Deadland (NR) This drama stars Roberto Urbina as a Border Patrol agent whose routine arrest changes his life. Also with Chris Mulkey, Luis Chávez, Julieth Restrepo, McCaul Lombardi, and Julio Cesar Cedillo. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Death at the Border (NR) Wendy Wilkins co-stars in her own drama about two women trying to escape abusive relationships. Also with Shannon Elizabeth, Eric Roberts, Frank Whaley, Kika Magalhães, and Danny Trejo. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Delinquents (NR) This Argentinian crime drama stars Daniel Elías and Esteban Bigliardi as two criminals aiming to pull off a complicated bank heist. Also with Margarita Molfino, Germán de Silva, Gabriela Saidon, Mariana Chaud, and Javier Zoro. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Divinity (NR) Watch this highly experimental science-fiction film for its black-and-white photography. Stephen Dorff plays the inventor of a serum that gives people immortality in exchange for sterility or infertility, and Moises Arias and Jason Genao portray two space aliens who fall to earth, kidnap him, and give him a massive overdose of his own drug. The film does not hang together in any meaningful way, but first-time writer-director Eddie Alcazar conjures some wondrous drone shots in the desert location. He has some great talent, and perhaps this will be his Eraserhead, an oddity that’s the first step in a glittering career. The climactic fight sequence is rendered in claymation, which is a clever touch. Also with Scott Bakula, Karrueche Tran, Caylee Cowan, Emily Willis, Michael O’Hearn, and Bella Thorne. (Opens Friday)
Glisten and the Merry Mission (G) This animated movie is about a young elf who has to save Christmas. Voices by Freddie Prinze Jr., Michael Rapaport, Dionne Warwick, Billy Ray Cyrus, Julia Michaels, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, and Chevy Chase. (Opens Friday)
The Marsh King’s Daughter (R) Adapted from Karen Dionne’s novel, this low-temperature thriller stars Daisy Ridley as a woman who has to defend her family after her wilderness survivalist and serial rapist-murderer father (Ben Mendelsohn) breaks out of prison and kills a bunch of people on his way to see her. The film has an interesting idea when she goes back to her old house in the Michigan marshes to hunt the old man down before he can get to her husband and kid, but everything feels too muted by half, starting with Ridley’s performance as a jumpy, paranoid American. The prologue sequence is way too long, and director Neil Burger (Limitless) seems to have lost all sense of pacing. This genre fare is flavorless. Also with Garrett Hedlund, Caren Pistorius, Brooklynn Prince, Joey Carson, and Gil Birmingham. (Opens Friday)
Radical (PG-13) Eugenio Derbez stars in this Mexican drama as a schoolteacher who tries to educate his students in a corrupt border town. Also with Daniel Haddad, Jennifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola, Gilberto Barraza, Victor Estrada, and Manuel Márquez. (Opens Friday)
Rustin (PG-13) This biography stars Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, the gay civil-rights leader who organized the 1963 March on Washington. Also with Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Johnny Ramey, Michael Potts, CCH Pounder, Audra McDonald, and Jeffrey Wright. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes (NR) This Japanese anime film is about a girl who seeks to discover a wormhole in the time-space continuum. Voices by Oji Suzuka, Gabriel Regojo, Marie Iitoyo, Patricia Duran, Tasuku Hatanaka, Scott Gibbs, Seiran Kobayashi, Anna Austin, Arisa Komiya, and Maggie Flecknoe. (Opens Friday)
What Happens Later (R) Meg Ryan stars in her directorial debut as a woman stranded in an airport with an ex-boyfriend (David Duchovny) from decades earlier. (Opens Friday)
After Death (PG-13) Stephen Gray and Chris Radtke’s documentary interviews people who have had near-death experiences.
