Apache Junction (R) This Western stars Scout Taylor-Compton as a big-city reporter following up a story in a remote haven for outlaws and killers. Also with Thomas Jane, Stuart Townsend, Victoria Pratt, Phil Burke, Danielle Gross, J. Nathan Simmons, and Trace Adkins. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Auschwitz Report (NR) This World War II drama tells the real-life story of two Slovak Jews (Noel Czuczor and Peter Ondrejicka) who escape from the infamous Nazi concentration camp and report on the atrocities going on there. Also with John Hannah, Wojciech Mecwaldowski, Jacek Beler, Michal Rezný, and Lars Rudolph. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Capote Tapes (NR) Ebs Burnough’s documentary is about Capote’s unfinished last novel and its impact on his reputation. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)
Courageous (PG-13) Alex Kendrick appears to be regressing creatively in this Christian drama receiving its 10th-anniversary re-release. In addition to directing and co-writing, he stars as a deputy sheriff who vows to become a better father after his young daughter is killed in an accident. Every scene in this male weeper seems to end with a guy putting a fatherly hand on someone’s shoulder and dispensing a homily on how a man should behave. The acting is terrible, too. A few well-executed action sequences can’t counteract the stifling preachiness of this exercise. Also with Ken Bevel, Ben Davies, Kevin Downes, Robert Amaya, Angelita Nelson, T.C. Stallings, Rusty Martin, Taylor Hutcherson, and Renée Jewell. (Re-opens Friday)
Fire Music (NR) Tom Surgal’s documentary traces the history of free jazz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Guilty (R) A remake of a Danish thriller, this stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a 911 operator who must sort out truth from fiction when he receives a call from a kidnapped woman. Also with Christina Vidal, Eli Goree, and Adrian Martinez. Voices by Riley Keough, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Beau Knapp, Bill Burr, and Ethan Hawke. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
I’m Your Man (R) This German science-fiction film is about a hard-up scientist (Maren Eggert) who agrees to take part in an experiment, living with a humanoid robot (Dan Stevens) created to make her happy. Also with Sandra Hüller, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Hans Löw, Jürgen Tarrach, and Gabriel Muñoz Muñoz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Love Story (NR) This Telugu-language romantic film stars Naga Chaitanya, Sai Pallavi, Devayani, Rao Ramesh, Posani Krishna Murali, Rajeev Kanakala, and Easwari Rao. (Opens Friday)
Rumba Love (NR) Guillermo Iván writes, directs, and stars in this drama as a Cuban rumba singer who emigrates to New York to make his reputation there. Also with Zair Montes, Ilean Almaguer, Osvaldo de León, Monte Bezell, Alfredo DIaz, and Jim Trucco. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
This Is the Year (NR) This teen comedy stars Lorenzo Henrie as a 1980s high-school nerd who attempts to win over his dream girl (Vanessa Marano) during a road trip to a music festival. Also with Gregg Sulkin, Bug Hall, David Henrie, Jake Short, Sammy Volt, and Jeff Garlin. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Black Widow (PG-13) The film doesn’t bring much closure to the story of Scarlett Johansson’s character, and it feels like Marvel never appreciated her. Even so, this thriller works well on its own. The film delves into Natasha Romanoff’s backstory and sees her reunite the members of her fake family of Soviet agents (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour) to liberate an army of brainwashed assassins from the control of a Russian general (Ray Winstone). The idea of a male villain who can rob women of their ability to consent is a tantalizing idea that goes unexplored, as does Natasha’s past as a minion of evil. The better parts of the film are the ones dealing with the family getting back together, with a scene-stealing and hilarious turn by Pugh. Australian director Cate Shortland (Lore) assimilates well into the Marvel house style, too. If this doesn’t fit well into the Marvel canon, it’s still proudly female and the best blockbuster of the summer. That’s not nothing. Also with Olga Kurylenko, O-T Fagbenle, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw, William Hurt, and an uncredited Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Blue Bayou (R) Justin Chon’s previous films (Gook, Ms. Purple) were heavy on atmosphere and light on substance, and this one somewhat improves matters. He portrays an ex-convict and tattoo artist born in South Korea but adopted by a Louisiana family at an early age. After a run-in with some racist cops, he faces the prospect of being deported to his birth country, which he hasn’t seen since childhood. The film is beautifully photographed and Chon engineers some great set pieces, like when he and his family attend a Vietnamese family reunion. The story gives a casual audience more of a hook to hang onto, but Chon’s preachiness ruins things, especially during the cheaply sentimental end. Minari this isn’t. Also with Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Sydney Kowalske, Linh Dan Pham, Susan McPhail, Emory Cohen, and Vondie Curtis-Hall.
