Bardo (R) The latest film by Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) stars Daniel Giménez Cacho as a journalist seeking peace with his Mexican identity. Also with Griselda Siciliani, Ximena Lamadrid, Íker Sánchez Solano, Daniel Damuzi, and Jay O. Sanders. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Christmas in Paradise (PG) This comedy stars Elizabeth Hurley as a woman who travels to the Caribbean when her father (Kelsey Grammer) suddenly drops communication there. Also with Nathalie Cox, Naomi Frederick, and Billy Ray Cyrus. (Opens Friday at América Cinemas La Gran Plaza)
Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey (NR) Darshana Rajendran stars in this Indian comedy as a woman who tries to deal with her family’s meddling after her marriage. Also with Basil Joseph, Aju Varghese, Azees Nedumangad, Anand Mandmadhan, and Noby Marcose. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Kooman: The Night Rider (NR) This Malayalam-language thriller stars Asif Ali as a cop whose psychological troubles lead him to kleptomania. Also with Renji Panicker, Hannah Reji Koshy, Baburaj, Baiju, Pauly Valsan, Meghanathan, and Rajesh Paravoor. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Paradise City (R) This thriller stars Blake Jenner as a vigilante journeying through Hawaii’s criminal underworld seeking revenge for his murdered father. Also with Bruce Willis, Stephen Dorff, Amber Amara, Branscombe Richmond, Kate Katzman, Lorenzo Antonucci, and John Travolta. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Resistance: 1942 (NR) This World War II drama stars Cary Elwes as a French resistance fighter who must survive amid his country’s Nazi occupation. Also with Greer Grammer, Jason Patric, Sebastian Roché, Don Harvey, and Judd Hirsch. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Sam & Kate (R) Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek star in this romantic comedy as a couple who fall in love while their adult children (Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk) also fall in love. Also with Henry Thomas, Dylan McNamara, Elizabeth Faith Ludlow, and Tyler Labine. (Opens Friday)
Spirited (PG-13) Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds star in this modern-day musical update of A Christmas Carol. Also with Octavia Spencer, Tracy Morgan, Sunita Mani, Andrea Anders, Marlow Barkley, Patrick Page, and Judi Dench. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Uunchai (NR) Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, and Boman Irani star in this Indian drama as three friends who journey to Mount Everest Base Camp to honor the memory of a deceased friend. Also with Danny Denzongpa, Parineeti Chopra, Neena Gupta, and Sarika. (Opens Friday)
Yashoda (NR) This Indian thriller stars Samantha as a surrogate mother who learns about injustices happening to other surrogate mothers. Also with Unni Mukundan, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Rao Ramesh, Murali Sharma, and Sampath Raj. (Opens Friday)
Amsterdam (R) The first post-Jan. 6 movie is this madcap satire that largely misses the mark. A Black lawyer (John David Washington), an addicted cosmetic surgeon (Christian Bale), and an international spy (Margot Robbie) who met during World War I team up again years later to thwart a fascist plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt and install a dictator. Depending on whom you ask, such a plot did happen in 1933, but the movie takes so long to get to the hook for us modern types in the audience. Writer-director David O. Russell’s manic energy papers over some of the cracks, as does the deluxe cast. Still, this is supposed to be a detective story, and Russell’s lack of focus becomes frustrating in this context. His self-pitying identification with misunderstood heroes is off-putting as well. Also with Robert DeNiro, Chris Rock, Rami Malek, Anya Taylor-Joy, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Zoe Saldaña, Andrea Riseborough, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, Timothy Olyphant, Bonnie Hellman, Beth Grant, Colleen Camp, Ed Begley Jr., and Taylor Swift.
Armageddon Time (R) James Gray’s best movie, for what that’s worth. Banks Repeta stars in this autobiographical drama as a 10-year-old Jewish boy in Queens in 1980 who befriends a Black kid in his class (Jaylin Webb) only to be separated from him by the horrible adults around him and Fred Trump (John Diehl), who may just be the worst of them. The only grown-up who doesn’t suck is his grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), the son of a Russian pogrom survivor who tells him to stand up for the people of color in this new country. The film is too glib and lacking in excitement, but the racial dilemma that the boy finds himself in near the climax feels like the sort of childhood incident that might haunt the child well into adulthood. Also with Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Ryan Sell, Andrew Polk, Domenick Lombardozzi, Teddy Coluca, Marcia Haufrecht, Tovah Feldshuh, and Jessica Chastain.
