**** Excellent *** Good
** Fair * Poor
Reviewers: C.R., Carrie Rickey; S.R., Steven Rea; D.D., Dan DeLuca; T.D., Tirdad Derakhshani; D.H., David Hiltbrand; E.W., Elizabeth Wellington; E.H., Elizabeth Horkley; W.S., Inquirer wire services.
New This Week
47 Ronin See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 4.
Grudge Match See David Hiltbrand's review on Page 7.
Justin Bieber's Believe See Also Opened on Page 5.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom See Steven Rea's review on Page 6.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty See Steven Rea's review on Page 4.
The Wolf of Wall Street See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.
All Is Lost Robert Redford delivers the performance of his career in J.C. Chandor's majestic, melancholy film about a solo mariner, stranded on his sailboat in the Indian Ocean. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
American Hustle David O. Russell's wild, woolly take on the late-'70s FBI sting operation Abscam is also a wild, woolly love story: Christian Bale and Amy Adams as con artists recruited by the feds, and fated for each other. Throw Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence into the mix and something goes kaboom in just about every scene, brilliantly. 2 hrs. 18 R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues *** Solid sequel to the 2004 smart dumb comedy starring Will Ferrell as a well-coifed TV news reader with delusions of, well, everything. Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell, and Christina Applegate return, with Meagan Good as the oblivious news team's new boss - working for the first 24-hour cable news network. It's 1980. Do you know where your hair is? 1 hr. 59 PG-13 (sex, profanity, drugs, comic violence, adult themes) - S.R.
The Best Man Holiday The old college friends from 1999's Best Man (Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Terrence Howard and others) reunite for a long yuletide reunion during which secrets come spilling out and old wounds get reopened. The ensemble sparkles in the comedic moments, and suffers in the artificially melodramatic ones. 2 hrs. 4 R (emphatic profanity, nudity, adult themes) - D.H.
Blue Is the Warmest Color Yes, there is a lot of sex. Graphic sex between two young women. But that's only part of what this extraordinary film is about. This three-hour portrait of a French high school student (an amazing Adèle Exarchopoulos) is shot with a close-up intensity that brings the character out from the screen and into your heart. It's emotional 3-D! 2 hrs. 59 NC-17 (graphic sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Blue Jasmine *** Cate Blanchett storms her way through the title role of Woody Allen's pastiche-y melodrama, about a fallen socialite seeking refuge in her sister's San Francisco flat. Lifted in chunks from A Streetcar Named Desire, and offering wincing blue-collar-type caricatures, the film is nonetheless a wonder - thanks to its star. With Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, and Bobby Cannavale, looking on in awe. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (adult themes) - S.R.
The Book Thief World War II melodrama about a German girl who learns to treasure words through her friendship with a Jewish refugee hiding in the basement. Adapted from the bestselling young-adult novel, and compromised by production design that is too beautiful by half - the Holocaust has never looked so good. With Sophie Nélisse in the title role, and Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as the foster parents she comes to love. 2 hrs. 11 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Captain Phillips Based on the real-life story of a U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates, with Tom Hanks in the title role as a steady-as-she-goes veteran forced to face his own mortality. Paul Greengrass (the second and third Bourne films, United 93) masterfully orchestrates the intense, suspenseful drama. 2 hrs. 14 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Dallas Buyers Club The "inspired by true events" tale of a party-hardy Texas cowboy and self-employed electrician who, in 1985, contracted the AIDS virus. Matthew McConaughey gives a literally transformative performance as this homophobic hellraiser, who won't accept the doctors' diagnosis that he has 30 days to live. He proves them wrong, becoming a cash-rich drug dispenser and patients'-rights advocate in the process, in this wild, colorful, compassionate film. 1 hr. 57 R (sex, nudity, drugs, profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Delivery Man Vince Vaughn stars in this more-than-serviceable remake of a French Canadian farce about an anonymous donor to a fertility clinic who discovers, several decades later, that he's the biological dad to literally hundreds of kids. And many of them now want to know where their DNA comes from. Lawsuit and laughs ensue. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (profanity, sex, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.
