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Audrey Tautou's bedroom is as idiosyncratic as her character and her movie in "Amelie." Photo by Bruno Delbonnel

OPENING

 

Altered Reality (NR) Charles Agron stars in this science-fiction film about a man given a chance to try a miracle drug that can fix his life. Also with Ed Asner, Lance Henriksen, Kayla Adams, Krista Dane Hoffman, and Tobin Bell. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Amélie (R) Whether you find it cute or cloying, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s comedy was like nothing else when it first came out in late 2001. Now that it’s being re-released, you can cast an eye on this fable about a Parisian waitress (Audrey Tautou) who helps people find love. Jeunet’s fourth wall-breaking storytelling devices, frenetic surrealism, and candy colors help keep sentimentality at bay and frequently raise hearty laughs. Tautou’s wide-eyed performance, also, ensures that this doesn’t crumble into some exercise in random weirdness. This film still isn’t like much else that’s out there now, and it well earns its place as Jeunet’s most beloved film. Also with Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta, Serge Merlin, Jamel Debbouze, Claire Maurier, Isabelle Nanty, Urbain Cancellier, Ticky Holgado, and Dominique Pinon. (Re-opens Wednesday)

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Anatomy of a Fall (R) If you see this Best Picture nominee from France with a companion, the two of you will have some hot topics of discussion coming out of it. Sandra Hüller portrays a famous German writer in France who’s arrested and indicted for the death of her French husband (Samuel Theis) in a fall at their chalet in the Alps. Much like Anatomy of a Murder, this is a film where a homicide trial exposes only ambiguities instead of hard facts. Much like Decision to Leave, the search for truth is complicated by slippery language, as the protagonist is more comfortable in English than in French, so much of the movie is in our language. Director/co-writer Justine Triet does superbly to take in the noise surrounding the trial and lay bombshell revelations left and right until we don’t know where to turn. It’s a vivid portrait of an unhappy marriage and the wreckage it leaves behind. Also with Milo Machado Graner, Swann Artaud, Antoine Reinartz, Jehnny Beth, Anne Rotger, Saadia Bentaieb, and Sophie Fillières. (Re-opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Bleeding Love (NR) Real-life father and daughter Ewan and Clara McGregor portray an estranged father and daughter forced to take a road trip together. Also with Jake Weary, Vera Bulder, Travis Hammer, Jacob Brown, and Kim Zimmer. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Ennio (NR) Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso) directs this documentary about legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. Starring Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, John Williams, Wong Kar-Wai, Hans Zimmer, Oliver Stone, Barry Levinson, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Quincy Jones, and Bruce Springsteen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Land of Bad (R) This war film stars Russell Crowe as a drone pilot who has to rescue a team of Delta Force soldiers stranded behind enemy lines. Also with Liam Hemsworth, Milo Ventimiglia, Ricky Whittle, Gunner Wright, Lincoln Lewis, and Luke Hemsworth. (Opens Friday)

Lights Out (R) Dermot Mulroney and Scott Adkins play itinerant fighters who run up against a powerful crime syndicate. Also with Frank Grillo, Mekhi Phifer, Amaury Nolasco, Kevin Gage, JuJu Chan Szeto, Jessica Medina, Erica Peeples, and Jaime King. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Madame Web (PG-13) Dakota Johnson stars in this spin-off from the Spider-Man movies as a woman who gains supernatural powers after a near-death experience. Also with Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Zosia Mamet, Kerry Bishé, Adam Scott, and Emma Roberts. (Opens Wednesday)

The Movie Emperor (NR) This Hong Kong comedy stars Andy Lau as a movie star who takes a risk on a role in a modestly budgeted film. Also with Kelly Lin, Liu Ruoqing, Ning Hao, Pal Sinn, Zhou Wei, and Tony Leung Ka-Fai. (Opens Wednesday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Ooru Peru Bhairavakona (NR) This Indian film stars Sundeep Kishan as a man seeking a way out of the fantasy world where he’s trapped. Also with Kavya Thapar, Varsha Bollamma, Harsha Chemudu, Vadivukkarasi, and Vennela Kishore. (Opens Friday)

