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Almost Holy

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Almost Holy (R)  Steve Hoover’s documentary profile of “Crocodile” Gennadiy Mokhnenko, a Ukrainian pastor who ministers to drug-addicted kids in his town and also dispenses vigilante justice to its criminals. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

A Bigger Splash (R) This remake of Jacques Deray’s 1969 French erotic thriller La piscine stars Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts as a couple whose relationship turns explosive when they get an unexpected visit from her ex (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). Also with Aurore Clément and Lily McMenamy. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Dark Horse (PG) Louise Osmond’s documentary about a Welsh coal-mining village that decided to breed themselves a champion racehorse. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Love & Friendship (PG) Adapted from Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, this comedy stars Kate Beckinsale as an 18th-century impoverished, aristocratic widow seeking rich husbands for both herself and her teenage daughter (Morfydd Clark). Also with Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennet, Justin Edwards, Emma Greenwell, Jenn Murray, James Fleet, Jemma Redgrave, and Stephen Fry. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Manhattan Night (R) Adapted from Colin Harrison’s Manhattan Nocturne, this thriller stars Adrien Brody as a tabloid journalist who gets drawn into a murder case. Also with Yvonne Strahovski, Jennifer Beals, Linda Lavin, Steven Berkoff, and Campbell Scott. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (R) Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne return for this sequel as the suburban parents who must turn to their former frat-boy nemesis (Zac Efron) to drive out the hard-partying sorority that has moved in next door. Also with Chloë Grace Moretz, Ike Barinholtz, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco,  Jerrod Carmichael, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Hannibal Buress, Carla Gallo, Lisa Kudrow, Liz Cackowski, Selena Gomez, and Kelsey Grammer. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

AmeriGeddon (PG-13) This thriller is about a group of gun-loving patriots who stop a global terror organization and the U.N. from taking over America. Starring Dina Meyer, India Eisley, Marshall K. Teague, Jonny Cruz, and Diane Ladd.

Barbershop: The Next Cut (PG-13) Admirable, but not as effective as it could have been. Ice Cube returns for this third installment as Calvin the Chicago barber who uses his shop to take a stand against his city’s worsening gun violence. The whole series has been about unhurried pacing and including multiple points of view, but on this subject, it needed more focus and precision. Too much of this is taken up with Calvin trying to keep his teenage son (Diallo Thompson) out of a gang and one of his new barbers (Common) trying to improve relations with his wife (Eve). Even the banter isn’t as spicy as it used to be. The trick this movie’s trying is hard to pull off, and it can’t do it. Also with Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, J.B. Smoove, Lamorne Morris, Deon Cole, Margot Bingham, Troy Garity, Tyga, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Nicki Minaj.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (PG-13) Not terrible, just terribly dull. Ben Affleck steps into the Batman outfit, as the Gotham vigilante comes to see Superman (Henry Cavill) as a threat to the human race. Director Zack Snyder stages a couple of fight sequences well, but neither the overarching story nor the various subplots make any sense at all, and Snyder’s not the filmmaker to handle the introduction of real-world consequences into a superhero movie. Jesse Eisenberg’s overacting as Lex Luthor grows oppressive with screen time and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) gets a pallid introduction after so many failed attempts to bring her to the screen. This movie’s mostly grim, self-important, and too long. Also with Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Scoot McNairy, Tao Okamoto, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, and Holly Hunter.

The Boss (R) The ad-libbing of Melissa McCarthy and the other cast members bails out this comedy, but just barely. She portrays a disgraced, imprisoned finance guru who tries to rebuild her career with the help of her former assistant (Kristen Bell). McCarthy’s real-life husband Ben Falcone (who also shows up here as a lawyer) isn’t showing improvement as a director, as characters and plotlines disappear for long stretches and he never figures out the proper attitude toward his sociopathic antiheroine — she probably should have stayed as the improv character that McCarthy created. Fortunately, the one-liners from McCarthy, Bell, Tyler Labine as the assistant’s helpful boyfriend, and Annie Mumolo as a Type A housewife hit often enough to keep the thing watchable. Also with Peter Dinklage, Ella Anderson, Kristen Schaal, Margo Martindale, Cecily Strong, and Kathy Bates.

