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Greta Lee (center) is caught between Teo Yoo and John Magaro at a New York bar in "Past Lives." Courtesy A24

OPENING

 

The Childe (NR) This drama stars Kang Tae-ju as a Korean-Filipino amateur boxer who seeks money to pay for medical treatment for his gravely ill mother. Also with Go A-ra, Kim Kang-woo, Kim Seon-ho, and Caroline Magbojos. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Confidential Informant (R) Mel Gibson stars in this thriller as a terminally ill police detective who arranges to be killed in the line of duty. Also with Kate Bosworth, Nick Stahl, Erik Valdez, Arielle Raycene, Russell Richardson, and Dominic Purcell. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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Every Body (R) This documentary by Julie Cohen (RBG, Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down) profiles River Gallo, Alicia Roth Weigel, and Sean Saifa Wall, who were all born intersex. (Opens Friday)

Lynch / Oz (NR) Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary profiles filmmaker David Lynch and his longtime obsession with The Wizard of Oz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Maamannan (NR) This Indian political thriller is about a torture victim who gathers evidence against the powerful local ruler who tortured him. Starring Vadivelu, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Fahadh Faasil, and Keerthy Suresh. (Opens Friday)

Past Lives (PG-13 Celine Song’s immigrant drama is exquisitely well-crafted and curiously lacking in power. Greta Lee portrays a South Korean woman whose family brings her to America in the early 2000s when she’s a little girl. Twenty years later, she’s reunited with the boy (Teo Yoo) whom she had a crush on when she left. First-time filmmaker Song steadfastly resists picking a side with either the Korean man who got away or the American husband (John Magaro) who married the protagonist, and she’s never less than insightful about the awkwardness of this romantic situation. Somehow this remains a bit too restrained for its own good. It’s still a fantastic debut for the former staff writer on TV’s Wheel of Time, and Lee is fantastic in the lead role. Also with Moon Seung-ah and Leem Seung-min. (Opens Friday)

Prisoner’s Daughter (R) Catherine Hardwicke’s drama stars Kate Beckinsale as a Las Vegas cocktail waitress who has to take in her father (Brian Cox) after he’s released from a 12-year prison sentence. Also with Christopher Convery, Eileen Rene Prudhont, Chuti Tiu, Yonel Dorelis, and Ernie Hudson. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (PG) This watchable and forgettable animated film is about a teenager (voiced by Lana Condor) who discovers that her parents have hidden her ancestry from her, and that she’s descended from a royal family of undersea creatures who protect the world from villainous mermaids. The occasionally cringey jokes are made up for by some clever visual gags, and the voice cast includes Toni Collette as Ruby’s mother and Jane Fonda as her grandmother who breaks the news to Ruby. Only during the last third, when the family has to save the world, does the movie lose its charm. It’s never unpleasant, though. Additional voices by Colman Domingo, Blue Chapman, Jaboukie Young-White, Liza Koshy, Ramona Young, Eduardo Franco, Sam Richardson, Annie Murphy, and Will Forte. (Opens Friday)

Samajavaragamana (NR) This Indian romantic comedy stars Sree Vishnu, Reba Monica, Naresh, Vennela Kishore, Sudarshan, Raghu Babu, and Rajeev Kanakala. (Opens Friday)

Satyaprem Ki Kathi (NR) Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani star in this Indian musical comedy. Also with Amir Ali Shaik, Rajpal Yadav, Gajraj Rao, Supriya Pathak, and Siddharth Randeria. (Opens Friday)

Sound of Freedom (PG-13) This thriller stars Jim Caviezel as a federal agent who turns vigilante to protect children from sex traffickers. Also with Mira Sorvino, Kurt Fuller, Scott Haze, José Zúñiga, Eduardo Verástegui, Gary Basaraba, Manny Perez, and Bill Camp. (Opens Monday)

A Southern Haunting (PG-13) This horror film is about a Black family that receives land as slavery reparations, only to discover that it’s haunted. Starring Laya DeLeon Hayes, Imani Hakim, Graham Patrick Martin, Mia Barron, Christine Weatherup, and Tarik Lowe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Spy (NR) Not a remake of the Melissa McCarthy comedy, this Indian spy thriller stars Nikhil Siddharth as an agent trying to bust an international arms ring. Also with Iswarya Menon, Aryan Rajesh, Chandu Kanuri, Makrand Deshpande, Jisshu Sengupta, and Rana Danggubati. (Opens Friday)

The Unseen (NR) RJ Mitte stars in this horror film as a law student whose shady past results in a murder at his school. Also with Christian Stolte, William Mark McCullough, Jennifer A. Goodman, Rebekah Kennedy, Candice Rose, Ava Bianchi, and John Victor Allen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Warhorse One (R) Johnny Strong stars in, co-writes, and co-directs this drama as a Navy SEAL who must protect a little girl while stranded in Afghanistan. Also with Athena Durner, James Sherrill, Raj Kala, Todd Jenkins, Siya, David Ibrahim, and Michael Sauers. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

