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Emilia Jones sends a message of love in "CODA." Courtesy Apple TV+

OPENING

 

Alice (R) Keke Palmer stars in this thriller as a slave who escapes from a Georgia plantation and discovers that the year is actually 1973. Also with Common, Jonny Lee Miller, Gaius Charles, Natasha Yvette Williams, Kenneth Farmer, and Alicia Witt. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Bachchan Pandey (NR) This remake of a 2006 Korean action-comedy stars Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon, Jacqueline Fernandez, Arshad Warsi, Pankaj Tripathi, Prateik Babbar, and Sanjay Mishra. (Opens Friday)

CODA (PG-13) Aside from the casting, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about this Oscar-nominated drama, but it sure is charming. Emilia Jones stars as a teenage Child of Deaf Adults (Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin) whose talent as a singer gives her a chance to study at the Berklee College of Music. If the irony that our protagonist’s parents will never hear her sing is a bit too easy, writer-director Siân Heder goes easy on the soap, and there’s a great scene when her father places his hands on her neck to feel the vibrations while she sings. Kotsur deserves his Oscar nod as a peppery New England fisherman who swears a lot in sign language, and Jones (a British newcomer who is, in real life, the daughter of a recording star) makes a bright impression as the one hearing member of her family, and her singing voice is worth the hype. This is a remake of the French film La famille belier. Also with Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Durant, John Fiore, Lonnie Farmer, Kevin Chapman, Amy Forsyth, and Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. (Opens Friday at Movie Tavern Hulen) 

Expired (R) This science-fiction film is about a hit man (Ryan Kwanten) whose body suddenly starts to deteriorate in a future Hong Kong. Also with Hugo Weaving, Jillian Nguyen, Lamar Brown, and Michael Chan. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Guide (NR) Proceeds from the run of this 2014 Ukrainian film benefit survivors of the Russian invasion. Oles Sanin’s film is about a blind American boy (Anton Greene) who seeks the help of a musician (Stanislav Bokan) to flee the country during the 1930s invasion. Also with Jeff Burrell, Andriy Haddad, Oleh Prymohenov, Serhiy Zhadan, Irina Sanina, Oleksandr Kobzar, and Veronika Shostak. (Opens Friday)

The Hater (NR) This comedy stars Joey Ally as a liberal environmentalist who returns to her conservative Texas hometown to find that her school bully is running for the state legislature. Also with Michael Andrew Baker, Ali Larter, James L. Brewster, Amanda Crown, Susan-Kate Heaney, and Nora Dunn. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

James (NR) The late Puneeth Rajkumar stars in this action film. Also with Priya Anand, Anu Prabhakar, Srikanth, Hareesh Peradi, Tilak Shekar, Mukesh Rishi, Shiva Rajkumar, and Raghavendra Rajkumar. (Opens Friday)

Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie (PG-13) Based on the popular manga series, this film is about a boy (voiced by Megumi Ogata) who goes to a special school to help him tame the ferocious spirit (voiced by Kana Hanazawa) that protects him. Additional voices by Tomokazu Seki, Yȗichi Nakamura, Shin’ichirô Miki, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takahiro Sakurai, and Satoshi Hino. (Opens Friday)

Master (PG-13) A lot of interesting ideas swirl around this Black horror film without quite coalescing into a compelling statement. The movie is set at an exclusive New England university where two Black women arrive: a professor (Regina Hall) who becomes the college’s first Black house master, and a freshman (Zoe Renee) who is one of eight students of color at the whole school. First-time writer-director Mariama Diallo conjures an eerie atmosphere without ever taking the film to outright scariness, and the plot has a ton of loose ends ranging from the freshman’s hostile white roommate (Talia Ryder) to the Rachel Dolezal-like identity scandal to the hate crime that our young protagonist is a victim of. The movie aims to be a study of white privilege in academia, but despite its director’s talent, it’s too scattered to make that work. Also with Amber Gray, Ella Hunt, Noa Fisher, Talia Balsam, Kara Young, Jennifer Dundas, Joel de la Fuente, Mary Catherine Wright, and Bruce Altman. (Opens Friday at Premiere Cinemas Burleson)