The Peasants (R) Made by DK and Hugh Welchman (Loving Vincent), this Polish animated film is about a young woman (Kamila Urzedowska) who has to navigate jealousy and revenge in her 19th-century village. Also with Robert Gulaczyk, Miroslaw Baka, Sonia Mietielica, Ewa Kasprzyk, Cyprian Grabowski, Mateusz Rusin, and Andrzej Konopka. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Rajadhani Files (NR) This Indian film stars Vani Viswanathan, Vinodh Kumar P., Shanmukh, and Pavan. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Ambajipeta Marriage Band (NR) This Indian comedy stars Suhas and Shivani Nagaram as twins whose lives are changed by unexpected events. Also with Goparaju Ramana, Swarnakanth, Nithin Prasantha, and Jagadeesh Prathap Bandari.

American Fiction (R) One of the year’s funniest comedies is this delectable bit of Black literary satire based on Percival Everett’s Erasure. Jeffrey Wright plays a struggling novelist who adopts a pseudonym and writes a novel filled with the most insulting stereotypes of Black people he can think of, then is chagrined to see it become a huge hit among white readers. First-time filmmaker Cord Jefferson composes scads of smart, snappy dialogue about Black artists trying to reach white audiences and our antihero impersonating some uneducated street thug. Jefferson does write himself into a corner — the movie seems to leave no room for Black creators to be successful without selling out — but he gets career performances out of Wright and Sterling K. Brown as a gay brother, and his movie raises enough laughs to make us yearn for Jefferson’s next piece of fiction. Also with Erika Alexander, Tracee Ellis Ross, Adam Brody, John Ortiz, Keith David, Miriam Shor, Michael Cyril Creighton, Patrick Fischler, Issa Rae, and Leslie Uggams.

Anyone But You (R) Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney are nimble comic actors in this romantic comedy that doesn’t merit their performances. They portray a couple who have a short-lived, acrimonious relationship in Boston, so when they reunite for a wedding in Australia, their friends try to get them together just so their bickering won’t ruin the ceremony. Eventually our main characters decide to feign a relationship, because this is a weak re-telling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Some of the set pieces do work, like when the guy strips naked after finding a giant spider in his pants, but even scenes like that and the appeal of the leads can’t make this into anything but a formulaic and overly glossy exercise. Also with Alexandra Shipp, Hadley Robinson, GaTa, Charlee Fraser, Joe Davidson, Bryan Brown, Michelle Hurd, Darren Barnett, Rachel Griffiths, and Dermot Mulroney. 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (PG-13) The sequel tries to work in comedy interludes to take advantage of Jason Momoa’s ability to be funny, and these sometimes work, but director James Wan has never been one to integrate laughs into what he’s doing. Aquaman takes over double duties as king of the undersea realm and father to a baby and feels like he’s failing at both. When Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) discovers a lost undersea kingdom that can give him power to destroy the world, Aquaman has to break his brother (Patrick Wilson) out of prison to fight him. Wan retains his skill with action, and the climactic fight is quite well done, but the movie still feels like parts of two different movies stitched awkwardly together. Also with Amber Heard, Randall Park, Temuera Morrison, Martin Short, Indya Moore, Pilou Asbæk, Vincent Regan, Jani Zhao, Dolph Lundgren, and Nicole Kidman. 

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. 

The Beekeeper (R) As Jason Statham-shooting-people movies go, this one’s considerably less fun than some of the others. He plays a retired U.S. government hit man-turned-beekeeper who comes out of retirement after his employer (Phylicia Rashad) is scammed out of her life savings and kills herself. The best Statham is the one who’s allowed to flash his sense of humor, and director David Ayer (Suicide Squad) is entirely the wrong filmmaker to bring that out. Our hero kills a ton of bystanders without a thought for the collateral damage, and the film doesn’t have the wit to consider what that means. Weirdly, the only energy comes from Josh Hutcherson as the bratty tech CEO behind it all who radiates scorn for all the tougher and more powerful people around him. Also with Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, David Witts, Taylor James, Don Gilet, Enzo Cilenti, Jemma Redgrave, Minnie Driver, and Jeremy Irons. 

