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Richard Jenkins and Steven Yeun hold a Thanksgiving housewarming party in "The Humans." Courtesy A24 Films

OPENING

 

Antim: The Final Truth (NR) This Indian action-thriller stars Salman Khan as a Sikh policeman trying to stop the rise of a crime boss (Aayush Sharma). Also with Mahima Makwana, Jisshu Sengupta, Mahesh Manjrekar, Upendra Limaye, Sachin Khedekar, Lankesh Bhardwaj, and Varun Dhawan. (Opens Wednesday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

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C’mon C’mon (R) Joaquin Phoenix stars in the latest film by Mike MIlls (20th-Century Women) about a radio journalist who goes on a cross-country trip with his nephew (Woody Norman). Also with Gaby Hoffman, Scoot McNairy, Jaboukie Young-White, and Deborah Strang. (Opens Wednesday in Dallas)

For the Love of Money (R) Keri Hilson stars in this thriller as a single mother who’s forced to turn to her wealthy family for help during a crisis. Also with Katt Williams, Jason Mitchell, D.C. Young Fly, Rotimi, LisaRaye McCoy, Jazzy Jade, and Keith Sweat. (Opens Wednesday)

A Holiday Chance (PG-13) This Christian film stars Nafessa Williams and Sharon Leal as sisters who must put aside their lifelong rivalry to save their family’s film company. Also with Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tobias Truvillion, Chasity Saunders, and Amin Joseph. (Opens Wednesday)

The Humans (R) Stephen Karam adapts his Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play to film by shooting this domestic drama like a horror movie, with extreme closeups of peeling paint and water damage. Nico Muhly’s score, which is better than the film, contributes to this greatly. In the end, I’m not sure what for. Beanie Feldstein and Steven Yeun play the couple who invite her family from Pennsylvania to the large but run-down apartment they just bought in New York’s Chinatown. Possibly this study of aging and loss works better on the stage, but in a movie theater, it feels too much like the director being oppressive and claustrophobic for its own sake. The direction overwhelms the material instead of complementing it. Amy Schumer blends into this cast quite well as a lawyer going through professional and personal crises. Also with Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, and June Squibb. (Opens Wednesday at Grand Berry Theatre)

Julia (PG-13) The latest documentary by Julie Cohen and Betsy West (RBG, My Name Is Pauli Murray) profiles Julia Child and her impact on American cuisine and television. Also with José Andrés, Marcus Samuelsson, Ina Garten, Ruth Reichl, Charles Gibson, and Jacques Pepin. (Opens Wednesday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Railway Heroes (NR) This World War II epic is about the brave exploits of Chinese resistance fighters against Japanese invaders. Starring Fan Wei, Zhang Hanyu, Zhou Ye, Vision Wei, Yu Haoming, and Hiroyuki Mori. (Opens Wednesday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (R) Kaya Scodelario stars in this prequel to the film series, set in 1998 at the dawn of the zombie apocalypse. Also with Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Neal McDonough, Avan Jogia, Tom Hopper, and Donal Logue. (Opens Wednesday)

Satyameva Jayate 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2018 Indian hit stars John Abraham as a father and his twin sons fighting against injustice. Also with Divya Khosla Kumar, Harsh Chhaya, Anup Soni, Gautami Kapoor, Jass Manak, and Nora Fatehi. (Opens Wednesday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Addams Family 2 (PG) The animated films are engagingly weird and can indulge in the sort of large set pieces that the old TV show couldn’t. In this sequel to the 2019 film, Gomez (Oscar Isaac) drags the family on a cross-country road trip to conceal the revelation that Wednesday (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz) might have been switched at birth with the baby of a Silicon Valley tech mogul (voiced by Bill Hader) who now wants to claim her. Moretz does well with Wednesday’s affectless demeanor but is missing the edge of creepiness that Christina Ricci brought to the part in the 1990s live-action movies. Even so, the film has set pieces like her being forced to compete in a child beauty pageant in Texas and a climactic brawl when Uncle Fester (voiced by Nick Kroll) is turned into a Lovecraftian monster and has to fight off a giant horse/pig/rooster/elephant. Additional voices by Charlize Theron, Javon “Wanna” Walton, Wallace Shawn, Brian Sommer, Cherami Leigh, Snoop Dogg, and Bette Midler.