Measure of Revenge (NR) Melissa Leo stars in this thriller as a theater actress who conducts her own investigation into her son’s death. Also with Bella Thorne, Jake Weary, Adrian Martinez, Benedict Samuel, and Roma Maffia. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Mothering Sunday (R) Adapted from Graham Swift’s novel, this drama stars Odessa Young as a maid in post-World War I England having an affair with her married employer (Josh O’Connor). Also with Colin Firth, Olivia Colman, Emma D’Arcy, Șope Dìrísù, Patsy Ferran, and Glenda Jackson. (Opens Friday at Grand Berry Theater)

Nice View (NR) Jackson Yee stars in this Chinese drama as a man who takes a desperate financial gamble to pay for his sister’s medical bills. Also with Tian Yu, Chen Halin, Qi Xi, Gong Lei, Xu Juncong, and Wang Ning. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Panama (R) Cole Hauser stars in this thriller as a Marine-turned-private contractor who becomes caught up in America’s 1989 invasion of Panama. Also with Mel Gibson, Charlie Weber, Jackie Cruz, Victor Turpin, Simon Phillips, and Mauricio Hénao. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Stand Up Rahul (NR) This Indian romantic comedy stars Raj Tarun, Varsha Bollamma, Murali Sharma, and Vennela Kishore. (Opens Friday)

Umma (PG-13) This horror film stars Sandra Oh as an American farmer who has supernatural encounters after her estranged mother’s remains are shipped to her from South Korea. Also with Odeya Rush, Fivel Stewart, Tom Yi, and Dermot Mulroney. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Aadavallu Meeku Johaarlu (NR) A rare Indian comedy that plays well with Western audiences, this Telugu-language romance is about a man (Sharwanand) whose mother and four aunts decide early on not to marry him unless they all agree on the woman who’s worthy of him, which results in him reaching his 35th birthday still single, since all the prospective brides they meet offend one of the women in some way. The musical numbers are funny, there’s a nice running gag with the protagonist’s father and four uncles (who are always seen sitting together in the background, looking very sad), and a funny set piece when the guy becomes so desperate that he arranges his own marriage on the train platform with the daughter of the guy who sells peanuts at the station. Also with Rashmika Mandanna, Khushbu, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Urvashi, Brahmanandam, Jhansi, and Vennela Kishore. 

The Batman (PG-13) This reboot’s biggest achievement might just be forcing us to take the Riddler (Paul Dano) seriously as a villain. Robert Pattinson takes over the role of Bruce Wayne as he deals with a villain who murders Gotham’s fantastically corrupt city officials and leaves behind clues and severed body parts. Director/co-writer Matt Reeves does his finest work to date, especially with a great car chase when the Penguin (Colin Farrell, unrecognizable under a prosthetic fat suit) causes a chain-reaction pileup to deter the pursuing Batman. The film has terrific supporting turns from Farrell, John Turturro as an icy mob boss, and Zoë Kravitz as a slinky bisexual Catwoman pursuing a grudge. Still, it’s the Riddler who captures your attention as an incel torturer with a gruesome sense of humor who undermines faith in Gotham’s institutions that makes this a Batman movie for our time. Also with Jeffrey Wright, Andy Serkis, Jayme Lawson, Peter McDonald, Con O’Neill, Alex Ferns, Rupert Penry-Jones, Charlie Carver, Max Carver, Barry Keoghan, and Peter Sarsgaard.

Cyrano (PG-13) This terribly misconceived musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac stars Peter Dinklage as the warrior-poet who secretly writes poems to his beloved Roxanne (Haley Bennett) because he thinks she could never love a dwarf. The film’s locations in Sicily look great, but director Joe Wright (Bennett’s husband) botches the musical numbers in every possible way, and he isn’t helped by a bad batch of songs. This is a shame, since Dinklage, Bennett, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (as the soldier who takes credit for Cyrano’s poems and woos Roxanne in his place) all have pleasurable singing voices. The attempt at re-imagining the story for modern sensibilities fails miserably as well, and Wright’s insistence on pictorial beauty above all else winds up killing the drama. You’re better off watching Steve Martin in Roxanne. Also with Ben Mendelsohn, Monica Dolan, Bashir Salahuddin, Joshua James, Glen Hansard, Peter Wight, and Mark Benton. 

