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OPENING

 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (NR) Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan star in this Indian film about a long-running love triangle. Also with Fawad Khan, Raj Awasti, Lisa Haydon, and Shah Rukh Khan. (Opens Friday)

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Bakit lahat ng guwapo may boyfriend?! (NR) Anne Curtis stars in this Filipino comedy as a wedding planner whose boyfriends all turn out to be gay. Also with Dennis Trillo, Paolo Ballesteros, Yam Concepcion, and Michael de Mesa. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Certain Women (R) Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff) directs this adaptation of Maile Meloy’s short stories about a lawyer (Laura Dern), a married woman (Michelle Williams), and a ranch hand (Lily Gladstone) whose lives intersect in a small Montana town. Also with Kristen Stewart, James Le Gros, Jared Harris, Rene Auberjonois, Ashlie Atkinson, and John Getz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Handmaiden (NR) This lesbian thriller by Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) stars Kim Tae-ri as a Korean pickpocket who falls in love with a wealthy Japanese heiress (Kim Min-hee) while impersonating her maid as part of a scheme to defraud her. Also with Ha Jung-woo, Jo Jin-woong, Kim Hae-suk, and Moon So-ri. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Inferno (PG-13) Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard return for their third Dan Brown adaptation, as Prof. Robert Langdon tries to foil a plot to unleash a deadly plague on the human race. Also with Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, and Ben Foster. (Opens Friday)

Mr. Donkey (NR) This Chinese comedy is about a rural village that tries to save itself financially by registering its donkey as a schoolteacher with the government. Starring Ren Suxi, Da Li, Liu Shuailiang, and Pei Kuishan. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

New Life (PG) Jonathan Patrick Moore and Erin Bethea star as a couple destined to be together from childhood. Also with Barry Corbin, James Marsters, Terry O’Quinn, Bill Cobbs, Kris Lemche, Steven Chester Prince, and Irma P. Hall. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Oasis: Supersonic (R) Mat Whitecross’ documentary profile of the British pop-rock band. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Shivaay (NR) Ajay Devgn stars in this Indian remake of Taken. Also with Erika Kaar, Abigail Eames, Vir Das, Girish Karnad, Saurabh Shukla, and Robert Maaser. (Opens Friday at Cinemark North East Mall)

Tower (NR) Keith Maitland’s animated documentary about the 1966 University of Texas mass shooting. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Accountant (R) Terrifically entertaining, until it disintegrates in the final third. Ben Affleck stars in this thriller as an accountant whose high-functioning autism makes him a genius in his field, and whose elite martial-arts and weapons skills help him survive working for terrorists and crime lords. He also needs the latter to protect a low-level accountant (Anna Kendrick) who stumbles onto malfeasance at her high-end tech firm. Kendrick gives some warmth and charm to this potboiler, but she’s shunted largely out of the picture in the final third, which becomes overstuffed with backstory and an unbelievable coincidence that resolves things. It all defeats this enviable cast and director Gavin O’Connor. Also with J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert C. Treveiler, Jean Smart, John Lithgow, and Jeffrey Tambor.

The Birth of a Nation (R) If not for the rape charges against him, I’d be calling this a confident debut by a first-time director. Nate Parker is that man, also writing and starring in this biopic about Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in 1831. From a largely incomplete historical narrative, Parker has crafted a lean, muscular narrative, full of inspired touches even if he occasionally goes overboard with the dramatic touches. His vehicle also plays to his own strengths as an actor, allowing him to flash his brilliant smile and project warmth and tenderness toward a fellow slave (Aja Naomi King). However, whatever statement this movie has to make about present-day race relations is obscured by the events outside the film. Someday we’ll be able to separate those out, but not now. Also with Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Mark Boone Junior, Gabrielle Union, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Jackie Earle Haley.

Boo! A Madea Halloween (PG-13) Tyler Perry brings back the old lady for this holiday comedy. Also with Cassi Davis, Patrice Lovely, Yousef Erakat, Andre Hall, Tyga, and Bella Thorne.

Bridget Jones’s Baby (R) Despite a long absence from the screen, Renée Zellweger’s flair for physical comedy remains undiminished in this third installment that finds the klutzy British TV news producer now older, thinner, still single, pregnant, and unsure of whether the father is her ex (Colin Firth) or an American dating-website billionaire (Patrick Dempsey). Bridget is also somewhat less annoyingly self-absorbed, thanks to the auspices of new screenwriter Emma Thompson (who also plays a humorless ob/gyn here), and there are a few scattered big laughs here, but this outing never has enough of them to take flight, nor does it have the emotional weight to transcend its trashy late-’90s roots. Also with Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sarah Solemani, Kate O’Flynn, and Celia Imrie.