Antlers (R) This horror movie starts out so promisingly and ends so limply. Keri Russell portrays a middle-school teacher in a small Oregon town who resolves to protect a student (Jeremy T. Thomas) whom she suspects of being abused at home. In fact, the boy is keeping his father and little brother chained up because they’ve been possessed by a wendigo. This is based on Nick Antosca’s short story “The Quiet Boy,” and director/co-writer Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) does great at capturing the atmosphere of this desolate rural backwater. His smooth scene transitions generate suspense early on, and he tracks how the teacher’s own history of childhood abuse makes her determined to intervene in the boy’s life. Sadly, the filmmakers can’t decide whether that wendigo is a metaphor for domestic violence or substance abuse or something else. The white filmmakers’ use of a monster from Native American folklore isn’t the most finely calibrated, either. Is that why the film isn’t scary enough? Also with Jesse Plemons, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Sawyer Jones, Graham Greene, and Amy Madigan. 

Belfast (PG-13) Kenneth Branagh mines his autobiography for this coming-of-age story, and it’s charming rather than overbearing. His fictional stand-in (Jude Hill) grows up in Northern Ireland in 1969, where sectarian religious violence is forcing his dad (Jamie Dornan) to consider moving the family somewhere out of harm’s way. The young Hill is the real deal whether he’s deconstructing his cousin’s theories about Catholics or staring in awestruck wonder at the movies he watches at the local theater. The cast is mostly from Norn Iron, and Ciarán Hinds is particularly good as an ethically shady but lovable old grandfather. If the climactic confrontation is over-the-top, the film is better when it shows its kids being kids even amid the street uprisings and the turmoil in their homes. This is an appropriate companion piece to Brooklyn. Also with Caitríona Balfe, Lewis McAskie, Josie Walker, Freya Yates, Michael Maloney, Colin Morgan, Mark Hadfield, John Sessions, and Judi Dench.

Clifford the Big Red Dog (PG) Darby Camp stars in this film based on Norman Bridwell’s beloved series of children’s books. Also with Jack Whitehall, Izaac Wang, Kenan Thompson, Sienna Guillory, Tony Hale, David Alan Grier, Horatio Sanz, Paul Rodriguez, Russell Peters, Tovah Feldshuh, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, and John Cleese. 

C.S. Lewis: The Most Reluctant Convert (NR) Max McLean stars in this filmed version of his one-man stage show about the author and literary scholar who converted to Christianity as an adult. Also with Nicholas Ralph, Eddie Ray Martin, and Tom Glenister. 

Dune (PG-13) This second attempt at adapting Frank Herbert’s mammoth science fiction epic offers a much smoother storytelling experience than David Lynch’s 1984 film. Timothée Chalamet stars as the young prince who’s forced to flee into the desert on an alien planet after his father (Oscar Isaac) is overthrown as the installed governor there. Director/co-writer Denis Villeneuve ends the story well short of the end of the book, which makes the film’s alien cultures and worlds feel more lived-in, but also keeps it from being a satisfying stand-alone film. Villeneuve gives you buckets full of spectacular vistas, and at its best, the film is sublime in the old sense of making you feel small. Too bad he overdoes it, feeling the need to underscore the epic quality of every scene. Whatever intimacy he doesn’t beat out of the story, Hans Zimmer’s music takes care of. Ultimately, this is like a beautifully presented and cleverly conceived restaurant meal that leaves you wanting to hit the nearest McDonald’s afterwards. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chang Chen, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Golda Rosheuvel, Roger Yuan, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem.

