Documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Freakonomics) turns his all-access interview with cyclist Lance Armstrong into a probing examination of celebrity, defiance and hubris. Obviously there's nothing revelatory here anymore, but it's fascinating to see the epic construction of Armstrong's lie regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs. 123 minutes R. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
Langston Hughes' 1961 stage production, a retelling of the Nativity complete with gospel musical numbers, gets translated to the big screen by director Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou). The expanded story concerns a streetwise Baltimore teen who travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with estranged relatives. Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Tyrese Gibson are among the cast. 95 minutes PG. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
This simple, tasteful adaptation of Markus Zusak's beloved novel finds Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson acting as foster parents to protect an orphaned girl from the horrors of World War II Germany. The stepparents also manage to hide a well-educated Jewish refugee under the stairs of their home--which is where our young heroine (Sophie Nélisee) learns about the power of books. Naturally she starts stealing them to protect them from the book-burning Nazis. 131 minutes PG-13. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
This wonderful CG cartoon--a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen"--is Disney's most Disney film in ages. It's an unapologetic, old-school musical filled with funny sidekicks and not one but two princesses. Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars") holds her own as the plucky Nordic princess trying to help her winter-conjuring sister. But Broadway baby Idina Menzel is a force to be reckoned with at the terrified young woman with the snow-throwing powers. Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon) steals all the laughs as a talking snowman with a sunny disposition. 108 minutes PG. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
Two-time Academy Award nominee John Sayles (Matewan, Lone Star, Sunshine State) returns to the border for this dramatic thriller about Bernice and Fontayne, two best friends in high school who reunite years later. One (LisaGay Hamilton) is now a parole officer, and the other (Yolonda Ross) has just gotten out of jail. When Bernice's troubled son goes missing on the Mexican border, Fontayne enlists the aid of a disgraced former LAPD detective (Edward James Olmos) to track down the boy. 123 minutes (Opens Friday 11/29)
Jason Statham is a retired DEA agent and single dad who moves to a small southern town with his daughter and soon runs afoul of a local meth-dealing druglord. Yes, James Franco plays an evil redneck named Gator Beaudine. Sylvester Stallone wrote it, but was apparently too old to play the main character. It's even sillier than it sounds. 100 minutes R. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing, Inside Man) remakes Chan-Wook Park's mindbending 2003 crime thriller (itself based on a Japanese comic book). Josh Brolin is a man mysteriously kidnapped and locked up in a secret private prison for 20 years. One day, just as mysteriously, he is freed. Now he's got to find out who did this to him and why. Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copely and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast of this bloody, stylish revenge saga. 104 minutes R. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
A world-weary political journalist (British comedian Steve Coogan) hunts down the story of a woman's search for her long-lost son, given up decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. Director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons) adds a light comic touch to this road trip dramedy, while Judi Dench delivers a poignant performance in the title role. A lovely, surprisingly uplifting crowd-pleaser. 98 minutes PG-13. (Opens Wednesday 11/27)
An overweight geek (Sam Eidson) living in his grandmother's basement finds his position as Grand Master of a fantasy role playing game threatened when he invites a hat-wearing hipster-nerd (Garrett Graham) to join the group. Before long he is overthrown as the group's leader and plots his epic revenge. This darkly comic fable is custom-made for anyone who spent his or her high school days rolling dice and collecting experience points. 97 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 11/29)
British director Steve McQueen has a penchant for brilliantly directed, magnificently acted films with subject matters that are unbelievably unpleasant to watch (see for example: Hunger, Shame). With the powerful weight of history behind this new effort, however, it becomes virtually impossible to look away. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, Inside Man) is magnetic as Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the Deep South. As you can probably guess, he spent 12 years bouncing from one cruel plantation owner to another. Based on Northup's biography, this brutally honest film addresses slavery in a manner that's never been seen before on screen. It isn't easy to watch, but it's an incredible achievement. 134 minutes R.
Robert Redford stars in this one-man tour de force as an aging but resourceful sailor who finds himself confronting his own mortality when his ship begins to sink in the middle of the ocean. It's a tiny film in many ways, but the "man vs. the elements" plotline is timeless. Redford is magic, and the direction is surprisingly, consistently tense. 106 minutes PG-13.
This belated sequel to the 1999 comedy hit The Best Man finds the ensemble African-American cast of college pals reuniting after 15 years over the Christmas holidays. Morris Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Harold Perrineau all return, sparking long-forgotten rivalries and romances. 123 minutes R.
