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Penelope Cruz has frizzy red hair and a vacuum tube in "Official Competition." Photo by Manolo Pavon

OPENING

 

The Forgiven (R) Adapted from Lawrence Osborne’s novel, this thriller depicts an accident in Morocco that affects the lives of both tourists and locals. Starring Jessica Chastain, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, Abbey Lee, Caleb Landry Jones, Alex Jennings, Saïd Taghmaoui, Marie-Josée Croze, and Christopher Abbott. (Opens Friday)

Hot Seat (R) This thriller stars Kevin Dillon as an ex-computer hacker who’s forced to help a group of villains rob a bank electronically. Also with Mel Gibson, Shannen Doherty, Michael Welch, Lydia Hull, Eddie Steeples, and Sam Asghari. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas La Gran Plaza)

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Minions: The Rise of Gru (PG) Steve Carell reprises his voice role as the 12-year-old future supervillain who first meets the Minions. Additional voices by Russell Brand, Michelle Yeoh, Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Jimmy O. Yang, Lucy Lawless, RZA, Will Arnett, Steve Coogan, and Julie Andrews. (Opens Friday)

Mr. Malcolm’s List (PG) This period comedy stars Zawe Ashton as a 19th-century bride-to-be who seeks revenge after being jilted by her groom (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù). Also with Freida Pinto, Theo James, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, Sophie Vavasseur, and Danielle Ryan. (Opens Friday)

Official Competition (R) This Spanish film-industry satire stars José Luis Gómez as a wealthy businessman who attempts to become a movie producer with two temperamental stars (Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz). Also with Oscar Martínez, Manolo Solo, Nagore Aramburu, Irene Escolar, Juan Grandinetti, and Pilar Castro. (Opens Friday at AMC Parks at Arlington)

Pacerville (NR) Brian Austin Green stars in this thriller as a schoolteacher who goes mad during a pandemic and vows bloody revenge on his students. Also with Makena Taylor, Acoryé White, David Valdes, Julia Quang, Eve Mauro, and Glenn Plummer. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Pakka Commercial (NR) This Telugu-language courtroom comedy stars Gopichand as a soulless lawyer who has to take on his own father in a civil case. Also with Raashi Khanna, Sathyaraj, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Ajay Ghosh, and Rao Ramesh. (Opens Friday)

Rashtra Kavach Om (NR) Aditya Roy Kapur stars in this Indian action-thriller as a soldier whose mission causes him to question his beliefs. Also with Sanjana Sanghi, Prachee Shah Paandya, Prakash Raj, Elnaaz Norouzi, and Jackie Shroff. (Opens Friday)

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (NR) This biographical drama stars R. Madhavan as Nambi Narayanan, the Indian rocket scientist who was falsely accused of espionage. Also with Simran, Rajit Kapur, Ravi Raghavendra, Karthik Kumar, Gulshan Grover, Rajeev Ravindranathan, and Shah Rukh Khan. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Ante Sundaraniki (NR) This Telugu-language comedy is about a Brahmin man (Nani) who falls in love with a Christian woman (Nazriya Nazim). Also with Naresh, Rohini, Nadhiya, Azhagam Perumal, Harsha Vardhan, Nikki Tamboli, and Aruna Bhikshu.

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.

The Black Phone (R) Adapted from Joe Hill’s short story, this horror film has some of the chills and most of the sentimental excesses of his dad’s work. Set in 1978 in Denver when the city is terrorized by a masked serial killer (Ethan Hawke), the film stars Mason Thames as a 13-year-old boy who falls into the killer’s clutches. Locked in his dungeon, he starts mysteriously receiving calls from the killer’s previous victims on a phone that doesn’t work. Hawke gives a properly grotesque performance as a predator who presents himself to kids as a funny party magician, but director/co-writer Scott Derrickson (Sinister) doesn’t have the finesse to smooth over the predictable story beats. Also with Madeleine McGraw, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Tristan Pravong, Brady Hepner, Jacob Moran, Jeremy Davies, and James Ransone. 

