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Sasha Luss stars as ‘Anna’ in ANNA Photo credit: Shanna Besson

OPENING 

Anna (R) The latest Luc Besson thriller about a tall woman in a short skirt shooting a bunch of people stars Sasha Luss as a Russian contract killer who becomes the target of her colleagues. Also with Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Lera Abova, Alexander Petrov, Adrian Can, and Cillian Murphy. (Opens Friday)

Being Frank (NR) Jim Gaffigan stars in this comedy as a man whose adult son (Logan Miller) discovers that he has a secret family. Also with Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis, Danielle Campbell, and Alex Karpovsky. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Burn Your Maps (PG-13) This drama stars Jacob Tremblay as an 8-year-old American boy who becomes convinced that he is a Mongolian goat herder. Also with Vera Farmiga, Marton Csokas, Jason Scott Lee, Suraj Sharma, and Virginia Madsen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Child’s Play (R) Aubrey Plaza stars in this reboot of the horror series starring a demonically possessed doll (voiced by Mark Hamill). Also with Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, and David Lewis. (Opens Friday)

The Command (PG-13) This thriller by Thomas Vinterberg dramatizes the disaster on the Russian submarine Kursk in 2000. Starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Léa Seydoux, Peter Simonischek, August Diehl, Tom Hudson, Max von Sydow, and Colin Firth. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (PG-13) This Canadian comedy is about an Indian fakir (Dhanush) who journeys around the world in an attempt to find his father. Also with Bérénice Bejo, Erin Moriarty, Ben Miller, Abel Jafri, and Barkhad Abdi. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

The Fall of the American Empire (R) The latest film by Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions) stars Alexandre Landry as a French-Canadian truck driver who steals two bags of cash from the scene of a robbery gone bad. Also with Maxim Roy, Maripier Morin, Vincent Leclerc, Rémy Girard, and Florence Longpré. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Kabir Singh (NR) This Indian film stars Shahid Kapoor as a man who tries to cope when his girlfriend (Kiara Advani) is forced to marry another man. Also with Arjan Bajwa, Adil Hussain, Suresh Oberoi, and Nikita Dutta. (Opens Friday)

Ladies in Black (PG) Adapted from Madeleine St. John’s novel, Bruce Beresford’s comedy is set among department store employees in Sydney in the 1950s. Starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Ryan Corr, Susie Porter, Nicholas Hammond, and Rachael Taylor. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Papi Chulo (R) Matt Bomer stars in this drama as a lonely TV weatherman who forges a friendship with a middle-aged migrant worker (Alejandro Patiño). Also with Elena Campbell-Martinez, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Ryan Guzman, and Wendi McLendon-Covey. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Swinging Safari (R) This comedy by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) is about a 14-year-old Australian boy (Atticus Robb) who comes of age in the 1970s when a blue whale washes up on the beach of his small town. Also with Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue, Julian McMahon, and Radha Mitchell. Narrated by Richard Roxburgh. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

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Aladdin (PG) At last, a Hollywood movie where the Middle Eastern characters are the good guys. This live-action remake of the 1992 animated Disney musical fixes a good number (though not all) of the racial and class issues from the original. The decor helps differentiate the film from Disney’s other live-action remakes and forces Guy Ritchie out of his comfort zone to good effect. It isn’t all good, though, because Ritchie is rarely comfortable staging musical numbers and can’t match the wit of the animation in the original movie. (The new songs don’t add much, either.) However, the movie gives good roles to a cast full of Middle Eastern actors (Mena Massoud as Aladdin sings well and has the dance moves), and Will Smith avoids embarrassing himself as the genie and makes the part his own. We’ll take that much. Also with Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Numan Acar, and Billy Magnussen.

American Woman (R) Sienna Miller finally finds a vehicle worthy of her. She stars in this drama as a 32-year-old grandmother who is forced to mature and take care of her young grandson after her  teenage daughter (Sky Ferreira) mysteriously disappears. Though the film never leaves the confines of its Pennsylvania small town, it still feels epic in scope thanks to the way it depicts its heroine becoming her own woman in fits and starts over the next 11 years. Miller excels with the big, dramatic scenes with her character coping with the crime, but she’s even better with the quieter scenes in which she finds her better self in the face of cheating boyfriends, crappy jobs, and a meeting with a prisoner who claims to be her daughter’s killer. Her galvanizing, unvarnished presence lends power to this story of personal growth. Also with Christina Hendricks, Aaron Paul, Will Sasso, Alex Neustadter, Aidan McGraw, Aidan Fiske, Kentucker Audley, and Amy Madigan.