Captain America: Civil War (PG-13) People are saying this is the best of Marvel’s Avengers series, and they’re pretty much right. The group splits when Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) disagree over the need for U.N. oversight of the Avengers. Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) do incredible work just to fit 12 superheroes into this piece without losing track of anyone, and they introduce both Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) into the proceedings in ways that pop. The action sequences are well-managed, too, even if the 12-superhero smackdown feels as obligatory as the orgy that concludes a porno movie. The balance of action, humor, character, emotion, and intellectual debate make this a compendium of the best the Marvel movies have had to offer. Also with Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Emily VanCamp, Frank Grillo, Daniel Brühl, Marisa Tomei, Martin Freeman, Hope Davis, John Slattery, Alfre Woodard, and William Hurt.

Criminal (R) I’m not even sure what kind of movie this was supposed to be. Woefully miscast as a violent psychopath, Kevin Costner portrays a death row inmate who’s implanted with the memories of a murdered CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) in an attempt to recover the location of a source with intel on a Spanish anarchist (Jordi Mollà). This bad-looking film vacillates between science-fiction, spy thriller, and a twisted romance between the antihero and the dead agent’s wife (Gal Gadot), and none of it comes close to working. Gary Oldman also overacts as badly as possible in the role of a CIA handler. This is a disaster zone. Also with Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, Antje Traue, Michael Pitt, Amaury Nolasco, and Colin Salmon.

The Darkness (PG-13) After a halfway decent start, this horror flick turns into a shambles. When an autistic boy (David Mazouz) takes home some mysterious rocks from an Anasazi burial ground in the Grand Canyon, his family members soon start experiencing some supernatural visions that are supposed to be terrifying, although they’re closer to hilarious, especially when a rattlesnake materializes on Grandma’s kitchen counter. The movie implies that both autistic kids and people of color are closer to the demons and gods of the afterlife, and I’m not sure which to be more offended by. Hard to believe this is from Wolf Creek director Greg McLean. Also with Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, Lucy Fry, Jennifer Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, and Paul Reiser.

Everybody Wants Some!! (R) Really gosh-darned charming. Richard Linklater’s latest film stars Blake Jenner as a Texas college freshman and baseball player in 1980 who adjusts to the rhythms of collegiate life in the weekend before classes start. Jenner is softly appealing as a freshman who’s hardly callow, and he pairs well with Zoey Deutch as a theater student who catches his eye. As you’d expect, Linklater does well with the male bonding among the baseball team members. The movie is brimming with life under its easygoing exterior, and Linklater still knows how to evoke the young person’s quest to find his or her own purpose in the world and connect with another human being. This makes him a national treasure. Also with Ryan Guzman, Juston Street, Tyler Hoechlin, J. Quinton Johnson, Glen Powell, Temple Baker, Will Brittain, Austin Amelio, Tanner Kalina, and Wyatt Russell.

Eye in the Sky (R) The best movie about drone warfare so far is still rather frustrating. Helen Mirren plays a British Army colonel pursuing a ring of terrorists in Kenya and a U.S. Air Force drone pilot (Aaron Paul) who are faced with a decision whether or not to fire a missile that will take out a bunch of suicide bombers but also kill a little girl. Director Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game) somehow squeezes drama out of a string of scenes taking place in windowless rooms across the globe, but the consequences are too distant. If everybody in the story is powerless to create a better outcome, where’s the tragedy? You feel the emotional impact of this movie in your head, not your heart. Also with Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Monica Dolan, Iain Glen, Laila Robins, Phoebe Fox, Babou Ceesay, Richard McCabe, Kim Engelbrecht, and the late Alan Rickman.

Finding Mr. Right 2 (NR) Tang Wei and Wu Xiubo return for this sequel to the 2013 Chinese romance that was also titled Beijing to Seattle. (Confusingly, the sequel is also titled Book of Love.) He plays an L.A. realtor selling houses to Chinese buyers, she’s a casino hostess in Macau with a gambling problem. They carry on an epistolary romance, exchanging letters across the ocean spilling out their problems and their mutual love for 84 Charing Cross Road. This expensive movie also films in locations in Las Vegas and London, but it can’t make up for the tepid romance here. Also with Kara Hui, Liu Zhihong, Paul Chun, Wang Zhiwen, and Ben Wilkinson.