Barbie (PG-13) This philosophical statement about being a woman in present-day society is likely the strangest Hollywood blockbuster you’ll see all year, and much more than the crass corporate product it could have been. A perfectly pitched Margot Robbie plays a Barbie doll who has to travel from Barbie Land to our reality to discover why she’s having random thoughts about death. When Ken (Ryan Gosling) follows her into our reality, he likes the sight of men running everything and tries to turn Barbie Land into another patriarchy. All this takes place against a backdrop that’s wholly committed to Barbie-ness, with streets lined with life-size Barbie Dream Houses and more pink than you’ve ever seen in your life. If the storytelling loses a bit in its last third, the loose ends fit a story about the messiness of being a woman (or a man). This girly film is also thoughtful, complex, and funny, and will ensure that you never look at a Barbie doll the same way again. Also with America Ferrera, Arianna Greenblatt, Emma Mackey, Issa Rae, Beanie Feldstein, Simu Liu, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, Hari Nef, Sharon Rooney, Ritu Arya, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, Nicola Coughlan, Emerald Fennell, Scott Evans, Sharon Rooney, Ana Cruz Kayne, Rhea Perlman, and John Cena. Narrated by Helen Mirren.
Bhagavanth Kesari (NR) This Telugu-language action-comedy stars Nandamuri Balakrishna as a man whose professional and personal life are thrown into upheaval at once. Also with Kajal Aggarwal, Sreeleela, Arjun Rampal, Priyanka Jawalkar, and John Vijay.
The Blind (PG-13) This biography of Phill Robertson from TV’s Duck Dynasty depicts his debauched life before he saw the light of Jesus Christ. Starring Aron von Andrian, Amelia Eve, Matthew Erick White, Brielle Robillard, Connor Tillman, John Ales, Kerry Knuppe, and Ronan Carroll.
Blue Beetle (PG-13) The Mexican family at the center of this is enough to make this DC superhero movie feel different. Xolo Maridueña portrays a young man on a U.S. territory in the Caribbean who stumbles onto a suit of armor that gives him superhuman powers and also makes him a target of the evil tech firm that wants it. The movie does drag towards the end when the bad guys square off with the good guy and his familia, but director Angel Manuel Soto does not look overmatched by the scale and special effects, and the humor among the hero’s tightly knit family is both funny and culturally specific, especially with his crackpot uncle (George Lopez) and his abuelita (Adriana Barraza) who mysteriously knows how to handle an automatic firearm. Also with Elpidia Carrillo, Bruna Marquezine, Raoul Max Trujillo, Damián Alcázar, Belissa Escobedo, Harvey Guillén, and Susan Sarandon.
The Creator (PG-13) This science-fiction epic looks amazing. If only the story were as good. John David Washington stars as a U.S. Army intelligence officer in 2070 who’s tasked with retrieving a superweapon being developed by robots in a war between robots and humans. The weapon turns out to be a 14-year-old kid (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). The reported $80 million budget looks like three times as much, with hordes of sentient robots fighting on battlefields and explosions on spaceships that are visible in the sky. Problem is, the relationships between the hero and the girl as well as his possibly dead ex-girlfriend (Gemma Chan) don’t resonate the way they should, and the movie’s statement about artificial intelligence is underbaked. Director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) has great gifts, but they come with severe limitations. Also with Allison Janney, Sturgill Simpson, Marc Menchaca, Amar Chadha-Patel, Ralph Ineson, Veronica Ngo, and Ken Watanabe.
Dumb Money (R) Relive the sweet schadenfreude of the GameStop stock saga, when a large group of small-time investors outsmarted some of Wall Street’s best minds in winter 2021. Paul Dano plays Keith Gill a.k.a. Roaring Kitty, a YouTube poster who notices that big-time hedge funds are shorting the stock of the Grapevine-based video game retailer and encourages his followers to inflate the value of the stock so that the hedge funds will lose money. The filmmakers rely too much on the rah-rah factor of working-class people going up against billionaires. If the villains were interesting, maybe this would be the scathing critique of capitalism that it sets out to be. Still, Dano for once plays a regular guy and is excellent in the part, while Pete Davidson as his brother is one of the few consistent suppliers of laughs. Also with Seth Rogen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick Offerman, America Ferrera, Anthony Ramos, Talia Ryder, Myha’la, Kate Burton, Clancy Brown, Dane DeHaan, Olivia Thirlby, Sebastian Stan, and Shailene Woodley.
