Diplomacy (NR) Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) directs this drama about the real-life efforts of Swedish consul general Raoul Nordling (André Dussollier) to limit the bloodshed in Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. Also with Niels Arestrup, Burghart Klaussner, Robert Stadlober, Jean-Marc Roulot, and Charlie Nelson. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Dying of the Light (R) Nicolas Cage stars in this thriller by Paul Schrader (American Gigolo) as a CIA agent determined to track down his torturer from a years-ago mission. Also with Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim, Aymen Hamdouchi, Claudius Peters, and Irène Jacob. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Babadook (NR) Jennifer Kent’s horror film stars Essie Davis as an Australian widowed mother who’s haunted by an evil spirit springing from the pages of a children’s book found by her son (Noah Wiseman). Also with Daniel Henshall. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The One I Wrote for You (NR) Cheyenne Jackson stars in this drama as a frustrated musician who decides to win a reality TV contest at all costs. Also with Kevin Pollak, Christine Woods, Avi Lake, Rafael de la Fuente, and Christopher Lloyd. (Opens Friday)
Panic 5 Bravo (R) Kuno Becker stars in this thriller as an Arizona paramedic who becomes trapped in his ambulance after illegally responding to a distress call from Mexico. Also with Papile Aurora, Dan Rozvar, Raúl Méndez, and John Henry Richardson. (Opens Friday at Cinema Latino de Fort Worth)
Pelican Dreams (NR) Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill) directs this documentary following a rescued California pelican and the efforts to restore it to the wild. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Pyramid (R) This horror flick is about an archeology team that’s hunted down by a spirit while exploring a pyramid. Starring Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Amir K, Christa Nicola, and Denis O’Hare. (Opens Friday)
Beyond the Lights (PG-13) This music-industry drama manages to be entertaining without degenerating into forced melodrama. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) stars as a pop music star under the thumb of her domineering momager (Minnie Driver) who falls for a cop (Nate Parker) after he talks her down from a suicide attempt. The story is strictly boilerplate and the movie has problems with pacing, but the characters are well-drawn. Parker makes a potentially saintly character into something human, and Mbatha-Raw makes her character’s evolution something powerful. Be sure to stay for Mbatha-Raw’s karaoke rendition of “Blackbird.” Also with Danny Glover, Richard Colson Baker, Darryl Stephens, Elaine Tan, Isaac Keys, India Jean-Jacques, and Aisha Hinds. –– Cole Williams
Big Hero 6 (PG) Disney’s beguiling latest animated film is about a 13-year-old genius inventor (voiced by Ryan Potter) who uses a giant, inflatable, healthcare-providing robot (voiced by Scott Adsit) to find out who’s responsible for the death of his older brother (voiced by Daniel Henney). The animators have great fun with the fat, huggable, slow-moving robot and the setting, a city that’s a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. The movie isn’t as deep as it would like to be, but it’s good fun. Additional voices by Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Alan Tudyk, Katie Lowes, James Cromwell, and Maya Rudolph.
