This "unconventional" biography takes a look at the Hindu swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. George Harrison and Deepak Chopra are interviewed. There's a lot of archival material and "metaphoric imagery." 84 minutes Unrated. (Opens Wednesday 3/4)
German filmmaker Dominik Graf (A Map of the Heart, The Invincibles) directs this high-tone, discretely erotic tale based (somewhat anyway) on the true story of sisters Charlotte and Caroline von Lengefeld, who both fell in love with post-Enlightenment writer and philosopher Friedrich Schiller. The idealistic (and rather emblematic of its late-18th century time period) ménage à trois devolves, as expected, into some third-act jealousy and betrayal. But the director mounts a lush, literate period romance, and his actors are committed to the emotional intensity of it all. In German and French with English subtitles. 138 minutes Unrated. (Opens Friday 2/27)
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn get all romantic and suspenseful in this 1963 Hitchcock-style mystery about a woman being chased around Paris by a bunch of dangerous men who want to get their hands on a fortune her late husband stole. Director Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) adds some welcome wit to the sophisticated screenplay. 113 minutes Unrated. (Opens Sunday 3/1)
This "newly edited director's cut" adds more footage to director Khashyar Darvich's look at the "profound and life-changing journey of innovative Western thinkers who travel to India to meet with the Dalai Lama." Shot over a period of 15 years, the film has won 12 awards and been screened over 1,000 times. Among the "thinkers" are the people behind The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know!? The director will be on hand for a brief post-film Q&A on Thursday and Friday night. 120 minutes Unrated. (Opens Wednesday 3/4)
Will Smith is a big-money con man who hires a new "intern" in the form of sexy but naive Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). Years later she returns as an accomplished femme fatale to throw a monkey wrench into his best-laid plans. 104 minutes R. (Opens Friday 2/27)
From Mexico comes this lightweight rom-com about an attractive, aspiring actress (popular TV star Aislinn Derbez) who promises to help a friend with a little domestic problem--pretending to flirt with her boyfriend in order to test his fidelity. This leads our heroine to a whole new, lucrative career. As is the nature of these things, she eventually falls in love for real with one of her "marks." In Spanish with English subtitles. 99 minutes (Opens Friday 2/27)
From the director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi (really?) comes this inexpensive, Insidious/Sinister-esque horror flick about a bunch of med students who discover a way to bring the dead back to life--with predictably ghostly repercussions. The atypical cast includes "The O.C." babe Olivia Wilde, mumblecore director/actor Mark Duplass and Evan Peters (from "American Horror Story"). 83 minutes PG-13. (Opens Friday 2/27)
Charlie Chaplin's most inventive comedy gets a re-release. Chaplin (in his immortal Little Tramp persona) tries to surive in today's (or, at least, 1936's) industrialized world with the help of a beautiful homeless girl (Paulette Goddard). The story is less sentimental than most of Chaplin's films and features some truly inspired sight gags in a highly mechanized factory setting. Double-featured with À Nous la Liberté. 87 minutes Unrated. (Thursday 2/26)
This famous "left-wing satirical comedy" came out of France in 1931. In it, an ex-convict (Raymond Cordy) works his way up from a salesman to the owner of a highly-mechanized factory--and then gives it away to the workers. This was embroiled in a lawsuit for more than a decade on the claim that Charlie Chaplin plagiarized many ideas from it for his film Modern Times. Appropriately, it's double-featured with Modern Times. 97 minutes Unrated. (Opens Thursday 2/26)
From Oscar-nominated Irish animator Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells) comes this gorgeous, storybook cartoon about a young girl named Saoirse, who turns out to be the last of the selkies, a mythical race of people who can transform from human to seal. The simple, unhurried story is aimed mostly at small children. But the mystical atmosphere, ethereal music and painstaking imagery will appeal to fantasy fans of all ages. 93 minutes PG. (Opens Friday 2/27)
A rural cattle herder (Ibrahim Ahmed) and his family who reside in the dunes of Timbuktu find their quiet lives--which are typically free of the urban Jihadists determined to control their faith--abruptly disturbed. An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. In English, French, Arabic, Bambara, and Songhay with English subtitle 97 minutes PG-13. (Opens Friday 2/27)
Reliable but rarely more than workmanlike director Clint Eastwood helms this biopic based on the biography of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. Bradley Cooper is excellent, running through all the emotions of our main character as he goes from front-line shellshocked to home-front rehabilitated. But Eastwood waffles too much between gung-ho patriotism and a more reasoned examination of the horrors our modern military men and women are asked to endure. It wants to tackle some big moral issues, but unlike Eastwood's Unforgiven, it can't break the Hollywood formula long enough to find the metaphorical weight behind the story. 132 minutes R.
Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) directs Michael Keaton (Batman) in this winkingly meta farce about a washed-up action movie star who tries to mount a comeback on Broadway. Shot in what looks like a single, breathless take, the film swoops and soars through the corridors of a venerable Broadway theater watching its manic, self-loathing, hallucination-prone protagonist face crisis after crisis. Dark and funny, cynical and empathetic, this oddly experimental gem offers viewers this year's most original cinematic vision. 119 minutes R.
Kevin Costner stars as a widower lawyer fighting for custody of his biracial granddaughter. Octavia Spencer is the equally righteous paternal grandmother of the little girl, who wants her to be raised by African Americans and not the guy from Dances with Wolves. This is a seriously well-intentioned family drama, but the liberal-minded ideals of writer-director Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger, Reign Over Me) get lost in TV-movie-of-the-week courtroom melodrama. 121 minutes PG-13.
Jennifer Lopez stars in this time-wasting erotic thriller about a divorced teacher who has a torrid affair with the new boy across the street. Things get complicated when he turns up as a student in her high school class and then goes all Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction on her. Oops. 91 minutes R.
A young woman (Mae Whitman, "Arrested Development") shakes up the social order of high school after discovering she's been labeled a "DUFF" (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by her more popular pals. Naturally, this is accomplished though the time-honored magic of the cinematic makeover. As in all Pygmalion-inspired romcoms, this is easily accomplished, since our "fat" and "ugly" heroine is clearly neither. Think John Hughes with hashtags ... and you're trying a lot harder than this formulaic tween comedy is. 101 minutes PG-13.
Every couple of years, the publishing industry spits out an erotic novel to remind housewives that naughty sex is a good thing. From Fanny Hill to Story of O to Fear of Flying to Exit to Eden, these books have been snapped up and hidden in bedside tables for decades. Today, we've got E.L. James' smash hit novel Fifty Shades of Grey. This ripe bit of "mommy porn" started out life as a piece of Twilight fan fic written under the pen name "Snowqueen's Icedragon." The author changed the character names, got a better nom de plume, and the rest is history. The movie may be slightly more literate, but it's sadistically boring. Nothing happens. At some point nothing stops happening and the credits roll. 125 minutes R.
When their pal Lou (Rob Corddry) gets in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the old hot tub time machine. Unfortunately, they end up in the future with Adam Jr. (Adam Scott, replacing John Cusack) trying to fix their time-traveling screw-ups. Expect more raunchy humor with cameos from Gillian Jacobs, Chevy Chase and Thomas Lennon. 93 minutes R.
America's British boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch stars as famed mathematician Alan Turing in this real-life biopic about Turing's efforts to decipher the infamous German Enigma code during World War II. The film is very tasteful and "Masterpiece Theatre"-ish. But Turing's story of professional triumph and personal tragedy is terribly compelling stuff. Based on the book by Andrew Hodges. 114 minutes PG-13.
The filmmakers formerly known as the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix, Cloud Atlas) are responsible for this madly over-conceptualized, pulp sci-fi doohickey. Mila Kunis is a poor, Chicago house cleaner who finds out the Earth is just an "estate" built and populated by an ancient alien dynasty--and that she's the long-lost queen of the galaxy. The story is a transparent fairy tale about a missing princess in (frequent) need of rescuing and the dashing knight (Channing Tatum) who protects her from her evil royal family. On top of that familiar framework, the Wachowski siblings have added bits of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Dune, The Matrix, Brazil and The Fifth Element. It's entirely ridiculous, but damned if it isn't eye-poppingly pretty and filled with zippy, zappy entertainment. 127 minutes PG-13.
Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, X-Men: First Class) directs this fast, funny, impossibly kinetic action flick based on the comic book by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Wanted). Newcomer Taron Egerton stars as a trendy British street kid who gets recruited to a top-secret spy agency that's, like, James Bond cranked up to 11. Colin Firth is the young spy's perfectly aloof bad-ass of a trainer. Samuel L. Jackson is the high-tech baddie. 129 minutes R.
This feature anime was made to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the popular Japanese franchise and is the first to be considered "official canon" in Masashi Kishimoto's original manga series. The plot concerns ninja-in-training Naruto Uzumaki's efforts to defeat a world-threatening adversary who is the last surviving member of an extraterrestrial clan. 112 minutes Unrated.