The Blackening (R) If this Juneteenth-themed horror-comedy isn’t as worked-out as Jordan Peele’s best movies, it is just as funny. A group of college friends reunite 10 years after graduation at a cabin in the woods, only to be hunted down by a hideously racist board game and a masked creep with a crossbow. The movie guys the tropes of slasher movies, but it’s better when it aims for more culturally specific humor, as these Black characters dismiss the idea of calling the police and try to prove how un-Black they are when they’re challenged to sacrifice the person they decide is the Blackest. The villain doesn’t make sense, but director Tim Story (Barbershop) never strikes a false note. If this plays like a comedy sketch writ large, it does have enough material to work at feature length. Starring Grace Byers, Dewayne Perkins, Sinqua Walls, Antoinette Robertson, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Jermaine Fowler, Yvonne Orji, Jay Pharoah, and Diedrich Bader.

The Boogeyman (PG-13) This is based on a Stephen King short story, and it’s exactly like too many other horror movies at the multiplex. Chris Messina plays a psychiatrist who’s just coping with the loss of his wife when a patient (David Dastmalchian) who comes to see him at his home commits suicide there. Soon the doctor’s kids (Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair) are seeing the monster that the dead man described preying on his own family. The stuff about a bereaved father who can’t deal with tragedy in his own life is inadequately dealt with, and the monster neither chimes with the themes nor is memorable in its own right. This could have been so much better than it is. Also with Marin Ireland, Madison Hu, and LisaGay Hamilton. 

Elemental (PG) The latest Pixar movie looks and sounds like other Pixar movies, but is missing that ineffable spark that we recognize. The story is set in a city populated by air, earth, water, and fire elementals, and revolves around a forbidden romance between a water particle (voiced by Mamadou Athie) and a fire particle (voiced by Leah Lewis). The fire elementals are treated as second-class citizens by the others, and the whole conceit was done much more cleverly in Zootopia. The largely unknown voice cast doesn’t provide much distinctiveness, and the entire affair washes over you without leaving much of a mark. The feature is accompanied by Carl’s Date, a short sequel to Up that is unworthy of the movie that spawned it. Additional voices by Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ronnie Del Carmen, Shila Ommi, Mason Wertheimer, and Catherine O’Hara.

Fast X (PG-13) They’s too many people in this movie. In the tenth installment of the franchise, Dominic (Vin Diesel) has to ride to the rescue when a mission in Rome goes south. The new baddie is Jason Momoa, who seems to be having more fun than the rest of the cast put together as he pulls dance moves while wearing highlights in his hair and polish on his nails. Still, he can’t make up for the movie stuffing in so many extra characters (some of whom have come back from the dead) that it loses track of the plotlines happening in the far corners of the world. The last movie had better do a really good job of tying up all the loose ends. Also with Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Pete Davidson, Scott Eastwood, Daniela Melchior, Alan Ritchson, Luis da Silva Jr., Leo Abelo Perry, Cardi B, John Cena, Jason Statham, Brie Larson, Charlize Theron, Rita Moreno, Helen Mirren, and uncredited cameos by Michael Rooker, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot. 

The Flash (PG-13) Hollywood’s first-ever blockbuster movie with an openly gender-fluid lead should be a cause for celebration. It isn’t, partly because Ezra Miller has a record of such terrifying off-screen behavior. Beyond that, it’s easily the weakest of the recent movies about multiple universes. The best stuff comes before The Flash creates the multiverse, with some trippy visuals and a witty sequence with our superhero saving a maternity ward full of babies from falling off a hospital. After the first half hour, though, the movie drowns in fanservice without the absurdist glee of the Spider-Verse movies or even Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The different versions of Superman and Batman who pop up will warm some fans’ hearts, but this movie comes late to the latest trend. Also with Michael Keaton, Ben Affleck, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Maribel Verdú, Ron Livingston, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Ian Loh, Temuera Morrison, Jeremy Irons, and uncredited cameos by Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Nicolas Cage, and George Clooney.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (PG-13) This Marvel movie draws out the backstory of Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), which makes it uniquely harrowing and one of Marvel’s best in recent years. A gold-skinned super-alien (Will Poulter) attacks our crew of outlaws and maims Rocket badly, so the others have to save his life by stealing his medical records from the sadistic scientist (Chukwudi Iwuji) who created him. The movie has a ton of animal torture, and even though many of the creatures here don’t belong to any existent species, seeing them tortured may hit you harder than a documentary about actual animals being tortured. The villain and his fascist god complex makes for one of the scariest and most despicable bad guys in the Marvel canon, and Rocket’s story is inspiring like few other ones. Also with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Nico Santos, Miriam Shor, Sarah Alami, Nathan Fillion, Daniela Melchior, Michael Rosenbaum, and Sylvester Stallone. Additional voices by Vin Diesel, Maria Bakalova, Judy Greer, Mikaela Hoover, Asim Chaudhry, Seth Green, and Linda Cardellini.

