Movies: New and Noteworthy

Jennifer Lawrence returns Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2.


By Steven Rea

Carol Todd Haynes' adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel tracing the love affair between a married woman (Cate Blanchett) and a young shopgirl (Rooney Mara), set in 1950s New York. Mara won the best actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May. R

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 The final part of the final installment in the epic franchise based on Suzanne Collins' YA books. Jennifer Lawrence is back with bow and arrow and that sad, determined Katniss look on her face, ready to lead the rebellion against the Capitol or die trying. PG-13

The Night Before Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, and Seth Rogen are three childhood friends, now all grown up - sort of - and celebrating the holidays in this Yuletide comedy from 50/50 and The Wackness director Jonathan Levine. R

Also Opening This Week

Altered Minds A family reunion takes an ugly turn when the oldest son hurls a hurtful accusation at his father.

Brooklyn A new Irish immigrant in 1950s Brooklyn is faced with a decision that will impact the course of her life.

Secret in Their Eyes A team of investigators is jolted when the daughter of one is murdered. Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts star.

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. 1 hr. 58 R (violence, profanmity, adult themes) - S.R.

Spotlight Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Liev Schrieber lead an ace ensemble cast in this compelling account of the Boston Globe's 2002 investigative series on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. A complex procedural drama told with clarity and accumulating suspense. One of the great movies about journalism, and one of the great movies of our time, period. 2 hrs. 08 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

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.

Heart of a Dog Laurie Anderson's part-doc, part-memoir, part-meditation is a dreamy thing in which the dauntingly multidisciplined artist (painting! sculpture! poetry! music! moviemaking!) celebrates the life of her beloved rat terrier, Lolabelle, mourning her death and honoring it, too. Other deaths - the tragedy of 9/11, the passing of her husband, the singer and musician Lou Reed - haunt the film, but fill it with inspiration and love, too. 1 hr. 15 No MPAA rating (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.

My All American Exceedingly well-crafted, if straightforward, guy-cry biopic about the tragic life of Freddie Steinmark, the celebrated University of Texas player who lost his battle against bone cancer at 22, but not before realizing his dream of playing college football. 1 hr. 58 PG (thematic elements, mild language, brief partial nudity) - W.S.

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. 2 hrs. 18 No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, nudity, adult themes) - S.R.

Also on screens

The Assassin *** Set in the waning days of the Tang Dynasty, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's film is full of stillness, the carefully observed, as it follows a serene and hard-to-read woman trained in the martial arts on an assignment she is reluctant to fulfill. Not Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and certainly not Kill Bill, but a film that evokes the spirit of the genre at the same time it transcends it. 1 hr. 44 No MPAA rating (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

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 movie's more saccharine moments, you will still be conscious at the end. 1 hr. 40 R (profanity) - 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.

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.

The Hallow *** Wonderfully entertaining horror yarn about a curse let loose on the inhabitants of an island on Halloween Eve. 1 hr. 37 No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, gore, disturbing imagery) - T.D.

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. 2 hrs. 04 R (language) - G.T.

Love the Coopers ** Four generations of the same family break through the unhappiness of the holidays to discover joy is right in front of them. But this Diane Keaton vehicle is a little too messy for its own good. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (thematic elements, language, and some sexuality) - M.E.

Miss You Already **1/2 Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette are best friends since childhood living in London with their respective mates when Collette's Milly is diagnosed with cancer. It's a 21st-century Beaches, although way less likely to become a treasured talisman of chick flickdom, and there is no "Wings Beneath My Wings" to soar up the charts. With Jacqueline Bisset, Paddy Considine, and Dominic Cooper. 1 hr. 52 PG-13 (nudity, sex, profanity, graphic medical scenes, adult themes) - S.R.

Our Brand is Crisis ** Sandra Bullock 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, profanity) - G.T.

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. 1 hr. 22 G - G.T.

Shelter **1/2 Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie star in this drama about two homeless people who fall in love and fight to build a life together. 1 hr. 45 No MPAA rating (some violence, profanity, sexuality) - T.D.

The 33 **1/2 The true story of a group of Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months as the world watches - and a team of engineers try to drill them out before they die. Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Juliette Binoche (not one of the miners) star. 2 hrs. PG-13 (profanity, disaster sequence) - G.T.

Spectre *** The fourth Bond film with Daniel Craig is, says the actor, his last, and all sorts of things get tied up neatly - including Léa Seydoux, the heroine of the tale. Christoph Waltz is the supervillain, one with a long history in the Bond canon. It's business as usual, but business that's pulled off with brilliant precision, deftly choreographed action, and an itinerary boasting some of the most photogenic spots on Earth. 2 hrs. 28 PG-13 (violence, sex, 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) costar. 1 hr. 46 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 the memoir by Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett), 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 that Mapes had a flimsy source, and the story was no good from the get-go. 2 hrs. 05 R (profanity) - G.T.