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Hank receives combat training from his cat sensei in "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank." Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

OPENING

 

Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down (PG-13) The filmmaking team of Julie Cohen and Betsy West (RBG) helm this documentary about the former Arizona congresswoman and her recovery from a 2011 assassination attempt that left her partially paralyzed. (Opens Friday)

Gargi (NR) This Indian drama stars Sai Pallavi as a schoolteacher whose father is falsely accused of a crime. Also with Jayaprakash, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Rana Daggubati, Kaali Venkat, and Livingstone. (Opens Friday)

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Gone in the Night (R) Winona Ryder stars in this thriller as a Sacramento greenhouse owner who books a vacation in a cabin in redwood country with her considerably younger boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.), only to find that there’s another couple staying at the cabin (Owen Teague and Brianne Tju). The next morning, her man and the other woman run off together, or so it seems. Ryder’s intensity and sense of humor are good to have here, and I like the way the script acknowledges how the star has grown older. However, director/co-writer Eli Horowitz takes too long to start unraveling the mystery, and the flashbacks that show what actually happened are much less clever than they probably seemed on paper. This could have made for a bracing thriller, but the mechanics get in the way. Also with Yvonne Senat Jones, Alain Uy, Dustin Ingram, and Dermot Mulroney. (Opens Friday)

The Gray Man (PG-13) This thriller stars Ryan Gosling as a CIA agent who is hunted down by a psychopathic bounty hunter (Chris Evans). Also with Ana de Armas, Regé-Jean Page, Jessica Henwick, Wagner Moura, Callan Mulvey, Scott Haze, Deobia Oparei, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Alfre Woodard, and Billy Bob Thornton. (Opens Friday)

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song (PG-13) Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine direct this documentary about the life of the singer-songwriter. Starring Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Brandi Carlile, Eric Church, Clive Davis, and the late Hal Willner. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

HIT: The First Case (NR) This Hindi remake of a 2020 Telugu-language action thriller stars Rajkummar Rao as a police detective trying to solve the case of a missing motorist. Also with Sanya Malhotra, Shilpa Shukla, Sanjay Narvekar, Milind Gunaji, and Dalip Tahil. (Opens Friday)

Hyde Park (NR) This drama stars Kenneth Okolie as a Nigerian-American attorney in Chicago who must save a gay Ugandan client (Xavier McKnight) from deportation. Also with Dawn Halfkenny, Corey Hendrix, Erica Hubbard, Javier Villamil, Henry Mamulu, Marie Helen Scott, Diamond Sonpon, and Darren Jones. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Iravin Nizhal (NR) This Indian action-thriller is about a movie producer (R. Parthiban) who finds himself on the run from the law. Also with Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Robo Shankar, Brigida Saga, and Sai Priyanka Ruth. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (PG) Dean Fleischer-Camp co-writes, directs, and stars in this mockumentary as a filmmaker who interviews a seashell (voiced by Jenny Slate). Also with Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Andy Richter, and Lesley Stahl. Additional voice by Isabella Rossellini. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PG) The fourth film version of Paul Gallico’s comic novel is exactly what it sets out to be, for better or worse. Lesley Manville plays the London charwoman who comes into some money and decides to splurge on a trip to France to buy a Christian Dior dress. She winds up being responsible for saving the entire fashion house, and there’s likely too much of her being a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone she meets in the City of Lights. Still, Manville well deserves a showcase like this, and the Dior gowns are lovingly photographed by Felix Wiedemann. If you’re looking for comfort fare with your haute couture, I guess this is it. Also with Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Anna Chancellor, Roxane Durand, Christian McKay, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, and Jason Isaacs. (Opens Friday)

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (PG) There are six credited writers on this animated movie, so it’s no wonder that the film seems confused about what it’s trying to be. Hank (voiced by Michael Cera) is a dog who washes up in a land like feudal Japan that’s inhabited entirely by cats, where he seeks to become a samurai and save a humble town from an evil warlord (voiced by Ricky Gervais). The movie can’t decide whether it’s a parable of tolerance or a self-aware satire of movie tropes or a simple yarn about fighting for justice, and too many of the jokes are just cringe-inducingly bad. (“There’s no business like shogun business!”) The animation does look sharp, but that can’t begin to make up for the flaws here. Additional voices by Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Yeoh, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Djimon Hounsou, Aasif Mandvi, Kylie Kuioka, and Mel Brooks. (Opens Friday)

Shabaash Mithu (NR) This Indian sports biopic stars Taapsee Pannu as the women’s cricket star Mithali Raj. Also with Mumtaz Sorcar, Devadarshini, Brijendra Kala, and Vijay Raaz. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

The Warrior (NR) Ram Pothineni stars in this action-thriller as an Indian cop trying to bring down a mob kingpin (Aadhi Pinisetty). Also with Krithi Shetty, Akshara Gowda, Nadhiya, Chirag Jani, Bharathiraja, Brahmaji, and Jayaprakash. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

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. 

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.