Eternals (PG-13) This is like the Marvel Comics movies’ version of The Tree of Life, and it should be much worse than it is. The main characters are 10 ageless beings who came to the Earth 7,000 years ago to assist in developing human civilization. In the present day, they find out they’re meant to assist in humanity’s extinction, and some of them decide to prevent it instead. Fresh off her Oscar win for Nomadland, Chloé Zhao brings all of Disney’s resources to re-creating Babylon in the 6th century B.C. and the Aztec empire. This is amazing to look at, and she films a Bollywood dance number like it’s something she’s always wanted to do, but her transition from her previous films to the maximalism of this one has its rough patches. Even so, the movie has its moments of inspiration when its characters dwell on the human race’s accomplishments over time. Messy as the film is, it’s hard not to admire the crazy ambition of this effort by the world’s reigning movie franchise. Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Barry Keoghan, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård, Haaz Sleiman, Patton Oswalt, and Harry Styles.

The French Dispatch (R) A relatively minor work by Wes Anderson, this love letter to France won’t convert you if you don’t share his Francophilia, but it will entertain his fans. Bill Murray plays the publisher of a French-based magazine published for readers in Kansas, where he comes from. The story is structured like an issue of his magazine, divided into discrete stories narrated by various writers (Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Jeffrey Wright). The deadpan performances and the fastidiously arranged visuals are all brilliantly done, although here more than in other Anderson films, it feels like cleverness for its own sake. The best story is the one narrated by Wright about a police lieutenant and legendary chef (Stephen Park) who performs heroic feats on a night when his boss’ son is kidnapped. In addition to France, the movie is a tribute to The New Yorker and to writers who want to tell their readers a bit about the wider world. Also with Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Liev Schreiber, Mathieu Amalric, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Henry Winkler, Tony Revolori, Lois Smith, Denis Ménochet, Cécile de France, Guillaume Gallienne, Rupert Friend, Alex Lawther, Hippolyte Girardot, Winsen Ait Hellal, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Fisher Stevens, Griffin Dunne, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, and Christoph Waltz.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (PG-13) This movie gives the fans everything they want. And it sucks! It sucks ectoplasm. It doesn’t start out so bad, to be fair, as Egon Spengler’s bankrupt and estranged daughter (Carrie Coon) receives news of his death and moves her teenage children (Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace) to his badly kept farm in rural Oklahoma, where the kids discover who their grandfather used to be. Jason Reitman is the son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the movies in the 1980s. The younger Reitman is too good not to come up with some good lines as the family tries to put down roots, but he’s the wrong filmmaker for this project. He’s good at finding humor in ordinary everyday life, not at combining jokes with supernatural horror. They had 36 years to think of a different storyline, and instead they played back the exact same one as the original movie. That’s the sign of a filmmaker who’s too afraid of the fans to move. Also with Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, Bokeem Woodbine, J.K. Simmons, Annie Potts, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver.

Halloween Kills (R) This latest installment tries to turn Michael Myers into a metaphor for something or other, and sweet Lord, it doesn’t work. Taking place immediately after the events of the 2018 film, this sequel has Jamie Lee Curtis and a bunch of other actors from the original 1978 movie (Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, and Nancy Stephens) huddle to discuss the ways they’ve been traumatized by Michael’s murders. It all turns into a lynch mob that vows to hunt Michael down and chases a few innocent people to their deaths. Director David Gordon Green and his fellow writers try to balance the demands of a slasher movie with making Michael into a symbol of the divisions in American society, and they are the wrong filmmakers to try to pull something like that. At least the old Halloween movies were up-front about pandering to teens’ basest instincts. This movie wants to justify it intellectually. Also with Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Jim Cummings, Dylan Arnold, Robert Longstreet, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald, Anthony Michael Hall, and Bob Odenkirk. 

