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Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith holiday at a French resort in "Downton Abbey: A New Era." Photo by Ben Blackall

OPENING

 

An Ardent Heart (NR) This Christian docudrama is about journalist Lupe Valdés (Karyme Lozano) as she investigates apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also with María Vallejo-Nágera, Carmelo Crespo, Yolanda Ruiz, and Claudio Crespo. (Opens Friday at Regal Fossil Creek)

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Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2007 Indian horror-comedy is about two strangers (Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani) who discover supernatural goings-on at a music festival. Also with Tabu, Rajpal Yadav, Amar Upadhyay, and Sanjay Mishra. (Opens Friday)

Dhaakad (NR) This Indian action-thriller stars Kangana Ranaut as a secret agent entrusted with eliminating a mob kingpin (Arjun Rampal). Also with Divya Dutta, Saswata Chatterjee, and Sharib Hashmi. (Opens Friday)

Downton Abbey: A New Era (PG) It’s supposed to be a new era, but everything feels the same. The time period shifts to the late 1920s, and while the abbey is taken over by a film crew shooting a movie, the Grantham-Crawley clan relocates to a villa on the Riviera that the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) has just inherited. Just like the first big-screen sequel to the TV show, this one tries to fit in a whole season’s worth of plotlines into two hours, and it doesn’t go. The rhythm of the scenes is all off, none of the emotional beats hit the way you’d like, and the whole thing ends with a funeral sequence that’s way too long. The film is too rushed to succeed at anything. The writers could take a page from the Marvel superhero movies about long-form storytelling. Also with Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Dancy, Dominic West, Jim Carter, Allen Leech, Tuppence Middleton, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Harry Hadden-Paton, Douglas Reith, Phyllis Logan, Robert James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Michael Fox, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, Laura Haddock, Jonathan Zaccaï, Nathalie Baye, Penelope Wilton, and Imelda Staunton. (Opens Friday)

Emergency (R) This thriller-comedy is about a group of college students who must decide whether or not to call the police when their party takes a bad turn. Starring RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Maddie Nichols, Madison Thompson, Summer Madison, Diego Abraham, and Sabrina Carpenter. (Opens Friday)

Good Mourning (R) Machine Gun Kelly stars in this comedy that he co-wrote and co-directed as a struggling actor who must decide between true love or a career-changing role. Also with Megan Fox, Pete Davidson, Dove Cameron, Becky G, Jenna Boyd, Mod Sun, and Whitney Cummings. (Opens Friday)

Jungle Cry (NR) Abhay Deol stars in this Indian drama based on the real-life story of a group of underprivileged kids who won the under-14 Rugby World Cup. Also with Emily Shah, Julian Lewis Jones, Sherry Baines, and Ross O’Hennessy. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Montana Story (R) This drama stars Haley Lu Richardson and Owen Teague as estranged siblings who reunite for their father’s funeral on his Montana ranch. Also with Gilbert Owuor, Kimberly Guerrero, and Eugene Brave Rock. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Paap Punya (NR) This Indian film is by Giasuddin Selim. (Opens Friday at Cinemark Alliance Town Center)

Pleasure (NR) Ninja Thyberg’s comedy is about a Swedish woman (Sofia Kappel) who comes to Hollywood to become a porn star. Also with Evelyn Claire, Dana DeArmond, Kendra Spade, Mark Spiegler, John Strong, and Mick Blue. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Take Me to the River: New Orleans (NR) Martin Shore’s documentary is about the city’s musical history. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

2000 Mules (NR) The latest documentary by convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza alleges massive fraud in the 2000 presidential election. (Opens Friday)

Vortex (NR) The latest film by Gaspar Noé stars Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun as an elderly couple in the grip of dementia. Also with Alex Lutz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Ancestral (NR) This Vietnamese horror film directed by Le Van Kiet (Furie) is about a family that encounters evil spirits when they move into an old mansion. Starring Quang Tuấn, Thanh Mỹ, Dieu Nhi, and Mai Cát Vi. 

Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam (NR) This Indian romantic film stars Vishwak Sen, Rukshar Dhillon, Ritika Nayak, and Goparaju Ramana. 