Avengers: Endgame (PG-13) Pays off in spades. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, our heroes travel through time to try to avert the mass death that occurred when Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers. The time-travel gambit is cleverly done, filling in backstory and making some of Marvel’s less essential previous films more important in retrospect. The film hits home emotionally, too, when you least expect it, as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) carry more emotional weight here than in other installments. Even if the massive climactic battle sequence is calculated to make you cheer when various superheroes enter the fray, it also brings an uncommon unity to the 21 movies that preceded it. Given what a heavy task this movie had to accomplish, it succeeds better than it had any right to. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Rene Russo, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Cobie Smulders, Linda Cardellini, Ty Simpkins, Ken Jeong, Frank Grillo, Maximiliano Hernández, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson. Voices by Kerry Condon, Taika Waititi, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper. 

Bharat (NR) Salman Khan stars in this Indian epic as an old man whose life spans the partition of India and Pakistan and the country’s history of religious and political violence as he enjoys careers as a motorcycle daredevil, a ship’s mechanic, and an oil wildcatter from Malta to the Arabian Peninsula, all in the name of keeping his family in Mumbai together. The film is a remake of the Korean drama An Ode to My Father, but the acting here doesn’t rise to the level of the earlier film’s, and there’s a fatally misbegotten sequence when the hero disarms a group of Somali pirates by showing them how to do Amitabh Bachchan’s dance moves. Better Indian epics will come by. Also with Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Varun Dhawan, Jackie Shroff, Nora Fatehi, Shashank Arora, and Tabu.

Booksmart (R) Olivia Wilde proves a major comic talent in her directing debut, an instant classic of a teen comedy. A high-school valedictorian (Beanie Feldstein) and her openly gay best friend (Kaitlyn Dever) grow tired of being wallflowers and decide to cram four years’ worth of partying into the night before graduation. The story veers between episodes as the girls are repeatedly sidetracked on their way to a party, but Wilde sustains the anarchic energy as the movie barrels through one hectic, surreal night. Dever’s springiness contrasts well with Feldstein’s bulldozer-like force, and the script is chockablock with vivid supporting characters and funny lines. Billie Lourd steals all her scenes as an indestructible classmate who keeps improbably popping up along the girls’ journey and spends the entire film stoned. Also with Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Mason Gooding, Diana Silvers, Victoria Ruesga, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Nico Hiraga, Mike O’Brien, Will Forte, and Lisa Kudrow.

Brightburn (R) This riff on the Superman story stars Jackson A. Dunn as an alien child who falls to Earth in Kansas and starts to demonstrate superpowers. Also with Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jennifer Holland, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, and Becky Wahlstrom. 

Dark Phoenix (PG-13) Parts of this movie are not terrible. That’s the best I can say for Fox’s disappointing final installment to its X-Men series, in which Charles Xavier and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) are forced to team up to stop Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) from destroying the world with her repressed childhood traumas and teenage angst. Turner is capable of carrying a big vehicle like this, but first-time director Simon Kinberg doesn’t know how to generate suspense or emotional weight when a major character dies. The villainous race of space aliens that wants Jean’s gifts are just so much waste as well. Had the series ended with Logan, it would have been a much more satisfying end to things. Disney’s people can’t get on this soon enough. Also with Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Brian D’Arcy James, Ato Essandoh, Halston Sage, and Jennifer Lawrence.

The Dead Don’t Die (R) Good for some chuckles here and there. Jim Jarmusch’s latest film is about a small-town police department that has to cope with a zombie outbreak when polar fracking throws the Earth off its axis. Jarmusch aims for political satire, and his obviousness is less damaging than all the loose ends in his script, with whole subplots going to waste. The movie does work better as an environmental allegory, and there’s no better visual joke than when one tall cop (Adam Driver) grimly rolls up to a murder scene in a bright red SmartCar. As zombie comedies go, this is better than Dead Snow, but not as good as Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, or Anna and the Apocalypse. Also with Bill Murray, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, Luka Sabbat, Eszter Balint, Maya Delmont, Taliyah Whitaker, Jahi Winston, Iggy Pop, RZA, Larry Fessenden, Carol Kane, and Rosie Perez. 