Green Room (R) Brutal and harrowing. This siege thriller stars Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner as the members of a punk band who become trapped in their green room by murderous neo-Nazis at the club where they’re playing. Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) doesn’t spare on the gory deaths, but he laces the proceedings with a generous dose of black humor and keeps the story under remorseless control. He’s helped out by stellar turns by Patrick Stewart as the white supremacists’ soft-spoken, businesslike leader and Imogen Poots as a former neo-Nazi who’s equally cold-blooded under pressure as she helps the musicians. An excellent genre piece. Also with Mark Webber, Kai Lennox, David W. Thompson, Eric Edelstein, and Macon Blair.

A Hologram for the King (R) A tourism ad for a repressive dictatorship. Tom Hanks plays a broke American businessman who tries to restart his career selling video technology to the king of Saudi Arabia. Director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) eschews the existential humor of Dave Eggers’ novel in favor of comedy about figuring out the rules in a kingdom where nothing works like it should, as well as a redemptive romance with a beautiful Saudi doctor (Sarita Choudhury). This is pleasant as far as it goes, but the movie ignores the real hardships of life in the KSA for those with no money. The hero’s supposed to be seeking refuge from American capitalism, but I’m pretty sure the answer to its ills isn’t in a petroleum state that beheads political dissidents. Also with Alexander Black, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tracey Fairaway, Tom Skerritt, and Ben Whishaw.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (PG-13) Kristen Stewart skipped this sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which makes her smarter than the A-list actresses who got caught up in this fiasco. Chris Hemsworth returns as a hunter trying to reunite with his lost love (Jessica Chastain) while serving an ice queen (Emily Blunt) trying to reclaim a kingdom for her sister (Charlize Theron). A new director comes in, but the original’s formula of cool visuals married to idiotic, sluggish storytelling remains. These three actresses collaborating should be an epic event, but instead they barely seem to be in the same movie, leaving Hemsworth to come away with what crumbs of funny business there are. Also with Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, Ralph Ineson, Sophie Cookson, and Sam Claflin.

The Jungle Book (PG) This live-action film of Rudyard Kipling’s stories looks nice, but it doesn’t uncover anything new. Neel Sethi plays the boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle when a man-hating tiger (voiced by Idris Elba) vows to kill him. This Disney movie incorporates two of the numbers from the 1967 animated musical version, but director Jon Favreau doesn’t have a flair for the genre, and his film relentlessly cutesifies the animals much like the older incarnation did. The movie does have a superb voice cast, especially a fairly terrifying Elba as the snarling villain. I suspect that in 50 years, though, this will look as dated as the 1967 Jungle Book does now. Additional voices by Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Sam Raimi, and the late Garry Shandling.

Just the 3 of Us (NR) Just another overlong Filipino comedy. John Lloyd Cruz plays an ambitious airline pilot who fears for his career when a ticket agent (Jennylynn Mercado) informs him that she’s carrying his baby. Director Cathy Garcia-Molina is sharp enough to point out how the baby actually might help his career while hurting hers, but this thing bogs down in Mercado’s relentless mugging and the guy’s discomfort at her downmarket life with her huge family. Also with Richard Yap, Joel Torre, Manuel Chua, Joem Bascon, Philip Joshua Endrinal, and Ketchup Eusebio.

Keanu (R) A disappointing film debut from the comedy team of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. They portray buppie cousins who pretend to be hardcore gangstas to recover an adorable kitten of theirs (named Keanu, and voiced in a dream sequence by Keanu Reeves) after it’s kidnapped by drug dealers. Key and Peele are too good not to score some laughs, but their subject is the specific pressures that African-American men feel to act tougher than they are, and they don’t go into it in near the same depths as they did with white racism on their brilliant TV sketch show. This script feels hastily tossed off. Watch for Anna Faris’ uncredited cameo, portraying herself as a coked-up party monster buying drugs. Also with Tiffany Haddish, Nia Long, Will Forte, Luis Guzmán, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Jamar Malachi Neighbors, Rob Huebel, and Method Man.