The Bad Guys (PG) Better than any of the Despicable Me movies, this animated film based on Aaron Blabey’s children’s books is about a villainous wolf (voiced by Sam Rockwell) who pulls off robberies with his animal friends but then is tempted to go straight when a do-gooding professor (voiced by Richard Ayoade) decides to subject them to an experiment. The animation style is distinctive enough to make this stand out from other such movies, there’s a neat partnership between Rockwell and Marc Maron as the voice of his snake best friend, and the script is fairly even-handed about why a professional bad guy might want to go over to the side of the law. Anthony Ramos voices a piranha who’s one of the wolf’s gang members, and he sings a catchy original song called “We’re Gonna Be Good Tonight.” Additional voices by Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Lilly Singh, Alex Borstein, and Zazie Beetz.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PG-13) Marvel goes for horror, and the result is better than The New Mutants. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the time lord, who tries to save an interdimensional traveler (Xochitl Gomez) from Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who has gone insane from grief and is destroying universes to gain control of the girl’s power and live in an alternate universe where she’s a happy mother of two. Director Sam Raimi joins the franchise, and his brand of surrealist horror both fits the story and distinguishes the series from the other Marvel franchises. Olsen makes an authentically terrifying villain as a zombie who radiates pain with every move she makes, which compensates for the overstuffedness of a movie that only runs 126 minutes. The new Doctor Strange is a more layered creation, too, and that’s more than welcome. Also with Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jett Klyne, Julian Hilliard, Bruce Campbell, Anson Mount, Lashana Lynch, Hayley Atwell, John Krasinski, Patrick Stewart, and Charlize Theron.

Don (NR) This Indian action-comedy stars Sivakarthikeyan, Priyanka Arul Mohan, S.J. Suryah, Samuthirakani, Soori, Radha Ravi, and Gautham Vasudev Menon. 

The Duke (R) Just a little too cozy the way that British films can be, this film is based on the real-life story of Kempton Bunton (Jim Broadbent), the Newcastle taxi driver who went to prison for stealing Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London in 1961. Broadbent does yeoman work with the role of a frustrated activist and playwright who charms the jury with his homespun philosophy of helping one’s neighbor. However, director Roger Michell can’t make anything interesting out of the procedural elements or Kempton’s domestic life as the father of a dead daughter, and Helen Mirren is criminally wasted as his emotionally shut-down wife. This movie doesn’t have much to recommend it beyond its plot. Also with Matthew Goode, Anna Maxwell Martin, Fionn Whitehead, Heather Craney, John Heffernan, Aimée Kelly, Charlotte Spencer, and James Wilby. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once (R) The Being John Malkovich of our generation. Michelle Yeoh stars in this surreal martial-arts drama as the owner of a Southern California laundromat who discovers the existence of an infinite number of parallel universes and has to access the skills of her more accomplished alternate selves to stop them from being destroyed. This film has the wackiest fight sequences since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, as all the different characters instantly acquire kung fu proficiency at one point or another. The filmmaking team The Daniels (Swiss Army Man) stages all these scenes fantastically, working endless variations inside an IRS office building. Much like Scott Pilgrim, the brilliance eventually becomes exhausting, but the film deserves all kinds of props for their ambition and expanding the philosophy of martial-arts movies beyond the traditional Buddhist koans. Also with Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Tallie Medel, Harry Shum Jr., Biff Wiff, Jenny Slate, Jamie Lee Curtis, and James Hong.

Family Camp (PG) This Christian comedy is about two highly different families who compete for the trophy at their summer camp. Starring Tommy Ackerman, Eddie James, Leigh-Allyn Baker, Gigi Orsillo, Cece Kelly, Jacob M. Wade, Elias Kemuel, and Mark Christopher Lawrence. 

