The Longest Ride Sparks fly - Nicholas Sparks, that is - in the latest screen adaptation of a storm-tossed, star-crossed romance from the prolific author and Hollywood cottage industrialist. Scott Eastwood is a hunky rodeo dude, Sophia Danko a college grad bound for the Big Apple, and then he props her on top of a mechanical bull, and, well, misty montages of commingled unclothed body parts ensue. A parallel love story, set during World War II, is intertwined. PG-13

The Salt of the Earth Academy Award-nominated documentary about photographer Sebastião Salgado and his 40-year career, co-directed by his son, Juliano Salgado, and Wim Wenders. PG-13

White God A girl-and-her-dog story turns into a tale of canine rebellion as the lost mutt joins with an army of pooches to teach the uncaring humans a thing or two. Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, the Hungarian parable is anything but an old-fashioned Disney yarn. R

Also Opening This Week

Kill Me Three Times A hit man (Simon Pegg) finds himself in mortal danger - times three - after he botches a job.

A Little Chaos A pair of landscapers compete to design a fountain on the grounds of Versailles for Louis XIV. Kate Winslet and Matthias Schoenaerts star.

   While We're Young The careers and marriage of a middle-aged couple are thrown for a loop when a younger couple enters their lives. Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, and Adam Driver star.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Steven Rea (S.R.), Tirdad Derakhshani (T.D.), Dan DeLuca (D.D.), and Molly Eichel (M.E.). W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

 

Very Good (***1/2)

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem 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 close-ups, 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.

A Girl Like Her Harrowing, insightful and unsentimental, writer-director Amy S. Weber's superior drama about teenage bullying features Lexi Ainsworth as a high school sophomore who attempts suicide after being subjected by her onetime childhood friend (Hunter King) to an intense six-month ordeal of intimidation and humiliation. 1 hr. 32 PG-13 (profanity, sexual references, disturbing thematic material involving teens) - T.D.

It Follows 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, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter 1/2 A downcast Japanese office worker - Babel's Rinko Kikuchi - leaves Tokyo behind after finding an old VHS tape that promises a briefcase full of money buried in the Fargo, N.D., snow. Off she goes in this beautifully shot quest movie, full of ache and whimsy, dreamlike and strange. 1 hr. 45 No MPAA rating (adult themes) - S.R.

Merchants of Doubt Robert Kenner's smartly packaged documentary about climate-change deniers and the coordinated efforts - modeled on the tobacco industry's decades-long public relation campaigns - to challenge real science with pseudoscience, real concern with discord. 1 hr. 33 PG-13 (adult themes) - S.R.

Queen and Country 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.

Seymour: An Introduction 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 mid-career 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 themes) - S.R.

Wild Tales Six vignettes about people on their best behavior: out for vengeance and out of control. Madly entertaining and just plain mad, from Argentinian director Damián Szifrón, and one of this year's foreign-language Oscar nominees. 1 hr. 54 R (sex, violence, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Also on Screens

Cinderella *** A winning re-do 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. Cate Blanchett chews scenery as the gleefully cruel, cackling stepmom. 1 hr. 52 PG (adult themes) - S.R.

Danny Collins **1/2 Al Pacino has the title role in this it's-lonely-at-the-top mush about a big pop star (think Neil Diamond crossed with Billy Joel crossed with Barry Manilow - oooh) whose life gets turned around when he's handed a lost letter written to him at the start of his career by John Lennon. Comedy, pathos, and schmaltzy new songs follow. With Annette Bening, Bobby Canavale, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer. 1 hr. 46 R (language, sex, drugs, adult themes) - S.R.

Effie Gray *** Dakota Fanning stars as the young, sunny bride of the older, hopelessly stuffy John Ruskin (Greg Wise), in this true-life tale of sexual repression and married miserableness set in the art world of Victorian England. Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay and costars as a warm presence in the title character's woeful life. 1 hr. 48 PG-13 (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.

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 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.

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.

The Hunting Ground *** Academy Award nominee Kirby Dick explores the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses and how institutions of higher learning spend more resources trying to silence the victims than prosecuting the perpetrators. 1 hr. 30 PG-13 (disturbing thematic material involving sexual assault and language) - M.E.

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 mind games, too. PG-13 (violence, action, 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 the estranged duo are thrown together when 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 as 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, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

Woman in Gold *** Helen Mirren, deploying bite and a Bavarian lilt, stars as Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee from Austria who in the early 2000s took her country to court to reclaim artwork, including a famous Klimt described as the Mona Lisa of Austria, that belonged to her family and that was seized by the Nazis. Ryan Reynolds is the bumbling California lawyer joining her in her fight. Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) directs. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.