Deepwater Horizon (PG-13) Peter Berg’s film valuably reconstructs the 2010 environmental disaster, but that doesn’t feel like enough. Mark Wahlberg portrays an electronics technician on the ill-fated drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s undeniably fascinating to see the work that goes on an oil rig, and Berg uses the power of cinema to depict what kind of fiery hell the Deepwater Horizon became when it exploded. He makes it clear that BP’s cost-cutting and anxiety to get back on schedule were chiefly responsible for the wreckage and loss of life, but his concerns seem to end with the workers getting to safety. He wants to make this into a heroic story about the individuals on the rig, but it feels like he’s ignoring a big part of the story so he can take something positive away. Watch the documentary The Great Invisible for some hard truths this movie won’t touch. Also with Kurt Russell, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, Ethan Suplee, Kate Hudson, and John Malkovich.

Denial (PG-13) Wish-fulfillment for fed-up liberals. Rachel Weisz stars in this biopic as Deborah Lipstadt, the American professor of history who was sued for libel by British Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) and, thanks to the British legal system, was forced to prove him a racist and anti-Semite in court. Spall looks to have lost weight for the part, and as a result looks haggard and creepy as the villain. None of this high-powered cast seems to have brought their best to this, though, and Weisz is distant as usual. David Hare’s script turns this into the story of an outspoken woman who needs to learn to shut up and let her lawyers do the talking for her. It’s a strange hook to hang this self-important and underwhelming movie on. Also with Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter, Mark Gatiss, and John Sessions.

Desierto (R) Not as timely as it seems. Jonás Cuarón makes his directorial debut (after co-writing Gravity with his dad Alfonso Cuarón) with this thriller starring Gael García Bernal as one of a group of Mexican immigrants who are preyed on by a racist with a rifle (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after they illegally cross the U.S. border. The filmmakers aren’t trafficking in subtlety here; the migrants barely exist as characters and the bad guy is a Confederate flag-waving caricature. Cuarón shows some skill in some of the set pieces, including the climactic one on a butte, but he strains too hard for the monumentality of classic Westerns as he films the desert landscape. He sucks all the fun out of this setup, where somebody like Robert Rodriguez would have reveled in the trashiness. This is too high-minded to work as “Mexploitation,” and too weak to work as anything else. Also with Alondra Hidalgo, Diego Cataño, Marco Pérez, Oscar Flores, and David Lorenzo.

Don’t Breathe (R) Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez re-teams with his star Jane Levy to make this rather good thriller about a small-time criminal who tries to get her younger sister away from their abusive mom and white-trash-hell Detroit by robbing a rich blind man (Stephen Lang), only to discover that he’s a ruthless killer. The characters’ emotional layers are brought up without being followed through on, but Alvarez builds up tension with some great sequences inside the blind man’s house, including one shot in total darkness, and a sickening one where he captures her and reveals what he intends to do with her. It’s not quite as good as 10 Cloverfield Lane, but it’s  an excellent bet. Also with Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto.

El Jeremías (PG-13) Martín Castro stars in this comedy as a gifted 8-year-old Mexican boy trying to make his way in the world. Also with Karem Momo Ruiz, Paulo Galindo, Isela Vega, Marcela Sotomayor, and Daniel Giménez Cacho.

The Girl on the Train (R) Portraying a severely depressed alcoholic, Emily Blunt looks like she’s about to die and kinda wants to. That’s the main drawing card for this clumsy Americanized adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ novel about a woman who risks her own life when she starts investigating the disappearance of her ex-husband’s nanny (Haley Bennett). The supporting cast is enviable and the self-destructive glimmer in Blunt’s eyes is something you won’t soon forget, but director Tate Taylor (The Help) bungles the subplots and generates little suspense as his main character tries to recover her memories. A better director could have made this such trashy fun. Also with Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Laura Prepon, Lisa Kudrow, Darren Goldstein, and Allison Janney.

I’m Not Ashamed (PG-13) Masey McLain stars in this biography of Rachel Joy Scott, the first student killed in the Columbine school shooting. Also with Ben Davies, Cameron McKendry, Terri Minton, Victoria Staley, Taylor Kalupa, Emma Elle Roberts, Sadie Robertson, David Errigo Jr., and Cory Chapman.