Detective Pikachu (PG) If you or your kids are already knee-deep in Pokémon knowledge, this movie is for you. Otherwise, it’s got nothing. Justice Smith stars as an insurance investigator in a metropolis filled with the magical creatures who runs into his father’s Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) and reluctantly teams up with him to solve his father’s disappearance. The CGI effects team does excellent work to create a world where humans interact with the mystical warriors of various stripes. However, the film-noir plot is weak stuff and the filmmakers clearly think that they can evoke the style of those old thrillers by putting characters in trench coats. Smith (Paper Towns) does creditable work to hold up his end of things. He deserves better material than this. Also with Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora, Karan Soni, Chris Geere, Diplo, Omar Chaparro, Bill Nighy, and Ken Watanabe. 

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (PG-13) Michael Dougherty and his co-writers try to make the humans more interesting in this installment of the series. Big mistake. While Godzilla battles a bestiary’s worth of giant creatures rising up from the depths of the Earth, there’s all manner of cringe-worthy dialogue (“Oh my God!” “Zilla.”) and even more intolerable family drama between two estranged scientists (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) and their teenage daughter (Millie Bobby Brown). Dougherty graduated from low-budget subversive horror flicks like Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus, but a big epic like this blunts everything interesting about him. It’s a bridge too far. Also with Zhang Ziyi, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Anthony Ramos, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, David Strathairn, and Ken Watanabe.

The Intruder (PG-13) There’s a surprising number of home-invasion thrillers about black families, and this one is nowhere near as inventive as Us. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are a well-to-do San Francisco married couple who buy a house in Napa Valley from a friendly old guy (Dennis Quaid) who starts stalking them obsessively and acts as if the house is still his. Director Deon Taylor (Traffik) hammers home every action sequence without an ounce of cleverness or subtlety, and neither the racial angle nor the villain driving an emotional wedge between the husband and the wife generates anything interesting. The bad guy is a leering psychopath played clumsily by Quaid, and the other characters all act like idiots so that the plot can keep going. Also with Joseph Sikora, Alvina August, and Lili Sepe. 

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum (R) 55-year-old Keanu Reeves moves and fights like he’s 22 in this third installment of the martial-arts series. His hit man is now wounded and on the run after breaking the rules of his society of contract killers, so now his colleagues are all after him for the money and the notoriety. Director Chad Stahelski keeps up the accumulation of detail in this fictional universe full of colorful decor and sleek clothing. Also with Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Asia Kate Dillon, Saïd Taghmaoui, Randall Duk Kim, Boban Marjanovic, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian, Tobias Segal, and Laurence Fishburne. — Chase Whale

Late Night (PG-13) The best of the recent comedies about women at the top of their profession, which doesn’t make it good, exactly. Emma Thompson plays the only woman late-night TV talk show host in America, who gets called out for having a writing staff of all white guys and responds by hiring the first woman of color (Mindy Kaling) who walks in the door. The film makes a rocky start, with the insults by Kaling (who doubles as screenwriter here) not pointed or funny enough and director Nisha Ganatra failing to capture the atmosphere of a flailing old show. The comedy does turn for the better after the host starts embracing the new writer and saying what’s really on her mind. The film is a nice re-introduction to Thompson’s considerable comic skills. If it had more edge, it would have been great. Also with John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Paul Walter Hauser, Annaleigh Ashford, Ike Barinholtz, and Amy Ryan.

Ma (R) Octavia Spencer has a grand old time playing her matronly image for scares in this horror film. Diana Silvers (from Booksmart) stars as a teenager who moves back to her mother’s hometown, falls in with a group of partying teens, and runs into a middle-aged woman who opens up her basement as a party venue for them. Messy as this is, it’s also the best film ever directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, The GIrl on the Train). He and Spencer create a pitiable monster out for revenge on the kids’ parents who tormented her when she was a teen. Spencer’s unhinged turn is the best reason to see this, and proof that she can do more than just the roles she’s been given so far. Also with Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Missi Pyle, Luke Evans, and Allison Janney. 

Men in Black: International (PG-13) If you thought that a mostly new cast would energize this science fiction-comedy series, think again. Tessa Thompson plays a civilian who tracks down MIB so she can join the agency and is immediately teamed with a troubled veteran agent (Chris Hemsworth) to ferret out a mole in the organization. The plush Thompson acquits herself better than any of her famous co-stars and looks ready to star in her own films, but director F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton) has no aptitude for the whimsy and humor that leavened the original film. The action sequences are put together with a modicum of professionalism and a much larger dose of meh. Kumail Nanjiani as a two-inch-tall alien who embraces the new agent as his queen can’t liven things. Also with Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and Emma Thompson.