Dumb and Dumber To (PG-13) Listen, this film is not called Funny and Funnier. It’s called Dumb and Dumber, so if you go to it and don’t laugh at all, it’s your own fault, because the title warned you. And, really, unless you’re an 11-year-old boy, you probably won’t laugh, and even if you were 11 when the original, franchise-birthing hit was brand new (circa 20 years ago), its sequel will likely tarnish your memories. Nostalgia is probably the only reason for seeing this movie anyway, because its story is only mildly amusing (Harry [Jeff Daniels] needs a kidney, discovers a grown-up daughter he didn’t know he had who is presumably a match, Lloyd [Jim Carrey] wants to have sex with her, annoying gross-outs ensue), and it’s stuffed with jokes that aren’t very funny at all. However, the blind kid with the dead parrot makes a reappearance, Harry has a cat named Butthole, and Harry and Lloyd visit the parents of a dead friend named Pee Stain. Also with Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden, Lori Danielson, Kathleen Turner, and Bill Murray. –– Steve Steward
Horrible Bosses 2 (R) A loud, thickheaded farce so bad it’ll make you want to hammer nails into your head. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis return for this sequel, playing three friends whose new business is sabotaged by father-and-son retail moguls (Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine). Unfortunately, the bad guys here are nowhere near as brilliantly nasty as the bosses in the first movie, and the heroes have been made so stupid that you wonder how they’re able to put their clothes on facing the right direction. At one point, the main characters compare themselves to the heroines of 9 to 5. These dudes only wish. Also with Jennifer Aniston, Jonathan Banks, Keegan-Michael Key, Lindsay Sloane, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I (PG-13) The latest installment does a perfectly fine job of setting us up for the series’ end. Newly installed as the face of the anti-government rebellion, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) leverages her position to get the rebels to rescue Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the other captured former Hunger Games winners. Director Francis Lawrence botches the climactic scene and runs into trouble with pacing early on, but the filmmakers keep adding telling details to Suzanne Collins’ novels that deepen our understanding of her fantasy world, and Julianne Moore is a nice addition as the rebels’ leader. Bring on the big finale. Also with Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Natalie Dormer, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Jena Malone, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Interstellar (PG-13) Wonderful, but also not so good. Matthew McConaughey plays a pilot who leads a small crew of astronauts outside the galaxy to save the human race from going extinct on Earth. It’s hard to blame Christopher Nolan for wanting to make something hopeful and optimistic the way his Batman movies were doom-laden and despairing, but the material about an astronaut separated from his daughter needed a refined understanding of domestic relations, and that’s just not what we go to Nolan for. He and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema do an amazing job of creating the different planets in outer space, and their visual virtuosity will root you to your chair, especially if you see this on IMAX with the sound cranked up. Still, a movie that’s supposed to be uplifting instead turns out stubbornly unmoving. Also with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Wes Bentley, David Gyasi, Mackenzie Foy, William Devane, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, and Matt Damon.
Nightcrawler (R) Jake Gyllenhaal has never been more horrifying or hilarious than in this black comedy thriller. He plays a psychopathic criminal who becomes a freelance video journalist to make money off his thirst to film fires, traffic accidents, and violent crimes in progress. The movie is a nice satire of the TV news business, but you’ll remember a slimmed-down, ponytailed, manically grinning Gyllenhaal spewing business-speak and self-help jargon as he becomes a new kind of monster: a parasitic journalist who uses his self-employed status to flout all kinds of ethics and laws so he can satisfy his bloodlust. The novelty of that gives this thriller an extra kick. Also with Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Ann Cusack, and Bill Paxton.
St. Vincent (PG-13) This movie should be unbearable Hollywood-style melodrama, but it’s made into something rather enjoyable by the efforts of its actors. Bill Murray stars as a mean old man whose financial difficulties spur him to take a job watching over the 11-year-old boy next door (Jaeden Lieberher). The young Lieberher does more than hold his own amid a cast filled with Oscar nominees, while Melissa McCarthy turns in a gratifyingly understated performance as the boy’s mother and Naomi Watts does a tartly funny slapstick turn as a pregnant Russian stripper. Writer-director Theodore Melfi doesn’t come up with the best material, but he directs with a dry style that keeps this just on the right side of sentimentalism. Also with Chris O’Dowd, Kimberly Quinn, Lenny Venito, Nate Corddry, Ann Dowd, and Terrence Howard.
The Theory of Everything (PG-13) A failure, despite two terrific performances. Eddie Redmayne stars in this biography of Stephen Hawking, as he meets his future wife Jane (Felicity Jones) when they’re still attending Cambridge, then finds her indispensable after he’s diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Director James Marsh is a brilliant documentarian (Man on Wire) who seems to lose his storytelling instincts in fiction. Though he tries to make Jane as fascinating as Stephen, the script renders her as yet another self-sacrificing supportive wife. Redmayne does a superb job of depicting Stephen’s physical deterioration, and Jones is even better as a frustrated, overshadowed spouse. Still, this movie’s imagination is way short of its subject’s. Also with Charlie Cox, David Thewlis, Christian McKay, Simon McBurney, and Emily Watson.