Candyman (R) The sequel to the 1992 horror film is dense with ideas and a pleasure to look at. Taking place in a now-gentrified Cabrini Green neighborhood, an artist (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) finds out about the urban legend and becomes obsessed, making Candyman-inspired art and bringing back the hook-handed undead man who hacks people to death if they say his name into a mirror five times. The script co-written by Jordan Peele expertly skewers the academic jargon of pretentious artists and cuts it with poisonous barbs about race relations. The Candyman goes from boogeyman of the hood to symbol of the Black community’s anger at generations of victims of white brutality. Mateen gives a great performance as a man unraveling physically and mentally, and director/co-writer Nia DaCosta gives the whole thing a lush look appropriate to the art-world setting. Also with Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Kyle Kaminsky, Brian King, Miriam Moss, Rebecca Spence, Michael Hargrove, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Heidi Grace Engerman, and Vanessa Williams.
The Card Counter (R) The best poker movie since Rounders stars Oscar Isaac as a professional gambler and disgraced former soldier at Abu Ghraib whose past comes back on him when a young gambler (Tye Sheridan) whose father was also there reveals a plan to kill the ex-Army major (Willem Dafoe) who was running the Iraqi prison and escaped prosecution. This is yet another Paul Schrader film about lonely, tormented men pondering the nature of sin and the possibility of redemption in the eyes of God. Tiffany Haddish helps cut the suffering as a middle man who recruits gamblers and stakes them so they can enter big-money tournaments. Without Isaac’s chill mastery as a man who keeps that poker face away from the table, this film might turn mopey and indifferent. Also with Alexander Babara and Bobby C. King.
Copshop (R) The plotting is clever and the writing is pseudo-clever, which is about par for the course for director/co-writer Joe Carnahan. Frank Grillo plays a con artist who has himself jailed at a remote Nevada state police station to elude a hit man (Gerard Butler) who promptly has himself thrown in a different cell at that same station. Butler doesn’t act anymore — his performances are all just macho posturing. The film is stolen away by Alexis Louder as a young trooper who can’t decide which of their stories to believe. With a setup this promising, the film could have been something if a whole other filmmaker altogether had replaced the Tarantino wannabe behind the camera. Also with Toby Huss, Kaiwi Lyman, Marshall Cook, Dez, Tracey Bonner, and Robert O’Nan.
Cry Macho (PG-13) The analysis of Western cowboy manhood is skin-deep compared to Clint Eastwood’s better, more energetic films. He plays a washed up ex-rodeo star in 1980 whose boss (Dwight Yoakam) pays him to go to Mexico and retrieve his teenage son (Eduardo Minett) from his abusive mother. Most of the scenes involve Eastwood and the kid as they travel back to Texas, and chemistry simply isn’t there. We’re also saddled with a soggy romantic plot between the old man and a kind Mexican cantina owner (Natalia Traven). The film is supposed to climax with the old man telling the boy that the cult of violent masculinity is just so much crap, and the movie would work better if the action of the story had worked to that end. Also with Fernanda Urrejola, Ivan Hernandez, Jorge-Luis Pallo, and Marco Rodriguez.
Don’t Breathe 2 (R) The blind villain from the original film raped and forcibly impregnated one woman and tried to do the same to another, in addition to murdering several people. To make him palatable as a protagonist, the sequel pits him against people who are somehow even worse. The man has set up another secluded home outside Detroit with his young daughter (Madelyn Grace) when she’s targeted by a group of dishonorably discharged soldiers who are now working for a child organ trafficking ring. The premise’s novelty has worn off, but new director Rodo Sayagues does well staging the action scenes as this survivalist deals with a home invasion, and the script acknowledges that the little girl is traumatized by seeing her dad gruesomely kill the bad guys. Hard to see where a third movie would pick up, so this is a good place to end the series. Also with Brendan Sexton III, Rocci Williams, Stephanie Arcila, Adam Young, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, and Bobby Schofield.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PG-13) Jessica Chastain really looks nothing like Tammy Faye Bakker, which makes her transformation into the heavily made-up televangelist all the more remarkable. She plays Tammy Faye as she goes to Bible college, marries Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield), and builds America’s fourth-largest TV network in the 1980s before it all turns out to be a Ponzi scheme about God. The movie is sadly lacking when it comes to connecting the Bakkers’ tacky materialism with today’s mainstream evangelical Christianity, or considering the meaning behind the public opprobrium faced by Tammy Faye. The lead performances are much more carefully thought out, with Garfield playing Jim as a monster of self-pity and Chastain depicting Tammy as a woman scarred by poverty and medicating herself with prescription drugs and the trappings of wealth. The movie tells us nothing new about the phenomenon of the Bakkers, but the performances make us feel like we understand them as people. Also with Vincent D’Onofrio, Sam Jaeger, Randy Havens, Mark Wystrach, Gabriel Olds, Fredric Lehne, and Cherry Jones.