The Equalizer 3 (R) It’s unusual how slowly this movie goes about its business, and even more unusual that it works so well. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is wounded in action and has to heal up in a small town on the Italian coast. He does so just in time for the Neapolitan camorra to start throwing their weight around. Before McCall faces down the bad guys, director Antoine Fuqua stops to take a breath and take in the sights in the various towns in Campania that stand in for the setting. It feels appropriate for the story of an aging hit man who realizes that he needs to hang it up while he can. If this is the last movie in the series, it’s a worthy ending. Also with Gaia Scodellaro, Remo Girone, David Denman, Eugenio Mastrandrea, Andrea Scarduzio, Andrea Dodero, Daniele Perrone, Zakaria Hamza, Manuela Tasciotti, Dea Lanzaro, Sonia Ben Ammar, Adolfo Margiotta, and Dakota Fanning.
The Exorcist: Believer (R) This movie jumps to life when Ellen Burstyn enters the proceedings about halfway through, and then the movie sends her off so unceremoniously that you wonder if the filmmakers knew what they had. It’s one of many missteps in this massively disappointing sequel, as a demon possesses two 13-year-old girls (Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum) and their parents have to enlist the help of Burstyn’s Chris MacNeil to exorcise them. The fantastic cast are hampered by characters that don’t develop in any believable way, and director/co-writer David Gordon Green ditches the Catholicism for simultaneous Catholic, Baptist, and Vodou exorcism rites that only dilute all of them. Some horror set pieces might have saved this, but instead we get fanservice from a director who lacks the ruthless craft of the late William Friedkin. Take away the connections to the 1973 classic, and this is a perfectly ordinary horror film. Also with Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Dowd, Jennifer Nettles, Norbert Leo Butz, Raphael Sbarge, E.J. Bonilla, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Linda Blair
Five Nights at Freddy’s (PG-13) The animatronic robot monsters are perfectly pitched between cute and creepy in this horror film. Everything else is crap, though. In this adaptation of the video game series, Josh Hutcherson portrays a financially desperate man who takes a job as a security guard at an abandoned pizza place and arcade to avoid losing custody of his 11-year-old sister (Piper Rubio). The film is neither funny enough to work as a comedy nor scary enough to work as a horror film, and director Emma Tammi doesn’t have the instincts to balance the two elements. The acting isn’t up to par, either. Also with Elizabeth Lail, Christian Stokes, David Lind, Kat Conner Sterling, Matthew Lillard, and Mary Stuart Masterson.
Freelance (R) Two brilliant comic actors can’t salvage this throwback action-comedy. John Cena portrays an ex-Special Forces soldier providing security for a disgraced journalist (Alison Brie) as she interviews the dictator (Juan Pablo Raba) of a fictitious South American nation. The president at least is characterized as something between a tyrant and a good guy, but director Pierre Morel (Taken) has no feel for comedy, and Cena and Brie fail to inject enough jokes to make the premise stand up. Also with Alice Eve, Marton Csokas, Sebastian Eslava, Mauricio Cujar, Diego Vásquez, and Christian Slater.
Gran Turismo (PG-13) Rather than a straight adaptation of the auto racing video game, this sports drama is based on the true story of Jann Mardenberger (Archie Madekwe), a soccer player’s son from Cardiff whose skill at the game translated into a career driving race cars for real. The movie hammers home its emotional beats with less subtlety than most video games, and the acting isn’t good enough to carry this. Director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) shoots the racing sequences to resemble the game as closely as possible, and the American chief engineer is an embarrassing character, even though David Harbour plays the hell out of the part. This is a glorified commercial for the video game, and you’d get more drama out of playing the game for two hours than this. Also with Orlando Bloom, Takehiro Hira, Darren Barnet, Josha Stradowski, Maeve Courtier-Lilley, Daniel Puig, Pepe Barroso, Thomas Kretschmann, Geri Halliwell Horner, and Djimon Hounsou.
A Haunting in Venice (PG-13) Death on the Nile left Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot at the end of a well-formed character arc, and this third Poirot adventure shows he should have quit while he was ahead. The story picks up in 1947, when a famous mystery novelist (Tina Fey) brings him out of retirement to help her debunk a psychic (Michelle Yeoh). Instead, somebody winds up dead at the end of her séance. The movie is actually based on Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party with the setting moved to Venice. The Venetian locations add nothing to the proceedings, the gallery of murder suspects yields little in the way of memorable performances, and Branagh and Fey have as much chemistry as oil and water. The filmmakers try to add supernatural doings to the mix, but the director doesn’t have the instincts for horror, and we know that a Christie adaptation isn’t going to give us actual ghosts. Also with Jamie Dornan, Camille Cottin, Jude Hill, Emma Laird, Ali Khan, Kyle Allen, Riccardo Scamarcio, Rowan Robinson, and Kelly Reilly.
