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Simu Liu and Mark Wahlberg kayak across a river with a new friend on board in "Arthur the King." Photo by Carlos Rodriguez

OPENING

 

The American Society of Magical Negroes (PG-13) This satire stars Justice Smith as a recently deceased Black man who learns of the existence of spirits who act from the next world to prevent white people from being violent toward Black people. Also with David Alan Grier, Aisha Hinds, Gillian Vigman, Eric Lutz, Kees DeVos, Mia Ford, Michaela Watkins, and Rupert Friend. (Opens Friday)

Arthur the King (PG-13) Mark Wahlberg stars in this Americanized drama based on the real-life story of a Swedish adventure racer who picked up and adopted a stray dog while trekking with his team over 500 miles of rough terrain in the Dominican Republic. The film has some breathtaking shots of the rainforest and a great sequence where our protagonist and one of his teammates (Nathalie Emmanuel) become stuck on the cable while ziplining over a chasm. This, though, can’t help the story escape the formula of big-time movie star + cute dog. The film’s stretches of watchability don’t compensate for its unbearable moments. Also with Simu Liu, Juliet Rylance, Ali Suliman, Cece Valentina, Oscar Best, Paul Guilfoyle, and Bear Grylls. (Opens Friday)

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Bastar (NR) This Indian historical film depicts the Bastar Uprising of 1910. Starring Adah Sharma, Indira Tiwari, Vijay Krishna, Shilpa Shukla, Subrat Dutta, and Raima Sen. (Opens Friday)

Glitter & Doom (NR) This musical built on Indigo Girls songs stars Alan Cammish and Alex Diaz as two young musicians who fall in love while trying to make their careers. Also with Ming-Na Wen, Missi Pyle, Lea DeLaria, Kate Pierson, Beth Malone, Amy Ray, and Emily Saliers. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Knox Goes Away (R) Michael Keaton directs and co-stars in this thriller as a hitman who tries to set things right after being diagnosed with dementia. Also with Marcia Gay Harden, James Marsden, Joanna Kulig, Ray McKinnon, Dennis Dugan, Suzy Nakamura, and Al Pacino. (Opens Friday)

The Neon Highway (PG-13) This comedy stars Rob Mayes as an aspiring country singer who befriends a washed-up Nashville star (Beau Bridges). Also with Sam Hennings, Sandra Lee-Oian Thomas, T.J. Power, Jennifer Bowles, and Pam Tillis. (Opens Friday at Cinépolis Euless)

One Life (PG) This biographical film tells the life story of Nicky Winton (played by Johnny Flynn as a young man and Anthony Hopkins as an old man), the English broker who saved more than 600 Jewish children during the Holocaust. Also with Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin, Tim Steed, Alex Sharp, Romola Garai, and Jonathan Pryce. (Opens Friday)

Pastor’s Kid (R) Courtney Bandeko stars in this Christian drama as a woman confronting her history of abuse. Also with Krista Morin, James C. Burns, John Flanders, Caleb Thomas, Peyton Dilweg, and Benjamin Ironside Koppin. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Prank (R) This comedy is about two teenagers (Connor Kalopsis and Ramona Young) who decide to take revenge on a physics teacher (Rita Moreno) who fails them. Also with Keith David, Kate Flannery, Nathan Janak, and Meredith Salenger. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Prey (NR) Not to be confused with the Predator spinoff from two years ago, this thriller stars Mena Suvari and Emile Hirsch as a couple who must fight for survival after their plane crash-lands in the Kalahari Desert. Also with Ryan Phillippe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Problemista (R) Julio Torres writes, directs, and stars in this surreal comedy as a Salvadoran immigrant who’s stuck in legal limbo while trying to sort out his immigration status. Also with Tilda Swinton, RZA, Catalina Saavedra, and Greta Lee. Narrated by Isabella Rossellini. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Sharathulu Varthisthai (NR) Chaitanya Madadi stars in this Indian drama as a low-level government clerk who takes action from within after the system fails his family. Also with Nanda Kishore, Bhoomi Shetty, Guntula Radhika, RJ Avinash, and Peddinti Ashok Kumar. (Opens Friday)