Dhoom 3 A circus entertainer who seeks revenge against the bankers who shut down his father's circus attracts police attention in this Bollywood crime thriller. Not Previewed
Flight of the Butterflies Monarch butterflies are followed along their annual migration in this Imax feature. Not Previewed
Frozen A plucky princess (voiced by Kristen Bell) is joined by a slapstick snowman (Josh Gad) in a delightful animated film that is part fairy tale, part farce. 1 hr. 48 PG (fright) - D.H.
Gravity A transcendent zero-g tale of survival, with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as orbiting astronauts caught in a debris storm - quite literally at the end of their tether. A technological marvel, and an emotional, spiritual, and physical voyage of stratospheric suspense. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Eight minutes shorter than its forebear, and at least eight minutes better - less twee, less chatty, more action, more Elvish. The second installment in Peter Jackson's overblown three-part take on Tolkien's children's fantasy, about Bilbo Baggins and his epic quest in the company of a troop of dwarves. Elves and orcs and giant spiders, oh my! Not to mention the titular fire-breathing dragon, voiced - in echo-chamber-style - by Benedict Cumberbatch. 2 hrs. 41 PG-13 (intense action, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Bigger, better, and broodier, with Jennifer Lawrence back again, causing no end of trouble as the Districts' rabble smell rebellion in the air, and the Panem puppetmasters try to quash it. An Occupiers' parable about class warfare? A metaphor for teen defiance? Or just a kooky story of survival in a controlled environment where, sadly, most of the contestants must die? However you read it, this franchise rocks. 2 hrs. 26 PG-13 (violence, dystopian bleakness, adult themes) - S.R.
Inside Llewyn Davis Oscar Isaac is a hard-luck troubadour on the folk scene of early '60s Greenwich Village in the Coen Brothers' sublime time-capsule odyssey to nowhere and back again. It's a story of artistic struggle, of dumb luck and bad luck, and of the crushing beauty that can be wrested from a song. With Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman - and with many a dark laugh along the way. 1 hr. 45 R (profanity, violence, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.
Nebraska Bruce Dern in a career-defining performance as an ornery coot who believes he's won a $1 million prize, and heads from Montana to Nebraska to claim it. His son (Will Forte) reluctantly tags along, in Alexander Payne's funny, sad, poignant, absurd road movie. In black-and-white. It's a gem. 1 hr. 55 R (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Out of the Furnace Casey Affleck and Christian Bale are brothers facing hard times, and hard choices, in this gripping Rust Belt noir. A solemn, blood-soaked drama about broken dreams. Cue the Springsteen. 1 hr. 56 R (violence, profanity, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.
Philomena A surprisingly tough and tender tale from director Stephen Frears, adapted from the true story of a seventysomething Irish woman (Judi Dench) looking to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption when she was an unwed teen, and of the cynical veteran journalist (Steve Coogan) who tags along on her quest. 2 hrs. 2 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Ring of Fire This Imax documentary looks at the ring of volcanos in and around the Pacific Ocean.
Saving Mr. Banks A sweet and affecting piece of Hollywood history, about a battle of wills between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. Disney, played by Tom Hanks, is eager to adapt the book, and Travers, beautifully brought to life by Emma Thompson, resists. And resists some more. 2 hrs. 05 PG-13 (adult themes) - S.R.
Space Junk 3D This Imax documentary looks at the vast amount of space debris orbiting Earth and the extent to which it jeopardizes space exploration.
The sequel to 2011's
is darker and messier, with much of the action restricted to Asgard and the Nine Realms - where a freaky alignment has allowed the long-banished Dark Elves to reemerge and make trouble for the God of Thunder. Chris Hemsworth, in red cape, breastplate, and wielding his magic hammer, is back in the title role. 2 hrs.
(action, violence, adult themes)
The remarkable, essential story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South. The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor gives body and soul in the lead, and Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt are part of a superb supporting cast. 2 hrs. 13
(violence, nudity, profanity, adult themes)
A culture-clash comedy from the prolific Perry. This time Madea finds herself in rural redneck country to celebrate the holidays. 1 hr. 45 PG-13 (adult themes, crude humor, sexual innuendos) - T.D.