A wide variety of stories and styles pack this collection of eight short films culled from this year's Sundance Film Festival. In "Afronauts," a group of Zambian exiles tries to beat America to the moon, circa 1969. In "The Cut" a father-and-daughter relationship is tested by a haircut. In "I'm a Mitzvah," a young American spends one last night with his deceased friend while stranded in rural Mexico. And that ain't the half of it! The USA, Russia, Austria, Canada and Israel are among the countries represented this year. 94 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 8/29)
In this archaeologically minded supernatural thriller, a group of explorers descends into the skeleton-filled catacombs below Paris, only to come face-to-face with their own fears made real. If you're a "found footage" completist, you might be the audience for this low-budget mixture of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Descent from the Brothers Dowdle (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Quarantine, Devil). 93 minutes R. (Opens Thursday 8/28)
Michael Fassbender (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) stars as an introverted prog/punk/folk/experimental rock singer who recruits/kidnaps a wannabe keyboard player (Domhnall Gleeson from the Harry Potter films) and tries to hit the big time at Austin's SXSW music fest. Also, he wears a giant, papier-mâché head. At all times. Very loosely based on a stage persona created by British comedian Chris Sievey, this oddball black comedy is freakishly funny, weirdly touching and ripe for cult worship. 95 minutes R. (Opens Friday 8/29)
The classic 1984 supernatural comedy returns to the big screen, just in time for its 30th anniversary. Feel free to quote along ("It's true, this man has no penis.") as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson zap ghosts and demons in midtown Manhattan. 105 minutes PG. (Opens Thursday 8/28)
Pierce Brosnan stars as an ex-CIA operative who is brought back from retirement (of course he is) and pitted against a former protégé (Luke Bracey, who played Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Retaliation) in one of those deadly games of cat-and-mouse that spies/assassins love to play on screen. There's some decent action, but you've seen it all before. Based on the seventh book in the "November Man" series by author Bill Granger. 106 minutes R. (Opens Wednesday 8/27)
This simple, true-life story (directed by Clear and Present Danger's Phillip Noyce) relates a dark, and often unspoken chapter in Australian history. Throughout the 1950s, the Australian government would routinely remove half-caste children from their Aboriginal mothers and ship them off to interment camps to be trained as domestic servants. This film tells the story of one tough-minded little girl who skipped out on the camp and embarked on 1,500-mile journey (with two younger girls in tow) to return to her home. Shocking in its truth, inspiring in its message (if a little black-and-white in its storytelling), this well-crafted tale is an emotional winner. 95 minutes R. (Thursday 9/4)
This latest film in the popular Japanese-animated "Naruto: Shippuden" series of films comes straight outta Japan. Having defeated the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead, young Naruto and his ninja-in-training friends return to their village for a little rest and relaxation. But a mysterious masked wizard soon appears and whisks our hero to a parallel mirror world where his parents never died, and he was never forced to became a magical ninja warrior. Will Naruto be happy in this illusory life, or can he break the spell? 109 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 8/29)
The third film in the slightly popular, Mormon-based World War II drama series hits select theaters. This one concentrates on an African-American tank driver (K. Danor Gerald from Ice Spiders and 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue) who finds himself serving with a predominantly white crew out-gunned and out-manned by a German Panzer division deep in the Harz mountains. 95 minutes PG-13. (Opens Friday 8/29)
Alan Ladd stars as the titular gunfighter in George Stevens' iconic 1953 Western. Weary of violence and the wandering life, our hero attempts to settle down with a homesteading family. But a long-smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him out of retirement. The ending is, of course, one of the all-time best. 118 minutes Unrated. (Opens Saturday 8/30)
Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo star in this music industry dramedy for writer-director John Carney (Once). Knightley plays a young singer-songwriter who gets dumped by her famous boyfriend (Adam Levine) and begins a promising collaboration with a disgraced record company executive (Ruffalo). 104 minutes R.