Snack Shack (R) This comedy stars Conor Sherry and Gabriel LaBelle as teenagers in 1991 who come of age while running the concession stand at their public swimming pool. Also with Mika Abdalla, David Costabile, Gillian Vigman, April Clark, Steve Berg, JD Evermore, and Nick Robinson. (Opens Friday)

State of Consciousness (R) Emile Hirsch stars in this thriller as a man trying to escape a mental institution where he doesn’t belong. Also with Gaia Scodellaro, Tatjana Nardone, Michael E. Rodgers, Kesla Elwin, and Jane Alexander. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Throwback (NR) Justina Machado stars in this comedy as an overworked housewife who suffers a mental breakdown. Also with Will Sasso, Michelle Randolph, Gregg Sulkin, Rhonda Shear, Tonya Christiansen, and Bobby Lee. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Uproar (PG-13) This comedy from New Zealand stars Julian Dennison as a Maori teen in the 1980s who dares to go out for his school’s rugby team. Also with Rhys Darby, Craig Hall, James Rolleston, Erana James, Milo Cawthorne, Mark Mitchinson, and Minnie Driver. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Yodha (NR) Not a film about a tiny green Jedi master, this Indian action-thriller stars Sidharth Malhotra, Raashii Khanna, Disha Patani, and Ronit Roy. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Accidental Texan (PG-13) The Fort Worth Stock Show gets name-checked in this agreeable comedy about a Harvard dropout-turned-struggling Hollywood actor (Rudy Pankow) who’s coming back to Hollywood from a failed gig in New Orleans when his car breaks down outside Abilene and an old wildcatter (played by UNT alum Thomas Haden Church) hires him to impersonate his new land man to keep the big oil speculators from foreclosing on his drilling company. The writing is evenhanded so that neither the L.A. city slicker nor the Texas shitkicker has all the answers, and the interplay between the two lead actors is good enough to carry the proceedings. The state could use a few more small-scale comedies like this one to represent it. Also with Carrie-Anne Moss, AnnaClare Hicks, David DeLao, Brad Leland, Selase Botchway, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Jake Ryan, and Bruce Dern. 

Argylle (PG-13) I really hope Taylor Swift didn’t write this action-comedy that’s overlong and not as clever as it thinks it is. Bryce Dallas Howard stars as a famous spy novelist whose quiet life in Colorado is upended when the plot of one her novels comes true in real life, and a bumbling agent (Sam Rockwell) has to prevent her from being assassinated. A couple of the plot developments in the middle of the piece are truly ingenious, but the action sequences are goofy where they were funny in previous films by director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, the Kingsmen films). The cheesy scenes from the novels aren’t handled any differently from the scenes with the terrified writer running for her life, the stacked supporting cast isn’t given enough to do, and even Rockwell seems off his best. The central conceit with the novelist being trapped in one of her own plots should have generated more laughs than it does. Also with Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Henry Cavill, Ariana DeBose, Jing Lusi, Stanley Morgan, Tomás Paredes, Sofia Boutella, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard E. Grant, and Dua Lipa. 

Article 370 (NR) Mariyam Nafees stars in this Indian thriller as a pregnant woman trying to survive in the war-torn Kashmir region. Also with Ghazala Kaifee and Abdul Muqeet.

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. 

Bheema (NR) Duniya Vijay writes, directs, and stars in this Indian film about a gang boss who goes on a personal quest for revenge. Also with Ashwini, Kalyanee Raju, Gili Gili Chandru, and Black Dragon Manju. 

Bob Marley: One Love (PG-13) This biography only pays lip service to the idea that Bob Marley might have been a complicated human being, and instead reduces him to a saintly messenger of peace and love. Kingsley Ben-Adir plays the reggae music legend during a three-year span of his life that includes his survival of an assassination attempt in Jamaica and his cancer diagnosis. The British actor from One Night in Miami and Barbie, Ben-Adir does more than imitate Marley’s onstage mannerisms and Jamaican accent. While his singing is dubbed by Stephen Marley, he conveys the sense of a musician listening to his colleagues and reacting to them. Sadly, the Marley family’s involvement means that the film glosses over the man’s capacity for physical violence and extramarital affairs. Also with Lashana Lynch, Tosin Cole, Anthony Welsh, James Norton, Umi Myers, Alexx A-Game, Naomi Cowan, Micheal Ward, and Michael Gandolfini.

