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Movies: New and Noteworthy

COMING THIS WEEK By Steven Rea '71 Separated from his squad, a British soldier - Jack O'Connell, star of Angelina Jolie's Unbroken - is lost in Belfast in the thick of the conflict between warring Catholics and Protestants. Yann Demange's first feature has been winning praise on the festival circuit. R


By Steven Rea

'71 Separated from his squad, a British soldier - Jack O'Connell, star of Angelina Jolie's Unbroken - is lost in Belfast in the thick of the conflict between warring Catholics and Protestants. Yann Demange's first feature has been winning praise on the festival circuit. R

The Salvation Mads Mikkelsen, of The Hunt and Hannibal, stars in this post-Civil War western, raging with vengeance and bloodlust. R

Wild Tales Argentina's Oscar-nominated foreign-language entry presents a suite of six shorts, each of them a crazy portrait of modern man at his - and her - worst. Revenge, road rage, blithe cruelty, jealousy, lies. Why are we laughing so hard? R

Also Opening This Week

Buzzard Dark comedy about a paranoid temp whose inner demons lead him to the streets of Detroit.

Cinderella Live-action re-telling of the classic fairy tale, directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The Cobbler Adam Sandler stars as a longtime cobbler who gains the ability to see the world through his customers' eyes through a magical heirloom.

Cymbeline Shakespeare goes modern in this tale of a war between dirty cops and a biker gang. Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, and Milla Jovovich star.

Home Sweet Hell A wife (Katherine Heigl) will stop at nothing to save her marriage in this comedy.

In the Heart of the Sea The crew of the early-19th-century whaling ship is stranded at sea after a Sperm Whale rams and sinks their ship.

Run All Night Liam Neeson stars as a hit man who takes on his former boss to protect his estranged wife and child.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Dan DeLuca (D.D.), Ellen Dunkel (E.D.), and David Hiltbrand (D.H.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

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 into the head of a man in deep trouble. An exhilarating, out-of-the-blue masterwork that ranks as one of the best films of the year, the decade, the century. Academy Awards for best picture and director Iñárritu. With Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts. 1 hr. 59 R (profanity, violence, sex, 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 fix our hopes and dreams to athletic competitions, how we identify with sports and how sports identifies us. 1 hr. 16 PG - S.R.

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, winner of the best actress Oscar. With Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart. 1 hr. 53 PG-13 (profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

1971 A riveting, revelatory documentary about the burglary of the FBI field office in Media in March 1971, and the subsequent release of documents that revealed a huge, and illegal, counterintelligence program against anti-war protestors, Civil Rights activists, feminist groups. Before Watergate, before the Pentagon Papers, decades before Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, a precedent was set. 1 hr. 19 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night A cool, supremely confident feature debut, from Iranian American writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour, set in a Middle Eastern ghost town populated by pimps and prostitutes, junkies and, yes, a vampire girl. She meets a guy who looks like James Dean, and they pair off, as sordid denizens lurk in the shadows and the spirits of Jarmusch, Lynch and Leone hang in the dark night air. 1 hr. 39 No MPAA rating (violence, horror, adult themes) - S.R.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry This documentary about the women's movement of the 1960s isn't just a lesson in history. It's an entire course that tells its story through a rich mixture of photographs, texts, archival footage, and home movies - and an extraordinary series of interviews with the movement's founders and leaders. 1 hr. 32 No MPAA rating (adult themes, sexuality, profanity, some nudity) - T.D.

Zero Motivation BFFs Zohar (Dana Ivgy) and Daffi (Nelly Tagar) can't stand their mandatory service time in the Israeli Army and spend most of their considerable resources trying to dodge work. They don't hone their skills as sharpshooters or engage in fierce, blood-splattered, full-contact bouts (you know, like in the movies). Instead, they push paper in an unutterably boring administrative office - the universe occupied by the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. of The Office. 1 hr. 30 No MPAA rating (profanity, adult themes, sexuality) - T.D.

Also on Screens

American Sniper *** 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 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Ballet 422 *** An intimate, quiet, documentary verité follows young choreographer Justin Peck as he creates the 422nd ballet for New York City Ballet. The expected conventions of plot, dialogue, and action are all but missing, and some may find it slow. But for dance lovers, it is a rare visit behind the workings of one of the finest ballet companies in the world. 1 hr. 15 PG (adult themes) - E.D.

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. R (violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

The Duke of Burgundy **1/2 A straight-faced homage to 1970s European erotica, full of soft-focus nudity and soft-core kink, in which two women who live somewhere in the woods engage in role-play, submission, domination, with woodwinds and cricket chirrups on the soundtrack and butterflies pinned to the wall. 1 hr. 44 R (nudity, sex, adult themes) - S.R.

The DUFF ** This rehash of the ugly-duckling, coming-of-age romcom that's been at drive-ins and multiplexes since the 1950s is a cross between potty-mouthed sex comedy American Pie and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, with a touch of Lena Dunham's Girls thrown in for good measure, trying far too hard to be the hipper-than-thou heir to John Hughes' teen classics. 1 hr. 41 PG-13 (pervasive use of profanity, sexuality, teen partying) - T.D.

Fifty Shades of Grey ** E.L. James' bestselling erotic romance - in which a virginal English major meets a hotshot entrepreneur with a bondage fetish - gets a TV commercial-slick screen adaptation, redeemed only by Dakota Johnson's wry humor and intelligence. The titular Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, is a dud. 2 hr. 5 R (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

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 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.

Kingsman: The Secret Service ** A cross between a James Bond film and a Marvel superhero comic, with a nod to Dr. No, Our Man Flint, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Get Smart, this movie has the makings of a sure-fire hit. Yet, this is one spy story even the dedicated addicts of the genre would do well to miss. 2 hr. 9 R (profanity, violence, some sexual content) - T.D.

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.

Road Hard **1/2 Adam Carolla stars in and co-directs this droll semiautobiographical comedy about a former TV star so desperate to breathe life back into his career that he goes on the road as a stand-up comic. Corolla plays the has-been Bruce with gentle self-mockery and a touch of genuine pathos. 1 hr. 37 No MPAA rating (profanity, nudity, sexual situations, smoking) - T.D.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel **1/2 The John Madden-directed followup 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.

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.