Beneath the Leaves (NR) This thriller stars Kristoffer Polaha as a cop who’s forced to catch the escaped convict (Doug Jones) who kidnapped him as a child. Also with Mira Sorvino, Melora Walters, Christopher Masterson, Jena Sims, Ser’Darius Blain, and Paul Sorvino. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Berlin, I Love You (R) Following similar films set in Paris, New York, and Rio de Janeiro, this anthology film consists of several short films connected by the city that they’re set in. Starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Luke Wilson, Jim Sturgess, Jenna Dewan, Hayden Panettiere, Dianna Agron, Diego Luna, Iwan Rheon, Charlotte Le Bon, Hannelore Elsner, and Mickey Rourke. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Cold Pursuit (R) Hans Petter Moland directs this English-language remake of his own Norwegian thriller In Order of Disappearance, starring Liam Neeson as a cop in a cold-weather small town pursuing the drug dealers he believes to have killed his son. Also with Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, Julia Jones, David O’Hara, William Forsythe, and Laura Dern. (Opens Friday)
Darkness Visible (R) This Indian thriller stars Jaz Deol as a British expat who returns to his native country to solve the murder of his mother. Also with Sayani Gupta, Neil Bhoopalam, Seema Biswas, and Salóme Gunnarsdóttir. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Divorce Party (NR) Thomas Cocquerel stars in this comedy as a depressed young man who decides to throw a giant party for all his friends to mark the occasion of his divorce. Also with Claire Holt, Katrina Bowden, Matilda Lutz, Todd Lasance, and Will Brittain. (Opens Friday)
Gully Boy (NR) Ranveer Singh stars in this Indian musical as a Muslim kid from the Mumbai ghetto who dreams of becoming a rapper. Also with Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Kalki Koechlin, and Vijay Raaz. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (NR) The best movie title so far this year goes to this film starring Sam Elliott as a World War II veteran who’s called out of retirement to hunt for a Sasquatch. Also with Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston, Caitlin FitzGerald, Sean Bridgers, Larry Miller, and Ellar Coltrane. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Pegasus (NR) Not to be confused with the other movie by this name currently out, this Chinese auto racing comedy stars Jack Kao as a retired racer who must win one last race to save all of humanity. Also with Dennis O’Neil, Aaron Ly, Sui Yongliang, Wang Longzheng, Tony Payne, and Sha Baoliang. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
The Prodigy (R) Taylor Schilling stars in this horror film as a mother who believes her genius son (Jackson Robert Scott) to be plotting unspeakable evil. Also with Brittany Allen, Colm Feore, Peter Mooney, Olunike Adeliyi, and Paula Boudreau. (Opens Friday)
St. Agatha (NR) This horror film by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II) stars Sabrina Kern as a pregnant young woman in the 1950s who seeks refuge in a convent, only to discover buried secrets there. Also with Carolyn Hennesy, Courtney Halvorsen, Seth Michaels, Trin Miller, Shawn Fletcher, and Jayson Warner Smith. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
A Violent Man (R) Thomas Q. Jones stars in this thriller as an MMA fighter who is caught up in a murder plot. Also with Isaach de Bankolé, Chuck Liddell, Khalilah Joi, Felisha Terrell, Denise Richards, and Bruce Davison. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Wandering Earth (NR) Wu Jing stars in this Chinese science-fiction blockbuster about a group of scientists who devise a plan to save the Earth by moving it out of the sun’s orbit. Also with Qu Jingjing, Li Guangjie, Qu Chuxiao, Zhao Jinmai, Li Hongchen, and Ng Man-Tat. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
What Men Want (R) This remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want is better than the original, and better than I expected. Taraji P. Henson plays a sports agent at a sexist workplace who magically acquires the ability to hear men’s thoughts. She uses her newfound gift to try to romance a handsome bartender (Aldis Hodge) and sign an NBA prospect with a crazy Lavar Ball-like dad (Tracy Morgan). Director Adam Shankman can’t keep up the energy in the face of the familiar romantic comedy plot resolutions, but there’s some assured slapstick playing from Henson and a supporting cast full of current and former athletes. Most delightful and unexpected is a great comic turn by Erykah Badu as a kooky psychic with Uno cards in her tarot deck. Also with Josh Brener, Tamala Jones, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Pete Davidson, Jason Jones, Kellan Lutz, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill, Brian Bosworth, and Richard Roundtree. (Opens Friday)
Yatra (NR) Mammootty stars in this biography of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Indian politician who walked more than 900 miles across the state of Andhra Pradesh in 2003. (Opens Friday)
Aquaman (PG-13) James Wan does great with the action and bad with everything else in this comic-book adaptation. Flashing a nice deadpan sense of humor, Jason Momoa plays the half-human, water-breathing superhero who visits Atlantis, the undersea kingdom of his ancestors, to prevent them from waging war against the unsuspecting land dwellers who have polluted the oceans. The director manages two nice one-take shots, one of Atlantis’ queen (Nicole Kidman) fighting off a strike team single-handedly and the other of Aquaman and an Atlantean princess (Amber Heard) being chased over the rooftops of Sicily. However, Wan also mishandles all the emotional beats in this story, and every time two characters stop to have a quiet conversation, they’re interrupted by an explosion. Wonder and beauty are beyond Wan’s capabilities. He’s been miscast as a horror director, and he should stick to action. Also with Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Michael Beach, Randall Park, Graham McTavish, and Dolph Lundgren. Voices by Djimon Hounsou, John Rhys-Davies, and Julie Andrews.
