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Movies: New and Noteworthy

COMING THIS WEEK By Steven Rea The Danish Girl Eddie Redmayne, this year's Best Actor Oscar winner, tries on another guise: the transgender Lili Elbe, born Einar Wegener, a Danish artist and one of the earliest known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Alicia Vikander stars as his/her muse and married partner, Gerda, in the Tom Hooper-directed Roaring '20s period piece. R


By Steven Rea

The Danish Girl Eddie Redmayne, this year's Best Actor Oscar winner, tries on another guise: the transgender Lili Elbe, born Einar Wegener, a Danish artist and one of the earliest known recipients of sex reassignment surgery. Alicia Vikander stars as his/her muse and married partner, Gerda, in the Tom Hooper-directed Roaring '20s period piece. R

In the Heart of the Sea The real-life Moby Dick, directed by Ron Howard and adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick's book of the same name about the sinking of an American whaling ship, the Essex, in 1820. Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw are some of the hands on deck. PG-13

Macbeth A lean, mean take on the Shakespeare tale, with Michael Fassbender in the title role, Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, and the rugged hills of the Isle of Skye as backdrop for this Middle Ages drama about murderous ambition, ambitious murder. R

Also Opening This Week

Censored Voices

The reaction of Israeli soldiers returning from the 1967 Six-Day War are examined in this documentary featuring interviews that had been censored since being filmed.

Hitchcock/Truffaut In this documentary, filmmakers discuss the influence of director Francois Truffaut's 1966 book about Alfred Hitchcock.

Excellent (****)

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 From Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, in collaboration with screenwriter Aaron Covington and with the generous, genuinely inspiring participation of Sylvester Stallone. The Rocky mantle gets handed off to a new underdog determined to box his way to glory. It's Adonis Creed, son of Rocky's rival-turned-pal Apollo Creed - and Michael B. Jordan takes the title role, body and soul. 2 hrs. 13 PG-13 (profanity, violence, 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 beekeepers 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.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict A richly informative and illuminating documentary about the Philadelphia-born Guggenheim, one of the great champions of the Dadaists and Surrealists of Europe in the 1920s and '30s, and of the Abstract Expressionists who came out of New York after World War II. Patron, gallerist, lover, friend, mother, and devoted dog owner, Guggenheim's life was "all about art and love." 1 hr. 37 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

Also on screens

All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records

(Not previewed)

Colin Hanks makes his feature-length directorial debut with this documentary that examines the legacy of the great record store chain Tower Records and its founder, Russ Solomon. 1 hr. 34

No MPAA rating

Chi-Raq **1/2 Spike Lee adapts the Greek play Lysistrata, taking it to Chicago's South Side, where gang violence is rampant, and where one woman (Teyonah Parris ) decides to start an abstinence campaign. That is, deprive the men of sex until they stop the killing. Ramped-up Broadway-style, with rhyming dialogue and Samuel L. Jackson as a natty, one-man Greek chorus. Angela Bassett, Nick Cannon, John Cusack, Jennifer Hudson and Wesley Snipes also star. 1 hr. 58 R (sex, profanity, violence, adult themes) - S.R.

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.

Goosebumps *** R.L. Stine's horror-for-kids books get a meta adaptation. Stine (played by Jack Black in full camp mode) is a character; the monsters he's created have leapt off the page and into real life, and it's up to him, his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), neighbor Zach (Dylan Minnette), and Zach's bestie, Champ (a great Ryan Lee), to recapture them. 1 hr. 43 PG (scary situations, rude humor) - M.E.

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.

James White *** An accomplished and compelling film by writer/director Josh Mond, but also pretty much a bummer. Played with rattling energy by Christopher Abbott, the title character is a writer who doesn't write, a smart, single twentysomething dude who does singularly stupid stuff. And then his mother (Cynthia Nixon) gets her cancer back, and James has to be the caregiver. 1 hr. 28 R (sex, nudity, drugs, 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.

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.