Free Guy (PG-13) It’s like The Truman Show, but for video games. Ryan Reynolds stars as a bank teller inside an ultraviolent video game who discovers that he is just a non-playable character in a game and starts deviating from his programming. This movie is more attuned to gaming culture than most, with real-life YouTube and Twitch gamers making cameo appearances to comment on an NPC suddenly acting on his own. Neither of the movie’s romantic plots works, but the actors bring great energy, with Taika Waititi nailing the part of a T-shirt-wearing corporate tyrant, Jodie Comer switching gleefully between a blonde American gamer and her brunette British alter ego, and Reynolds doing well as a man who’s so square that he’s hip. Movies adapted from video games suck, but movies about video games and why people play them have better luck. Also with Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Channing Tatum, and Chris Evans. Voices by Dwayne Johnson, Tina Fey, John Krasinski, and Hugh Jackman.
The Green Knight (R) David Lowery’s most complete film yet is this strange, mystical adaptation of the 14th-century poem about Sir Gawain. Dev Patel portrays the medieval knight, who beheads a knight (Ralph Ineson) who challenges him and then has to keep an appointment the next year to receive a return blow from the victim, who’s very much alive despite being decapitated. Lowery’s customary brand of mythic fantasy fits this story better than any of his previous ones, and he has a flair for the unexpected visual, like the Green Knight laying his axe down on a stone castle floor and grass immediately sprouting from the cracks. The borderline-abstract interiors and the blasted heaths and moors make for spectacular backdrops. At times Lowery needs to crack on with the story, but the overly long fake ending serves a purpose in tying the poem to the director’s ongoing concerns with human beings’ purpose on Earth. For a movie adapted from a 600-year-old poem, its weirdness is entirely appropriate. Also with Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Sarita Choudhury, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, and Kate Dickie.
Jungle Cruise (PG-13) Thuddingly mediocre Disney entry has none of the technical dazzle of Raiders of the Lost Ark nor any of the bracing weirdness of the better Pirates of the Caribbean films. This adventure film based on one of the Disneyland rides is set in 1916 and features Emily Blunt as a British archeologist who travels to Brazil and engages a rough riverboat captain (Dwayne Johnson) to take her on an Amazon expedition to find a lost treasure. The filmmakers are aiming for something like the Bogart-Hepburn chemistry from The African Queen, but it never materializes, and the only actor here who comes correct is Jesse Plemons as a German military officer who serves as a comic villain. This isn’t bad, necessarily. It’s just overwhelmingly Disney. Also with Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Veronica Falcón, Andy Nyman, and Paul Giamatti.
Malignant (PG-13) First there was Insidious, then there was Sinister, and now this. What’s next, Deleterious? Annabelle Wallis stars in this horror film as a battered wife who starts to experience visions of supernatural murders as they happen, starting when a demon kills her abusive husband (Jake Abel) and mangles the corpse. The whole film is like a straight-faced version of Venom, and did I ever miss the humor. There’s a cool sequence when our protagonist is jailed in general lockup and the demon tears through the other prisoners in her cell to get to her, but the affair is taken down by bad acting, bad writing, and a plot revelation that takes too long to explain. James Wan brings his typical visual flourishes to this thing. If only he had some discipline in using them, he’d be onto something. Also with Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Ingrid Bisu, Christian Clemenson, Jacqueline McKenzie, Jean Louisa Kelly, Paula Marshall, and McKenna Grace.
My Name Is Pauli Murray (PG-13) Julie Cohen and Betsy West’s documentary profiles the life of the non-binary Black activist and lawyer.