The Boy and the Heron (PG-13) If this is the last anime film by Hayao Miyazaki, the master’s hallucinatory powers are undiminished. Set during World War II, the story is about a boy (voiced by Soma Santoki in the Japanese-language version and Luca Padovan in the English-dubbed one) who wants to reunite with his dead mother and instead discovers a fantastical world through a talking gray heron (voiced by Masaki Suda and Robert Pattinson). Miyazaki gives us villainous clans of pelicans and parakeets for the boy hero to negotiate, and the voice cast for the English dub might just be the starriest that any Miyazaki film has received on our shores. The story does resolve itself rather too quickly, but the psychedelic visuals and world-building of Miyazaki is always glorious on the big screen. Additional voices by Aimyon, Karen Fukuhara, Yoshino Kimura, Gemma Chan, Shōhei Hino, Mark Hamill, Ko Shibasaki, Florence Pugh, Kaoru Kobayashi, Willem Dafoe, Jun Kunimura, Dave Bautista, Takuya Kimura, and Christian Bale. 

The Boys in the Boat (PG-13) George Clooney’s sports drama is awfully plain, especially since he’s taking on a sport that doesn’t get much play in movies. Callum Turner stars as a homeless University of Washington student in the 1930s who joins the school’s rowing team, learns from a curmudgeonly coach (Joel Edgerton), and eventually competes in the 1936 Summer Olympics for Team USA. The cast full of unknowns fails to inject much personality into this, and this follows the template of sports movies so neatly that it’s rowing in lockstep. Even if you are a rowing fanatic, this won’t hold much for you. Also with James Wolk, Hadley Robinson, Sam Strike, Thomas Elms, Jack Mulhern, Luke Slattery, Bruce Herbelin-Earle, Chris DIamantopoulos, Peter Guinness, and Ian McElhinney. 

The Color Purple (PG-13) A Hollywood studio hands a big-ticket item to an African director, and Blitz Bazawule does well enough with it to make you wonder why Tinseltown never tried it before. The film is based on the Broadway musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, with Fantasia Barrino starring as a woman who spends more than 40 years waiting to hear from the sister she’s separated from. Neither the songs from the stage show nor the new ones written for the film are that impressive, so it’s fortunate that Bazawule finds such dramatic backdrops for the musical numbers. His cast is even better, with memorable singing and dancing performances coming from nine or ten actors, and Danielle Brooks is particularly grand as the heroine’s sister-in-law. If this movie misses the complexities in the novel, it makes up for that with exuberance and skill. Also with Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., David Alan Grier, Deon Cole, Jon Batiste, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Halle Bailey, Louis Gossett Jr., and an uncredited Whoopi Goldberg.

Dayarani (NR) This Nepalese comedy stars Diya Pun as a woman whose family pressures her into a loveless marriage to continue the family line. Also with Dayahang Rai, Bijay Baral, and Puskar Gurung. 

Dune (PG-13) This second attempt at adapting Frank Herbert’s mammoth science fiction epic offers a much smoother storytelling experience than David Lynch’s 1984 film. Timothée Chalamet stars as the young prince who’s forced to flee into the desert on an alien planet after his father (Oscar Isaac) is overthrown as the installed governor there. Director/co-writer Denis Villeneuve ends the story well short of the end of the book, which makes the film’s alien cultures and worlds feel more lived-in, but also keeps it from being a satisfying stand-alone film. Villeneuve gives you buckets full of spectacular vistas, and at its best, the film is sublime in the old sense of making you feel small. Too bad he overdoes it, feeling the need to underscore the epic quality of every scene. Whatever intimacy he doesn’t beat out of the story, Hans Zimmer’s music takes care of. Ultimately, this is like a beautifully presented and cleverly conceived restaurant meal that leaves you wanting to hit the nearest McDonald’s afterwards. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Stellan Skarsgård, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Chang Chen, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Golda Rosheuvel, Roger Yuan, Charlotte Rampling, and Javier Bardem. 

Eagle (NR) This Indian action-thriller stars Ravi Teja, Anupama Parameswaran, Navdeep, Vinay Rai, Kavya Thapar, Madhoo, and Srinivas Reddy. 