In a Valley of Violence (R) Horror director Ti West (The Innkeepers) tries his hand at a Western with mixed results. Ethan Hawke stars as a war veteran who spends a day in a crappy mining ghost town (called Denton, by the way) and falls afoul of both the crooked marshal (John Travolta) and his spoiled brat of a son (James Ransone) who makes the mistake of killing the hero’s cute dog. The opening credits are such a pastiche of 1960s Westerns that you might be expecting something like The Hateful Eight, but West’s direction is mostly stripped-down, building slowly to violent climaxes like Sergio Leone without the operatic scope. Taissa Farmiga steals away the film as a local girl who hates Denton. Also with Karen Gillan, Burn Gorman, Toby Huss, and Larry Fessenden.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (PG-13) I’m not sure any of the filmmakers appreciates the irony of calling a sequel Never Go Back. Tom Cruise returns in this proficient but forgettable adaptation of Lee Child’s novel as an ex-military officer who works to clear the name of his old unit’s current commander (Cobie Smulders) after she’s framed for espionage. This involves punching lots of people. Director Edward Zwick does an acceptable job with the action sequences, but he and his co-writers can’t give any shading to these characters, and the gambit with Jack protecting a moody teenager (Danika Yarosh) who might be his daughter is ill-conceived and -executed. For all this movie’s efforts, it doesn’t accomplish very much. Also with Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge, Holt McCallany, Madalyn Horcher, Jason Douglas, and Robert Knepper.

Keeping Up With the Joneses (PG-13) Funny though he is as a supporting player or secondary lead, Zach Galifianakis can’t carry a movie. This mightily straining comedy is further proof. He and Isla Fisher portray a settled suburban couple who get sucked into a spy plot when their new neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) turn out to be undercover agents. The players do hit on enough of their lines to keep things from sagging too much, but director Greg Mottola (Adventureland) can’t make anything out of the intersection between the spy stuff and the suburban setting and Galifianakis is exhausting as he plays the same nervous Nellie notes over and over. It’s all nowhere near as light as it should be. Also with Matt Walsh, Maribeth Monroe, Kevin Dunn, and Patton Oswalt.

Kevin Hart: What Now? (R) The stand-up comic returns to his hometown in Philadelphia and sells out Lincoln Financial Field in his latest concert film, which was shot in August 2015. The filmed prologue before his stand-up set is always lame, and this one (a James Bond parody) is no different. Fortunately, the man is always funny, and you can see him redeeming some iffy material like riffs about what life would be like without shoulders and a making his son do chores. He remains relatably in touch with his roots in the face of his success, and the football-stadium setting gives this a bigger feel than other concert films about stand-ups. Also with Halle Berry, Ed Helms, and Don Cheadle.

Luck-Key (NR) Lee Joon stars in this Korean comedy as a character actor and a contract killer who accidentally switch lives. Also with Yu Hae-jin, Jo Yoon-hee, and Lim Ji-yeon.

The Magnificent Seven (PG-13) Denzel Washington headlines this watchable-but-only-that, ethnically diverse remake of a remake as a warrant officer in the 1870s who’s hired by the people of a small town to protect them from the depredations of a land baron (Peter Sarsgaard). Washington and his co-stars (Chris Pratt as a hard-drinking gambler, Ethan Hawke as a shell-shocked war veteran) provide the magnetism, but director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) makes his usual hackwork out of the action. There are some remakes where you can simply plug actors of color into roles originally played by white people and get on with it, but a period Western demands something more. Oh, what Quentin Tarantino could have done with this! Also with Haley Bennett, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Cam Gigandet, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

Masterminds (PG-13) An embarrassing wealth of comic talent goes into this comedy that underdelivers. Zach Galifianakis stars in this movie based on a real-life incident as a Florida armored car security guard who falls in love with a colleague (Kristen Wiig) and conspires with her and her criminal friend (Owen Wilson) to rob his employers of all the cash they’re transporting. The scenes with Jason Sudeikis as a weirdo hit man are the only ones that are actively painful, but director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) relentlessly condescends to his characters like he always does, and Galifianakis is better in supporting roles than in a lead role like this one. There are still some solid laughs here, but this should have been so much more. Also with Kate McKinnon, Ken Marino, Devin Ratray, and Leslie Jones.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (PG) Based on James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts’ children’s novel, this stars Griffin Gluck as a kid who decides to break all his school’s rules to shake up the routine. Also with Lauren Graham, Efren Ramirez, Rob Riggle, Thomas Barbusca, Andrew Daly, and Adam Pally.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (PG-13) Ransom Riggs’ novel gets lost amid Tim Burton’s adaptation, which runs more than two hours and still feels terribly rushed. Asa Butterfield stars as a Florida kid who travels to a Welsh island and discovers a bubble of time where it’s always the same September day in 1943, and where a house for children with strange abilities is run by a benevolent witch (Eva Green). Butterfield is a cute and charmless presence at the center of this, and Burton’s in such a hurry to get to the grotesque stuff that he runs roughshod over any sense of wonder or world-building, not to mention a romantic subplot with an air elemental (Ella Purnell). Without a story to connect all its elements, Burton’s little more than a hack like Chris Columbus. Also with Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Chris O’Dowd, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Kim Dickens, O-Lan Jones, Terence Stamp, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Ouija: Origin of Evil (PG-13) The prequel to the 2014 horror flick is set in 1967 and stars Elizabeth Reaser as a single mother and fake psychic who makes contact with real supernatural evil through her new board. Also with Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Doug Jones, Lin Shaye, and Henry Thomas.

