** Fair * Poor
Reviewers: S.R., Steven Rea; D.D., Dan DeLuca; T.D., Tirdad Derakhshani; M.E., Molly Eichel; W.S., Inquirer wire services.
New This Week
See Steven Rea's review on Page 4.
Effie Gray See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.
Furious 7 See Molly Eichel's review on Page 4.
The Hunting Ground See Molly Eichel's review on Page 8.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter See Steven Rea's review on Page 5.
Marfa Girl See Tirdad Derakhshani's review on Page 6.
The Riot Club See Molly Eichel's review on Page 8.
Woman In Gold See Steven Rea's review on Page 10.
Also on Screens
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.
Get Hard Will Ferrell plays James King, an investment banker sentenced to prison for defrauding his financial clients. To survive his decade-long term, King hires Darnell (Philly's Kevin Hart), a car-wash business owner who King assumes has gone to prison, even though Darnell hasn't even gotten a parking ticket, in this comedy that relies far too heavily on the easy and crude. 1 hr. 40 R (pervasive crude and sexual content, profanity, some graphic nudity, and drug material) - M.E.
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.
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.
It Follows 1/2 A masterfully creepy and beautifully turned variation on the teen horror formula, starring Maika Monroe as an unfortunate coed being followed by a shape-shifting entity bent on evil and carnage. Her friends don't know what to do - is she having a breakdown, or is this thing for real? It appears to be the latter. 1 hr. 40 R (violence, sex, profanmity, adult themes) - S.R.
Merchants of Doubt 1/2 Robert Kenner's smartly packaged documentary about climate-change deniers and the coordinated efforts - modeled on the tobacco industry's decades-long public-relations campaigns - to challenge real science with psuedo-science, real concern with discord. 1 hr. 33 PG-13 (adult themes) - S.R.
Queen and Country 1/2 John Boorman's buoyant and personal film, a coming-of-age story, picks up a decade after the events of his Oscar-nominated Hope and Glory: The young boy of the London Blitz is now a young man (Callum Turner), drafted into the Army and sent to training camp, expecting to be shipped off to the Korean War. A thwarted romance and regimental hijinks ensue. 1 hr. 55 No MPAA rating (violence, adult themes) - 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.
Serena 1/2 What were Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence thinking? A Depression-era drama about timber barons, with one calamity rolling in after another. Love, greed, clear-cutting, and murder - all of it laughably bad. 1 hr. 49 R (violence, sex, proanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Seymour: An Introduction 1/2 Ethan Hawke's winning documentary about Seymour Bernstein, the octogenarian pianist, composer, and teacher, is full of insights into music, life, art, how we define ourselves. An inspirational portrait of a great teacher, full of humility and humor. Hawke, in the angsty throes of a midcareer crisis, looks to his subject for answers to life's big questions - and gets some. Audiences will feel a little wiser, too. 1 hr. 24 No MPAA rating (adult thermes) - 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.
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.
Wild Tales 1/2 Six vignettes about people on their best behavior: out for vengeance and out of control. Madly entertaining and just plain mad, from Argentine director Damián Szifrón, and one of this year's foreign-language Oscar nominees. 1 hr. 54 R (sex, violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Wrecking Crew! No, not the Dean Martin/Matt Helm spy farce of the 1960s, but a documentary about the storied session band of that same era - a group of L.A. musicians who backed the likes of the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, the Monkees, Glen Campbell, Nancy Sinatra, and Jan and Dean. Completed in 2008, the Denny Tedesco-directed doc was tangled up until now in issues over music licensing rights. 1 hr. 38 PG (adult themes) - D.D.