Fighter (NR) This Indian version of Top Gun makes the 1983 Hollywood film look like a marvel of subtlety. Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone play air force pilots who help form a new elite unit to take down Pakistani terrorists. At the very least director/co-writer Siddharth Anand could give us some cool-looking scenes of aerial combat, but no such luck. The story beats are things you’ve seen from a thousand better Western movies, and the movie is so jingoistic that it literally waves the Indian flag in our faces. Surely we could find an Indian war film that doesn’t hammer us with patriotism. Also with Anil Kapoor, Rishabh Sawhney, Karan Singh Grover, Akshay Oberoi, Akarsh Alagh, Vinay Varma, Sanjeev Jaiswal, and Birol Tarkan Yildiz. 

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. 

How to Have Sex (R) Perhaps not as good as the hype coming out of the U.K., but there is something to this British import. Mia McKenna-Bruce plays a teenager who finishes her last term at school and goes to Crete with her school friends (Enva Lewis and Lara Peake) to celebrate. Her disappearance after a night of partying gives way to a structure much like The Hangover, though this movie has a far more serious bent. First-time filmmaker Molly Manning Walker captures the sweaty, grimy atmosphere of a resort during the first days of summer, although the movie’s ratio of atmosphere to plot development is rather too heavy. At least the movie doesn’t botch its fulcrum point, a sex scene that veers into rape, and the newcomer McKenna-Bruce conveys her character’s inner turmoil as she faces adult life. The title notwithstanding, the movie has no actual nudity. Also with Shaun Thomas, Samuel Bottomley, and Laura Ambler.

The Iron Claw (R) Zac Efron shows a newfound maturity in this movie dramatizing the curse of the Von Erich clan, the North Texas pro wrestling family hit by multiple tragedies in the 1980s. The real story is even more crushing than the film, which reduces the number of Von Erich brothers to streamline the story, and the movie still almost buckles from all the deaths in the family. It doesn’t, partly because of the visual skill of director Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene) and because of the acting, especially from Harris Dickinson as the most naturally talented Von Erich brother and Holt McCallany as the father whose rigid parenting style contributes to the tragedy. Efron’s eyes go numb as loss upon loss hits him. The film is a moving testament to the bonds of brotherhood that persist even after death. Also with Lily James, Jeremy Allen White, Stanley Simons, Michael J. Harney, Kevin Anton, Cazzey Louis Cereghino, Aaron Dean Eisenberg, and Maura Tierney.

Lal Salaam (NR) This Indian film stars Vishnu Vishal and Vikranth as cricketers who try to clear their name after being unfairly kicked off their team. Also with Vignesh, Livingston, Senthil, Jeevitha, K.S. Ravikumar, Nirosha, Kapil Dev, and Rajinikanth. 

Lisa Frankenstein (PG-13) Kathryn Newton is revelatory in this horror-comedy as the latest in Diablo Cody’s gallery of smart, well-read, odd, moody, glowering teenage heroines. Her character is a girl in 1989 with a horrible life whose one source of solace is a decomposing corpse (Cole Sprouse) who wanders into her house. First-time feature filmmaker Zelda Williams (the daughter of the late Robin Williams) shows quite a lot of talent behind the camera, generating a John Waters-meets-Tim Burton look for the film and never striking the wrong tone with Cody’s script. Newton is funny and grotesque like you wouldn’t expect from her previous performances, and Cody seems to be at her most enjoyable with these teen horror films that let her be twisted. This shares a world with her cult classic Jennifer’s Body, and it fully merits the comparison. Also with Carla Gugino, LIza Soberano, Joe Chrest, Henry Eikenberry, Bryce Romero, and Jenna Davis.

Mean Girls (PG-13) Based on the Broadway musical which in turn was based on the 2004 teen comedy, this musical rides the strength of its star power. Angourie Rice plays Cady Heron, the home-schooled student who gets culture shock in an American high school, and Reneé Rapp plays the school’s queen bee whom Cady decides to take down. Rice’s singing voice is rather forgettable, but Rapp (one of several cast members from the Broadway show) finds a slinky, sultry take on Regina George, and Auli’i Cravalho comes close to stealing the movie as a lesbian and fabulous Janis. First-time directors Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. also find some creative ways to stage the numbers. Tina Fey reprises her roles as Mrs. Norbury and the screenwriter, and if she can’t find new angles from the fact that these characters are now using social media, she soft-pedals the original’s insistence that adults had all the answers. Also with Bebe Wood, Avantika, Jaquel Spivey, Christopher Briney, Mahi Alam, Jenna Fischer, Jon Hamm, Ashley Park, Busy Philipps, Tim Meadows, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lindsay Lohan.

