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Is there anything better than gelati during an Italian summer? Alberto and Luca indulge themselves in Pixar's "Luca." Courtesy Pixar

OPENING

 

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. (Re-opens Friday)

Exhuma (NR) This Korean horror film is about a shaman (Choi Min-sik) who battles evil spirits while exorcising evil spirits. Also with Kim Go-eun, Lee Do-hyun, Yoo Hae-jin, Jeon Jin-ki, and Kim Jae-cheol. (Opens Friday)

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Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (PG-13) Ghostbusters old (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson) and new (Paul Rudd, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, and Finn Wolfhard) try to prevent an evil artifact from causing a global ice age. Also with Annie Potts, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Emily Alyn Lind, Celeste O’Connor, and William Atherton. (Opens Friday)

Luca (PG) After an uncharacteristically slow start, this Pixar animated movie hits its stride to good effect. Set on the Italian Riviera in the 1950s, the film is about a sea creature who turns into a human boy on dry land (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) who strikes up a friendship when he meets another one of his kind (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer). The film may be lacking the last bit of visual flair that Pixar’s best movies have, but the story is sound as the two half-boys compete in a race to buy a Vespa, and the Italian coastal town looks more resplendent than the underwater imagery. Additional voices by Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Marco Barricelli, Peter Sohn, Gino La Monica, Giacomo Gianniotti, Jim Gaffigan, Maya Rudolph, and Sacha Baron Cohen. (Opens Friday)

Madgaon Express (NR) This Indian comedy stars Divyenndu, Pratik Gandhi, Avinash Tiwary, Nora Fatehi, and Upendra Limaye. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Mai (NR) This Vietnamese romance stars Phuong Anh Dao as a woman whose past threatens to catch up with her and ruin her present chances at love. Also with Huynh Uyen An, Hong Dao, Ngoc Giau, Quoc Khanh, and Tran Thanh. (Opens Friday)

Om Bheem Bush (NR) This Indian comedy is about three scientists who encounter black magic while searching for treasure in a rural village. Starring Priyadarshi Pulikonda, Sree Vishnu, Rahul Ramakrishna, Shaan Kakkar, and Surya Srinivas. (Opens Friday)

Problemista (R) This is the first film by Saturday Night Live writer Julio Torres, and if it doesn’t always work, it raises laughs often enough to proclaim a bold new comic voice. Torres stars as a gay Salvadoran immigrant who is stuck in legal limbo in New York City and has to work for an incredibly mercurial Irish art curator (Tilda Swinton, with her hair the color of cherry Kool-Aid) to stay in America. Torres’ screenplay offers up a bumper crop of great comic ideas like the protagonist’s idea to teach kids about the difficulties of life by designing toys that aren’t fun, as well as the art-world satire from the curator. The surreal touches, such as rejected immigrants vanishing into thin air, dry out the movie and keep it from becoming too heavy. It’s more than good enough to make us ask for more of Torres’ comedy. Also with RZA, Catalina Saavedra, and Greta Lee. Narrated by Isabella Rossellini. (Opens Friday at Alamo Drafthouse Denton)

Sentinel (NR) This science-fiction film is about a group of Earthling survivors who attempt time travel to save the planet from being taken over by aliens. Starring Michael Paré, Jason R. Moore, Ellie Patrikios, Neil Cole, and Ivan King. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Shayda (PG-13) Zar Amir Ebrahimi (Holy Spider) stars in this drama as an Iranian mother who flees to Australia to get her child away from her violent husband (Mojean Aria). Also with Leah Purcell, Osamah Sami, Jillian Nguyen, Rina Mousavi, Selina Zahednia, and Lucinda Armstrong Hall. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Sleeping Dogs (R) This crime thriller stars Russell Crowe as a retired homicide detective suffering amnesia who tries to solve a cold case from his past. Also with Karen Gillan, Tommy Flanagan, Marton Csokas, Kelly Greyson, Elizabeth Blackmore, and Lynn Gilmartin. (Opens Friday)

Swatantra Veer Savarkar (NR) This biographical film stars Randeep Hooda as Indian freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar a.k.a. Veer Savarkar. Also with Ankita Lokhande, Apinderdeep Singh, Amit Sial, and Mark Bennington. (Opens Friday)

They Shot the Piano Player (PG-13) Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba’s animated docudrama is about an American music critic (voiced by Jeff Goldblum) who follows the story of Brazilian samba pianist Francisco Tenório Júnior. Additional voices by Tony Ramos, Roberta Wallach, Milton Nascimento, Carlos Santamaría, and Gilberto Gil. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

You Can Call Me Bill (PG-13) Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary profiles William Shatner. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

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. 

The American Society of Magical Negroes (PG-13) The idea behind this comedy is sound, but ooh, that execution. Justice Smith stars as a starving L.A. artist who takes a job with a secret society of Black people who use their mystical powers to keep white people at ease in order to prevent violence against their own. The script by writer-director Kobi Libii takes on some promising targets like the tech industry, and it’s hard to fault the acting by Smith, An-Li Bogan as his love interest, and David Alan Grier as his mentor. The movie just isn’t funny no matter the efforts of the filmmakers and the cast. We’ve had Black satire that’s better than this. If you’re not familiar with the Magical Negro stereotype, the movie does define it at the start. Also with David Alan Grier, Drew Tarver, Aisha Hinds, Gillian Vigman, Tim Baltz, Nicole Byer, Michaela Watkins, and Rupert Friend. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

Love Lies Bleeding (R) A grungy crime thriller that reminds you how defanged most such Hollywood movies are. Kristen Stewart plays a New Mexico gym manager in 1989 who falls for an itinerant bodybuilder (Katy O’Brian), only for their romance to result in violence that falls foul of her estranged father (Ed Harris) who is also a crime boss. British filmmaker Rose Glass (Saint Maud) lives in the place where kitchen-sink realism meets nightmare hallucination, and she captures the baking heat of the setting as well as the gory violence. O’Brian looks like an actual bodybuilder who can detach a man’s lower jaw from his face, and the chemistry between her and Stewart is instantaneous and hot. The film plays oddly like a Coen brothers’ movie in that every time someone makes a plot, someone else comes along and fouls it up. This thoroughly disreputable lesbian romance manages to shake you by the lapels. Also with Dave Franco, Anna Baryshnikov, David DeLao, Mikandrew, and Jena Malone.

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. 

One Life (PG) This is not The Zone of Interest. Rather, it’s a dutiful and foursquare Holocaust drama about British stockbroker Nicky Winton (Anthony Hopkins), who flashes back to his youth (Johnny Flynn) in Prague in 1938 where he organizes the transportation of hundreds of Czech children to the U.K. who would otherwise be killed by the Nazis. TV director James Hawes casts this into proper shape without ever pulling any surprises or making the proceedings feel like anything other than a hundred other such dramas. He’s too willing to resort to shots of crying babies to hammer home the point as well. The cast is promising, but they fall short as well. Also with Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin, Tim Steed, Alex Sharp, Romola Garai, and Jonathan Pryce. 

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. 

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) An object lesson in why Indian horror films don’t work for American audiences. Ajay Devgn stars as a father who takes his family to a getaway at a palatial farmhouse in rural Uttarakhand when a demon posing as an ordinary traveler (R. Madhavan) follows them to the place and takes control of the mind of his teenage daughter (Jyotika). The no-budget effects and the direction by Vikas Bahl don’t convince us that we’re in the presence of a supernatural villain, but that could be made up for with performances. Alas, the demon comes off like more of an annoying party crasher than an agent of cosmic evil. Also with Janki Bodiwala, 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.

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.

 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

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