This Disney-produced "based on the inspirational true story" sports flick is pure formula. But it's a formula that works. Kevin Costner is a high school coach exiled to a dirtwater farming community in California. There, he creates a winning cross country running team with some of the ragtag local migrant worker kids. It's all very familiar, but director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) shows considerable sympathy to the impoverished farm workers depicted here. 129 minutes PG.
Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake) writes and directs this biopic covering the last quarter century in the life of eccentric British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Timothy Spall (Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter series) stars at the titular artist/womanizer. Even Turner's own biographer once admitted that the guy wasn't very interesting--but Leigh manages to find the drama in this very private man's personal life. Leigh is assisted immensely by Spall's born-to-play-it performance and by his glorious longtime cinematographer Dick Pope. 150 minutes R.
A reformed (read: "born-again") frat boy (first-time writer, director, star Rik Swartzwelder) and a free-spirited woman (Elizabeth Roberts from "Days of Our Lives") try "the impossible"--an old-fashioned, Jesus-approved courtship in modern-day America. If you're looking for a Valentine's Day romance that includes no sex and no premarital kissing and doesn't even allow men and women to be in the same room alone together, then Old Fashioned is the mood-killing cold shower for you. 115 minutes PG-13.
The beloved British picture book character gets the requisite CGI makeover for the movies. Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) voices the raincoat-wearing Peruvian bear who ends up lost and alone at a London train station. He gets adopted by a kindly family (led by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) and has some episodic adventures. Nicole Kidman plays the villain, an evil taxidermist. Because there has to be a villain in these sorts of things. 95 minutes PG.
Well, we've had found-footage monster movies (Cloverfield), found-footage zombie movies (the [REC] series), found-footage ghost movies (the Paranormal Activity series), found-footage devil movies (The Last Exorcism), found-footage mummy movies (The Pyramid), found-footage space movies (Apollo 18), found-footage comedies (Project X), found-footage superhero movies (Chronicle), found-footage kids' movies (Earth to Echo) and found footage disaster movies (Into the Storm). So why not a found-footage time machine movie? 106 minutes PG-13.
This epically troubled fantasy production shed countless cast members, production companies and release dates over the course of its creation. It's based on "The Wardstone Chronicles" books (known in America as "The Last Apprentice") by British fantasy author Joseph Delaney. Ben Barnes (from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) plays a young lad born with the magical ability to see ghosts and fight supernatural creatures. He's soon recruited by a crusty old knight (Jeff Bridges) for a big-ass training montage. Eventually, he gets to fight an evil witch (Julianne Moore). This looks like yet another failed attempt to launch a young adult fantasy series. (Sorry Eragon, Lemony Snicket, City of Ember, The Golden Compass, Inkheart, The Mortal Instruments, The Seeker, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Cirque du Freak, et al.) 102 minutes PG-13.
When the secret formula for Krabby Patties goes missing, SpongeBob and his pals (Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs) venture into the real world (featuring a mix of live-action and 3D animation) to recover it from a dastardly pirate (Antonio Banderas ... no, really). Also, they become superheroes. Yeah, SpongeBob doesn't make a lot of sense. But it's awesome. 93 minutes PG.
Julianne Moore gives an Oscar-nominated performance in this straightforward drama about an intellectual college professor learning to cope with early-onset Alzheimer's. Her family reacts in different ways, but it's her estranged daughter (a bohemian wannabe actress played surprisingly well by Kristen Stewart) who conjures up the most empathy for mom's plight. The film is smart, sensitive to its subject and exceedingly small in scope. 101 minutes PG-13.
It really does not pay to be friends or family with ex-government agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). Everybody he knows has been killed or kidnapped by bad guys, whom he is then obliged to stalk and kill using his "particular set of skills." This time around his wife has been killed, and he's framed for murder. Oh, somebody's in for an old man ass-kicking! As before, French action king Luc Besson pens it, and the awesomely named Olivier Megaton directs it. 109 minutes PG-13.
'Tis the season for high-toned biopics. Eddie Redmayne (The Pillars of the Earth, Les Misérables) stars as world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking. This inspirational romantic drama concentrates on Hawking's pre-talking-wheelchair relationship with his college girlfriend-cum-wife Jane (Felicity Jones, Like Crazy). It's beautifully performed and perfectly bittersweet, but occasionally feels too expertly crafted for Academy Award appeal. 123 minutes Unrated.