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (PG-13) The third film in the series is the best one, yet despite its complement of interesting ideas, the thing stubbornly refuses to take flight. Early on, the film reveals that Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, replacing Johnny Depp in the role) were a couple in their younger days. Now that they’re enemies, Dumbledore sends a team of wizards to stop his ex from gaining power over the wizarding world. David Yates is still on board as director, and the series badly needs someone who can look at this material with fresh eyes. There are some neat story ideas like the team carrying out fragments of a larger plan to stop the villain from reading their minds, but you sense that J.K. Rowling could have handled this better in the pages of a novel. The critics of her transphobic rhetoric were right all along: She should have stuck to the books. Also with Eddie Redmayne, Dan Fogler, Jessica Williams, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Victoria Yeates, Oliver Masucci, Maria Fernanda Cândido, Poppy Corby-Tuech, and Katherine Waterston.

Father Stu (R) Stuart Long started out as an amateur boxer in Montana, moved to Hollywood to become an actor, experienced a serious motorcycle wreck while driving drunk, and decided to join the priesthood. Mark Wahlberg’s performance in the title role knits all this together and helps make this into one of the better Christian films of recent years. First-time director Rosalind Ross alternates between gloss and grit as the scene requires, and she doesn’t stint on the abuse and neglect of Stu’s upbringing by a drunken father (Mel Gibson). Still, you watch Wahlberg as his body deteriorates after Father Stu is struck down by a degenerative muscle disorder, and he entertains doubts about God’s existence and his choice of profession. Too few Christian films obey the basic precepts of good filmmaking, but this one does. Also with Jacki Weaver, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Teresa Ruiz, Carlos Leal, Ned Bellamy, and Malcolm McDowell.

Firestarter (R) Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, this thriller is about a little girl (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) who can start fires with her mind. Also with Zac Efron, Sydney Lemmon, Michael Greyeyes, Gloria Reuben, and Kurtwood Smith. 

Jayeshbhai Jordaar (NR) Ranveer Singh stars in this Indian comedy as a village chief’s son who consistently fails to father a son with his wife (Shalini Pandey). Also with Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak Shah, Samay Raj Thakkar, and Ragi Jani.

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.

Kehvatlal Parivar (NR) This Gujarati-language comedy about a dysfunctional family stars Shraddha Dangar, Bhavya Gandhi, Sanjay Goradia, Supriya Pathak, Vandana Pathak, and Siddharth Randeria. 

K.G.F.: Chapter 2 (NR) If you didn’t see the original 2018 Indian action film, you might be lost in this sequel. In the first chapter, the mob bosses hired a hitman (Yash) to kill the evil mining bosses at the Kolar Gold Fields so they could take over, but in the sequel, the hitman turns on the bosses and kills them so he can run the gold business himself. Some of the action sequences are executed professionally, but they never give you an investment in the characters if you haven’t seen the first movie. If you are a newcomer, this is just too murky as a place to start. Also with Sanjay Dutt, Srinidhi Shetty, Raveena Tandon, Prakash Raj, Ramachandra Raju, Archana Jois, Malavika Avinash, Achyuth Kumar, and Rao Ramesh. 

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. 

The Northman (R) This Viking epic is the sort of movie made to inspire whole albums of heavy metal music. In a story stitched together from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and several Icelandic sagas, Alexander Skarsgård portrays a chief’s son who witnesses his uncle (Claes Bang) murder his father (Ethan Hawke) and goes into exile, vowing revenge against the killer. Director/co-writer Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) fiddles with the sound mix to make the hero’s encounters with spirits from the next world seem truly uncanny, and the off-the-charts levels of violence help convince us that we’re watching Vikings rather than dressed-up actors. The hero’s quest for revenge takes him away from a woman he loves and the chance to raise a family, and instead leads him to a desolate land of blood and ashes and dead bodies as far as the eye can see. Also with Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Oscar Novak, Elliott Rose, Gustav Lindh, Phill Martin, Elder Skar, Olwen Fouéré, Ingvar Sigurđsson, Ralph Ineson, Willem Dafoe, and Björk.

Private Property (R) This thriller stars Ashley Benson as a frustrated housewife who embarks on an affair with her gardener (Shiloh Fernandez). Also with Logan Miller, Frank Whaley, Leslie Stratton, and Jay Pharoah. 