Bohemian Rhapsody (PG-13) That PG-13 rating is the first sign that something is wrong with this Queen biopic. Rami Malek stars as Freddie Mercury, who rebels against his Parsi family by embracing rock and roll. The story has all the continuity of a playlist on shuffle, as success seems to come out of nowhere for the band and hit follows hit with little insight into the odd creative process that the band went through. The project appeals to none of the strengths of X-Men director Bryan Singer. This bad movie is almost redeemed by a blazing performance by Malek, who plays the piano and struts around on the stage with Mercury’s particular swagger that’s manly and queeny at the same time. This actor deserves to headline better movies than this one. Also with Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Joseph Mazzello, Ben Hardy, Allen Leech, Aidan Gillen, Aaron McCusker, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers.
Bumblebee (PG-13) The playful retro approach here is what the whole Transformers series should have taken from the start. Hailee Steinfeld plays a teenager in 1987 who comes across a giant alien robot disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. Director Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) and writer Christina Hodson smartly keep the movie’s focus narrow and turn the whole movie into a cute riff on E.T. The 1980s references are on point and the movie’s humor hits home more often than not, with John Cena chipping in as a bumbling federal agent trying to keep tabs on the robots invading the Earth. This series was in dire need of the restart that this movie gives it. Also with Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider, and Len Cariou. Voices by Dylan O’Brien, Justin Theroux, Peter Cullen, and Angela Bassett.
Destroyer (R) A woman is the rogue cop in this police thriller, and true to the title, she leaves a trail of wreckage in her wake. Nicole Kidman plays a prematurely aged and sun-damaged homicide detective who has to right an old sin when the gang leader (Toby Kebbell) whom she worked with undercover and then betrayed resurfaces and starts killing off all his old gang members. Director Karyn Kusama perhaps overdoes the air of encroaching gloom in sunny Los Angeles, but she does pull off some crackling action sequences, but Kidman does well as a woman haunted by all the damage she’s inflicted on everyone around her. This cop thriller takes some well-worn tropes and makes them new. Also with Sebastian Stan, Tatiana Maslany, Scoot McNairy, Beau Knapp, Jade Pettyjohn, Shamier Anderson, Zach Villa, and Bradley Whitford.
A Dog’s Way Home (PG) The sequel to A Dog’s Purpose tells the story of a dog (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) who travels 400 miles to find her owner. Also with Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Alexandra Shipp, Barry Watson, Wes Studi, and Edward James Olmos.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (PG) The 16th animated film in the series is the first to receive a major release in American theaters.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (NR) The title translates as How I Felt When I Saw That Girl. This Indian film is hokey and melodramatic, but that’s probably how one of the first LGBT films aimed at mainstream Indian audiences had to go down. Sonam Kapoor stars as a model Punjabi girl who returns to India from her overseas studies harboring the secret that she’s gay. She comes out to a Muslim playwright friend of hers (Rajkummar Rao), neither of them knowing that her parents are arranging for them to be married. This doesn’t do much that LGBT films from the West haven’t already done, but then, it’s less for us than it is for the traditional Indian audiences. The “House Party Song” near the beginning is pretty catchy. Also with Anil Kapoor, Regina Cassandra, Abdul Quadir Amin, Juhi Chawla, Sara Arjun, Abhishek Duhan, and Madhu Malti.