Old (PG-13) M. Night Shyamalan remains great at putting the camera in the right place and moving it around, and also remains terrible at writing. Adapting Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters’ French graphic novel, the film stars Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps as parents of young children who take a vacation on a secluded beach and discover along with a few other groups of vacationers that the place is causing them to age rapidly. As always, Shyamalan creates enviable shots and goes easy on the sentimentality that has marred some of his previous work, but the film goes on too long and the trademark plot twist here (different from the one in the graphic novel) doesn’t pay off well enough. Ranking in the middle of the pack of Shyamalan’s films, this keeps you interested but no more. Also with Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Davidtz, Aaron Pierre, Emun Elliott, Kathleen Chalfant, Gustaf Hammarsten, Francesca Eastwood, and Rufus Sewell.
Paw Patrol: The Movie (G) I think they just recycled the least creative scripts from the TV show and used it for this movie. The rescue puppies hit the big city, and the police dog (voiced by Iain Armitage) continually screws up as they try to rescue people from dangerous publicity stunts pulled by the Trump-like mayor (voiced by Ron Pardo). Not a single story beat of this thing registers as fresh, except perhaps the filmmakers’ unreasonable hatred of cats. The visuals are acceptable and the movie adds a bunch of celebrities as voices, but the whole affair has about as much energy as a sedated 14-year-old house pet. Additional voices by Marsai Martin, Will Brisbin, Yara Shahidi, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Jimmy Kimmel, Kim Kardashian West, and Tyler Perry.
Prisoners of the Ghostland (NR) Japan’s craziest filmmaker makes his English-language debut with this radioactive steampunk samurai zombie Western musical starring Nicolas Cage as an outlaw who’s set free by an evil governor (Bill Moseley) so he can rescue the governor’s runaway adopted granddaughter (Sofia Boutella). The insanity runs rampant, with bluegrass music, interpretive dance, bizarre religious rituals, and Cage having bombs strapped to his testicles which are designed to detonate remotely if he should have an erection. Some of the acting is cartoonishly bad and clearly delivered by Japanese actors who learned their English lines phonetically, but the director livens things up with his eye for striking visuals. Don’t look for meaning here, just take in the febrile hallucination of a talented madman. Also with Nick Cassavetes, Tak Sakaguchi, Young Dais, Shin Shimizu, Cici Zhou, Yuzuka Nakaya, Tetsu Watanabe, and Charles Glover.
The Protégé (R) That title should be spelled “protégée,” but this movie has bigger problems than mixing up its French noun genders. Maggie Q stars in this thriller as a contract killer who seeks revenge when her adoptive father and mentor in the trade (Samuel L. Jackson) is murdered in his home on his 70th birthday. Her quest leads her to Vietnam, the country where she was orphaned as a girl. Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) executes the fight sequences reasonably well, but the script is way less clever than it thinks it is. Maggie Q can certainly deliver a roundhouse kick, and it would have helped if she could deliver a threat with any sort of aplomb. The only actor who shows what he can do is Michael Keaton as an enemy who is as skilled and resourceful as the antiheroine. You’re better off staying home and catching the movie streaming, or simply looking up the fight scenes on YouTube. Also with Patrick Malahide, Ray Fearon, Ori Pfeffer, David Rintoul, and Robert Patrick.
Queenpins (R) Kristen Bell and Kirby Howell-Baptiste star in this comic thriller as two suburban mothers who start up a multimillion-dollar coupon fraud scheme. Also with Vince Vaughn, Paul Walter Hauser, Joel McHale, Stephen Root, Jack McBrayer, Annie Mumolo, Nick Cassavetes, Paul Rust, Dayo Okeniyi, and Bebe Rexha.
Un rescate de huevitos (PG) If you’ve never seen a Mexican animated movie for kids, you’ll be happy to know that this isn’t too shabby. The story begins on a farm where a rooster and hen (voiced by Bruno Bichir and Maite Perroni) have laid two golden eggs, which unfortunately attracts the attention of some Russian egg hunters who are searching for rare eggs to serve at a banquet in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The concept of eggs that walk and talk to one another may be too weird for you, but the computer animation is at an acceptable level, the plot has enough twists to keep the kids engaged, and the throwaway gags in the background might raise a chuckle or two from the grown-ups. This is the fourth film in a series, but the first one to make it to our theaters. Additional voices by Carlos Espejel, Mauricio Barrientos, Angélica Vale, Freddy Ortega, Germán Ortega, Miguel Rodarte, and Jesús Ochoa.