The Banshees of Inisherin (R) Martin McDonagh’s fourth film is his first that takes place in his native Ireland, and it feels the most like his stage plays in a good way. Colin Farrell plays a farmer on the Aran Islands whose best friend (Brendan Gleeson) suddenly cuts him off, and reacts to the end of their friendship by coming hilariously and dangerously unhinged. The entire island becomes sucked into the friendship drama, and McDonagh’s particular brand of violence in the air keeps the film from becoming a cozy comedy about village eccentrics. Farrell gives the performance of his career as a pathetic man whose quest to find out why leads him to bloodshed, and the underrated Kerry Condon receives a showcase as his sister who’s desperate to escape this island even if it’s to an actual war zone. Underneath the black comedy is the sadness of a friendship ending. Also with Barry Keoghan, Gary Lydon, Pat Shortt, David Pearse, and Bríd Ní Beachtain.
Black Adam (PG-13) The old, boring DC Comics movies are back with this grim exercise. A completely miscast Dwayne Johnson plays the titular 5,000-year-old slave who’s reborn with god-like powers and a lust for revenge in the present day. The Middle Eastern country full of oppressed people who hate the Justice League and greet Black Adam as a liberator is an interesting setting, but director Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise) is too busy imitating Zack Snyder’s heroic shots to do much with it. The humorous bits don’t work, and out of the new batch of superheroes sent to subdue Black Adam, only Quintessa Swindell registers as a human cyclone. Casting Johnson as a guy who’s seeking to avenge his son’s death ignores all the qualities that made him a star in the first place. Also with Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Shahi, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Bodhi Sabongui, Marwan Kenzari, Mohammed Amer, Djimon Hounsou, Henry Winkler, and uncredited cameos by Viola Davis and Henry Cavill.
DC League of Super-Pets (PG) Aside from introducing the smallest kids to the DC superhero universe, I’m not sure what this inoffensive animated film is for. Superman’s dog (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) sees his master (voiced by John Krasinski) and all the other superheroes kidnapped by a supervillain guinea pig (voiced by Kate McKinnon) and has to lead a group of shelter pets who’ve conveniently acquired their own superpowers to save them. It all goes by without dragging too much, but neither the jokes nor the animated set pieces stick in the mind. The Lego movies made better use of the DC characters than this does. Additional voices by Kevin Hart, Diego Luna, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Marc Maron, Olivia Wilde, Jemaine Clement, Daveed Diggs, Thomas Middleditch, Ben Schwartz, Maya Erskine, John Early, Dascha Polanco, Jameela Jamil, Lena Headey, Keith David, Dan Fogler, Busy Phillipps, and Keanu Reeves.
Don’t Worry Darling (R) All the offscreen drama aside, this psychological thriller definitely has issues but is better than its reviews. Florence Pugh plays a housewife who discovers that her idyllic 1950s suburban community is actually a prison. Director Olivia Wilde (who also co-stars here as a fellow housewife) doesn’t have a flair for the phantasmagoric, and her envisioning of this feminist nightmare too often comes off like clicking off film-school references. Fortunately, her aptitude for thriller elements kicks in during the movie’s second half, as our heroine seeks to escape this place that isn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village but is also not not The Village. The reason to see this is Pugh’s performance, playing most her scenes in a paranoid terror without turning monotonous. Also with Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, Sydney Chandler, Asif Ali, Douglas Smith, Timothy Simons, and Kate Berlant.
The Estate (R) Dean Craig’s comedy is about a terminally ill woman (Kathleen Turner) whose extended family comes together to compete against one another for her inheritance. Also with Toni Collette, Anna Faris, David Duchovny, Rosemarie DeWitt, Billy Slaughter, Keyla Monterroso Mejia, and Ron Livingston.
Halloween Ends (R) Michael Myers is definitely gone amid a burst of interesting ideas. I just wish they’d been organized at all. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has her final showdown with the killer, though the story takes a considerable detour through a nerdy engineering student (Rohan Campbell) who accidentally kills a boy he’s babysitting, becomes a town pariah, rejuvenates Michael, and does the bidding of Laurie’s granddaughter (Andi Matichak). The whole theme that trauma is unkillable much like Michael is an interesting one, but the plotlines don’t come together in an effective way, and too much of the film is wrapped up in therapy-speak. Laurie considers suicide, and you might too, if her life were yours. It’s enough of a hook to hang a slasher movie on, but the filmmakers here don’t manage it. Also with Will Patton, Kyle Richards, Michael Barbieri, Marteen, Joanne Baron, Michael O’Leary, Michele Dawson, and Nick Castle.
Kantara (NR) This Kannada-language film is about a war between jungle villagers and supernatural forces. Starring Rishab Shetty, Achyuth Kumar, Pramod Shetty, Sapthamj Gowda, Suchan Shetty, Deepak Rai Panaje, and Ragu Pandeshwar.