Dear Father (NR) This Gujarati-language drama stars Chetan Dhanani and Manasi Parekh as a couple whose relationship is shaken when his father (Paresh Rawal) reveals some family secrets. 

Death on the Nile (PG-13) Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Hercule Poirot in this slower and somberer follow-up to Murder on the Orient Express. The great detective is on a Nile River cruise trying to solve the murder of a wealthy socialite (Gal Gadot) where the most obvious suspect has an ironclad alibi. The events play out differently than in the Agatha Christie novel, with both the detective and the killer making mistakes that cause more people to die. The director still has trouble accommodating his actors while capturing the story’s compressed time frame, though the deluxe cast still has a number of nice turns. The case winds up having personal stakes for Poirot, and while the conception of him as a traumatized war veteran on the autism spectrum isn’t what Christie wrote, it is undeniably interesting. Also with Armie Hammer, Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Rose Leslie, Ali Fazal, Russell Brand, and Annette Bening.

Dog (PG-13) We should give Channing Tatum credit for trying to make a comedy that’s more than just him and a cute dog. At the same time, he’s taken on more than he can handle. The star makes his directing debut (with Reid Carolin as co-director), portraying a traumatized Army Ranger veteran who’s tasked with transporting an even more traumatized war dog from the Pacific Northwest to its handler’s funeral in Arizona. The film wants to be a serious look at PTSD amid its hijinks with the animal tearing up furniture and chasing people. The writers aren’t afraid to portray the soldiers as less than saintly, which leads to the funniest set piece when the main character pretends to be a blind veteran to score himself a nice hotel room. The film also has a fine performance by former pro wrestler Kevin Nash as a veteran who takes care of animals. The material presents tonal challenges that are too much for these filmmakers, but there’s something here. Also with Q’orianka Kilcher, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Aqueela Zoll, Ronnie Gene Blevins, and Jane Adams. 

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.

Etharkkum Thunindhavan (NR) This Indian thriller stars Suriya, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Vinay Rai, Sathyaraj, Rajkiran, Madhusudhan Rao, and Jayaprakash. 

Gangubai Kathiawadi (NR) Alia Bhatt’s performance is the best thing about this Indian film about a woman who is sold into prostitution in Bombay by her new husband and makes a name for herself by protecting her fellow prostitutes against violent men and eventually winning political office as an advocate for sex workers’ rights. I don’t know about the main character’s stance that prostitution prevents adultery and rape, but this film takes on risky subject matter for Indian audiences, and veteran director Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Padmavaat) packages it smartly for both domestic and foreign crowds. A stately performance by Bhatt as someone who goes from sexual assault victim to community leader anchors this. She also says this to a crooked policeman: “Last time I checked, you were a cop. When did you become a delivery boy?” Also with Shantanu Maheshwari, Vijay Raaz, Jahangir Khan, Anmol Kajani, Indira Tiwari, Seema Pahwa, Huma Qureshi, and Ajay Devgn. 

Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania (PG) Brian Hull takes over the role of Dracula in this installment of the animated series. Additional voices by Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Kathryn Hahn, Jim Gaffigan, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, and Fran Drescher. 

Jackass Forever (R) These films are becoming more watchable. Is it because the guys are getting older, or because I am? Or maybe their stupid pranks are just what we need to break the ice after two years of pandemic hell? Johnny Knoxville and his crew find new ways to traumatize their brains and their testicles with high explosives, wild animals, mopeds, pig semen, electric stun devices, and basic physics. Some of their students are so disgusting that the cameraman vomits into his face mask. (At last, a solid argument for not masking up.) No meditation on men getting older is likely to be more fun than this. Also with Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jeff Tremaine, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Preston Lacy, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Eric André, Francis Ngannou, Tyler the Creator, and Machine Gun Kelly. 