Tom Hanks headlines this true-life pic about Captain Richard Phillips, a humble-yet-heroic cargo ship captain who got hijacked by Somali pirates in an infamous 2009 raid in the Gulf of Aden. Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93) directs this sweat-soaked, Oscar-baiting thriller. 134 minutes PG-13.
According to legend, every 25 years an angel visits the enchanting English village of Gladbury and touches one of the local candlemaker's candles. Whoever in the village lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, the dawn of the electric age threatens this centuries-old tradition. Can a progressive new minister (Hans Matheson, Clash of the Titans) usher in a new era of miracles--ones that come from good deeds and acts of kindness rather than godly visits? This devoutly Catholic holiday film is produced by Rick Santorum. Also, "Britain's Got Talent" celebrity Susan Boyle is in it. 91 minutes PG.
Nice guy mad scientist Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) returns to the island he accidentally destroyed with a food-making machine, only to find out that it's still operational and churning out menacing food-animal hybrids. Think The Island of Dr. Moreau only cartoony and filled with food-based puns. Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris and Terry Crews fill out the overstuffed voice cast. 95 minutes PG.
Matthew McConaughey stars in this real-life, refreshingly schmaltz-free biopic about Ron Woodroof, a hard-living Texas rodeo rider who was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s. Unwilling to accept the (then) death sentence, Woodroof started a drug-running operation which brought the experimental (but effective) drug AZT up from Mexico. By partnering with an HIV+ transvestite (a surprising Jared Leto) and distributing the drugs Robin Hood-style, Woodroof had a major impact on the treatment of HIV and the subsequent FDA approval of AZT. 117 minutes R.
Vince Vaughn stars in this sappy remake of a French-Canadian comedy (Starbuck) about an underachieving man-child (Adam Sandler must have been busy) who finds out his old sperm bank donations have accidentally fathered 500 kids. After about 150 of the now young adults file a class-action lawsuit, our about-to-learn-a-valuable-life-lesson protagonist decides to become a loving father to all of them. This amounts to about two minutes of quality bonding with a whole string of random twentysomethings. Predictable, mildly heartwarming and not all that funny. 103 minutes PG-13.
The beloved sci-fi novel (by not-so-loved author Orson Scott Card) finally gets a feature film adaptation courtesy of South African writer/director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The thought-provoking space epic follows the story of Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield from Hugo), a young boy who has been recruited by the military to train for a video game-like war against alien invaders. Think Harry Potter crossed with Starship Troopers. 114 minutes PG-13.
Filling in the shocking gap in Thanksgiving-related family fodder comes this animated slot-filler from the director behind Horton Hears a Who! (and Jonah Hex). Seems that two turkeys from "opposite sides of the tracks" (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) must travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving in order to keep poultry off the holiday menu. Yup, time-traveling turkeys. 91 minutes PG.
Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) directs this heavy-duty thriller about a medical engineer and an astronaut (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) working frantically to save themselves after an accident leaves them spinning hopelessly adrift through space. A technical jaw-dropper and a white-knuckle survival tale, this one will take your breath away in many ways. 90 minutes PG-13.
The book-series-turned-movie-series sensation goes for its second outing. Now that Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have triumphed in the murderous Hunger Games, their victory is sparking a rebellion. That puts them in the crosshairs of The Capitol, which needs fake heroes to exploit--not real ones. Excitement and storytelling ramp up in this entertaining crowd-pleaser, leaving high hopes for the third film. 146 minutes PG-13.
Johnny Knoxville manages to squeeze out another "Jackass" film. This one borrows from Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat, with Knoxville dressed up in old man makeup and performing "insane hidden camera pranks" on real people in the middle of a faintly scripted screenplay. 92 minutes R.
Aren't old people just the cutest? if you agree, then Last Vegas is the laugher for you. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play a trio of senior citizens who reunite in Vegas for some bachelor party shenanigans after their old pal (Michael Douglas) announces he's getting married to his 32-year-old girlfriend. Cue the Viagra jokes! 105 minutes PG-13.
Marvel's hammer-slinging space god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is back for more mystical sci-fi action. This time around he's forced to team up with his archenemy/brother, Loki, when an entire race of world-destroying Dark Elves puts both Earth and Asgard in its sights. 112 minutes PG-13.
Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis star as a pair of suburban parents who decide to skip the holidays and go on a cruise when their teenage daughter heads out to college. The neighbors are horrified for some reason, but things get even worse when daughter decides she's coming home after all, and mom and dad have to put together the perfect holiday at the last second. There's lots of--ahem--zaniness going on in this slapstick waste of energy. 98 minutes
Movies 8 Fri-Thu 11:30 am, 2:10, 4:50, 7:40, 10:15 Movies West Fri-Thu 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:45, 10:20
Our main character, a supervillain-turned-foster-dad (voiced by Steve Carell), is considerably more toothless this time around, having given up his world-conquering ways. But the humor is infectious, and the story is sweet. Cartoons used to be about gags, not about plots, and this film really knows how to construct an old-school, animated gag. It lacks the edgy spark of the original, but the kids in the audience won't notice. 98 minutes PG.
From the maker of District 9 comes this action-packed, social-commentary-heavy sci-fi flick. Matt Damon plays an ex-con living in the year 2154, where the wealthy elite reside on an orbiting space station full of food, medicine and all the amenities money can buy. Meanwhile the poor wallow on the depleted junkheap that is Earth. Jacked up on cybernetic implants and terminally ill, our hero is recruited to bring down the futuristic 99 percent. 109 minutes R.
Martin Scorsese produces, Luc Besson directs, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star. It's a hell of a match-up, but the stakes are fairly low in this Mafioso action comedy. De Niro plays the patriarch of a mob family that's relocated to rural France under the witness protection program. Old habits die hard, though, with plenty of opportunities for one and all--including daughter Dianna Agron ("Glee")--to crack skulls, firebomb buildings and fight off an army of wise guy hitmen. 111 minutes R.
This spook-filled sequel picks up exactly where 2010's Insidious left off--which if I remember correctly was deep inside some sort of fog-machine-filled theme park for ghosts. Turns out the Lambert family is no less haunted after their last exorcism/ghostbusting effort, so it's back to Poltergeist territory for another go-around. Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) still knows how to make with the scares, but this sort of old school haunted house stuff is getting a bit repetitive. 105 minutes PG-13.
An irresponsible playboy (Eugenio Derbez) must grow up quickly after a former lover gives him their daughter to raise. Yup, it's a cheap Mexican knock-off of Adam Sandler's Big Daddy. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. 115 minutes PG-13.
Honestly, there's nothing to say here. If you're a screaming, 13-year-old fangirl of this highly manufactured British boy band, you'll be there to watch this documentary-cum-concert film. Probably in 3D. If not, you can sit back with the rest of us and wonder why the hell Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me, Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?) agreed to direct such an insipid, patently hagiographic effort. Boatloads of money? Simon Cowell pointing a Glock at his head? 92 minutes PG.
Alleged standup comedian and definite acquired taste Dane Cook voices the lead character in this imagination-free spin-off/knockoff of Pixar's Cars. It's a virtual carbon copy about a would-be racer who gets mentored by an elderly machine, only this time the oddly anthropomorphic characters have wings instead of tires. Pixar had nothing to do with this one, allowing parent corp. Disney to perform the sacrilege. 92 minutes PG.
Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis star as two suburban Pennsylvania couples whose young daughters are kidnapped one fateful Thanksgiving. When the local police (led by po-faced Jake Gyllenhaal) cut loose the primary suspect, our angry dads decide to take matters into their own hands--snatching the could-be kidnapper (Paul Dano at his creepiest) and subjecting him to some light torture. French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) turns this would-be Death Wish scenario into a moody, glum rumination on vigilante justice. 153 minutes R.
Ron Howard directs this zippy, true-life sports tale of British bad boy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, hot off Thor) and intense Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl from Inglourious Basterds). The obsessive Hunt/Lauda rivalry was the talk of mid-'70s Formula 1 racing. If you care at all about Formula 1 racing, this film might actually mean something to you. Howard does a great job of capturing the period detail and lenses the race sequences with nail-biting skill. But the plot doesn't really go much deeper than fast cars, hot women and the selfish jerks who love them. 123 minutes R.
A smalltime pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis from "SNL") gets talked into smuggling a giant load of weed back from Mexico. In order to cover his tracks, he hires a fake family including stripper "mom" Jennifer Aniston and runaway teen "daughter" Emma Roberts. Hijinks ensue. The supporting cast for this raunchy laugher includes comedy vets Ed Helms, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn. 109 minutes R.