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (PG-13) The film version retains enough of the flavor of the Fox TV show to distinguish it from the other Hollywood animated movies. The same week that the bank calls in its loan to Bob’s Burgers, a giant sinkhole opens up in front of the restaurant to reveal a human corpse. Louise (voiced by Kristen Schaal) decides she can save her family’s business if she solves the murder. The pun-heavy dialogue doesn’t always work and the film has trouble accommodating all its regular characters plus a bevy of cameos, but the musical numbers and the family dynamic are enough to make this a pleasant watch even for newcomers to the show. Additional voices by H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Larry Murphy, David Wain, Stephanie Beatriz, Gary Cole, David Herman, NIck Kroll, Aziz Ansari, Jordan Peele, Jenny Slate, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, and Kevin Kline. 

Deep in the Heart: A Texas Wildlife Story (NR) The latest documentary by Ben Masters (The River and the Wall) showcases the wildlife native to Texas. 

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.

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. 

Elvis (PG-13) Baz Luhrmann dares to take on the entire peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwich of Elvis Presley’s life, but this grand opera comes and goes without leaving much of an impact. Tom Hanks stars as Col. Tom Parker, who narrates the story of how he discovered the young country-blues singer (Austin Butler) and made him a star while also suffocating him creatively and stealing his money. Seeing the film through the prism of this con artist’s self-justifications is an interesting idea that only serves to turn Hanks (under a mountain of prosthetic fat) into a puppet, lacking the grifter’s snaky charm. Opposite him, Butler does remarkable work capturing the King’s stage presence in his early, middle, and late years, and his performances of some songs blends seamlessly with the original Elvis songs on the soundtrack. Still, the movie too often resorts to music-biopic cliches, and all of Luhrmann’s skill can’t make it fresh. Also with Kelvin Harrison Jr., Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Luke Bracey, Dacre Montgomery, Yola, Alton Mason, Shonka Dukureh, and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

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.

Facing Nolan (NR) Bradley Jackson’s documentary interviews baseball stars who batted against Nolan Ryan. 

Jugjugg Jeeyo (NR) This Indian romantic comedy stars Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Neetu Kapoor, Manish Paul, Prajakta Koli, and Anil Kapoor. 

Jurassic World Dominion (PG-13) This franchise needs an asteroid. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles as scientists who have to team up with the heroes of the original Jurassic Park (Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern) when a plague of genetically engineered locusts threatens the world’s food supply. This plot doesn’t need dinosaurs at all, which is just one issue. Director Colin Trevorrow is so busy creating Easter eggs and callbacks to the previous movies that he forgets things like graceful scene transitions, interesting characters, and plot developments that make any sense. The ineptitude on display here would kill Steven Spielberg and then make him turn over in his grave. Also with Campbell Scott, Omar Sy, Justice Smith, Isabella Sermon, Mamadou Athie, DeWanda Wise, Kristoffer Polaha, Daniella Pineda, Scott Haze, Dichen Lachman, and BD Wong.

Lightyear (PG) If you ignore its connection to the Toy Story series, the latest Disney/Pixar animated film is a surprisingly generic space adventure, though it’s done pretty crisply. Chris Evans provides the voice of the intrepid space explorer who undertakes adventures over the course of 84 years to try to get his crew home after he accidentally strands them on an alien planet. His travel at the speed of light allows him to maintain his age through those decades as his friends all live natural lives and die, and this Pixar film doesn’t shy away from the grim implications of that. Still, this film is missing the usual wit and cleverness that we expect from Pixar. It moves Buzz Lightyear and his fellow space travelers efficiently in and out of danger, but something has gotten lost. Additional voices by Uzo Aduba, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Dale Soules, Bill Hader, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Efren Ramirez, James Brolin, and Taika Waititi. 

The Phantom of the Open (PG-13) Mark Rylance stars in this comedy based on the life of Maurice Flitcroft, the English dock worker who shot the worst round in the history of the British Open. Also with Sally Hawkins, Mark Lewis Jones, Ian Porter, Jake Davies, and Rhys Ifans. 

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.

Top Gun: Maverick (PG-13) The sequel improves on the 1986 original while removing the camp element, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. After spending his Navy career pissing off too many officers to be promoted, Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returns to Top Gun in San Diego to teach a new generation of pilots to carry out a mission to bomb a nuclear plant somewhere. The younger pilots aren’t the most interesting bunch, but the training and combat sequences filmed in real F-18s are snazzy, and Jennifer Connelly makes an apt foil as an ex-girlfriend of Maverick’s who reunites with him in the present day. This may just be a nostalgia exercise, but it’s crisply done without overdosing on the past. Also with Miles Teller, Jon Hamm, Bashir Salahuddin, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Lyliana Wray, Jean Louisa Kelly, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer. 

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