Migration (PG) This rather perfunctory animated film is about a family of mallards that migrate south to Jamaica after the overprotective father (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani) has prevented his ducklings from leaving the pond. Truly nothing works here, not the scenes where the ducks finally take flight, not the detour when they hit a big city, and not the run-in with an evil chef who wants to serve them up with orange sauce. The amount of voice talent in the cast makes this disappointment all the sharper. The film is from Illumination Entertainment, and this film is even less memorable than some of the Despicable Me sequels. The feature comes packaged with a short film that spins off from Despicable Me, which only reminds us that the studio is capable of better. Additional voices by Elizabeth Banks, Tresi Gazal, Caspar Jennings, Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, Carol Kane, Isabela Merced, and Danny DeVito. 

Night Swim (PG-13) This horror film has the germ of an interesting idea but falls apart long before the end. A family moves into a suburban house that has a swimming pool that kills people. The interesting part is that the father (Wyatt Russell) is a baseball star who’s been struck down by multiple sclerosis, and he doesn’t want to leave because the water in the pool miraculously heals him. Bryce McGuire adapts this from his own short film, and though the aforementioned subplot is a nice stroke, the film isn’t near well-thought-out enough to transcend its clunky gimmick. Also with Amélie Hoeferle, Gavin Warren, Nancy Lenehan, Ben Sinclair, Jodi Long, Eddie Martinez, and Kerry Condon. 

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. 

Out of Darkness (R) Just this side of watchable is this prehistoric horror film about a group of cave-dwellers who are hunted by something they can’t see while they’re searching for shelter some 50,000 years ago. Director Andrew Cumming and writer Ruth Greenberg go so far as to use an invented language, and the whole thing was shot during the 2020 pandemic lockdown in the Scottish countryside. I do wish the filmmakers had gone in for something more adventurous on a narrative or a visual level, but the story here manages to hold up, and Safia Oakley-Green contributes a stellar performance as an outsider in the traveling party who’s forced to take the lead fighting the enemy. Starring Chuku Modu, Kit Young, Iola Evans, Luna Mwezi, and Arno Lüning. 

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. 

Pegasus 2 (NR) This Chinese sports film stars Fan Chengcheng as an auto racer who seeks to pull himself out of a rough patch in his career. Also with Jia Bing, Shen Teng, Sun Yi-Zhou, Wei Xiang, and Ryan Zheng. 

Poor Things (R) This zany feminist take on the Frankenstein story has Emma Stone delivering the line, “I will keep my new life and my lovely old clitoris, thank you.” She plays a Victorian Englishwoman who is brought back to life after committing suicide, with her unborn baby’s brain transplanted into her body. Stone reunites with The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos, and this has the weirdness of some of his earlier Greek films. Stone gives her strangest and possibly greatest performance here, initially walking without control of her limbs and then doing a bizarre dance number in a Lisbon nightclub, and her performance makes this sex-positive story of a woman who fucks her way to wisdom and enlightenment into something credible. This lurid fantasia of sexual liberation packs some high comedy. Also with Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Yousseff, Jerrod Carmichael, Suzy Bemba, Kathryn Hunter, Vicki Pepperdine, Hanna Schygulla, Christopher Abbott, and Margaret Qualley.

Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya (NR) Shahid Kapoor stars in this romantic comedy as a man who falls in love with a woman (Kriti Sanon) who turns out to be a robot. Also with Dharmendra, Rakesh Bedi, Rajesh Kumar, Anubha Fatehpuria, and Dimple Kapadia.

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.

Turning Red (PG) Pixar missed a trick keeping this out of the movie theaters in March 2022, but better late than never. The main character is a Canadian girl (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) who turns 13 and discovers that all the women in her family turn into giant red pandas when they hit puberty. The red panda is a hilarious metaphor for menstruation. The movie has a lot of material about the heroine’s Chinese immigrant family, but weirdly enough, it’s better on the specifics of her growing up in Toronto surrounded by friends of many different races. More than Elemental, this Pixar movie gives you hope for the animation studio’s future. Additional voices by Sandra Oh, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, Addie Chandler, Lori Tan Chinn, Sherry Cola, Finneas O’Connell, and James Hong. 