The Legend of Maula Jatt (NR) Fawad Khan stars in this Indian historical epic as a gladiator who seeks revenge on his nemesis (Hamza Ali Abbasi). Also with Mahira Khan, Humaima Malik, Gohar Rasheed, and Faris Shafi. (Opens Friday)
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (PG) The idea of adapting Bernard Waber’s children’s books into a partially animated musical film is fantastic. The execution? Boo, hiss! Shawn Mendes does the voice of the CGI-generated crocodile who is adopted by a down-and-out stage magician (Javier Bardem) and then abandoned before making friends with a boy (Winslow Fegley) who moves into the Manhattan brownstone where he lives. Bardem looks somewhat manic when he bursts into song and dance, but he isn’t the problem. The animation of both Lyle and the neighbor’s cat looks terrible, and the directing team of Josh Gordon and Will Speck (Blades of Glory, Office Christmas Party) has no natural flair for musical numbers. Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (The Greatest Showman, Dear Evan Hansen) have seen better days as well. The charm of the original is lost here. Also with Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy, Brett Gelman, Lyric Hurd, and an uncredited Jack Black.
Mahapurush (NR) Not the Satyajit Ray film, but a Nepalese comedy about an old man (Hari Bansha Acharya) who decides to get married after raising his children. Also with Madan Krishna Shrestha, Gauri Malla, Rabindra Singh Baniya, Rajaram Paudel, Arun Chhetri, and Anjana Baraili.
One Piece Film: Red (PG-13) Chalk up another anime film with not a lot to offer newcomers. The 14th film in a series is about a mysterious pop singer (voiced by Kaori Nazuka and AmaLee) who is a childhood friend of Luffy (voiced by Mayumi Tanaka and Colleen Clinkenbeard) but has turned against him, attempting to annihilate all the pirate gangs by destroying reality through the power of music. If you haven’t already taken in at least half the previous films, you’ll need a scorecard to keep track of all the supporting characters and their superpowers. Additional voices by Shuichi Ikeda, Brandon Potter, Kazuya Nakai, Christopher Sabat, Akemi Okamura, and Luci Christian.
Prey for the Devil (PG-13) Pretty terrible. Jacqueline Byers stars in this horror film as a Catholic nun who receives exorcism lessons after the same demon that possessed her abusive mother then does the same to a little girl (Posy Taylor). The gender flip of a woman fighting the church to perform the ritual really should generate more than it does here. The plot turns on an outrageous coincidence, and for all the filmmakers’ desire to portray the darker history of the church, the commentary is pretty toothless. Also, the movie isn’t scary, so there’s that. This movie has too many ideas in its head and doesn’t have the chops to see them through. Also with Virginia Madsen, Colin Salmon, Nicholas Ralph, Christian Navarro, Cora Kirk, Debora Zhecheva, Koyna Ruseva, and Ben Cross.
Running the Bases (PG) This Christian film stars Brett Varvel as a baseball coach whose methods run into opposition when he takes over the team at a new school. Also with Todd Terry, Raphael Ruggero, Gigi Orsillo, Eric Hanson, Isabelle Almoyan, Justin Sterner, Jackson Trent, and Michael Ochotorena.
Smile (R) Parker Finn’s horror film has the germ of an interesting idea, but fouls it up in the execution. Sosie Bacon plays a psychiatrist at a mental hospital who has a patient (Caitlin Stasey) commit suicide in front of her while grinning, and then discovers a chain of suicides behind that of witnesses to other suicides killing themselves a few days later. I like the suggestion that our psychiatrist is in dire need of mental help even before witnessing the patient’s death, but the movie suffers from three different contradictory endings, and too often resorts to stale old jump scares. The cast can’t save a lot of bad dialogue or carry the conceit. Also with Kyle Gallner, Jessie T. Usher, Robin Weigert, Judy Reyes, Gillian Zinser, Rob Morgan, and Kal Penn.
Tár (R) Cate Blanchett gives perhaps the performance of her career in this drama as a world-famous composer and orchestra conductor whose history of sexually harassing her female students and protégées catches up with her in Berlin. This is Todd Field’s first film since his 2006 drama Little Children, and he has his classical music references are crushingly on point as well as a fix on how that world makes it particularly easy for sexual predators. He accompanies this with some dazzling camerawork as well, capturing the gloss of its main character’s rarefied world. The actors are all playing their own instruments, and Blanchett is conducting the Berlin Philharmonic for real. The star, her killer tailored suits, and Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music all convince us of the protagonist’s musical genius without excusing the harm she does to the people around her. The balancing act this movie pulls off is worth a shout of “Bravissimo!” Also with Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Mark Strong, Allan Corduner, Sophie Kauer, Zethphan Smith-Gneist, and Julian Glover.