Escape Room (PG-13) The production design upstages everything else in this stupidly watchable thriller that’s a mash-up of Cube, Saw, and The Da Vinci Code. Taylor Russell is one of seven seemingly random people who gather in a Chicago building to escape a deadly series of rooms for a $10,000 prize and, more importantly, the chance to keep breathing. It is fun watching the survivors enter a library that turns into a giant trash compactor or an upside-down bar with all the furniture on the ceiling. Alas, director Adam Robitel (who also plays one of the shorter-lived contestants) can’t keep the thing turning fast enough. Also with Deborah Ann Woll, Tyler Labine, Logan Miller, Nik Dodani, Jay Ellis, and Yorick van Wageningen.
Extreme Job (NR) If you like fried chicken, this is the cop thriller for you. This Korean comedy stars Ryu Seung-ryong as the leader of an incredibly unlucky unit of narcotics detectives who rent out a failing fried chicken joint in Seoul to spy on a Chinese meth importer (Shin Ha-kyun) whose headquarters are across the street. Unluckily and luckily, the cop assigned to do the cooking puts rib sauce on the chicken instead of the traditional sticky sweet sauce, and it makes the restaurant so popular that it jeopardizes the police operation. Besides lots of mouth-watering shots of fried chicken, this movie also has some pretty funny business with the bungling cops in the early going before giving way to a more action-oriented finale. Also with Lee Ha-nee, Jin Seon-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi, Gong Myung, Kim Eui-sung, Song Young-kyu, Kim Ji-young, and Oh Jung-se.
The Favourite (R) A delectable English trifle with enough liquor to knock you down. Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne of England as a paranoid, gout-ridden, vain, emotionally unstable monarch having a lesbian affair with a duchess (Rachel Weisz) before a fallen aristocrat’s daughter (Emma Stone) starts dangling herself in front of her. Many of the crazy historical details here are true, but wacky Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos throws in his own absurdist touches anyway, like the court dance with some defiantly 20th-century moves. The actors here make delicious stuff out of the catty script — Stone is revelatory as a conniving character, and Colman gives a performance that’s as close as you’ll see to a woman playing King Lear. This cold-eyed study of royalpolitik at a time when women wield unusual power also doubles as a lesbian sex farce full of sinister slapstick. Also with Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, James Smith, and Mark Gatiss.
Free Solo (PG) The most visually breathtaking documentary of 2018 profiles Alex Honnold, the professional rock climber who becomes the first person to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan “free solo,” meaning without ropes, harnesses, or safety gear. Co-director Jimmy Chin is a climber himself who assembles a film crew of other climbers, and with the help of ropes, drones, and other equipment, they capture the tiny handholds and toeholds that Alex uses to keep himself up, as well as how precarious his position is on the mountain. Yet Chin and co-director Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi also draw a picture of a shut-off man who has to learn how to navigate the first serious relationship in his life, and whose desire to scale these heights is driven by his inner torment. The film achieves sublimity as it details how its protagonist expands the boundaries of what we think humanly possible.
The Gandhi Murder (NR) This historical drama posits a conspiracy behind the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi. Starring Stephen Lang, Vinnie Jones, Luke Pasqualino, Bobbie Phillips, Rajit Kapoor, Mark Moses, Joseph K. Bevilacqua, and the late Om Puri.
Glass (PG-13) Not as bad as you’ve heard, though a long way from being good. The final installment of M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy brings together the protagonists of Unbreakable and Split in a psychiatric ward, where Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) engineers a public showdown between David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and The Beast (James McAvoy). The director puts in two plot revelations too many and too often stops to dissect the tropes of comic-book storytelling when he should be moving the plot along — it’s as if he wrote the script after a night of trawling Tvtropes.com. Still, his immense visual skills are everywhere in evidence, he stages the superhero fights as well as anyone, and he cleverly casts Sarah Paulson as a compassionate psychotherapist with a hidden agenda. Also with Anya Taylor-Joy, Spencer Treat Clark, Luke Kirby, Adam David Thompson, and Charlayne Woodard.
Green Book (PG-13) Peter Farrelly takes an inspiring real-life story and turns it into a white version of Driving Miss Daisy. I didn’t need that in my life. Viggo Mortensen plays an Italian-American nightclub bouncer who takes a job driving an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour of the Deep South in 1962. And they both learn something from each other. There are some honest observations about the differences between racial experiences, but these are drowned out amid the canned morality and simplistic contrasts between the characters. Mortensen manages some funny moments but his performance is like the rest of the movie, about as authentic as a supermarket jar of spaghetti sauce. Also with Linda Cardellini, Don Stark, Sebastian Maniscalco, Jenna Laurenzo, Dimiter Marinov, Mike Hatton, and Iqbal Theba.
