Be My Family (NR) Zhang Yi and Pan Binlong star in this Chinese drama as two brothers trying to take care of a little girl while paying down their financial debt. Also with Zhou Yiran, Cheng Xi, and Yuan Xiaoxu. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Good Egg (NR) This drama stars Yara Martinez as a drama teacher whose desperation to have a child leads her to some extreme measures. Also with Andrea Londo, Nicholas Cirillo, Ben Wang, Joel Johnstone, Priscilla Lopez, and Tibor Feldman. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Khichdi 2 (NR) The sequel to the 2010 Indian comedy stars Supriya Pathak Kapur, Rajeev Mehta, Anang Desai, Vandana Pathak, Jamnadas Majethia, Kirthi Kulhari, Pratik Gandhi, Farah Khan, and Kiku Sharda. (Opens Friday)
Mangalavaaram (NR) This Indian horror film stars Payal Rajput as a woman trying to solve a series of mysterious deaths in her village. Also with Nandita Shwetha, Divya Pillal, Ajmal Ameer, Chaitanya Krishna, Ajay Ghosh, Shravan Reddy, and Ravindra Vijay. (Opens Friday)
May December (R) Todd Haynes’ melodrama is about a schoolteacher (Julianne Moore) who became notorious for marrying her student (Charles Melton) and a Hollywood actress (Natalie Portman) who visits her as research for portraying her in a film. Also with Cory Michael Smith, Christopher Nguyen, Chris Tenzis, Andrea Frankie, Elizabeth Yu, Piper Curda, and D.W. Moffett. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Pig Killer (NR) Jake Busey stars in this biography of Willy Pickton, the real-life pig farmer who tortured, raped, and murdered more than 50 women. Also with Lew Temple, Kate Patel, Michael Paré, Robert Miano, James Russo, Ginger Lynn Allen, and Bai Ling. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Sapta Saagaradache Ello (Side B) (NR) The second installment of the Kannada-language romantic saga stars Rakshit Shetty, Rukmini Vasanth, Chaithra J. Achar, Achyuth Kumar, Pavitra Lokesh, Avinash, and Sharath Lohithaswa. (Opens Friday at Cinépolis Euless)
Spark: L.I.F.E. (NR) Vikranth Reddy stars in this Indian thriller. Also with Mehreen Pirzada, Rukshar Dhillon, Guru Somasundaram, Brahmaji, Raja Ravindra, and Vennela Kishore. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Thanksgiving (R) Eli Roth initially made a fake trailer for this holiday-themed slasher flick as a joke in the Grindhouse double feature. Now he’s made the film for real, and while the joke doesn’t have enough to sustain an entire movie, it is good for a few laughs. A year after a Black Friday riot results in several deaths at a big-box retailer in Plymouth, Mass., a masked killer dressed as a Pilgrim starts killing the people they deem responsible. Both the sheriff (Patrick Dempsey) and the store owner’s teenage daughter (Nell Verlaque) try to crack the case. The Masshole energy is strong here, as the victims are all horrible New Englanders with thick accents. Roth’s wit shines through on occasion, and this does fill the empty void of Thanksgiving-related horror films. Also with Rick Hoffman, Addison Rae, Milo Manheim, Karen Cliche, Jenna Warren, Tomaso Sanelli, Tim Dillon, Amanda Barker, Joe Delfin, and Gina Gershon. (Opens Friday)
Tiger 3 (NR) Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif reprise their roles in this sequel to 2017’s Tiger Zinda Hai, as their heroic secret agents are framed as traitors to India. Also with Emraan Hashmi, Revathi, Simran, Riddhi Dogra, Vishal Jethwa, Ranvir Shorey, Denzil Smith, Hrithik Roshan, and Shah Rukh Khan. (Opens Friday)
Trolls Band Together (PG) At this point, reuniting with NSYNC is the best career move possible for Justin Timberlake. In this most watchable of the Trolls movies, his Branch is discovered to have four long-lost brothers (voiced by Eric André, Troye Sivan, Daveed Diggs, and Kid Cudi) with whom he used to be in a boy band. His attempt to save one of them leads Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) to discover her own separated-at-birth sister (voiced by Camila Cabello), and Tiny Diamond (voiced by Kenan Thompson) asks, “Am I the only one without a long-lost sibling?” The movie doesn’t belabor any of its points too heavily and gives us an enjoyable batch of cover songs plus the first original NSYNC song (“Better Place”) in more than 20 years. Nostalgia has given us worse than this. Additional voices by Amy Schumer, Andrew Rannells, Zooey Deschanel, Patti Harrison, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kunal Nayyar, Zosia Mamet, RuPaul, Ron Funches, Jungkook, Anderson .Paak, Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick. (Opens Friday)
After Death (PG-13) Stephen Gray and Chris Radtke’s documentary interviews people who have had near-death experiences.
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.
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.