Inspector Sun (PG) This Spanish animated film is about a detective (voiced by Jesús Barreda) who’s forced to take on another case while on vacation. Additional voices by Andrea Villaverde, Catherina Martínez, Txema Moscoso, Fernando Cabrera, Pedro Tena, and Ana Jiménez.
The Killer (R) David Fincher’s latest thriller stars Michael Fassbender as a contract killer trying to stay alive while he’s being hunted across the globe. Also with Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell, Kerry O’Malley, Sophie Charlotte, and Arliss Howard.
Killers of the Flower Moon (R) Martin Scorsese treats the Osage murders of the 1920s like one of his gangster films, and this might be better than Goodfellas or The Irishman. Based on David Grann’s history, this film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a World War I serviceman who returns home to Oklahoma and marries a full-blooded Osage (Lily Gladstone) to gain the money that comes with the rights to the oil on her land. Soon the Osage start dying under mysterious circumstances. Scorsese is canny enough to draw the parallels between the murders and the Tulsa race massacre from the same time, and he presents us with Okie cowboys acting like Mafia hoods to get away with their crimes. DiCaprio is great as a bad man whose accretion of bad deeds finally breaks him, and Gladstone is magnetic as the woman who barely survives when her tribespeople don’t. The film’s 206 minutes fly by and contain more than enough material for a second viewing. Also with Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jason Isbell, Pete Yorn, Scott Shepherd, William Belleau, Yancey Red Corn, Gary Basaraba, Sturgill Simpson, Tommy Schultz, Tatanka Means, Barry Corbin, John Lithgow, and Brendan Fraser.
Leo: Bloody Sweet (NR) This Indian remake of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence ventures into territory that many Indian films won’t. Vijay portrays a chocolatier in a remote village in the Himalayas who kills five armed robbers who try to shoot the employees in his coffee shop. This attracts the attention of the mob, who know him as a ruthless killer hiding out as an ordinary citizen. The movie has the wit to show our hero re-traumatizing his family over and over as he keeps killing gangsters who come after him for revenge. The resulting film fits uneasily together, but that’s precisely why this action thriller stands out from other Bollywood fare. Also with Sanjay Dutt, Arjun, Trisha, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Madonna Sebastian, Mathew Thomas, Iyal, Mansoor Ali Khan, and Babu Anthony.
The Nun II (R) What a mess this turned out to be. The sequel to the 2019 horror film is set in 1956 and has Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) traveling to a convent in Provence when she hears that Valak (Bonnie Aarons) isn’t dead after all and is murdering her way through Europe. The story winds up hopelessly scattered as characters run all over this church looking for one another and trying to put their hands on some mystical thingumabob that’s supposed to tip the balance between good and evil. I could live with that if the movie were scary, but the set piece at a magazine stand is outweighed by too much rote stuff, and the appearance of the werewolf demon is one of the more ridiculous things I’ve seen in a horror film. The tying of this series to the Conjuring movies isn’t enough to make it worth the trip. Also with Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell, Jonas Bloquet, Katelyn Rose Downey, Suzanne Bertish, Peter Hudson, Tamar Baruch, Natalia Safran, Patrick Wilson, and Vera Farmiga.
Oppenheimer (R) This three-hour biographical epic aims to evoke a single mood of guilt-wracked despair, and darned if Christopher Nolan doesn’t almost pull it off. Around the story of how J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) takes charge of the Manhattan project and builds the atomic bomb that ends the war, there are two interlocking framing stories about him trying to renew his security clearance while his former boss Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to be confirmed as the U.S. Commerce Secretary. Nolan gives us precious little time to catch our breath from the start as he toggles between timelines while the supporting characters around Oppenheimer largely get lost. Still, the framing stories snap together in a marvelous way, and the successful atomic bomb test is a splendid set piece. Inside this movie is a better, smaller film that’s trying to get out. Also with Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Alden Ehrenreich, Josh Hartnett, Jason Clarke, Tony Goldwyn, Benny Safdie, James D’Arcy, Harry Groener, Tom Conti, David Krumholtz, Matthias Schweighöfer, Alex Wolff, Michael Angarano, David Dastmalchian, Dane DeHaan, Josh Peck, Jack Quaid, Gustaf Skarsgård, James Remar, Olivia Thirlby, Matthew Modine, Kenneth Branagh, Casey Affleck, and Gary Oldman.