Rocketman (R) Better than Bohemian Rhapsody. This other musical biopic of a shy, gay, working-class British pianist who becomes a debauched rock star features Taron Egerton as Elton John. Though it’s officially sanctioned by Elton John, it doesn’t gloss over or glamorize Sir Elton’s drug- and sex-fueled excesses. Director Dexter Fletcher (who also did uncredited work on Bohemian Rhapsody) can’t escape the confines of the musical bio genre, but he does pull off some nice full-scale dance numbers, and Egerton (despite being too tall and good-looking for the part) holds up his end by doing his own singing and dancing. The further this movie dives into fantasy, the better it is. Also with Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Tom Bennett, Steven Mackintosh, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor, Ophelia Lovibond, Tate Donovan, and Gemma Jones.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG) Not unendurable, but it does make you wonder why they bothered. The sequel to the 2016 hit has Max and Duke (voiced by Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) being taken to a farm in the countryside and trying to adjust to rustic life. The new movie brings in Tiffany Haddish as a terrier seeking help and Harrison Ford as a country dog who’s not having it with Max’s city-bred neuroses, but the various plotlines (many of them involving the dogs’ city friends having their own adventures) aren’t written with enough distinction to make the movie stick. Even Kevin Hart’s bunny rabbit and his megalomaniac delusions have been effectively neutered here. Additional voices by Jenny Slate, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Bobby Moynihan, and Lake Bell.

Shaft (R) The third film by this name brings in Richard Roundtree to reprise his role as the original John Shaft. He and Samuel L. Jackson might as well have stayed away rather than appear in this klutzy, unfunny buddy-cop comedy. Too much of this is devoted to Jackson’s Shaft critiquing his FBI analyst son (Jessie T. Usher) and his unmanly gentrified ways — the kid’s even philosophically opposed to handling guns, which to his dad is the same as going around in a miniskirt and stiletto heels. What was a genuinely subversive black-power statement 48 years ago has now become a totally retrograde thing that plays right into the hands of The Man. Also with Regina Hall, Luna Lauren Velez, Alexandra Shipp, Titus Welliver, Matt Lauria, Isaach de Bankolé, and Method Man. 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES 

Echo in the Canyon (PG-13) Andrew Slater’s documentary interviews many of the musicians involved in the Laurel Canyon music scene in Los Angeles. Starring Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Michelle Phillips, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Graham Nash, Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones, and the late Tom Petty. 

The Last (NR) Jeff Lipsky’s drama is about a Jewish family whose 92-year-old matriarch (Rebecca Schull) makes a shocking admission about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Also with Julie Fain Lawrence, Reed Birney, Jill Durso, Cara Yeates, AJ Cedeno, and Jagger Nelson.

The Outsider (NR) Jared Leto stars in this thriller as an American G.I. who joins the Japanese yakuza after World War II. Also with Tadanobu Asano, Kippei Shina, Shioli Kutsuna, Shun Sugata, Rory Cochrane, and Emile Hirsch.

Pavarotti (PG-13) Ron Howard directs this documentary about the legendary Italian opera singer.

Plus One (NR) Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine star in this comedy as two single friends who survive a spate of their friends’ weddings by agreeing to be each other’s date to all of them. Also with Finn Wittrock, Beck Bennett, Maya Kazan, Brianne Howey, Emma Bell, Rosalind Chao, and Ed Begley Jr.

Project Ithaca (R) This science-fiction thriller is about a group of strangers who must work together to get home after waking up on a spaceship. Starring James Gallanders, Dera Campbell, Daniel Fathers, Alex Woods, and Caroline Reynaud. 

The Souvenir (R) Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical film stars Honor Swinton Byrne as a film student in the 1980s who becomes romantically involved with a heroin addict (Tom Burke). Also with Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, and Lydia Fox. 

Vault (R) Tom DeNucci’s thriller is about a group of small-time criminals in 1975 who attempt to steal $30 million from the mafia in Rhode Island. Starring Theo Rossi, Chuck Zito, Samira Wiley, Clive Standen, Vincent Pastore, Burt Young, William Forsythe, Don Johnson, and Chazz Palminteri.

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