Jhund (NR) India has produced some very good dramas about sports that don’t have much traction in the West. This one is about the world’s most popular sport, and it’s way too reliant on the charisma of its star. Amitabh Bachchan portrays a character based on Vijay Barse, a university athletics coach who founded a soccer team for kids from the slums. The film deserves credit for showing scenes of poverty that most other Indian movies avoid like the plague, but the protagonist’s method of coaching seems to boil down to telling his players to score goals, and then Amitabh’s charisma is so strong that his players magically do it, win matches, and show up snobby rich people. I’d rather see 50 more movies about cricket than see this shopworn take on the beautiful game. Also with Akash Thosar, Rinku Rajguru, Ankush Gedam, Angel Anthony, Kishor Kadam, Sayli Patli, Rajiya Suhel, Vicky Kadian, and Abhinay Raj Singh. 

The Kashmir Files (NR) A subject of controversy in India, this film based on interviews with survivors of the 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Hindus stars Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Chinmay Mandlekar, Atul Srivastra, and Anupam Kher. 

Marry Me (PG-13) The hell is this? Jennifer Lopez stars in this romantic comedy as a pop star who is publicly cheated on by her pop-star boyfriend (Maluma), so she gets back at him by marrying a random dude (Owen Wilson) whom she meets at one of her concerts. ‘Cause that happens all the time. The movie has no insight on managing a sham relationship in the glare of social media or how that impacts his life as a math teacher. The only truly surprising thing here is that the movie ends with her helping his students win a math contest. Kat Coiro directs this listlessly. If this is the movie that’s meant to save the romantic comedy, the genre can stay dead. Also with Sarah Silverman, Utkarsh Ambudkar, John Bradley, Chloe Coleman, and Michelle Buteau. 

Moonfall (PG-13) The Moon threatens to crash into the Earth in the latest disaster movie by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), and the people behave so stupidly that you’re rooting for the Moon. The newly promoted NASA director (Halle Berry), a disgraced former astronaut (Patrick Wilson), and a crackpot science nerd who thinks the Moon is a hollow structure built by aliens (John Bradley) are the team that take it upon themselves to save the world. The only thing worse than the science is the complete lack of jokes that work. The filmmakers are afraid to guy the insane premise for humor, and the action is clotted up with bad dialogue about why the characters are doing everything they’re doing. If this had come out in the mid-1990s, maybe the audiences would have cottoned to it. Then again, maybe not. Also with Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Carolina Bartczak, Chris Sandiford, Jonathan Maxwell Silver, Eme Ikwuakor, Stephen Bogaert, and Donald Sutherland. 

Radhe Shyam (NR) This Indian science-fiction film is about a 1970s palm reader in Europe (Prabhas) who can predict the future. Also with Pooja Hegde, Bhagyashree, Jagapathi Babu, Sachin Khedekar, Murali Sharma, and Flora Jacob. 

Scream (R) One of the characters here says she prefers elevated horror movies like The Babadook to slasher flicks, and this first installment of the series without Wes Craven will make you share her preference. Melissa Barrera plays a reformed drug addict and daughter of one of the killers from the original film, who returns to Woodsboro after her sister (Jenna Ortega) is attacked by another Ghostface. She recruits the survivors from the series (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette) to help her live through the experience. The filmmaking team calling themselves Radio Silence take over this, and they’re funnier when they’re doing their own material like they did in Ready or Not. The film is plagued by the same flaws of its predecessors: pseudo-cleverness, long-winded dialogue, and snark without wit. Also with Dylan Minnette, Jack Quaid, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Sonia Ammar, Kyle Gallner, Marley Shelton, Heather Matarazzo, and Skeet Ulrich. 