King Richard (PG-13) Serena Williams may be the greatest tennis player who has ever lived, and yet somehow it’s her dad who they make the movie about. Will Smith plays the father who plans to raise his daughters Venus and Serena (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) to be tennis prodigies even before they’re born. The script labors mightily to distinguish Richard Williams from all the other crazy tennis parents screaming at their kids and turning them into burnout cases, yet the movie can’t stray far enough from the conventions of sports movies. For all the movie’s efforts to paint Richard with flaws and all, it still doesn’t know how to treat him except as a hero. No surprise given that the Williams sisters are producers on this film, but it makes for bad drama. Jon Bernthal pilfers some scenes as a tennis coach who’s also part snake-oil salesman. Also with Aunjanue Ellis, Tony Goldwyn, Kevin Dunn, Rich Sommer, Jimmy Walker Jr., and Dylan McDermott.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ MIssion (NR) I found myself admiring the great splashes of color in the action sequences more than anything in the story or characters in this anime film. Deku (voiced by Daiki Yamashita in the Japanese version and Justin Briner in the English version) has to team up with an orphaned thief (voiced by Ryô Yoshizawa and Ryan Colt Levy) in order to stop Flect Turn (voiced by Kazuya Nakai and Robbie Daymond) from releasing a poison that kills everyone in the world with superpowers. The action is flung very far indeed, with heroes in four different countries trying to stave off the apocalypse at once. The film has a great chase scene early on when Deku tries to apprehend the thief and recover his stolen briefcase. Much like the last installment in this series, this film will charm the audience who are already fans and leave newcomers on the outside looking in. Additional voices by Nobuhiko Okamoto, Clifford Chapin, Yuki Kaji, David Matranga, Tetsu Inada, Patrick Seitz, Yuichi Nakamura, and Zeno Robinson. 

No Time to Die (PG-13) Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond proves to be a fitting send-off. James breaks up with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) after she appears to set him up for an ambush, but he’s forced to work with her again along with Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) after one of Blofeld’s enemies (Rami Malek) gets hold of a biological weapon that could wipe out billions. The first-ever Bond film with a non-British director (specifically America’s Cary Joji Fukunaga) has the big action set pieces the fans are looking for, though the better ones are smaller scenes like the one in the Norwegian forest. The writers put a greater emphasis on psychological depth, but there’s still too much fat and fanservice in this 163-minute film. Even so, Craig finds some new notes to play as the secret agent who’s broken inside, and brings the character to a wholly logical conclusion. Also with Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Lashana Lynch, David Dencik, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, and Ana de Armas.

Ron’s Gone Wrong (PG) Acceptable tech satire for the kiddie crowd, this animated film is about a boy (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) from a poor Luddite family who begs them for the tech industry’s hot new toy, a robot that’s programmed to be its owner’s best friend. When he finally gets one (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), it turns out to be defective in ways both good and bad. It’s never too early for kids to learn that tech moguls don’t care about them and only want to sell them more stuff, though I wish the satire had been sharper and subtler. The film does boast a superb bit of chaos in the middle when the defective bot comes to class and causes all the other kids’ robots to misbehave and tear apart the school. This is the first feature by Locksmith Animation, and it’s a decent start for the outfit. Additional voices by Ed Helms, Rob Delaney, Justice Smith, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Ruby Wax, Liam Payne, and Olivia Colman.

Sooryavanshi (NR) The title is the name of the main character (Akshay Kumar), and if you don’t know how to pronounce it, the soundtrack says it for you at least 100 times. This thriller is about a police detective trying to thwart a Muslim terrorist plot in Mumbai. He’s so fanatical that he starts a shootout with some thugs when his family is nearby, and his little boy catches a stray bullet. His fellow cops are so fanatical that they all tell his wife (Katrina Kaif) that she has to forgive him anyway. Aside from that, the film’s message that all religions are welcome in India doesn’t jibe with the current government’s systematic repression of non-Hindus, especially Muslims. This is the Indian version of copaganda, and it’s no more attractive than the American version. Also with Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh, Jaaved Jaaferi, Gulshan Grover, Abhimanyu Singh, Rajendra Gupta, and Jackie Shroff. 

