COMING THIS WEEK
By Steven Rea
Chi-raq Spike Lee's modern-day adaptation of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, set against the backdrop of raging gang violence in Chicago. The women on the city's South Side decide to go celibate until the men in their lives stop shooting one another. R
James White Three big nominations from the recently announced Independent Spirit Awards for Josh Mond's New York drama about a guy on a self-destructive jag. Christopher Abbott stars in the title role; Cynthia Nixon plays his mom, stricken with cancer. A hit at Sundance. R
Krampus A Yuletide horror comedy in which a disgruntled boy inadvertently summons the anti-Santa, the horned and hooved creature of old German myth. Or is it a myth? Adam Scott and Toni Collette are the parents faced with that daunting question. PG-13
Also Opening This Week
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
The late arts patron is profiled in this documentary.
Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Molly Eichel (M.E.), and Gary Thompson (G.T.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.
Brooklyn Saoirse Ronan is an Irish country girl who travels to New York in search of a new life. It's the early 1950s, and she is full of courage, dread, and loneliness. One of the most memorable characters of recent film, born from Colm Tóibín's 2009 novel and brought to exquisite life via a screenplay by Nick Hornby and the smart, steady direction of John Crowley. Moving and magnificent. 1 hr. 53 PG-13 (profanity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Creed Sylvester Stallone is back as Rocky Balboa, agreeing to train Apollo Creed's son (Michael B. Jordan), who is determined to box his way to glory. Ryan Coogler takes over the writing and directing duties from Sly and the result is a knockout. 2 hrs. 13 PG-13 (profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Room A young woman and her 5-year-old are held captive in a garden shed - the only reality the boy, born there, has ever known. Amazing, gripping, scary, beautiful adaptation of the Emma Donoghue novel (by the writer herself), deftly directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are extraordinary as the mother and son. 1 hr. 58 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Spotlight Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, and Liev Schrieber lead an ace ensemble cast in this compelling account of the Boston Globe's 2002 investigative series on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. A complex procedural drama told with clarity and accumulating suspense. One of the great movies about journalism, and one of the great movies of our time, period. 2 hrs. 08 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The Wonders **** A family of beekepers tromp around their Tuscan farm in Alice Rohrwacher's beautifully observed film, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes festival. Unhurried and rooted in the real, it's a movie about a father and his daughters, about man's relationship with nature and the collision of the old and the new. And it's sublime. No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.
Very Good (***1/2)
Bridge of Spies
Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance star in Steven Spielberg's taut Cold War thriller, a based-on-true-events spy-swap yarn set in New York and East Berlin, steeped in paranoia and period detail. 2 hrs. 22
(violence, profanity, adult themes) -
The Martian Matt Damon gives a commanding, oftentimes darkly comic performance as an astronaut left for dead by his NASA crewmates when they beat a hasty retreat from Mars. With a limited supply of food and water and no means of communication, he has to figure out how to survive and how to contact Mission Control, hoping they can bring him home. Stirring, suspenseful, science-rooted stuff from director Ridley Scott; with Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, and Michael Peña. 2 hrs. 21 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
My All American Exceedingly well-crafted, straightforward, guy-cry biopic about the tragic life of Freddie Steinmark, the celebrated University of Texas player who lost his battle against bone cancer at 22, but not before realizing his dream of playing college football. 1 hr. 58 PG (thematic elements, mild language, brief partial nudity) - W.S.
Also on screens
All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
Colin Hanks makes his feature-length directorial debut with this ode to the great chain record store Tower Records. Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell, and Chuck D. all appear in Hanks' documentary that examines the legacy of the store and its founder, Russ Solomon. 1 hr. 34
No MPAA rating
By the Sea * Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (also writer-director) play a married couple laden with baggage at a seaside French resort who discover a peephole that allows them to spy on the couple next door in a movie that is at various times dull, painful, and insufferable. 2 hr. R (strong sexuality, nudity, language) - G.T.
The Good Dinosaur *** The latest movie from Disney and Pixar asks the question: What if dinosaurs and primitive man developed alongside one another? Arlo, a runt dinosaur who speaks, and a Neanderthalish boy, who hops about on all fours and sniffs the air like a dog, become fast friends who go on a life-altering adventure, in which the courageous boy teaches the timid dinosaur to be brave. 1 hr. 40 PG (perilous situations) - G.T.