Terrifier 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2016 horror film is about a killer clown (David Howard Thornton) who comes back to life to hunt new victims on Halloween. Also with Jenna Kanell, Griffin Santopietro, Lauren LaVera, Catherine Corcoran, Felissa Rose, and Chris Jericho.
Ticket to Paradise (PG-13) The best stuff in this curiously inert romantic comedy comes around the edges of the action. George Clooney and Julia Roberts play a bitterly divorced couple who team up when their law-school graduate daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) falls for a hot Indonesian guy (Maxime Bouttier) and throws over her legal career to marry him and farm seaweed in Bali. The bickering between the older couple is written lamely, and their attempts to sabotage the wedding aren’t funny. There’s one amusing set piece where everybody plays beer pong with arak instead of beer, and Billie Lourd cadges a few funny bits as the daughter’s best friend. Mostly, the stars seem to be going at half speed in this tropical setting. Also with Cintya Dharmayanti, Geneviève Lemon, Dorian Djoudi, and Lucas Bravo.
Till (PG-13) Danielle Deadwyler’s performance as Emmett Till’s mother is everything for this film about the infamous lynching of a Chicago boy in Mississippi. Jalyn Hall portrays the ill-fated 13-year-old who goes down south to visit his family and makes the mistake of wolf-whistling a white woman (Haley Bennett) who brings a mob to his relatives. Director/co-writer Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency) is a fundamentally scrupulous filmmaker who keeps the violence against Emmett Till offscreen. This gambit works because the revelation of the boy’s face, with all distinguishing features beaten out of it, is so skillfully built up to and executed. The movie as a whole remains too careful to make the impact it should, but Deadwyler is tremendous as the boy’s grieving mother who has his corpse photographed to show the world what the white people of Mississippi have done. Also with Frankie Faison, Sean Patrick Thomas, John Douglas Thompson, Gem Marc Collins, Sean Michael Weber, Eric Whitten, Keisha TIllis, Kevin Carroll, Tosin Cole, Jayme Lawson, E. Roger Mitchell, Roger Guenveur Smith, and Whoopi Goldberg.
The Woman King (PG-13) The piece of African history that this is based on merits unearthing, and Gina Prince-Bythewood makes it into an effective historical epic. Viola Davis plays Nanisca, the 19th-century general of an all-female unit of elite soldiers who fought against Portuguese colonizers in the kingdom of Dahomey. The film is full of meticulous historical research, and occasionally it drags down the story’s forward momentum. Still, Davis turns in a leonine performance as a military leader who hasn’t resolved the demons from her past, and South African TV actress Thuso Mbedu makes a bright impression as a girl who joins the unit and becomes a warrior. Prince-Bythewood continues to be a worthy action director, and she picks her material well. Also with John Boyega, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Shaina West, Jordan Bolger, Jimmy Odukoya, Adrienne Warren, Angélique Kidjo, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin.
Aftersun (R) Charlotte Wells’ drama is about a 10-year-old Scottish girl (Frankie Corio) who takes a summer vacation in Turkey with her father (Paul Mescal). Also with Celia Rowlson-Hall.
Causeway (R) Jennifer Lawrence stars in this drama as an Afghanistan veteran who’s shipped back to New Orleans after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Also with Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond, Neal Huff, Danny Wolohan, Jayne Houdyshell, Frederick Weller, and Stephen McKinley Henderson.
Dear Zoe (R) Based on Philip Beard’s novel, this teen drama stars Sadie Sink as a girl who runs away from home after her little sister’s death and lives with her father (Theo Rossi). Also with Jessica Capshaw, Kweku Collins, Vivien Lyra Blair, and Justin Bartha.
Decision to Leave (NR) The latest film by Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden) is a thriller about a detective (Park Hae-il) fascinated by a man’s widow (Tang Wei) while investigating his death. Also with Go Kyung-pyo, Jung Yi-seo, Park Jeong-min, and Lee Jung-hyun.
I’m Totally Fine (NR) Natalie Morales stars in this comedy as a woman who encounters space aliens while traveling deep in the countryside. Also with Jillian Bell, Harvey Guillén, Blake Anderson, and Karen Maruyama.
The Minute You Wake Up Dead (R) This thriller stars Cole Hauser as a stockbroker whose involvement in an insurance scam results in multiple deaths. Also with Jaimie Alexander, Andrew Stevens, Darren Mann, and Morgan Freeman.
On the Line (R) Mel Gibson stars in this thriller as a radio talk-show host who receives a death threat against his family on the air. Also with William Moseley, Kevin Dillon, Carole Weyers, Nadia Farès, and John Robinson.
Raymond & Ray (R) Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor star in this drama as estranged brothers who take a road trip for the funeral of their abusive father. Also with Maribel Verdú, Tom Bower, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Todd Louiso, Oscar Nuñez, and Sophie Okonedo.