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Josh O'Connor and Odessa Young embark on a forbidden romance in "Mothering Sunday." Photo by Jamie D. Ramsay

OPENING

 

Agent Game (R) Jason Isaacs stars in this thriller as a CIA agent who becomes a fugitive after being framed for an interrogation subject’s death. Also with Mel Gibson, Katie Cassidy, Dermot Mulroney, Adan Canto, Annie Ilonzeh, Rhys Coiro, and Barkhad Abdi. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Aline (PG-13) Valérie Lemercier directs, co-writes, and stars in this biography of a singer who’s a lot like Céline Dion. Also with Sylvain Marcel, Danielle Fichaud, Roc Lafortune, Antoine Vezina, Pascale Desrochers, and Sonia Vachon. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

All the Old Knives (R) This thriller stars Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton as CIA agents brought back together to examine a years-old case that might have compromised a fellow agent. Also with Laurence Fishburne, Corey Johnson, Jonjo O’Neill, Ahd, Orli Shuka, and Jonathan Pryce. (Opens Friday)

Ambulance (R) A remake of a Danish thriller, Michael Bay’s film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as ex-soldiers and brothers who hijack an ambulance after their attempt at a bank robbery goes wrong. Also with Eiza González, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Olivia Stambouliah, Jose Pablo Cantillo, and A Martinez. (Opens Friday)

As They Made Us (R) Mayim Bialik’s directing debut is this drama about a divorced mother (Dianna Agron) who tries to make peace with her dysfunctional family. Also with Dustin Hoffman, Simon Helberg, Charlie Weber, Julian Gant, and Candice Bergen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Boon (R) A spinoff of his film Red Stone, Derek Presley’s thriller stars Neal McDonough as a hit man who has to protect a widow (Christiane Seidel) from a criminal racket in the Pacific Northwest. Also with Tommy Flanagan, Demetrius Grosse, Jake Melrose, Christina Ochoa, Gabrielle Carteris, and Jason Scott Lee. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas Gran Plaza)

Coast (NR) This drama is about a teenage girl (Ciara Bravo) whose life changes when a traveling rock band is stranded in her small town. Also with Melissa Leo, Cristela Alonzo, Mia Rose Frampton, Kane Ritchotte, Fatima Ptacek, Andres Velez, and Mia Xitlali. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Every Last Secret (NR) Also known as Broken Soldier, this drama stars Mark Kassen as a PTSD-suffering soldier who befriends a young woman (Sophie Turner). Also with Ray Liotta, Ivana Milicevic, Meadow Williams, Philip Ettinger, Danny Flaherty, and Mark Margolis. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas Gran Plaza)

Ghani (NR) Varun Tej stars in this Indian boxing drama. Also with Saiee Manjrekar, Jagapathi Babu, Upendra, Suniel Shetty, Naveen Chandra, and Tamannaah Bhatia. (Opens Friday)

Mothering Sunday (R) More of a vibe than a movie, and not an unpleasant one. Adapted from Graham Swift’s novel, this drama stars Odessa Young as an English maid in 1924 who carries on an affair with a young aristocrat (Josh O’Connor) who’s engaged to another woman. The two leads spend much of this movie naked, so why does it feel so much like Downton Abbey and the other decorous British dramas that it’s trying to replace? Maybe it’s because Morgan Kibby’s score is so graceful or because French director Eva Husson makes this so neatly turned or because cinematographer Jamie Ramsay gives this such sun-dappled beauty. The film could have used a bit more tautness in the narrative, but the Australian newcomer Young gives another terrific performance as a budding writer. Glenda Jackson, absent from movies since 1990, appears here as the older, Nobel Prize-winning version of the heroine. She reminds you that Ken Russell used to make movies like these pretty well, often with her. Also with Colin Firth, Patsy Ferran, Emma D’Arcy, Sope Dìrísù, and Olivia Colman. (Opens Friday)