Runway 34 (NR) This Indian thriller borrows some of the best and worst aspects of Robert Zemeckis’ Flight to dramatize a real-life story. Ajay Devgn stars as a commercial airline pilot who is flying a 737 from Dubai to Kochi when bad weather forces him to divert to another city. This is Devgn’s third movie as a director, and he does great with the big sequence just before intermission, when the pilot has to land the plane in the teeth of a cyclone because he’s running low on fuel. After that, though, the movie gives way to turgid courtroom drama with Amitabh Bachchan given too much leeway to strut about as a prosecutor. Indian cinema could probably use its version of Airport, but this needed slimming down. Also with Rakul Preet Singh, Angira Dhar, Aakanksha Singh, Jhumma Mitra, Vijay Nikam, Bikram Malati, Aamil Keeyan Khan, Flora Jacob, and Boman Irani. 

Sarkaru Vaari Paata (NR) Mahesh Babu stars in this Telugu-language action-comedy as a stingy businessman who meets a spendthrift (Keerthy Suresh). Also with Samuthirakani, Subbaraju, Sowmya Menon, and Vennela KIshore.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (PG) Running away from a Raiders of the Lost Ark-style rolling boulder, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) says, “I don’t want to die this way! It’s derivative!” How would that make it different from the rest of the movie? The doctor finds his way back to Earth for revenge on Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and opens an interdimensional door that lets in Sonic’s ally Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessy) and enemy Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba). Why did this film need to be two hours long? It’s bright, loud, and colorful, and I can’t remember a single funny bit or a single salient trait about the main character. Taking your kids to this is like feeding them Chocolate Frosted Flakes; it’ll make them happy while you feel terrible about yourself. Also with James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Shemar Moore, Adam Pally, Tom Butler, Lee Majdoub, and Natasha Rothwell.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (R) You don’t need to be a Nicolas Cage superfan to enjoy this delicious self-parody. Cage portrays a character much like himself, a Hollywood star whose debts lead him to accept $1 million from a Spanish billionaire (Pedro Pascal) to attend his birthday party, only to learn that the man is an illegal arms dealer. Director/co-writer Tom Gormican romps through Cage’s filmography, and he and writing partner Kevin Etten get a lot right about actors and how they think their work gives them unfailing insight into other people. The set pieces are delightful, especially the one in which Cage and his new friend drop acid together, but what most impresses you is Cage’s good grace and great skill in sending himself up and making “Nick” into a figure of pathos. Also with Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Neil Patrick Harris, Sharon Horgan, Lily Sheen, Paco León, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Katrin Vankova, David Gordon Green, and Demi Moore.

Vendetta (R) Clive Standen stars in this thriller as a man seeking revenge on a street gang for the death of his daughter. Also with Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, Theo Rossi, Jackie Moore, Maddie Nichols, Derek Russo, and Mike Tyson. 

¿Y Cómo Es Él? (PG-13) Also entitled Backseat Driver, this Mexican comedy stars Mauricio Ochmann as a meek man who takes a road trip to confront the man (Omar Chaparro) who’s sleeping with his wife. Also with Zuria Vega, Miguel Rodarte, and Mauricio Barrientos. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

The Last Victim (NR) Ron Perlman stars in this Western as a sheriff trying to solve a murder case in his jurisdiction. Also with Ali Larter, Ralph Ineson, Kyle Schmid, Tahmoh Penikett, Dakota Daulby, and Camille Legg. 

On the Count of Three (R) Jerrod Carmichael stars in his own directing debut as a man living the last day of his life with his best friend (Christopher Abbott). Also with Tiffany Haddish, Lavell Crawford, J.B. Smoove, Ryan McDonald, Allison Busner, and Henry Winkler. 

Petite Maman (PG) The latest film by Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) stars Joséphine Sanz as an 8-year-old girl who mysteriously goes through a time loop and meets her mother (Gabrielle Sanz) at the same age. Also with Nina Meurisse and Stéphane Varupenne.

The Ravine (R) Eric Dane and Teri Polo star in this drama set in a small town rocked by a murder-suicide. Also with Peter Facinelli, Byron Mann, Lucy Faust, Billy Slaughter, and Leslie Uggams. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Paap Punya by Ghiasuddin Selim is a recently released Bangladeshi movie not an Indian movie. Coincidentally there is also an old Indian movie of the same name.

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