Sing 2 (PG) An improvement on the original, in the sense that drilling a hole in a tooth is an improvement on a root canal. Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) takes the gang to the big-time, playing the biggest theater in the entertainment capital of this animal world that we’re in. Only problem is, he promises to coax a bitter, reclusive former music star (voiced by Bono) out of retirement for the show without knowing whether it’s possible. The characters from the original all have their own subplots, and the sequel introduces a thuggish entertainment mogul (voiced by Bobby Cannavale) and his spoiled daughter (voiced by Halsey) who horns her way into the show. These have potential, but they all play out in disappointing ways, and there aren’t any memorable musical performances like the first movie had. Additional voices by Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings, Jennifer Saunders, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman, Eric André, Letitia Wright, Pharrell Williams, Edgar Wright, and Wes Anderson. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home (PG-13) Fanservice done more or less right, this movie has Peter Parker (Tom Holland) trying to reverse time and instead creating portals to parallel universes where villains from other Spider-Man movies (Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans, and Jamie Foxx) line up to fight him before realizing that he’s not the same Spider-Man that they faced earlier. The real reason they’re all brought together is so that all these great actors can get in the same room and bitch at each other, which they do to great comic effect. Peter does indeed pay a heavy price for messing with the time-space continuum, and if the storytelling only occasionally reaches the heights of Into the Spider-Verse, it does retcon some fixes for the previous movies about the web-slinger. Not a bad trick to make its predecessors seem worthier in retrospect. Also with Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Hannibal Buress, J.B. Smoove, Martin Starr, Angourie Rice, Benedict Wong, Charlie Cox, J.K. Simmons, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, and an uncredited Tom Hardy.

Tyson’s Run (PG) This sports film stars Major Dodson as an autistic boy without athletic talent who seeks to run a marathon to please his father. Also with Amy Smart, Layla Felder, Jody Thompson, Isaiah Hanley, Forrest Deal, and Barkhad Abdi. 

Uncharted (PG-13) Tom Holland’s lightness is about the only thing that keeps this action-adventure film watchable. He portrays a bartender and amateur treasure hunter who is recruited by an older man (Mark Wahlberg) who believes he possesses the key to finding a lost Spanish treasure. Based on the video game series of the same name, the film feels like it was cobbled together from rejected bits of the National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean films. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) can at least cobble with some skill, but the whole affair feels half-assed. The only bit that brings a smile to your face is Holland showing off some flair tricks behind the bar. Also with Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Steven Waddington, Tiernan Jones, Rudy Pankow, and Pilou Asbæk. 

West Side Story (PG-13) The 1961 film of the musical won the Best Picture Oscar, but Steven Spielberg’s version is better, not least because it makes plenty of changes. Screenwriter Tony Kushner considerably fleshes out the supporting characters, and the propulsive force of Leonard Bernstein’s music forces the director to keep things moving. The fatal rumble takes place in a warehouse amid giant piles of salt, and “Cool” is staged (by choreographer Justin Peck) as Tony (Ansel Elgort) trying to keep a gun away from the other Jets. Elgort’s dancing makes Tony seem like a special guy in this neighborhood, Rachel Zegler (as Maria) displays operatic range, Ariana DeBose (as Anita) almost steals the film away, and Mike Faist (as Riff) makes the character into something hard and unforgettable. This classic is made new for our sensibilities. Also with David Alvarez, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, Iris Menas, Josh Andrés Rivera, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Mike Iveson, and Rita Moreno.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

The Adam Project (PG-13) Ryan Reynolds stars in this comedy-adventure as a time-traveling pilot who teams up with his 13-year-old self (Walker Scobell) to save the future. Also with Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldana, and Catherine Keener. 

After Yang (PG) The YouTube vlogger known only as Kogonada directs his second film about a future family trying to cope with the sudden loss of their AI helper. Starring Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, Haley Lu Richardson, Ritchie Coster, Sarita Choudhury, and Clifton Collins Jr. 

All My Friends Hate Me (R) This comic horror film is about a man (Tom Stourton) who reunites with his college crew teammates for a weekend and begins to think they’re plotting against him. Also with Joshua McGuire, Christopher Fairbank, Dustin Demri-Burns, Antonia Clarke, and Georgina Campbell. 

Compartment Number 6 (R) Juho Kuosmanen’s film is about a Finnish woman (Seidi Haarla) and a Russian miner (Yuriy Borisov) who share a connection during a train trip across the border of their countries.

Outsiders (R) Delmar Washington’s thriller is about a Black high-school student (Skylan Brooks) who finds himself the prime suspect when a classmate (Clark Backo) mysteriously disappears. Also with Taryn Manning, Shane West, Rutina Wesley, Zak Steiner, Diamond White, Cooper van Grootel, Jolene Andersen, and Bill Engvall. 

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