The Nameless Days (NR) Andrew Mecham and Matthew Whedon’s horror film is about a group of people caught at the U.S.-Mexico border when Mayan gods descend to Earth to take human souls. Starring Ally Ioannides, Charles Halford, Ambyr Mishelle, Trey Warner, Alejandro Akara, Ali Kinkade, and Ashley Marian Ramos. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas Gran Plaza)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (PG) The sequel to the 2020 hit has the hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) facing new enemy Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba). Also with Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Shemar Moore, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub, and Natasha Rothwell. Additional voice by Colleen O’Shaughnessy. (Opens Friday)

21mu Tiffin (NR) This Gujarati-language film stars Niilam Paanchal as a middle-aged mother dealing with discrimination while running a lunch delivery service. Also with Raunaq Kamdar, Netri Trivedi, Jahanvi Patel, Hitesh Thakar, and Deepan Shah. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Attack Part 1 (NR) One of the better Indian thrillers of late, this stars John Abraham as a soldier who’s paralyzed in the same Muslim terrorist attack that kills his girlfriend (Jacqueline Fernandez). To be able to walk again and take revenge on the killers, he submits to an experimental surgery that turns him into a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier. There’s a terrific set piece in the middle when a small army of terrorists take over the Parliament building in Delhi and take the prime minister hostage. For an Indian film, this runs a short 121 minutes, but there’s still too much cheesy material devoted to the soldier’s past and his inability to let go of his love. Even so, director Lakshya Raj Anand pulls off enough action scenes to keep you in your seat. Also with Rakul Preet Singh, Prakash Raj, Elham Ehsas, Kiran Kumar, Babrak Akbari, Rajit Kapoor, Jaimini Pathak, Nimisha Desai, and Ratna Pathak Shah.

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.

CODA (PG-13) Aside from the casting, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about this Oscar-winning 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. 

The Contractor (R) Chris Pine stars in this thriller as a U.S. Special Forces soldier who joins a private contracting firm. Also with GIllian Jacobs, Ben Foster, Eddie Marsan, Florian Munteanu, Fares Fares, Nina Hoss, Amira Casar, and Kiefer Sutherland. 

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.

The Devil You Know (R) This thriller stars Omar Epps as a man whose attempts to go straight threaten to pull him back toward his shady past. Also with Michael Ealy, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Michael Beach, Theo Rossi, and Glynn Turman.

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. 

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. 

Infinite Storm (R) In 2010, Pam Bales was a search-and-rescue worker in New Hampshire when she rescued a suicidal man from a blizzard on Mt. Washington. This film stars Naomi Watts as Pam and Billy Howle as her rescuee. Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska (The Other Lamb) has some serious talent and does well re-creating Pam’s arduous 16-hour trek down the mountain. (The movie was actually shot in Slovenia.) She trips headlong into sentimental excess with the flashbacks depicting the trauma that led Pam to her solitary life of climbing mountains. It’s Watts who carries this thing while rocking a deep-dish New England accent. Her films of late haven’t been up to snuff, but this is a step in the right direction. Also with Denis O’Hare, Parker Sawyers, Joshua Rollins, and Eliot Sumner. 

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. 

Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie (PG-13) The “0” in the title indicates that this is a prequel to the story outlined in the manga series and its film adaptations. The film is about a boy (voiced by Megumi Ogata) who attends a special school for kids with superpowers, along with the spirit of a girl he loved (voiced by Kana Hanazawa), who haunts and protects him after being killed in a car accident. Some of the flashbacks are too sentimental for the movie’s good (a common failing in these Japanese anime films), but the film makes a good introduction to the environment and the characters that our hero works alongside. Additional voices by Koki Uchiyama, Tomokazu Seki, Yȗichi Nakamura, Marina Inoue, Shin’ichirô Miki, Aya Endô, Kotono Mitsuishi, Takahiro Sakurai, and Satoshi Hino.

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. 