Spencer (R) It’s entirely appropriate to cast an actress who has been famous since childhood to play Princess Diana in the royal fishbowl, and Kristen Stewart does not disappoint, even if the movie’s agonies are muted. The story is set over Christmas weekend 1991 but doesn’t depict the momentous events that happened during that time in her marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing). Rather, director Pablo Larraín (Jackie) aims to create a single, sustained mood of unbearable tension. Cinematographer Claire Mathon gives the proceedings a gauzy, nostalgic glow that ironically points up the anti-nostalgia of the piece, as Diana is tormented by the proximity of her childhood home and fantasies of self-harm — you won’t forget her choking down the pearls off her necklace at dinner. The film ends with a better fantasy of ordering lunch at McDonald’s, pointing out that sometimes the only happy part of the fairy tale is escaping it. Also with Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Stella Gonet, Jack Nielen, Freddie Spry, Sean Harris, Laura Benson, and Amy Manson.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (PG-13) The series continues to be a useful odd entry in the world of superhero comic adaptations. Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock, San Francisco reporter with an alien symbiote inside him that eats people. When an imprisoned serial killer (Woody Harrelson) bites his hand, the being reproduces itself inside him, allowing him to massacre everyone who attends his execution. Andy Serkis takes over as director and has a tough time balancing between the action and the elements of dark humor, as the protagonist tries to keep the murderous thing inside him from coming out. There’s a funny interlude when Venom separates from Eddie, hits a costume party, and finds kinship among the out-and-proud gays there. The script also has a firmer grasp on the fact that Eddie is an idiot and a bad journalist. If only the series could find greater consistency in the non-Venom parts of these movies, they’d be awesome. Also with Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Stephen Graham, Reid Scott, and Peggy Lu. 

The Youngest Evangelist (PG-13) This Christian film stars Princeton Bryan as a 10-year-old boy in 1980 who seeks spiritual truth. Also with Duranice Price and Crystal Clark.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Boiling Point (R) Shot in a single take, this British drama is about a restaurant chef (Stephen Graham) trying to keep his cooks in line on the busiest night of the year. Also with Vinette Robinson, Alice Feetham, Jason Flemyng, Hannah Walters, Malachi Kirby, and Izuka Hoyle. 

The First Wave (R) The latest documentary by Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) follows doctors and first responders in New York as they treat the first COVID-19 patients in that city. 

Hide and Seek (R) This American remake of a similarly titled Korean thriller stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a rich man searching for his missing brother. Also with Joe Pantoliano, Jacinda Barrett, Geoffrey Owens, Sue Jean Kim, and Eli Golden. 

Mark, Mary & Some Other People (R) Hannah Marks’ comedy stars Ben Rosenfield and Hayley Law as a married couple who decide to try an open marriage. Also with Nik Dodani, Matt Shively, Sofia Bryant, Esther Povitsky, Joe Lo Truglio, Haley Ramm, Gillian Jacobs, and Lea Thompson. 

Night Raiders (NR) This science-fiction thriller stars Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as a mother joining a group of vigilantes to rescue her child from a dystopian future government. Also with Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Alex Tarrant, Shaun Sipos, Violet Nelson, and Amanda Plummer. 

The Power of the Dog (R) Jane Campion’s Western adapted from Thomas Savage’s novel is about a rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch) who vows to destroy his brother (Jesse Plemons) after he brings home a new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and stepson (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Also with Adam Beach, Alice Englert, Alistair Sewell, Keith Carradine, and Thomasin McKenzie. 

Soulmate(s) (NR) Alexandra Case and Stephanie Lynn write and star in this comedy as two lifelong friends whose friendship is threatened when one of them becomes engaged. Also with Mark Famiglietti, Di Quon, Alice Barrett, and Zachary Spicer. 

Zeros and Ones (R) Ethan Hawke stars in Abel Ferrara’s thriller as an American soldier trying to unravel a plot to blow up the Vatican while stationed in Rome. Also with Babak Karimi, Valerio Mastandrea, and Salvatore Ruocco.

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