Jugjugg Jeeyo (NR) There are all kinds of appalling behavior going on in this Indian romantic comedy. It stars Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani as an embittered married couple in Toronto who have decided to divorce as they travel back home to Punjab for his sister’s wedding. They resolve to keep their split a secret until the nuptials are done, only for him to discover that his dad (Anil Kapoor) has a longtime mistress and is leaving his mother (Neetu Kapoor) for her after 35 years. I’m not sure what’s worse: The main character outs his father in a particularly cruel way, but then his dad fakes a massive heart attack and bribes his doctor into telling the family that he’s dying. The men in this family don’t deserve love. Also with Manish Paul, Prajakta Koli, Tisca Chopra, Varun Sood, and Elnaaz Norouzi. 

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. 

Minions: The Rise of Gru (PG) Not sure why everyone’s flocking to this pleasantly forgettable latest installment of the Despicable Me series, where 11-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) tries to join a league of supervillains who have a vacancy after kicking out their founder. The Minions are fun characters, but once again, they’re not enough to carry the movie by themselves, and the subplot with them learning kung fu from a master in Chinatown (voiced by Michelle Yeoh) leads to disappointing stuff. The new supervillains don’t add much, either. There are some stray gags that raise a laugh, but the movie never builds its momentum. Additional voices by Russell Brand, Alan Arkin, Taraji P. Henson, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Jimmy O. Yang, Lucy Lawless, RZA, Will Arnett, Steve Coogan, and Julie Andrews. 

Mr. Malcolm’s List (PG) This attempt to cash in on the success of Bridgerton stars Zawe Ashton as a single woman in Regency London who’s rejected by a highly eligible bachelor (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) because she doesn’t conform to his written list of requirements. She engages her impoverished best friend (Freida Pinto) to impersonate his perfect woman and then break his heart, only for her friend to fall for him for real. Adapted from Suzanne Allain’s novel, the film gives actors of color a chance to prove that they can play the roles one typically finds in Jane Austen comedies, but it doesn’t use the opportunity to comment on race relations, and it’s hampered by the fact that the cinematographer doesn’t know how to photograph Black people. The film has a solid story, but it still feels like a missed opportunity. Had a similar film come out in 1995, it would have been a truly radical exercise. Also with Theo James, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Divian Landwa, Naoko Mori, Ashley Park, Paul Tylak, Dawn Bradfield, Sophie Vavasseur, and Danielle Ryan. 

Official Competition (R) This rather lame Spanish comedy is mostly notable for being the first movie where Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz play scenes together. José Luis Gómez plays a pharmaceutical executive who decides to produce a movie before he dies, hiring two alpha-male actors (Banderas and Oscar Martínez) as well as a control-freak reclusive genius director (Cruz) who subjects the two thespians to degrading exercises during the rehearsal process. It becomes totally ridiculous without ever becoming funny, and the script has nothing to say about the insecurities and vanities of actors that we haven’t heard before. The film does look nicer than its Latin American counterparts, but that’s about all that can be said for it. Also with Manolo Solo, Nagore Aramburu, Irene Escolar, Koldo Olabarri, Juan Grandinetti, and Pilar Castro. 

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (NR) Nambi Narayanan was a rocket scientist who was accused of funneling classified information to foreign spies and tortured in the 1990s, only to be cleared of wrongdoing a few years later. This Indian biopic buries the story in an extremely long-winded yarn about the man’s life, taking in his studies at Princeton and his career with France’s space agency, where he and other Indian engineers learned to build up their country’s rocket science. This film inevitably means more to Indian audiences who have lived with Narayanan’s case for decades, but it’s entirely too long for Western audiences to take in, with too many instances of our hero being one-dimensionally heroic. Also with Simran, Rajit Kapur, Ravi Raghavendra, Karthik Kumar, Gulshan Grover, Rajeev Ravindranathan, Misha Ghoshal, Sriram Parthasarathy, Sam Mohan, Ron Donache, Vincent Riotta, and Shah Rukh Khan. 

Thor: Love and Thunder (PG-13) That Oscar win thankfully hasn’t ruined Taika Waititi’s sense of humor in this fourth superhero film. Chris Hemsworth returns as the Norse god, who faces down a god-killing warrior (Christian Bale) and discovers that his old ex (Natalie Portman) has suddenly acquired his superpowers and his hammer. Thor’s jealousy about the hammer makes for a delightful running gag, and the set piece with Thor and his party meeting Zeus (Russell Crowe, with a fruity Greek accent and a sense of humor we haven’t seen from him before) might just be the comic highlight of the entire Marvel saga. Waititi’s best films showcase a core of decency underneath the laughs, and as Thor deals with his romantic failings and tries to connect with the villain through those, this proves to be among them. Also with Tessa Thompson, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Simon Russell Beale, Stephen Curry, Elsa Pataky, Brett Goldstein, Idris Elba, and uncredited cameos by Luke Hemsworth, Sam Neill, Matt Damon, and Melissa McCarthy. Voices by Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

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. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

One Week Friends (NR) This live-action Chinese remake of a Japanese manga comic is about a transfer student (Zhao Jinmai) who discovers that her memory only lasts a week. Also with Yi Lin, Yue Shen, Wang Jiahui, Fan Shiran, and Zhang Chenxiao.

The Road to Galena (R) Ben Winchell stars in this drama as a high-powered Washington lawyer who’s drawn back to the small-town life that he left behind. Also with Will Brittain, Aimee Teegarden, Alisa Allapach, JIll Hennessy, Jay O. Sanders, Margaret Colin, and Jennifer Holliday. 

 

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