Wonka (PG) Timothée Chalamet’s performance as a younger version of Roald Dahl’s candymaker is more than good enough to carry this prequel through its wobblier patches. He arrives in the big city ready to make chocolate but instead is turned into an indentured servant by a shady landlady (Olivia Colman) and kept out of business by a cartel of evil chocolatiers (Paterson Joseph, Mathew Baynton, and Matt Lucas). Director/co-writer Paul King (from the Paddington movies) brings a much-welcomed light touch to the material, and the Oompa-Loompa (Hugh Grant) is handled about as dexterously as modern audiences could hope for. When Willy Wonka finally opens his chocolate shop and welcomes in his customers by singing “A World of Your Own,” that’s when the film truly takes on a magical quality. Also with Calah Lane, Tom Davis, Keegan-Michael Key, Jim Carter, Natasha Rothwell, Rich Fulcher, Rakhee Thakrar, Freya Parker, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Simon Farnaby, Rowan Atkinson, and Sally Hawkins.

The Zone of Interest (R) Nominated for five Oscars (including Best Picture and Best International Film), this chillingly sunny film is worth a look even without the awards attention. Based very loosely on Martin Amis’ novel, this film concentrates on Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) and his family, who live in a bucolic paradise right next to the concentration camp. This is the first film for writer-director Jonathan Glazer since Under the Skin, and it is a ruthless application of craft on his part depicting the Höss family living an idyllic existence next to one of the 20th century’s great atrocities. The savagery represented in indirect terms is effective but the horror only works on an intellectual level. Mica Levi’s tumultuous score is the best part of a film that’s easy to admire but never invites you into the horror. Also with Sandra Hüller, Ralph Herforth, Freya Kreutzkam, Max Beck, Ralf Zillmann, Stephanie Petrowitz, Julia Polaczek, and Imogen Kogge.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

Anselm (NR) Wim Wenders’ documentary profiles the artist Anselm Kiefer.

Cold Copy (R) This drama stars Bel Powley as a journalism student who’s determined to break a huge story regardless of the cost. Also with Tracee Ellis Ross, Nesta Cooper, Ekaterina Baker, James Tupper, and Jacob Tremblay. 

Float (PG-13) Adapted from Kate Marchant’s novel, this drama is about a young woman (Sarah Desjardins) who falls for the lifeguard (Robbie Amell) who saves her life at sea. Also with Michelle Krusiec, Andrea Bang, Andrew Bachelor, and Rukiya Bernard. 

Junction (NR) Bryan Greenberg’s drama tells the interlocking stories of three people caught up in the opioid epidemic. Starring Sophia Bush, Michaela Conlin, Yara Martinez, Ryan Eggold, Ashley Madekwe, Josh Peck, Dascha Polanco, Eddie Kay Thomas, Dash Mihok, Hill Harper, Jamie Chung, and Griffin Dunne. 

The Monk and the Gun (PG-13) This Bhutanese drama is about a Buddhist monk (Tandin Wangchuk) who forms an unusual friendship with an American treasure hunter (Harry Einhorn). Also with Tandin Phubz, Tandin Sonam, Deki Lhamo, Pema Zangmo Sherpa, and Choeying Jatsho.

Suncoast (R) Laura Chinn’s autobiographical drama stars Nico Parker as a young woman who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an eccentric activist (Woody Harrelson). Also with Cree Kawa, Daniella Taylor, Ella Anderson, Ariel Martin, Matt Walsh, and Laura Linney. 

Tótem (NR) The latest film by Lila Avilés (The Chambermaid) is about a Mexican girl (Naíma Sentíes) who slowly learns the truth about her family during her 7th birthday party. Also with Montserrat Marañon, Marisol Gasé, Saori Gurza, Mateo García, Teresa Sánchez, Iazua Larios, Alberto Amador, and Juan Francisco Maldonado. 

Willie and Me (NR) Eva Haßmann writes, directs, and stars in this German comedy as a housewife in a crisis who experiences an overwhelming desire to see Willie Nelson’s farewell concert. Also with Blaine Gray, Thure Riefenstein, Charles Anteby, Darby Stanchfield, and the late Peter Bogdanovich. 

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