The Lost City (PG-13) The stars are upstaged by the supporting players in this comic adventure-romance that has too little comedy. Sandra Bullock plays a best-selling romance novelist who is kidnapped by a bratty British billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) because he thinks she knows the location of a buried treasure on an island in the Atlantic that looks like a generic jungle set. The man who poses as a model on the cover of her books (Channing Tatum) pursues them in a mostly ineffectual attempt to rescue her. Radcliffe makes a funny, sputtering villain and Brad Pitt has a great time in a brief cameo as the ultra-manly operative who accompanies the cover model. A comedy about these two going up against each other would have been better than this one that spends too much time going into the characters’ backstories and has too few funny bits from the leads. The film runs out of power way before its ending. Also with Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Héctor Anibal, Thomas Forbes Johnson, Oscar Nuñez, Bowen Yang, and Stephen Lang. 

Morbius (PG-13) Better than the reviews, which is to say this is just this side of watchable. Jared Leto stars in this superhero film about a Nobel-winning research biologist whose attempt to cure his own lethal blood disorder turns him into a vampire. The climax is limp and the antagonist (Matt Smith) goes too quickly from being the hero’s best friend to a power-drunk enemy, but the film goes down easily enough, and Leto’s macabre sense of humor helps distinguish him from the cookie-cutter nice guys who are often at the center of these movies. Smith is well-matched as a campy bad guy against the hero, too. Also with Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, Al Madrigal, Jared Harris, Charlie Shotwell, and Michael Keaton. 

RRR (NR) Released in Hindi- and Telugu-language versions, this Indian historical thriller is about a village vigilante (N.T. Rama Rao) and a soldier working for the British (Ram Charan) in 1920. The soldier takes up the task of catching the vigilante, but they eventually team up and fight the British Raj together. They aim to distribute British weapons to the Indian people, but why would they need weapons when these two guys slaughter about half the British Army by themselves? Director/co-writer S.S. Rajamouli tries to make every scene into some iconic badass moment for one or both of the heroes, and that’s just not how action thrillers are supposed to work. The laughable CGI doesn’t help, either. Also with Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Samuthirakani, Shriya Saran, Chatrapathi Sekhar, Makkarand Deshpande, Rahul Ramakrishna, Edward Sonnenblick, Olivia Morris, Ray Stevenson, and Alison Doody. 

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.

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. 

X (R) Ti West does some of his best work in this trashy horror film about a Houston strip club owner (Martin Henderson) who takes a crew of actors and filmmakers to rural south Texas in 1979 to make their own porn film. They rent a boarding house at a ranch without telling the elderly owners (Stephen Ure and Mia Goth, both under heavy old-age makeup) what they’re doing, which turns out to be a big mistake. West indulges in some horror-movie tropes so old that you think he’s trolling us, as well as some ostentatious displays of technique. Still, he delivers some great slow-burn thrills like one where one of the young actresses (Goth again) is stalked by an alligator while skinny dipping in a pond. Goth does tremendous work in her double role as well. See this film in some low-rent theater with sticky floors to fully appreciate its disreputable thrills. Also with Kid Cudi, Brittany Snow, Owen Campbell, James Gaylyn, Simon Prast, and Jenna Ortega.

You Won’t Be Alone (R) Despite its entrail-eating main character, this Macedonian import isn’t really a horror film but an existential meditation on the human condition. Set in a 19th-century rural village, it begins with a wolf eateress (Anamaria Marinca) taking possession of a young girl (Sara Klimoska) and turning her into a demon who disembowels people (and other animals) and takes their shape and identity. Our heroine inhabits the bodies of several people (Noomi Rapace, Carloto Cotta, Alice Englert) and seeks to understand what it means to be human rather than prey on others. (Klimoska continues to narrate in fractured Macedonian, which is how the movie accommodates so many non-Macedonian-speaking actors.) Composer Mark Bradshaw generates an alien atmosphere and cinematographer Matthew Chuang takes some beautiful pictures of this village nestled among the mountains’ slanting shadows. Also with Arta Dobroshi, Félix Maritaud, Kamka Točinovski, Jasmina Avramović, Irena Ristić, and Mladen Vuković.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Bull (R) Paul Andrew Williams’ thriller stars Neil Maskell as a criminal who returns home after 10 years to revenge himself on the people who wronged him. Also with Laura McAlpine, David Hayman, Tamzin Outhwaite, David Nellist, and Lois Brabin-Platt. 

 

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