Cabrini (PG-13) This biography of the 19th-century Italian nun who built orphanages in New York City is rather on the dull side. Cristiana Dell’Anna portrays Mother Cabrini, the tubercular missionary who leaves her homeland for the Big Apple, defies sexism on both sides of the Atlantic, and finds her fellow Italians suffering discrimination and frightful poverty. Director/co-writer Alejandro Monteverde takes some care over re-creating the New York of 1889, and the film has some assuring supporting performances by David Morse as the archbishop and John Lithgow as the crooked mayor. Still, the script is lacking sharpness and focus, and the story fits too neatly into the template of Christian films about heroes overcoming obstacles. Also with Giancarlo Giannini, Patch Darragh, Montserrat Espadalé, Romana Maggiora Vergano, Federico Ielapi, Jeremy Bobb, Liam Campora, Federico Castelluccio, and Sean Cullen. 

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — To the Hashira Training (R) The ratio of flashback to new story is rather too high for me. It’s probably too high for you unless you’re already a fan of this anime series. Following the events of Swordsmith Village and Mugen Train, this latest chapter finds its hero (voiced by Natsuki Hanae and Zach Aguilar) trying to turn his demon sister (voiced by Akari Kitō and Abby Trott) back into a human. More than an hour of this 104-minute film retraces the events of previous installments of the saga. What is new here is worth taking in, especially for fans of the series. Everybody else might want to find a different starting place to get into this series. Additional voices by Kengo Kawanishi, Griffin Burns, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Zeno Robinson, Kana Hanazawa, Kira Buckland, Toshio Furukawa, Koichi Yamadera, and Christopher Corey Smith.

Dune: Part Two (PG-13) Not only a better movie than the first part, this sequel makes the original look better in retrospect. Timothée Chalamet reprises his role as the scion of a fallen family who takes up with revolutionaries to help them overthrow their oppressors, while also wrestling with the widely held belief that he’s the chosen one sent to liberate them. The supporting characters come off as more rounded, and while Chalamet is swallowed up for much of the film, he takes charge unambiguously and disturbingly when he goes full cult leader to rally the natives in their climactic battle. Denis Villeneuve does not disappoint in the movie’s two big set pieces, and the movie says some keen things about the advantages and booby traps of religious faith. The film features great turns by Austin Butler as a shaven-headed psychopathic villain and Zendaya as the love interest who is cruelly betrayed. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Florence Pugh, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Léa Seydoux, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård, Roger Yuan, Babs Olusanmokun, and an uncredited Anya Taylor-Joy.

Gaami (NR) This Indian film stars Vishwak Sen as a wounded warrior who treks deep into the Himalayas to find a cure for his ailment. Also with Chandini Chowdary, Abhinaya, Harika Pedda, Mohammad Samad, Rajnish, and Sharath Kumar.

Imaginary (PG-13) A bunch of interesting emotional beats don’t add up to anything memorable in this horror film. DeWanda Wise portrays a children’s book author who moves back into her childhood home only to find her imaginary friend still haunting the place and angry that she left. The oldest stepdaughter (Taegen Burns) hates the new place, the younger one (Pyper Braun) may be in danger of being possessed by the playmate via a stuffed teddy bear, and both the girls’ biological mother and the stepmother’s father are in mental institutions. For all this, the movie isn’t scary, and director/co-writer Jeff Wadlow can’t tie up these plot threads into a resonant story. Wise is a bland presence in the lead role, too. Also with Tom Payne, Matthew Sato, Samuel Salary, Alix Angelis, Veronica Falcón, and Betty Buckley. 