The Holdovers (R) Paul Giamatti seems to do his best acting for Alexander Payne, and this may be the performance of his career. He portrays a schoolteacher in 1970 who’s stuck babysitting the handful of students at his ritzy all-male New England prep school who have nowhere to go over Christmas break. Screenwriter David Hemingson does an excellent job of capturing the protagonist’s erudite voice as he insults his students’ intelligence and can’t get through a conversation without referencing the Peloponnesian War. When only one student (Dominic Sessa) is left on campus, the movie becomes a piercing but also quite funny portrait of the loneliness of the teacher, the student, and the cafeteria worker (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who has lost her son in Vietnam. Randolph and the newcomer Sessa are both excellent, but Giamatti is fantastic as the man learning to appreciate things beyond the job he hates but has clung to tenaciously. Also with Carrie Preston, Brady Heppner, Ian Dolley, Michael Provost, Naheem Garcia, Gillian Vigman, Stephen Thorne, Andrew Garman, and Tate Donovan.
Japan (NR) This Indian heist film stars Karthi as a notorious burglar who aims to get away after pulling off a massive jewel robbery. Also with Anu Emmanuel, Jithan Ramesh, K.S. Ravikumar, Sunil, and Vijay Milton.
Journey to Bethlehem (PG) Fiona Palomo and Milo Manheim star in this musical version of the Nativity story. Also with Geno Segers, Omid Djalili, Rizwan Manji, Joel Smallbone, Lecrae, and Antonio Banderas.
Keedaa Cola (NR) This Indian comedy is about a group of friends who plan to scam a corporation by planting a cockroach in a soft drink bottle. Starring Chaitanya Rao Madadi, Rag Mayur, Brahmanandam, Tharun Bhascker, Raghu Ram, and Ravindra Vijay.
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.
The Marvels (PG-13) The shortest of the Marvel films, which is mostly a good thing. A cosmic event causes Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan (Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani) to switch places whenever they use their superpowers, just in time for a Kree supervillain (Zawe Ashton) to come after Carol with a personal grudge. Director/co-writer Nia DaCosta (the Candyman sequel) exhibits her sense of visual precision without losing a sense of fun, as in a dance number on a planet where Carol is a princess. The most enjoyable thing is the sheer delight that the three lead actresses take in one another’s company, with Vellani raising great laughs as a fangirl working with her heroes and Parris showing an unsuspected comic touch. I’m all for a Marvel movie that gets off the screen before wearing out its welcome. Also with Samuel L. Jackson, Park Seo-joon, Gary Lewis, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Tessa Thompson, Lashana Lynch, Hailee Steinfeld, and Kelsey Grammer.
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.
Priscilla (R) As a companion piece to Elvis, this biography is unsatisfying in a whole other way. Cailee Spaeny portrays Priscilla Beaulieu Presley from age 14 into her 30s as she meets Elvis (Jacob Elordi) and sticks with him through his abuse, infidelity, and relentless focus on his career. The lead actress’ youthful looks bring home the queasiness of Elvis’ dating of a preteen girl who’s 10 years younger than himself, and her alertness keeps the movie from becoming a stuffy historical pageant. Sofia Coppola gets her point across about the emptiness of a woman’s life when everyone regards her as an attachment to her husband, but the movie could have made the same point over a much shorter length. The ideas are here, but better dramatic shape would have given them more power. Also with Ari Cohen, Dagmara Domińczyk, Tim Post, Lynne Griffin, Dan Beirne, Dan Abramovici, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, and Matthew Shaw.
Radical (PG-13) Eugenio Derbez’ understated performance carries this otherwise formulaic Mexican inspirational teacher drama. He portrays Sergio Juarez, the real-life schoolteacher who went to a dirt-poor neighborhood in Matamoros in 2011 and resolved to use unorthodox methods to turn his underprivileged students into prize-winning scholars competing with the best young minds in the country. Derbez is canny enough to suggest the once-conventional teacher who has had a bruising experience with Mexico’s educational system. Writer-director Christopher Zalla doesn’t inject too much gloss into this portrait of a place where kids are lost all the time to the drug trade and the lure of America. Also with Daniel Haddad, Jennifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola, Gilberto Barraza, Victor Estrada, and Manuel Márquez.
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?
What Happens Later (R) Adapted from Steven Dietz’ play Shooting Star, Meg Ryan’s directorial debut veers between deep and deeply annoying, but the writing is strong enough to carry it. Ryan stars as a woman who is snowed in at a regional airport in Arkansas with the ex-husband (David Duchovny) whom she hasn’t seen in years. They hash over everything that went wrong with their marriage, bitch about the Muzak covers of 1990s rock songs over the PA system, and break into a dance number. This is Ryan’s first film role in almost 20 years, and if this is not exactly ground-breaking territory, her delivery is something to be glad to have back. She has some talent behind the camera, too, even if the set looks way too big to be a tiny airport. The film strikes a fine balance between fitting the romantic comedy genre and deconstructing it. Voice by Hal Liggett.
Adventures of the Naked Umbrella (NR) This comedy stars Jeremy Davies as a conspiracy theorist who goes into a tailspin after his trailer home burns down. Also with Taryn Manning, Vinny Balbo, Rylee Marshall, Richard Riehle, and Tom Arnold.
Manodrome (R) Jesse Eisenberg stars in this thriller as an insecure man who meets a mysterious family of men. Also with Adrien Brody, Odessa Young, Sallieu Sesay, Philip Ettinger, Ethan Suplee, and Gheorghe Muresan.
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.
Showdown at the Grand (NR) This comedy is about a movie theater owner (Terrence Howard) and a former action movie star (Dolph Lundgren) who team up to save the former’s business from a corporate takeover. Also with Amanda Righetti, Piper Curda, and John Savage.