**** Excellent *** Good
** Fair * Poor
Reviewers: S.R., Steven Rea; D.D., Dan DeLuca; T.D., Tirdad Derakhshani; M.E., Molly Eichel; W.S., Inquirer wire services.
The Barber See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 11.
Get Hard See Molly Eichel review on Page 4.
A Girl Like Her See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 11.
Home See review on Page 5.
It Follows See Steven Rea's review on Page 4.
Merchants of Doubt See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.
Queen and Country See Steven Rea's review on Page 6.
Serena See Steven Rea's review on Page 10.
Seymour: An Introduction See Steven Rea's review on Page 8.
Bradley Cooper delivers a powerful turn as Chris Kyle, the real-life Navy SEAL credited with the most kills of any sniper in U.S. military history. Clint Eastwood directs this taut Iraq War-era drama, although the sequences with Kyle returning Stateside are diminished by textbook scenarios of family dysfunction and discord. 2 hrs. 12
(violence, profanity, adult themes) -
Birdman Michael Keaton is a faded Hollywood star trying to reclaim his career by mounting a Broadway drama in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's fierce, funny, breathless dive inside the head of a man in deep trouble. An exhilarating, out-of-the-blue masterwork that ranks as one of the best films not just of the year, but also of the decade, the century. With Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts. 1 hr. 59 R (profanity, violence, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Chappie A not-very-futuristic (it's 2016) shoot-'em-up about a robot police force, artificial intelligence, and a sentient machine adopted by a gang of South African street thugs. Another sunny vision from District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp, with Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman, and Sigourney Weaver joining in the fun. 2 hrs. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Cinderella A winning redo of Disney's 1950 animated classic, directed by Kenneth Branagh with a sprinkling of stardust, dashes of good humor, and a respect for the corniest kinds of romance. Lily James (Downton Abbey) and Richard Madden (dazzling dentition) star as the woebegone heroine and the handsome prince with the foot fetish. Cate Blanchett chews scenery as the gleefully cruel, cackling stepmom. 1 hr. 52 PG (adult themes) - S.R.
Deli Man *** David "Ziggy" Gruber, carrying on the tradition of his grandfather, guides this charming documentary of the decline in numbers but expansion through the country of kosher delicatessens, including his own much-loved Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen Restaurant in Houston. 1 hr. 31 PG-13 (language) - W.S.
Focus 1/2 Will Smith is a seasoned grifter, Margot Robbie his eager protege in a slick, glossy con-artist caper that walks the walk and talks the talk, but that disappoints just when you don't want it to. With glammy pit stops in New York, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires. 1 hr. 44 R (profanity, sex, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem 1/2 Unexpectedly gripping Israeli drama, starring, and co-written and co-directed by Ronit Elkabetz, as an Israeli woman who goes before the rabbinical court to seek a divorce from her long-oppressive husband. Shot in intense closeups, the better to study the emotions burning in the characters' eyes, the film is all talk and gesture, but it begins to take your breath away like a chase movie, a suspense film, would. 1 hr. 55 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.
The Gunman Sean Penn stars as an elite ex-Special Forces op who seems to have forgotten his tradecraft basics as he runs around Europe trying to figure out who wants him dead - before he is dead. With Javier Bardem, Jasmine Trinca, and Idris Elba. Intriguing le Carré-esque possibilities are thwarted by heavy-handed direction and obvious plot twists. 1 hr. 55 R (violence, action, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
An Honest Liar The Amazing Randi spent his life debunking the claims of pyschics, faith healers, and channelers. The real joy of Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein is an intimate look at Randi's personal life, including his partner of 25 years. Featuring James Randi, Bill Nye, Alice Cooper, Penn Jillette. 1 hr. 32 No MPAA rating - M.E.
The Imitation Game A gripping story, a sad story, a true story, about British mathematician Alan Turing, who led the team of Brits during World War II trying to crack the Germans' daunting Enigma encryption machine. This unsung hero's life was brought to grievous conclusion because he was secretly gay. Benedict Cumberbatch stars (another remarkable performance), with Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Insurgent 1/2 The action-heavy second installment in The Divergent Series, about life in a post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago where society is divided into five factions, and Shailene Woodley is the upstart who doesn't fit in. With Theo James, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, and a lot of trippy virtual-reality mindgames, too. PG-13 (violence, action, adult themes) - S.R.
McFarland, USA Inspirational Disney sports film based on the true story of a fledgling high school team of Latino kids - the sons of crop pickers and day laborers - who go on to win the cross-country state championship. Kevin Costner stars as the coach with
his own problems and prejudices to overcome. 2 hrs. 08 PG (violence, ethnic slurs, adult themes) - S.R.
Red Army Madly entertaining documentary about the dynastic days of the Soviet ice hockey team nicknamed the Red Army and the charismatic player at its center, Vyacheslav Fetisov. But this is much more than a sports movie. It's about Cold War politics, about national pride, about how we affix our hopes and dreams to athletic competitions, how we identify with sports, and how sports identifies us. 1 hr. 16 PG - S.R.
Run All Night A grim, jumpy, violent noir, with Liam Neeson as an aging mob enforcer regretting his crimes - and regretting that his son (Joel Kinnaman) wants nothing to do with him. But then the estranged duo are thrown together, as crooks and cops and Albanian thugs start hunting them down. Surprise: Neeson has to save his kid! 2 hrs. 02 R (intense violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 1/2 The John Madden-directed follow-up to his surprise 2012 hit quickly settles into a familiar, familial groove. The ex-pat pensioner gang played by Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, and Celia Imrie pick up where they left off, and new guests, most notably one beamy, white-maned Richard Gere, check in, while the eager-to-please young manager played by Dev Patel runs around Jaipur, antic, frantic, and full of oddball aphorisms. 2 hrs. 02 PG (adult themes) - S.R.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge
Out of Water 1/2 A safe but not consistently satisfying animated outing for the kids, this movie puts the underwater optimist on the trail of a pirate who has stolen the secret recipe for the Krabby Patty. Sinks in its second half. Glub, glub. 1 hr. 33, PG (rude humor) - D.H.
Still Alice Shot through with piercing detail, and devoid of cheap sentimentality, the sad, beautifully realized story of a linguistics professor, a mother, a wife diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. One of the defining performances of Julianne Moore's career, rightly winning her a best actress Oscar. With Alec Baldwin, Kat Bosworth, and Kristen Stewart. 1 hr. 53 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Touch the Wall This documentary looks at Olympic swimmers Missy Franklin and Kara Lynn Joyce and their difficult journeys to London in 2012. Not Reviewed
What We Do in the Shadows From Eagle vs. Shark and Flight of the Conchords' Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, a mockdocumentary about three vampires who share a house in Wellington, New Zealand, and argue over whose turn it is to do the dishes. A cheerfully horrific affair, and there are even werewolves to contend with. 1 hr. 25 No MPAA rating (comic violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Whiplash 1/2 Miles Teller (the student) and Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons (the teacher) star in Damien Chazelle's propulsive drama about an aspiring jazz musician's torturous mentorship at a prestigious New York conservatory. It's a hyperventilated nightmare about artistic struggle and ambition. 1 hr. 46 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.