Queen of Katwe (PG) A rare movie about Africa that doesn’t involve war or plague or other forms of mass death, and one that earns its uplift honesty. Madina Nalwanga stars in this biopic of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan teenage girl born in the Katwe slum of Kampala who has gone on to become an internationally ranked chess player. Director Mira Nair doesn’t stray too far from the template of sports movies — this is a Disney film, after all — but even though she’s shooting the film in South Africa, she still manages to evoke Uganda (where she lives part-time) through the music on the soundtrack, which combines tribal rhythms with modern sounds from America, Europe, and India. The film features powerhouse performances from Lupita Nyong’o as Phiona’s mother and David Oyelowo as the ministry worker who introduces the girl to chess. Also with Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ronald Ssemaganda, Ethan Nazario Lubega, Esther Tebandeke, Nikita Waligwa, and Edgar Kanyike.

Storks (PG) Some of the gags in this animated kids’ movie are just brilliant. If only there were a story to connect them. In a world where storks have gotten out of the baby delivery business to deliver packages instead, Andy Samberg is the voice of one stork who wants to take over the company but has to team up with a misfit girl (voiced by Katie Crown) to deliver a baby to its proper home when one accidentally comes his way. Along the way, there’s a pack of wolves who form themselves into vehicles to chase after the stork and a climactic fight sequence that takes place in complete silence because no one wants to disturb the sleeping baby. Yet director Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors) jumps manically from tangent to tangent and keeps the movie from building momentum. Additional voices by Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo, and Kelsey Grammer.

Suicide Squad (PG-13) Maybe Warner Bros. should get out of the superhero business entirely. What they’re doing sure isn’t working. Viola Davis stars as a U.S. government honcho who proposes to battle the next world-threatening baddie by forcing imprisoned supervillains to work for them, including a contract killer (Will Smith) and the Joker’s girlfriend (Margot Robbie). The plot is weak and writer-director David Ayer (Fury) has neither the sense of humor nor the flair for camp that this material demands. The group chemistry is nonexistent, and Jared Leto does little but rip off Heath Ledger’s old moves as the Joker. If this movie can’t lighten up, what chance to Warners’ more iconic superhero movies have? Also with Joel Kinnaman, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, David Harbour, Common, Ezra Miller, and an uncredited Ben Affleck.

Sully (PG) In the hands of a lesser lead actor, Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger and his heroic efforts to save the passengers on his US Airways flight in 2009 would likely crash. Instead, Tom Hanks has great chemistry with his sardonic co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart), and Eastwood films Sullenberger’s water landing effectively. That’s good, because the script is full of expositional dialogue given to an overqualified supporting cast, and it derails trying to give sketches of the passengers Sully saves. Despite some bumps, the crew lands this thing safely. Also with Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Mike O’Malley, Jerry Ferrara, Holt McCallany, and Jamey Sheridan. — Steve Steward

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

A Man Called Ove (PG-13) Rolf Lassgård stars in this Swedish comedy as a grumpy, widowed retiree has to cope when an Iranian family moves into the condo next door. Also with Bahar Pars, Zozan Akgün, Tobias Almborg, Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, and Börje Lundberg.

Miss Hokusai (PG-13) This Japanese animated film is a biography of the 19th-century painter Hokusai, seen through the eyes of his daughter. Shown in both Japanese- and English-language versions. Voices by Erica Lindbeck, Anne Watanabe, Richard Epcar, Yutaka Matsushige, Ezra Weisz, Gaku Hamada, Robbie Daymond, Kengo Kôra, Courtney Chu, and Shion Shimizu.

 

 

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