Josh Gad (Frozen) plays a well-meaning, friendless schlub who hires a fake best man (comedian Kevin Hart) in order to impress his fiancée (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) at their wedding. As one does in contrived romantic comedies. 101 minutes R.
A shy young musician (Miles Teller from The Spectacular Now) dreams of becoming a world-famous jazz drummer. Attending a prestigious New York music academy, he gets the opportunity to learn from the school's most infamous instructor (J.K. Simmons from "Oz"). What follows is the musical equivalent of the training camp sequence from Full Metal Jacket. Simmons is perfect as the sadistic taskmaster, but Teller matches him beat-for-beat as the determined student. 107 minutes R.
The classic stage musical (based on the Depression-era comic strip by Harold Gray) gets a modern update. Mostly that means a lot of references to Twitter, Google, Facebook, Vine and YouTube. Quvenzhané Wallis (from Beasts of the Southern Wild) makes for a cute Annie, and Jamie Foxx is acceptable as Daddy Warbucks (here renamed "Bill Stacks"). Unfortunately, writer/director Will Gluck (Easy A) seems to have no talent whatsoever for musicals. Everything is staged in a dull, clunky fashion with no cool costumes, big production numbers, splashy fantasy sequences or anything much in the way of choreography even. 118 minutes PG.
When Disney took over Marvel, everyone wondered what that mash-up would look like. Now we know. Based (quietly) on the Marvel comic of the same name, this sci-fi cartoon feels like a Disneyfied (in the best sense) take on the superhero genre. Tech-savvy teenager Hiro lives in futuristic San Fransokyo with his brother and aunt. But when his bro is murdered and his greatest invention stolen, Hiro teams up with an inflatable robot named Baymax and a group of self-proclaimed "science nerds" to get revenge on the masked villain responsible. The story is your standard superhero origin tale. But the sci-fi flourishes are well conceived, and the unflappably kindhearted Baymax is easily the most lovable character of the year. 108 minutes PG.
Peter Jackson wraps up his monumental (perhaps a little too much so) adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Here we finally get to the closing action sequence, a war that pits five armies and a dragon against one another in a battle for the fate of Middle-earth. 144 minutes PG-13.
Hollywood is sick of trilogies. That's only three movies' worth of profits. The cool thing now is to take the final book in a trilogy and split it in two different movies (like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 1 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 2). So apparently Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has destroyed the Hunger Games. She's hiding out, trying to rescue her boyfriend (Josh Hutcherson) from evil government forces when she gets a call from the rebel leader (Julianne Moore) asking her to become the face of the rebellion. It beats being the face of L'Oreal. 123 minutes PG-13.
At this point mashing up a bunch of fairy tales is nothing new in movies (Shrek) or TV ("Once Upon a Time"). Nonetheless, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's hit Broadway musical does some interesting work finding the "adult" undertones of the old Brothers Grimm tales. Disney has glossed over some of the darker material, and the perpetually moving ensemble cast was probably better suited to stage. Still, actors Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and James Corden are fun to watch as they reinvent Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and the like. 124 minutes PG.
Ben Stiller and friends (and the monkey) are back in this third outing about wacky hijinks at a natural history museum after the lights go out. Seems the magic that causes all the displays to come to life at night is fading, and our security guard hero (Stiller) must travel the globe, uniting characters old (Robin Willams' Teddy Roosevelt) and new (Dan Stevens' Sir Lancelot) to save it. 97 minutes PG.
Following cameos in the Madagascar films and a successful TV series, the wannabe-super-spy penguins get their own feature spin-off. This CGI toon shows audiences how dimwitted waterfowl Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private got their start in the global espionage biz. 92 minutes PG.
Four Hispanic high school students form a robotics club. With no experience, no money and a bunch of old car parts, they challenge the country's reigning robotics champions at MIT. Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis, Esai Morales, George Lopez and Steven Michael Quezada star. Yup, it was shot here in Albuquerque, and it's based on one of those inspiring true stories you hear so much about. 83 minutes PG-13.
As a director, Angelina Jolie (who previously gave us In the Land of Blood and Honey) appears to like things as dark and depressing as possible. Here, she searches for uplift in the (true life) story of Olympic champ Louis Zamperini, who got shot down over the Pacific during World War II, spent 47 days on a raft and then went straight to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. The telling is dutiful and appropriately epic, and star Jack O'Connell (300: Rise of an Empire) does understated work. But even with a scripting assist from Joel & Ethan Coen, the film ends up wearing its good intentions on its sleeve a little to prominently. 137 minutes PG-13.