Yes, filmmaker Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) spent 12 years--off and on--shooting this coming-of-age tale. Instead of being gimmicky, though, the film is comfortingly real and quietly observational. We simply watch as young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grows from age 5 to age 18 and experiences all that life throws at him. His parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are divorced, and he drifts from video games to ogling lingerie catalogues to dealing with awful stepparents to navigating high school. The free-flowing narrative never tries to impose a "story" on the proceedings--and yet it's never dull. Instead, it's a lesson in regression for audiences as they recall all the funny, sad, rough, joyous, confusing moments that make up pre-adulthood. A wonderful, empathetic film. 165 minutes R.
Brendan Gleeson reunites with The Guard director John Michael McDonagh for this downbeat drama tinged with black comedy. Gleeson plays a small-town Irish priest who takes confession from a mysterious parishioner who promises to kill him by week's end. While juggling the spiritual needs of the town's countless fallen souls, our righteous protagonist tries to solve the matter of his own impending murder. The cast--especially Gleeson--is on top of its game. But not everyone will adapt to the whiplash mood swings of this existential Agatha Christie variation. 100 minutes R.
Jon Favreau (now famous as the director of Iron Man) returns to his indie film roots, writing, directing and starring in this humble comedy about a famous chef who loses his fancy restaurant job and starts over with a food truck. John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, Amy Sedaris and Robert Downey Jr. drop by to help out their pal. 115 minutes R.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) was a not-half-bad attempt to reboot a classic film series without really rebooting it. The sci-fi actioner fits neatly in amongst the '60s and '70s Planet of the Apes films. Now things get a little more ... ape-like, with Caesar and his army of genetically modified apes threatening to wipe out the last surviving band of humans. Bottom line: Apes with machine guns riding horses=good times. 130 minutes PG-13.
Sylvester Stallone's retirement home for old action stars returns. The overcrowded cast list this time around includes Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Antonio Banderas, Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, Jet Li, Robert Davi and Kelsey Grammer. Mel is the bad guy. Go figure.
Lois Lowry's much-loved teen lit sci-fi novel finally makes it to the big screen. In a futuristic dystopia--seemingly without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice--a young man(Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to learn from an elderly man (Jeff Bridges) the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world. Note to all future dystopian leaders: Get rid of the teenagers. If YA literature is any indication (Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, Delirium, Unwind, The Maze Runner), two photogenic teenagers in love will invariably bring down your society. 94 minutes PG-13.
Marvel Comics' superhero movies take off in a different direction, heading into outer space for this buoyantly comic, endlessly entertaining sci-fi romp. A band of misfits, criminals and brash adventurers is conscripted into saving the galaxy when a powerful alien warlord comes looking for a weapon of cosmos-threatening proportions. Cult filmmaker James Gunn (Tromeo and Juliet, Dawn of the Dead, Slither, Super) writes and directs. Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation"), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) and Lee Pace (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) star. 121 minutes PG-13.
Wrestlin' thespian Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as legendary demigod Hercules, hired to protect the King of Thrace and his daughter from a tyrannical warlord. Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Peter Mullan and Joseph Fiennes mill around in the background trying to look Greek. Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, Rush Hour 3) directs this musclebound fantasy based on the comic book Hercules: The Thracian Wars. The trailers are sort of false advertising, but the film does a semi-commendable job of bringing the mythical hero down to earth. 98 minutes PG-13.
After the untimely death of their matriarch, a brokenhearted Indian clan wanders Europe looking for a place to open up their family restaurant. They end up in an impossibly picturesque French town where Papa (Om Puri) decides to hang up his shingle across the street from a Michelin Star restaurant. Gifted young chef Hassan (Manish Dayal) falls in love with the rival sous chef (Charlotte Le Bon), while Papa starts up a love/hate relationship with the fancy French restaurant's uptight owner (Helen Mirren). This is exactly (exactly) the sort of semi-exotic foodie romance you would expect from the director of Chocolat. 122 minutes PG.
Capitalizing on the beautiful tragedy of The Fault in Our Stars, this romantic drama adapts another weepy teen lit hit. Young Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass) is on the edge of adulthood, about to go off to Juilliard to study music. But a tragic car accident kills off her parents and leaves her in a coma. An out-of-body experience leaves our gal wandering around watching friends and family gather at the hospital and drifting freely through her memories. Now she must decide if she should wake up and get on with her life or just kick the bucket. 106 minutes PG-13.