#Horror **1/2 A rich, layered story that stitches together elements from teen comedies and slasher films, #Horror mounts a fearless, savage - if seriously over-the-top - attack on the shortcomings of a generation of girls raised on social media. As social critique, it hits the nail right on its head - but then keeps on hitting it again and again. What's more, the characters are so unlikable that it's impossible to make any emotional investments in their story. The only person we might like is the killer. 1 hr. 41 No MPAA rating (violence, profanity, some sexuality, teen smoking) - T.D.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 **1/2 If Mockingjay - Part 1 was walkier and talkier than its forerunners, Part 2 is pretty much all action - and lesser for it. Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen and a "propo" squad work their way through the battle-scarred Capitol, as the final installment in the adventures of a valiant teen and her battle against decadent authority figures and cynical puppetmasters comes to a crashing end. 2 hrs. 17 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.
Legend **1/2 Biopic on Reggie and Ronnie Kray, identical twins who were two of London's most powerful organized-crime figures during the 1960s. 2 hrs. 11 R (strong violence, language, some sexual and drug material) - W.S.
Love the Coopers ** Four generations of the same family break through the unhappiness of the holidays to discover joy is right in front of them. But this Diane Keaton vehicle is a little too messy for its own good. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (thematic elements, language, and some sexuality) - M.E.
The Night Before ** Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, and Seth Rogen are three childhood friends, now all grown up - sort of - and celebrating the holidays in this Yuletide comedy from 50/50 and The Wackness director Jonathan Levine. 1 hr. 41 R (profanity) - G.T.
The Peanuts Movie *** Computer-animated adaptation of Charles Schulz's iconic comic strip, featuring that nervous, self-doubting Everyboy, Charlie Brown, his faithful pooch, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang, including Linus, Lucy, and Schroeder. The late Schulz's son and grandson hatched the plot; the family-centric feature commemorates Peanuts' 65th anniversary. 1 hr. 22 G - G.T.
Spectre *** The fourth Bond film with Daniel Craig is, says the actor, his last, and all sorts of things get tied up neatly - including Léa Seydoux, the heroine of the tale. Christoph Waltz is the supervillain, one with a long history in the Bond canon. It's business as usual, but business that's pulled off with brilliant precision, deftly choreographed action, and an itinerary boasting some of the most photogenic spots on Earth. 2 hrs. 28 PG-13 (violence, sex, adult themes) - S.R.
Suffragette *** Set in 1912 London, a fictional tale built around the historic fight for women's right to vote. Carey Mulligan is a lowly laundry worker who has a political awakening, joins a band of activists who throw rocks and blow up mailboxes, and gets tossed into prison for her trouble. Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, and Meryl Streep (as real-life feminist firebrand Emmeline Pankhurst) costar. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
The 33 **1/2 The true story of a group of Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months as the world watches - and a team of engineers tries to drill them out before they die. Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Juliette Binoche (not one of the miners) star. 2 hrs. PG-13 (profanity, disaster sequence) - G.T.
Trumbo *** Bryan Cranston is the G-force at the heart of this oddly jolly cautionary tale based on the true-life political and professional ostracism of one of Hollywood's most talented scribes, Dalton Trumbo, a victim of blacklisting in the "Red Menace" days of the late 1940s and '50s. Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, head a large cast, bringing Tinseltown's glammy bygone days to picturesque life. 2 hrs. 04 R (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.
Truth ** The story surrounding the 60 Minutes scandal that effectively ended Dan Rather's career is a journalism story that is a little bit too true. Based on the memoir by Mary Mapes (played by Cate Blanchett), it revolves around a CBS News story that seemingly debunked then-President George W. Bush's National Guard service record. The problem with the movie though, is that that Mapes had a flimsy source, and the story was no good from the get-go. 2 hrs. 05 R (profanity) - G.T.
Victor Frankenstein **1/2 Equal parts the steampunk of Sherlock Holmes (intentional) and the spoofy camp of Young Frankenstein (probably not intentional), this new iteration of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is set in 1860s London and stars James McAvoy in the title role, with Daniel Radcliffe as Igor, his hunchbacked aide de camp. But it's not a real hump, and the giant creature made of rotting flesh isn't scary, either. 1 hr. 49 PG-13 (violence, rotting flesh, adult themes) - S.R.