Pashupati Prasad 2: Bhasme Don (NR) The sequel to the 2016 film stars Bipin Karki as a man searching for his own identity after Pashupati Prasad’s death. Also with Saugat Malla, Swastima Khadka, and Mahesh Tripathi.
Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie (PG) “They’re cute little dogs who drive around in cars!” says one character. “I know it’s weird, but just go with it.” It’s about to get weirder. A mad scientist (voiced by Taraji P. Henson) pulls a meteorite out of the sky, but the crystals wind up in the paws of our puppies, who then acquire superpowers. Skye (voiced by Mckenna Grace) frets about being the runt of the litter until she acquires super-strength, and Liberty (voiced by Marsai Martin) frets that her superpower hasn’t manifested at all. Somehow none of it adds up to a solid laugh or any story developments that are in any way surprising. The little ones in the crowd will be the only ones who derive any entertainment value from this. Additional voices by Finn-Lee Epp, Luxton Handspiker, Christian Corrao, Christian Convery, Nylan Parthipan, Callum Shoniker, Ron Pardo, James Marsden, Lil Rel Howery, Kim Kardashian, Kristen Bell, and Chris Rock.
Saw X (R) Finally, a Saw movie I can get behind. It only took them 10 tries. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) receives a terminal cancer diagnosis, falls victim to a scam involving a quack cure, and sets about hunting down the fake doctors who conned him. The movie takes an unusually long time setting itself up, and patiently delves into the emotions of a serial killer as he faces his end. Even better material comes at the end when some of his prospective victims manage to turn the tables on him and force him to lock himself in his own trap while taunting him about everything wrong with his world-view. It’s so good that it almost makes the previous eight or nine films worth having sat through. Also with Shawnee Smith, Michael Beach, Synnøve Macody Lund, Renata Vaca, Steven Brand, Joshua Okamoto, Octavio Hinojosa, Paulette Hernández, Jorge Briseño, and Costas Mandylor.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (PG-13) You’ll likely be watching this in a packed theater with little girls running around and singing along with Taylor, but this movie is strong enough to hold up even if you see it on your smartphone by yourself six months from now. Sam Wrench’s concert documentary takes in Swift’s last performance from the first leg of her current concert tour, where she plays selections from all her previous albums. If you didn’t have the coin to pay your way in to her stadium show, this film showcases her deep understanding of stagecraft, her indefatigable energy, and her unforced chemistry with her fans. Maybe the moss-covered piano she plays on “Champagne Problems” is a bit much, but the show is full of wow moments like the mystical backdrop for “Willow” and the giant snake coiling around the stage to introduce the Reputation part of the program. Swift’s sturdy sense of songcraft underscores all of this. What more could you wish from a concert movie?
Among Wolves (NR) Trace Adkins and Jeff Fahey star in this Western as two bootleggers in the waning days of Prohibition. Also with James Russo, Spencer Locke, Victoria Pratt, Kelly Lynn Reiter, and Tom Berenger.
Anatomy of a Fall (R) The winner of the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, Justine Triet’s thriller stars Sandra Hüller as a woman accused of murdering her husband. Also with Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Antoine Reinartz, Samuel Theis, Saadia Bentaleb, Jehnny Beth, and Camille Rutherford.
Boudica: Queen of War (R) Olga Kurylenko stars in this historical drama as the Celtic queen who leads her people against the Roman conquerors. Also with Clive Standen, Peter Franzén, Lucy Martin, Nick Moran, James Faulkner, Harry Kirton, and Rita Tushingham.
The Hard Hit (NR) Jerry G. Angelo stars in this thriller as an Interpol agent whose assignment to bring down a crime boss turns personal. Also with Richard T. Jones, Rob LaColla Jr., Markice Moore, Trae Ireland, Aubrey Trujillo, and Jay Klay.
The Mission (PG-13) Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’ documentary profiles John Chau, the American missionary who was killed trying to convert an isolated community in India to Christianity.
To Kill a Tiger (NR) Nisha Pahuja’s documentary is about an Indian farmer who crusades for justice for the men who gang-raped his 13-year-old daughter.