The Kid Who Would Be King (PG) The first movie about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that didn’t unintentionally remind me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Joe Cornish’s highly enjoyable kids’ adventure is set in the present day, when a bullied 12-year-old boy (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) finds Excalibur, pulls it out of the stone, and discovers his destiny to save Britain from being enslaved by an evil sorceress (Rebecca Ferguson). Surprisingly, this movie works in Brexit parallels and has Patrick Stewart (as a reincarnated Merlin) spend his screen time wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Cornish (who previously did Attack the Block) knows how to balance effects-heavy action sequences with character moments and some funny gags in this throwback to 1980s movies of its ilk. Also with Dean Chaumoo, Angus Imrie, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, and Denise Gough.
The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story (PG-13) This Christian film stars Sharman Joshi as an Indian journalist investigating the real-life Australian evangelist (Stephen Baldwin) for possible charlatanism. Also with Shari Rigby, Manoj Mishra, Prakash Belawadi, Aditi Chengappa, and Aneesh Daniel.
Mary Poppins Returns (PG) About as much fun as having someone throw glitter in your face and say, “Oooh, magical!” Emily Blunt stars in this sequel set 20-odd years after the events of the original Mary Poppins, as she comes to minister to a grown-up Jane and Michael (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) as they’re about to lose the house on 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Not a single moment in this loud, boisterous, overbearing musical feels like it’s spontaneous or unforced, and director Rob Marshall can’t seem to do anything without a giant swell from the orchestra. Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are below their best, and the script hews so closely to the first movie that you wonder why they bothered with a sequel. An excellent cast is drowned out by the production design of this white elephant. Also with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, and Dick Van Dyke.
Miss Bala (R) Quite dull. Gina Rodriguez stars in this thriller as a Hollywood makeup artist who goes to Tijuana to visit her childhood friend (Cristina Rodlo), only for both of them to be kidnapped by the local drug cartel and forced to participate in mob hits. This is a remake of a 2011 Mexican film by the same name which was much more exciting. Having the heroine caught between the cartel and the DEA should be a source of tension, but Catherine Hardwicke directs this so lugubriously that she leeches all the fun out of this. Rodriguez deserves a better break into action-thrillers than this. Also with Anthony Mackie, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Aislinn Derbez, Thomas Dekker, and Matt Lauria.
The Mule (R) People are talking this up as some sort of career resurgence for Clint Eastwood, but don’t believe the hype. The director stars in his own movie based on the true story of a 90-year-old man who went to work as a drug mule for the Sinaloa drug cartel, ferrying shipments of drugs across America and taking advantage of the fact that cops weren’t looking for an old white man. Eastwood does manage some nice self-critique by casting himself as that old dude in a world where Mexican drug lords and younger guys who are more technologically savvy have all the power, but he still gives us clunky staging and bad dialogue and the other faults that have plagued the worse movies he has made over the last decade. You’re better off seeing The Old Man & the Gun. Also with Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Michael Peña, Alison Eastwood, Clifton Collins Jr., Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, and Dianne Wiest.
On the Basis of Sex (PG-13) Mimi Leder turns this biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg into a shallow exercise in rah-rah feminism. Felicity Jones stars as the Harvard Law graduate-turned-Rutgers professor who, in 1971, takes up a sex discrimination case on behalf of a man (Chris Mulkey) who suffers discrimination when he tries to become a caregiver for his mother. Director Mimi Leder and writer Daniel Stiepleman reduce her to a one-dimensional heroine whom we’re meant to cheer for against a bevy of ogre-like white guys, with the notable exception of Ruth’s husband (Armie Hammer). Not a shred of insight comes about the discrimination faced by women in the legal profession or male power. You’re better off watching the documentary RBG again. Also with Justin Theroux, Cailee Spaeny, Jack Reynor, Stephen Root, Kathy Bates, and Sam Waterston.
Pegasus: Pony With a Broken Wing (G) Eliza Jarrett stars in this film as a girl who finds an injured winged horse and determines to nurse it back to health. Also with Jonathan Silverman, Charisma Carpenter, Jordan Elsass, Johnny Sinclair, and Tom Arnold.
Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year (NR) The British TV show celebrates the holiday in this animated film.
Qué León (NR) This Dominican comedy is about two young people (Ozuna and Clarissa Molina) with the same last name who fall in love despite coming from different backgrounds. Also with Raymond Pozo, Stephany Liriano, Christine Marzano, Celines Toribio, Miguel Céspedes, and Frank Perozo.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG) A veritable orgy of product placement, and also quite a lot of fun. This sequel to Wreck-It Ralph has our lovable video-game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) going into the internet to find a missing part for her game. The movie fires off some funny shots at the experience of being online, and it’s a better field for Easter egg hunting than Ready Player One. Still, two scenes demand to be seen: one in which Vanellope wanders into a dressing room with all 14 Disney princesses (voiced by the likes of Kristen Bell, Auli’i Cravalho, Mandy Moore, Idina Menzel, Irene Bedard, Kelly Macdonald, Ming-Na Wen, Paige O’Hara, and Jodi Benson), and another one in which she stars in her own musical number in a Grand Theft Auto-like video game that’s paradise for her. Additional voices by Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alan Tudyk, Ed O’Neill, Alfred Molina, Ali Wong, Jason Mantzoukas, Tim Allen, Brad Garrett, Vin Diesel, Anthony Daniels, and June Squibb.
Second Act (PG-13) No different from any other Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy in the last 15 years. She plays a big-box retail worker who is passed over for promotion for lack of a college degree but then snags a high-end marketing job when her computer-geek teenage godson (Dalton Harrod) invents an online history for her that includes a Harvard MBA and a Peace Corps stint. None of what happens is actively terrible, but it all proceeds without any meaningful deviations from the formula or insights into the modern workplace. Nothing that happens here is particularly funny, and even the big plot twist in the middle is a damp squib. It all just makes Lopez’ movie stardom look ever more passé. Also with Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Milo Ventimiglia, Freddie Stroma, Charlyne Yi, Dan Bucatinsky, Dave Foley, Larry Miller, and Treat Williams.
Serenity (R) Really odd. Steven Knight’s thriller starts out as a pulpy neo-noir thriller about a reclusive fisherman and traumatized Iraq veteran (Matthew McConaughey) whose ex-wife (Anne Hathaway) tracks him down and pays him to kill her abusive current husband (Jason Clarke). Then there’s a Shyamalan-meets-Inception plot revelation that comes about two-thirds of the way through, though I sniffed it out before that. On its own cracked terms, the movie succeeds at what it sets out to do. The question, though, is what Knight (who also did Locke) was hoping to accomplish by doing it. A massive tuna named Justice become a major character in this drama. Also with Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Charlotte Butler, Rafael Sayegh, and Diane Lane.
Stan & Ollie (PG) There are no better actors around to play Laurel and Hardy than John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan. Too bad the movie they’re in is such a marshmallow. The film takes in the legendary comedy duo as their storied career is winding down with bookings of second-rate venues on a 1953 tour of the U.K. and Ireland. The two stars (with Reilly under mounds of prosthetics to make him look fatter) do expert re-creations of classic Laurel and Hardy comedy routines, but the story of the friendship between these longtime comedy partners is filled with canned conflict and low-stakes decisions. The movie does have a touching portrait of Hardy insisting on performing even while his health gives way, but it could have been so much more powerful. Also with Nina Arianda, Shirley Henderson, Rufus Jones, Stephanie Hyam, and Danny Huston.
A Star Is Born (R) There’s stuff in this remake that the previous versions of this story don’t have. Bradley Cooper stars in this show-business tragedy as a country-rock star on his way down who falls in love with and marries a pop star (Lady Gaga) on her way up. Making his filmmaking debut, Cooper directs this with more competence than flair, but he’s quite good with atmosphere (whether he’s in a cramped drag bar or on a dusty ranch in Arizona) and he sings well enough to be credible as a music star who fills up arenas. The movie misses a chance to comment on how stardom is different now than in previous years, but Lady Gaga turns out to be a trump card. Casting a first-time movie actor as a character much like herself is no guarantee of a good performance, but she delivers both on the humor and the tragedy of the role here, as well as the character’s musical chops. Also with Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Ron Rifkin, Eddie Griffin, and Dave Chappelle.