Respect (PG-13) If you’re going to make a biopic of Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson is the best you can do to cast as the Queen of Soul. Too bad this movie isn’t the best that can be done. Franklin’s eventful life is reduced to a series of episodes strung together indifferently and interspersed with Hudson’s cover versions of Franklin’s best-known hits, plus some from her abortive earlier career as a lounge jazz singer. The film has some great supporting work from Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s father and Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, but these aren’t enough to knit this bloated exercise into a cohesive statement about its subject’s life and career, or even reveal much that’s new to casual fans. Also with Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Brenda Nicole Moorer, Hailey Kilgore, Kimberly Scott, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Tate Donovan, and Mary J. Blige.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (PG-13) The superhero movie that the Chinese film industry has been trying to make for the last decade or so. The latest Marvel film stars Simu Liu as the son of a Chinese mob boss (Tony Leung) who has been lying low in San Francisco to escape that life. He’s forced to come out of hiding when he learns of his father’s plans to destroy a mythical Chinese village containing legendary beasts. Director/co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton skilfully imitates the pictorialism of Chinese martial-arts epics, gracefully imitates the flashbacks, and injects humor into the proceedings without strain. The fight sequences move at blinding speed, which helps compensate for Liu’s lack of distinction when it comes to depicting the hero’s damaged childhood. Leung is much better, as his mournful, haunted face keeps his villain from being one-dimensional. This is up to the standard of Marvel’s other superhero films, and its ties to Asian folklore set it apart. Also with Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Meng’er, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Andy Le, Yuen Wah, Ronnie Chieng, Tsai Chin, Benedict Wong, Tim Roth, Ben Kingsley, and uncredited cameos by Mark Ruffalo and Brie Larson.
Show Me the Father (PG) Rick Altizer’s documentary interviews Christians about their experiences with fatherhood bringing them closer to God.
Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) A worthy successor to the 1996 movie, which is to say it’s just as loud, stupid, cynical, and bereft of any value (entertainment or otherwise) as the original. LeBron James portrays himself as a crappy dad who pushes his teenage son (Cedric Joe) to play basketball when the kid would rather be designing video games. They both get digitized and forced to suit up against an evil basketball team made up of real-life NBA and WNBA stars as well as a whole bunch of characters from Warner Bros.’ intellectual property ranks. The movie’s too busy name-checking characters from Looney Tunes and the DC Comics universe to attempt a coherent story or even fire off any stray jokes that hit. The only way this could be a bigger disgrace to everyone involved is if it had a soaring ballad by R. Kelly over the end credits. Also with Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Khris Davis, Wood Harris, Lil Rel Howery, Sarah Silverman, Steven Yeun, and Michael B. Jordan. Voices by Zendaya, Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Iglesias, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis.
Vivo (PG) In addition to everything else, Lin-Manuel Miranda is the best kid-friendly rapper out there right now. He stars in this animated musical as the voice of a kinkajou in Cuba whose elderly master (Juan de Marcos González) dies. The animal discovers the man’s never-performed song written to a salsa singer (voiced by Gloria Estefan) whom he loved and resolves to deliver the song to her in Florida, with the help of his master’s purple-haired grandniece (voiced by Ynairaly Simo). The animators do great work with the plazas of Havana and the neon-lit streets of Miami. I wish director/co-writer Kirk DeMicco (The Croods) had risen to that same level with the characters and story. Miranda’s songs are below his best, too, though he does some of his patented rapid-fire rhyming in some of the songs. Additional voices by Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker, Katie Lowes, Danny Pino, Nicole Byer, and Brian Tyree Henry.
Best Sellers (NR) This drama stars Michael Caine as a reclusive author who agrees to do one final book tour to save the publishing house owned by his friend’s daughter (Aubrey Plaza). Also with Cary Elwes, Ellen Wong, Veronica Ferres, and Scott Speedman.
Collection (NR) Alex Pettyfer stars in this thriller as a grieving, self-destructive man who turns to a career in debt collection. Also with Shakira Barrera, Mike Vogel, Jacques Colimon, and Joseph Julian Soria.
I Love Us (NR) Danny A. Abeckaser directs and stars in his comedy as a gangster who tries to go straight after falling in love. Also with Katie Cassidy, David James Elliott, Elya Baskin, Jasper Polish, and Robert Davi. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Lady of the Manor (R) Justin Long co-directs and co-stars in this comedy about an aimless woman (Melanie Lynskey) who becomes a tour guide at an estate and befriends the ghost who lives there (Judy Greer). Also with Ryan Phillippe, Luis Guzmán, Cassidy Reyes, and Patrick Duffy.