We've had found-footage horror films (The Blair Witch Project et al), found-footage monster movies (Cloverfield), found-footage cop movies (End of Watch), found-footage superhero films (Chronicle) and found-footage kids' films (Earth to Echo). So why not some found-footage disaster porn? Into the Storm takes the basic plot of Twister, throws in some handheld camera and adds a whole bunch more CGI destruction. It comes to us from the director of Final Destination 5 and the writer of Step Up All In. 89 minutes PG-13.
Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson (still hanging out off the set of FOX's "New Girl") are a couple of struggling pals who decide to dress up as cops for a costume party. Mistaken for real police officers, and afforded respect for the first time in their lives, the two decide to keep up the charade. Unfortunately a collection of real-life mobsters and dirty detectives put our dressed-up do-gooders in mortal danger. Yes, it's as silly as you're thinking. 104 minutes R.
French filmmaker Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) gets back into the swing of action filmmaking with this monumentally strange, and epically silly sci-fi flick. Scarlett Johansson stars as a woman tricked into becoming a mule for an experimental drug. When the bags of illegal chemicals in her stomach break open, she instantly and mysteriously gains all the superpowers in the universe by using 100 percent of her brain. We're talking Jackie Chan, all of the X-Men and Neo at the end of The Matrix combined. Naturally she employs these powers to get revenge on the bad people. Given that she can control all of time and space, there's not a lot of tension. But if 2001: A Space Odyssey encapsulated mind-blowing cinema for drug-addled hippies in 1968, then this will surely melt the synapses of filmgoers currently using only 10 percent of their brains. 90 minutes R.
Woody Allen's 44th film is a lightweight charmer. Colin Firth plays a professional magician and debunker who travels to Southern France (circa 1920) to expose a fraudulent spiritualist. Our hero is shocked to find the charlatan is a wide-eyed American cutie (Emma Stone). Even more shocking, he can't figure out her tricks. Could it be that she actually has the ability to speak to the dead? The outcome of this period romcom is never remotely in doubt, but the cast is quite likable, and the setting is lovely to look at. 97 minutes PG-13.
The spy novels of John le Carré make for gripping reading, but they rarely translate well into film. The deglamorized, workaday espionage world le Carré portrays is in direct conflict with action-heavy modern cinema. Dutch director Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) gives it the old college try, though. Philip Seymour Hoffman, in his last starring role, is a world-weary German counterterrorism agent tracking a Russian Muslim refugee through Hamburg. It's a smart, well-acted jigsaw puzzle, but a bit too slow-paced for its own good. 121 minutes R.
Against the better judgments of the Pixar folks, Disney released a chintzy, aerial knockoff of the Cars franchise last year. Despite the obvious lack of effort and the presence of Dane Cook, the film made money. So here's a sequel, which at least comes with better animation and adds the excitement of firefighting. Most kids like firefighting. 83 minutes PG.
Director Robert Rodriguez finally gets around to adapting more of Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels. This newest collection of ultra-stylized, noir-drenched crime stories is more or less a prequel to the original film--in that most of the dead characters like Mickey Rourke's Marv and Bruce Willis' Hartigan are all back to absorb more abuse. This time around, everybody's gunning for the first film's "big bad" Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Eva Green (Casino Royale, "Penny Dreadful") joins the cast as the titular femme fatale. 102 minutes R.
Überproducer Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Armageddon, Transformers) has his grubby fingerprints all over this unnecessary reboot of the classic comic book/cartoon series. The special effects are a major upgrade, but the story--scarred by all the usual overworked, underwritten tropes of modern screenwriting--takes a lot of liberties with the original. It's not a travesty, but it's probably not what fans want either. 101 minutes PG-13.
Thanks to legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle High School's football team went undefeated for 12 years--an unprecedented 151-game winning streak. Eventually, of course, the streak had to come to an end. This inspirational, based-on-a-true-story drama looks at what happened next. The script is incredibly sincere, and star Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) does stoic and soft-spoken quite well. But the film is produced by Sony offshoot Affirm Films and is aimed squarely at evangelical Christians. If you like your formulaic sports movies laced with a minimum of Bible quotes, this is not the film for you. 115 minutes PG.