They Shall Not Grow Old (R) Peter Jackson’s documentary about World War I features black-and-white film footage filled in with computerized color and overdubbed sound, which draws your attention to some details you might miss, like the rueful expression on a serviceman playing an empty bottle as a musical instrument or a wounded soldier trying to shoo away a pigeon that’s perching on him. Still, the real value is the voiceover narration taken from interviews with veterans conducted in the 1960s and ’70s, which give unvarnished accounts of the grossness of war: lice-infested clothes, freezing water in the trenches that caused gangrene, mud made more viscous by corpses both human and animal. The limited scope of the footage available to Jackson means he can’t capture the worst aspects that the soldiers faced, but the film does succeed on the terms the director lays out in his preface, as a film “by a non-historian for non-historians.”
The Upside (PG-13) A movie made for backhanded compliments: This dramedy isn’t that bad. It’s not as pandering as Intouchables, the French comedy that it’s a remake of. It’s better than Green Book. Kevin Hart plays an unqualified ex-convict who’s hired to be a full-time caregiver to a wealthy quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston). Hart is deferential — probably too much so — to the high-powered cast around him, including Nicole Kidman as the boss’ Harvard-educated business manager. The film occasionally flirts with commenting meaningfully on the class and race differences in play, but too often it’s content to coast on its charm and likability. Also with Golshifteh Farahani, Tate Donovan, Aja Naomi King, and Julianna Margulies.
Vice (R) I like Adam McKay better when he’s making comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers. Not that this scabrous biography of Dick Cheney doesn’t have some laugh-out-loud funny moments, but McKay too often tips over into angry polemic and chastising his audience for watching reality TV while the world burns. Christian Bale gives a fairly miraculous performance as Cheney, disappearing underneath a ton of extra weight (both gained and prosthetic) and capturing both the man’s droning speaking voice and his insatiable lust for power, but it’s too bad that the movie gives us scene after scene of this heartless bastard shanking people around him, including members of his own family. The casting is remarkable; Steve Carell is so well-cast as Donald Rumsfeld that you just want to cry. Also with Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Jesse Plemons, Eddie Marsan, Justin Kirk, Alison Pill, Bill Camp, LisaGay Hamilton, Don McManus, Lily Rabe, Shea Whigham, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Tyler Perry.
An Affair to Die For (NR) Jake Abel and Claire Forlani play adulterous spouses whose affair leads to violence. Also with Nathan Cooper, Melina Matthews, and Titus Welliver.
Braid (R) Mitzi Peirone’s thriller stars Sarah Hay and Imogen Waterhouse as fugitives who conspire to rob their rich, reclusive friend (Madeline Brewer), only to discover terrifying implications to her mental illness. Also with Scott Cohen, Mauricio Ovalle, and Mary Looran.
Canal Street (PG-13) This legal drama stars Mykelti Williamson as a lawyer forced to defend his son (Bryshere Y. Gray) when he’s suspected of murder. Also with Michael Beach, Lance Reddick, Jon Seda, Will Yun Lee, Juani Feliz, Jamie Hector, Nora Dunn, William R. Moses, Harry Lennix, and Mekhi Phifer.
Capernaum (R) Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, this movie by Nadine Labaki (Caramel) is about a 12-year-old Lebanese boy (Zain al-Rafeea) who sues his parents for neglect while in prison. Also with Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Kawsar al-Haddad, and Fadi Yousef.
Cold War (R) Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, this black-and-white Polish drama by Paweł Pawlikowski (Ida) is about a composer and a singer (Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig) who live on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Also with Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn, Adam Woronowicz, and Jeanne Balibar.
Piercing (R) This thriller by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) stars Christopher Abbott as a serial killer who targets an unsuspecting prostitute (Mia Wasikowska) during an encounter. Also with Laia Costa, Marin Ireland, Maria Dizzia, and Isiah Whitlock.
Roma (R) The latest film by Alfonso Cuarón chronicles one year in the life of a middle-class Mexican family in the 1970s. Starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, and Nancy García García.
Then Came You (NR) This British romantic comedy stars Asa Butterfield as a hypochondriac airport baggage handler who falls for a terminally ill teenager (Maisie Williams). Also with Nina Dobrev, Peyton List, Tyler Hoechlin, Sonya Walger, David Koechner, Tituss Burgess, and Ken Jeong.
The Unicorn (NR) Nicholas Rutherford and Lauren Lapkus star in this comedy as an engaged couple looking for a woman to have a three-way with. Also with Lucy Hale, Dree Hemingway, John Kapelos, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, and Beverly D’Angelo.