The Little Mermaid (PG) Halle Bailey is one of the highlights of this live-action Disney musical remake, so all the racist Ron DeSantis fanboys can suck it. She may not have the phrasing of Jodi Benson from the original 1989 movie, but her voice sports some otherworldly colors that make her credible as a creature of mythology. She’s joined by Melissa McCarthy, turning Ursula into a glorious high-camp villain, and Daveed Diggs, who provides the voice of Sebastian and manages some sly and ingratiating performances of the most familiar songs. If only director Rob Marshall (Chicago, but then again, Mary Poppins Returns) had matched their innovation. The numbers too often lack flair, and the changes to the story don’t amount to a reinvention. The new songs (by original composer Alan Menken and new lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda) don’t make much of an impression, either. See this for the performances. Also with Javier Bardem, Jonah Hauer-King, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Jessica Alexander, and Jodi Benson. Additional voices by Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina.

No Hard Feelings (R) Jennifer Lawrence has never been funnier than in this comedy about a self-destructive woman in Montauk whose desperate financial straits lead her to take a rich couple’s offer to deflower their 19-year-old son (Andrew Barth Feldman). Director/co-writer Gene Stupnitsky (Good Boys) misses his chance to comment on the nature of sex work from the point of view of someone who’s making their first foray into the field. The reason to watch this is Lawrence, whose physicality spills all over the screen whether she’s attempting a clumsy striptease for the kid or trying to navigate everywhere on rollerblades because her car has been repossessed. She’s born to play these highly sexed women whose confusion and pain are hilarious. Don’t miss her full-frontal nudity during a hilarious fight sequence on a beach. Also with Matthew Broderick, Natalie Morales, Scott MacArthur, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Kyle Mooney, Hasan Minhaj, and Laura Benanti.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (PG-13) A treat for the eyes. The sequel to Into the Spider-Verse has three new directors, and has lost none of the innovation that made the first film such a delight. When Gwen Stacy (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) pays an unsanctioned visit to Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), it sets off a series of dominoes that threaten to unravel the multiverse and/or kill Miles’ dad (voiced by Brian Tyree Henry). This second film ends on a cliffhanger that sets up a third movie, so the story is incomplete. Never mind that, though. The movie gleefully drags Miles through universe after universe each with its different drawing style, and the animation allows for crazier hijinks than the live-action Spider-Man films can have. The inventiveness might be wearying if not for the movie stopping every so often for storylines that forebode tragedy. There’s also an argument between two characters about Jeff Koons’ art. I can’t wait to see what the third chapter brings. Additional voices by Oscar Isaac, Jake Johnson, Jason Schwartzman, Issa Rae, Luna Lauren Velez, Karan Soni, Shea Whigham, Greta Lee, Andy Samberg, Jharrel Jerome, Jack Quaid, Jorma Taccone, Jack Quaid, Rachel Dratch, Ziggy Marley, Donald Glover, Kathryn Hahn, Amandla Stenberg, J.K. Simmons, Mahershala Ali, and Daniel Kaluuya.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie (PG) The video game series depended heavily on its gameplay rather than its story for its success, and the animated movie version succeeds by letting the characters be themselves. Mario (voiced by Chris Pratt) is sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom, but instead of rescuing Princess Peach (voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy), he has to enlist her help to rescue his brother Luigi (voiced by Charlie Day). The star-studded voice cast rises to the challenge, and the action of the film imitates the gameplay without overexplaining things. Perhaps the characters could use a bit of fleshing out, but the movie doesn’t try to do too much. Additional voices by Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Khary Payton, Juliet Jelenic, and Sebastian Maniscalco. — Cole Williams

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (PG-13) The franchise returns to its tedious roots with this installment set in 1994. The Autobots and a new race of transforming robots have to save the Earth from being swallowed up by a planet-eater (voiced by Colman Domingo), enlisting the help of an unemployed ex-soldier (Anthony Ramos) and a museum researcher (Dominique Fishback). The script has a few good lines related to the setting, which makes it an improvement on the old Michael Bay movies. It also depicts Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) as a big wet blanket, but it loses the playful spirit of Bumblebee. The story takes forever to get our heroes to recover the magic thingy that the plot revolves around, and everything feels labored. I was expecting so much more. Also with Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, and Tobe Nwigwe. Additional voices by Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Cristo Fernández, Liza Koshy, MJ Rodriguez, and Michelle Yeoh. 

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

The Last Rider (PG-13) Perico Delgado stars in this drama about Greg LeMond’s win in the 1989 Tour de France. Also with Laurent Fignon and Cyrille Guimard. 

Raveland (NR) Rebecca Ugo’s horror movie is about a group of teens trying to find someone on a supernatural island. Starring Rachel Ihim, Charlotte Rose, River Perkins, Adrienne Laurén, Arianna Jones, and Lizandra Parra.

Wonderwell (PG-13) This fantasy film stars Kiera Milward as a 12-year-old girl who must undertake a mystical quest to come of age. Also with Rita Ora, Nell Tiger Free, Vincent Spano, Megan Dodds, and the late Carrie Fisher. 

 

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