A crotchety old realtor (Michael Douglas) enlists the help of his neighbor (Diane Keaton) when he's suddenly left in charge of the young granddaughter he never knew existed. I think you can see where this is going, heart-melting-wise and romance-wise. 94 minutes PG-13.
"Inspired by a true story" script? Check. Women and children contorting and doing their best Linda Blair imitation? Check. Commercials featuring real audience members flinching and screaming in the dark? Check. Looks like we're set for this month's low-budget Exorcist clone. 118 minutes R.
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in this Independence Day-meets-Groundhog Day sci-fi flick. Cruise plays an ordinary dude who gets drafted to fight off an alien invasion. Unfortunately he dies--just like everybody else on Earth. Fortunately he gets stuck in a time loop--which sends him back to the beginning of the day every time he kicks the bucket. With the help of a tough female soldier, he decides to use his endless regenerations to learn from his mistakes and become the ultimate alien-fighting machine. Based on the book All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. 113 minutes PG-13.
Hollywood has finally realized there's more to Young Adult lit than sparkly vampires and post-apocalyptic romance. This comfortingly ordinary drama about two teenagers who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group is based on the smash hit book by John Green. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who just got done playing brother and sister in the post-apocalyptic romance Divergent) star. ... And you thought Love Story was a weeper. 125 minutes PG-13.
Viking teen Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his best dragon friend Toothless discover a hidden ice cave, home to hundreds of new wild dragon species. Having only recently made peace with their fire-breathing allies, the dragonriders must now deal with a whole new monstrous threat. This sequel to DreamWorks' surprisingly solid CGI hit from 2010 ups the ante, turning the original boy-and-his-dog variation into a full-blown fantasy war epic. 102 minutes PG.
Disney reboots Sleeping Beauty with this live-action fairy tale concentrating more on the (apparently not-so-)evil sorceress (played by Angelina Jolie) and her tragic backstory. Elle Fanning (Super 8) is our soon-to-be-somnolent princess. Jolie is mesmerizing, and the film does a credible and ultimately quite likeable job melding Disney sentiment with certain aspects of the original fairy tale. But it's an odd fantasy that takes a long time to find its tone. 97 minutes PG.
Movies 8 Fri-Thu 11:10am, 1:50, 4:30, 7:10, 9:50 Movies West Fri-Thu 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:45, 10:20
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are a couple of suburban parents who find out their new neighbors are a bunch of drunken frat boys. Oddly enough no one else in the neighborhood seems to notice the all-night parties and the lawn full of beer cans. That leaves our unhappy couple to feud it out with the frat boys. There are some epically raunchy jokes here, but none of the characters are very sympathetic, and the plot is merely an excuse for a string of mean-spirited pranks. 96 minutes R.
Melissa McCarthy, riding high after Bridesmaids and The Heat, plays a white trash woman who loses her job and finds out her husband has been cheating. In response she hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking granny (Susan Sarandon). Hijinks ensue. 96 minutes R.
In his most restrained film to date, Michael Bay ... just kidding. This thing's 2 hours and 45 minutes' worth of exploding and screaming. The original cast has been ditched. (How will we ever survive without Shia LaBeouf?) Mark Wahlberg takes over human hero duties as a poor mechanic who buys a smashed-up semi, only to discover it's a Transformer. This would be more fun to watch at home where you can play the drinking game: Take a shot every time there's a giant fireball, an expensive piece of actual US military hardware races by or an American flag waves in slow motion. 165 minutes PG-13.
The swingin' '60s X-Men of X-Men: First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult) unite with the older, more grizzled X-Men of X-Men: The Last Stand (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry) in order to prevent a future in which fascist robots have taken over the United States and hunted mutants to near-extinction. The story lacks a clear villain and there are too many characters to keep track of, but it still amounts to some breathless popcorn movie fun. 131 minutes PG-13.