Kung Fu Panda 4 (PG) If this is the last installment of the animated series, it’s ending at the right time. Po (voiced by Jack Black) has to choose a successor for the title of Dragon Warrior while also teaming up with a street criminal of a fox (voiced by Awkwafina) to take down a villainous chameleon (voiced by Viola Davis) who wishes to steal the souls and kung fu skills of every villain Po has ever faced. The martial arts sequences are still well-filmed and capture stunts that couldn’t be done by human performers, but the wit in the script and the humor in the original premise have leaked away over the years. The film still has a few cinematic references to Stephen Chow’s films and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but it’s time for the warrior panda to lay down his weapons and spend his retirement eating all the dumplings he wants. Additional voices by Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston, James Hong, Ian McShane, Lori Tan Chinn, Ronny Chieng, Seth Rogen, Harry Shum Jr., and Ke Huy Quan.

Madame Web (PG-13) Frustrating, because you can so easily see the better movie that this could have been. Dakota Johnson stars in this superhero movie as an EMT who acquires the ability to foretell danger and has to save three teenage girls (Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O’Connor) from a supervillain (Tahar Rahim) who’s trying to kill them. There’s some decent chemistry among the three girls who are slated to become superheroes themselves, but Johnson is hopeless whenever she’s trying to be funny about her predicament, and the movie’s hundreds of plot holes make it feel like something carelessly tossed together. This blockbuster is weird, but not quite weird enough to be interesting. Also with Mike Epps, Zosia Mamet, José María Yazpik, Kerry Bishé, Adam Scott, and Emma Roberts. 

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. 

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. 

Ordinary Angels (PG) Ordinary movie. Hilary Swank stars as Sharon Stevens, the real-life alcoholic hairdresser from Kentucky who gained the strength to pull out of her addiction by helping a widowed father (Alan Ritchson) whose 5-year-old daughter (Emily Mitchell) direly needed a life-saving liver transplant. The script is by Oscar-nominated actress Meg Tilly and much-feted director Kelly Fremon Craig (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret), but they can’t break out of the template of inspirational dramas. Considering the wealth of talent that went into this Christian film, you’d expect better than this. Also with Amy Acker, Tamala Jones, Drew Powell, Skywalker Hughes, Nancy Sorel, and Nancy Travis. 

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.

Premalu (NR) This Malayalam-language romantic comedy stars Naslen K. Gafoor as a college student carrying a torch for his platonic friend (Mamitha Baiju). Also with Shyam Mohan, Sangeeth Prathap, Akhila Bhargavan, Meenakshi Raveendran, Althaf Salim, Mathew Thomas, and Syam Pushkaran. 

Shaitaan (NR) Ajay Devgn stars in this Indian horror film as a man battling the forces of evil. Also with Madhavan, Janki Bodiwala, Jyotika, Anngad Raaj, and Pallak Lalwani.

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.

YOLO (NR) Jia Ling directs and stars in this Chinese drama as a shut-in case who seeks to cure herself by taking boxing lessons. Also with Lei Jiayin, Zhang Xiaofei, Zhao Haiyan, Zhang Qi, and Zhu Tianfu. (Opens Friday)

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

 

American Dreamer (NR) Peter Dinklage stars in this comedy as an economics professor who seeks a way out of his middling existence. Also with Shirley MacLaine, Danny Glover, Danny Pudi, Kimberly Quinn, Rebecca Olson, Donald Heng, and Matt Dillon. 

The Ballad of Davy Crockett (NR) This biographical film stars William Moseley as the American pioneer. Also with Colm Meaney, Jesse Hutch, Valerie Jane Parker, Wyatt Parker, and Tommy Kramer.

Baltimore (NR) Also entitled Rose’s War, this biographical drama stars Imogen Poots as a wealthy 20th-century American socialite who rejects her upbringing and joins the fight for Irish independence. Also with Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Lewis Brophy, Jack Meade, Patrick Martins, John Kavanagh, Andrea Irvine, and Dermot Crowley. 

Call Me Dancer (NR) Pip Gilmour and Leslie Shampaine’s documentary profiles Manish Chauhan, a street kid from Mumbai with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

The Piper (NR) Charlotte Hope stars in this horror film as a young composer assigned to complete her recently deceased mentor’s concerto. Also with Kate Nichols, Alexis Rodney, Oliver Savell, Pippa Winslow, and the late Julian Sands.

Who Can See Forever (NR) Josh Sliffe’s documentary profiles Sam Beam, the musician behind Iron & Wine. 

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