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Meet Suko, the newest character in the Godzilla series, in "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire." Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

OPENING

 

Aadujeevitham (NR) Prithviraj Sukumaran stars in this Indian drama as a Malayali day laborer who’s dragooned into slave labor in Saudi Arabia. Also with Amala Paul, Shobha Mohan, KR Gokul, Talib al-Balushi, and Jimmy Jean-Louis. (Opens Friday)

Asphalt City (R) This thriller stars Tye Sheridan as a young New York City EMT working his first night shift with an old veteran (Sean Penn). Also with Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michael Pitt, Katherine Waterston, Kali Reis, Raquel Nave, and Mike Tyson. (Opens Friday)

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A Cat’s Life (PG) This French kids’ movie stars Capucine Sainson-Fabresse as a big-city cat owner whose cat encounters an adventure when they travel to the countryside. Also with Lucie Laurent, Corinne Masiero, and Juliette Gillis. (Opens Friday)

Crew (NR) This Indian comedy is about three flight attendants (Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon) who are caught up in a heist plot while working an international plot. Also with Diljit Dosanjh, Rajesh Sharma, Saswata Chatterjee, and Kapil Sharma. (Opens Friday)

A Fragile Flower (NR) Maya stars in this Vietnamese music drama as an aspiring pop singer. Also with Quoc Cuong, Mai Thu Huyen, Trizzie Phuong Trinh, Anh Dung, Nhat Ha, and Duc Tien. (Opens Friday)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (PG-13) The two giant monsters plus Rebecca Hall and Brian Tyree Henry reprise their roles in a new adventure where everyone teams up to stop a new threat to life on Earth. Also with Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Fala Chen, Rachel House, and Greg Hatton. (Opens Friday)

High & Low: John Galliano (NR) Kevin Macdonald (Whitney) directs this documentary profiling the rise and fall of the controversial fashion designer. Also with Penélope Cruz, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Hamish Bowles, and Anna Wintour. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

In the Land of Saints and Sinners (R) Liam Neeson stars in this thriller as a retired hitman whose past catches up with him as he tries to live quietly in Ireland. Also with Kerry Condon, Jack Gleeson, Colm Meaney, Desmond Eastwood, Conor MacNeill, Seamus O’Hara, Sarah Greene, and Ciarán Hinds. (Opens Friday)

Karaoke (NR) This Israeli comedy stars Sasson Gabay as a man who moves into a new neighborhood and turns it upside-down with his karaoke parties. Also with Lior Ashkenazi, Keren Tzur, Talleen Abu Hanna, Rita Shukrun, and Timor Cohen. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Light (NR) Matt Woolard writes, directs, and co-stars in this science-fiction thriller about an astronaut (Christine Roche) who’s hunted by aliens while trying to find her son. Also with Gia Lily, Tedroy Newell, Ian Thomas, and David A. Bradley. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

The Listener (NR) Steve Buscemi directs this thriller about a telephone crisis counselor (Tessa Thompson) who works another incident-filled night. Also with Logan Marshall-Green, Margaret Cho, Derek Cecil, Alia Shawkat, Jamie Hector, Casey Wilson, and Rebecca Hall. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

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)

Tillu Square (NR) Siddhu Jonnalagadda reprises his role in the sequel to his 2022 film DJ Tillu as a musician caught up in a crime plot. Also with Anupama Parameswaran, Muralidhar Goud, C.V.L. Narasimha Rao, and Murali Sharma. (Opens Friday)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

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. 

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.

TCabrini (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.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (PG-13) Hate to say it, but it’s the old Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson) who do the most to drag down this fifth film in the series. The family from the previous film relocates from Oklahoma to New York City and the Ghostbusters’ old firehouse headquarters, and the move does nothing for the story, nor do the characters acclimate to the place in an interesting way. The most interesting plotline has 15-year-old Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) befriending a sullen teenage ghost (Emily Alyn Lind), but there are too many plotlines going on in this scattered film, and the supernatural hijinks don’t sing like they used to. The supporting cast is packed with added talent, but this movie feels like the smallest of the franchise. Also with Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Annie Potts, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor, and William Atherton. 

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. 

Immaculate (R) Sydney Sweeney goes from her typical sexy roles to playing a Catholic nun in this horror film, and does enough to prove her chops. Her character is a Detroit native who takes holy orders in Rome, only for everyone to discover that she’s mysteriously pregnant despite being a virgin. Irish filmmaker Michael Mohan imitates the opulence of Black Narcissus rather than the grit of The Exorcist in filming the 17th-century Italian abbey where our heroine lives and works. The plot is riddled with holes, but the conspiracy motivating her caretakers/jailers turns out to be even crazier than The Da Vinci Code. The single-take final scene where she finally gives birth to whatever’s inside her is a bravura piece of acting by the young lead actress. Also with Álvaro Morte, Dora Romano, Simona Tabasco, Benedetta Porcaroli, Giorgio Colangeli, Giampiero Judica, Giuseppe Lo Piccolo, and Giulia Heathfield Di Renzi.

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.

Late Night With the Devil (R) This found-footage horror film made $666,666 at the box office on the Sunday that it opened, and it deserves considerably more. The movie purports to be the lost footage of a 1977 live TV talk show whose desperate host (David Dastmalchian) invites a girl (Ingrid Torelli) on the show who might be demonically possessed. Australian brothers and filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes have their American pop culture references in line, which helps to preserve the illusion that we’re watching a talk show from the period. The black-and-white interludes supposedly showing us the behind-the-scenes footage at the show is too smooth by half, but the fakery involved in creating the show itself is amazing. Often cast as creepy types in Hollywood, Dastmalchian here looks in his element mugging through corny comedy sketches and then becoming a figure of pathos. Also with Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss, Fayssal Bazzi, Rhys Auteri, Josh Quong Tart, Steve Mouzakis, and Georgina Haig. Narrated by Michael Ironside.

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.

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. 

Mai (NR) This Vietnamese romantic film is all over the place. Phương Anh Đào stars as a beautiful young woman who moves to Saigon to start fresh as a masseuse and meets a ladies’ man (Tuấn Trần) who’s looking to settle down. This might be enough to hang a film on, but director/co-writer/co-star Trấn Thành insists on accumulating more and more subplots involving her troubled family life and a violent past catching up with her, and he can’t balance the story’s light comedy with its heavier themes. If you’re new to Vietnamese movies, this is not the place to start. Also with Uyển Ân, Hồng Đào, Ngọc Giàu, Việt Anh, and Quốc Khánh.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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

 

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. 

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. 

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