Money Monster (R) Jodie Foster gets the little details right in this thriller, but the big things seem to escape her. George Clooney stars as a Jim Cramer-like TV financial guru who gets taken hostage on the air by a disgruntled, bankrupt investor (Jack O’Connell).  The way the TV show shills for the companies it reports on, the way New York City copes with the crisis, and the way the show’s producer (Julia Roberts) and her staff are forced to do actual journalism all seem real enough, but the working-class gunman never comes to life as a character. He’s supposed to be a tragic figure who anchors this thriller, but you’re left unmoved. Also with Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West, Lenny Venito, Christopher Denham, Condola Rashad, Aaron Yoo,  Dennis Boutsikaris, Emily Meade, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Mother’s Day (PG-13) Wow, the wheels just fly off this thing. Garry Marshall’s latest holiday-themed omnibus movie picks up the threads of a home-shopping guru (Julia Roberts), a divorced mom (Jennifer Aniston), a widower (Jason Sudeikis), a young mother (Britt Robertson), and two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke) hiding their marriages and children from their intolerant red-state parents. This last plotline is the most insulting, with the parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) turning into redneck caricatures and the movie treating the family dynamic for breezy farce instead of acknowledging how truly messed-up it is. In this starry cast, Sudeikis is the only one who manages not to be excrucatingly boring. Also with Timothy Olyphant, Aasif Mandvi, Cameron Esposito, Jon Lovitz, Jessi Case, Ella Anderson, Hector Elizondo, and Jennifer Garner.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (PG-13) It took 14 years for this sequel to hit the screen, which is less remarkable than the fact that the edgeless original was a big hit in the first place. Nia Vardalos reprises her role, her frumpy single gal now a mother dealing with separation anxiety as her teenage daughter (Elena Kampouris) considers going away for college, along with about a zillion other plotlines and characters that aren’t given enough attention. Vardalos’ jokes about how Greek people are hearty and have huge families were old hat back in 2002, and now they’re even more so. This a big hunk of pastitsio that’s been sitting around for too long. Also with John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor, Ian Gomez, Andrea Martin, Rob Riggle, Mark Margolis, Rita Wilson, and John Stamos.

Sing Street (PG-13) John Carney is now making the best movie musicals in the world. The director of Once and Begin Again makes this autobiographical story starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo as a 14-year-old Dublin boy in 1985 who starts a band to impress a girl (Lucy Boynton). Walsh-Peelo is a hell of a find, singing with devastating confidence and acting out the moments when he’s beaten down by the local bullies or his school’s administrators. The fictional band kicks actual ass, with songs by Carney and Gary Clark. There’s a playful homage to 1980s music videos with “The Riddle of the Model,” but the carpe diem anthem “Drive It like You Stole It” is just glorious, with a Back to the Future-inspired sock hop to go with it. This is for anyone who loves music, Ireland, or the ‘80s. Also with Jack Reynor, Mark McKenna, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Ian Kenny, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Aidan Gillen.

Zootopia (PG) A Disney animated movie about a cuddly bunny rabbit that’s so relevant to our current political situation, it’ll give you chills. In a world where predators and prey co-exist peacefully in an urban environment, Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first rabbit on the big city’s police force, an affirmative-action hire who tries to distinguish herself by teaming up with a fox con artist (voiced by Jason Bateman) to crack a string of animal disappearances. This is no canned morality tale, but a layered look at how prejudice seeps into everyone’s thinking, including Judy’s. Amid some delightful gags (including a DMV staffed by sloths that must have been fun to animate) and atmosphere that evokes film noir thrillers, there’s a powerfully slippery parable about discrimination and the politics of fear. Additional voices by Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Alan Tudyk, Tommy Chong, Kristen Bell, Shakira, Octavia Spencer, and J.K. Simmons.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

The Family Fang (R) Jason Bateman directs and stars in this dramedy about a man and his sister (Nicole Kidman) who go searching for their performance-artist parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) after they go missing. Also with Kathryn Hahn, Jason Butler Harner, Josh Pais, Linda Emond, Marin Ireland, and Harris Yulin.

The Man Who Knew Infinity (PG-13) Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this biography of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Also with Jeremy Irons, Malcolm Sinclair, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam, Raghuvir Joshi, Dhritiman Chatterjee, and Stephen Fry.

 

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