is Crisis ** Sandra Bullocks takes over a role originally written for George Clooney. Bullock plays a political operative helping a conservative candidate win an election in Bolivia (it's based on a 2005 documentary of the same name). But the movie's tone is too flippant to work. 1 hr 48 R (nudity, language) - G.T.

Pan ** "Welcome to Neverland!" bellows Hugh Jackman's Blackbeard in Joe Wright's elaborate reworking of the J.M. Barrie children's fantasy. Rooney Mara swashes and buckles as Tiger Lily, Garrett Hedlund is Hook, and newcomer Levi Miller plays the boy hero, Peter. 1 hr. 51 PG (violence, profanity, some thematic material) - G.T.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (not previewed) A young family moves into a new house and begins recording its strange phenomena on an old video camera. In 3-D. 1 hr 35 R

Rock the Kasbah ** Bill Murray is a low-rent talent manager who discovers a singing sensation in war-torn Afghanistan - and discovers that getting her on an American Idol-like TV show is not necessarily a good idea. A gonzo comedy gone wrongzo from director Barry Levinson, with Zooey Deschanel, Kate Hudson, Leem Labuny, and Bruce Willis. 1 hr. 50 R (sex, profanity, drugs, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Sicario *** Emily Blunt is an FBI agent who joins a task force of feds and freelancers in pursuit of drug lords and violent cartels. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro also star in Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve's bloody cross-border thriller. 2 hrs. 01 R (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse *1/2 The Boy Scouts of America, not surprisingly, have nothing to do with typical raunchy teen comedy, with only its gushers of gore. Three teen buddies have a falling-out over whether they've outgrown scouting, and maybe even their friendship. Oh, and there's also an older but wiser cocktail waitress. 1 hr 32 R (zombie violence and gore, sex, graphic nudity, language) - W.S.

Steve Jobs *** Directed with cinematic gusto by Danny Boyle from a theater-piece script by Aaron Sorkin, this twitchy anti-biopic takes the audience through three seminal product launches from the Apple co-founder and late, lamented, mythologized, criticized tech icon, revealing deep-seated flaws in Jobs' makeup in the process. Michael Fassbender practically sweats genius in the title role, Kate Winslet and Jeff Daniels are key players, and the movie satisfies in its boldness. But even putting aside questions of historical accuracy and psychological accuracy (there have been complaints), it doesn't entirely add up. 2 hrs 02 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Suffragette *** Set in 1912 London, a fictional tale built around the historic fight for women's right to vote. Carey Mulligan is a lowly laundry worker who has a political awakening, joins a band of activists who throw rocks and blow up mailboxes, and gets tossed into prison for her trouble. Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw and Meryl Streep (as real-life feminist firebrand Emmeline Pankhurst) co-star. PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Truth ** The story surrounding the 60 Minutes scandal that effectively ended Dan Rather's career is a journalism story that is a little bit too true. Based on Mary Mapes' (played by Cate Blanchett) memoir, the story revolves around a CBS News story that seemingly debunked then-President George W. Bush's National Guard service record. The problem with the movie, though, is that Mapes had a flimsy source, and the story was no good from the get-go. 2 hrs 5 R (language) - G.T.