Movie Guide | 8-8-14
Editor’s note: Ratings by the Motion Picture Association of America are: (G) for general audiences; (PG) parental guidance urged because of material possibly unsuitable for children; (PG-13) parents are strongly cautioned to give guidance for attendance of children younger than 13; (R) restricted, younger than 17 admitted only with parent or adult guardian; (NC-17) no one younger than 17 admitted. Capsule reviews are by Kenneth Turan (K.Tu.), Betsy Sharkey (B.S.), Mark Olsen (M.O.) and other reviewers. Compiled by Oliver Gettell.
Opening in Hollywood this week
“37: A Final Promise” — A rock star planning to kill himself on his upcoming 37th birthday to atone for a horrible crime he committed as a child falls for a woman with a dark secret of her own. With Randall Batinkoff, Scotti Thompson and Tricia Helfer. Written by Batinkoff and Jesse Stratton. Directed by Batinkoff. (1:32) NR.
“As It Is in Heaven” — Members of a small religious sect in the Kentucky backcountry grapple with the death of their elderly prophet and his unexpected appointment of a newcomer as his successor. With Chris Nelson, Luke Beavers and Abi van Andel. Written by Ginny Lee Overbay. Directed by Joshua Overbay. (1:27) NR.
“Deepsea Challenge 3D” — A documentary following filmmaker and underwater explorer James Cameron on an expedition to the deepest part of the ocean. Directed by John Bruno, Andrew Wight and Ray Quint. (1:30) PG.
“The Dog” — A documentary about John Wojtowicz, whose 1972 attempt to rob a bank to finance his lover’s sex-change operation inspired the film “Dog Day Afternoon.” Directed by Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren. (1:41) NR.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” — A promising young chef and his family, who have been displaced from India to the South of France and opened their own restaurant, come into conflict with the icy proprietress of a classical French restaurant in this movie based on the novel by Richard C. Morais. With Manish Dayal, Helen Mirren and Om Puri. Written by Steven Knight. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom. (2:02) PG.
“Into the Storm” — A town is ravaged by deadly tornadoes while storm chasers try to obtain a once-in-a-lifetime shot in this found-footage-style thriller. With Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh. Written by John Swetnam. Directed by Steven Quale. (1:29) PG-13.
“The Kill Team” — A documentary about Pvt. Adam Winfield, a 21-year-old soldier in Afghanistan who, with the help of his father, attempted to alert the military to war crimes his platoon was committing. Directed by Dan Krauss. (1:17) NR.
“The Maid’s Room” — A Colombian immigrant takes a seasonal job in East Hampton as a live-in maid to a privileged family and becomes the only witness to a crime her employers want to cover up. With Paula Garces, Philip Ettinger and Annabella Sciorra. Written and directed by Michael Walker. (1:50) NR.
“No Cameras Allowed” — A documentary following James Marcus Haney, a music enthusiast who has snuck into dozens of music festivals. Directed by Haney. (1:24) NR.
“Step Up All In” — A high-stakes dance contest in Las Vegas brings together crews from previous installments of the “Step Up” franchise. With Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan and Stephen “Twitch” Boss. Written by John Swetnam. Directed by Trish Sie. (1:52) PG-13.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” — Four anthropomorphic turtles trained in martial arts team up with a fearless reporter and her wisecracking cameraman to save New York City from the villain Shredder and his henchmen, the Foot Clan. With Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner and K. Todd Freeman. Written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Evan Daugherty. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman. (1:41) PG-13.
“Us and the Game Industry” — A documentary about the forefront of experimental computer game development. Directed by Stephanie Beth. (1:30) NR.
“War Story” — A veteran war photographer recovering from a brutal episode travels to Sicily and crosses paths with a former lover and a migrant woman who bears a striking resemblance to someone she once photographed. With Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi and Vincenzo Amato. Written by Kristin Gore and Mark Jackson. Directed by Jackson. (1:29) NR.
“What If” — A medical school dropout who has been repeatedly burned by bad relationships decides to put his love life on hold, only to spark a connection with an animator who, unfortunately, has a live-in boyfriend. With Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan and Rafe Spall. Written by Elan Mastai. Directed by Michael Dowse. (1:37) PG-13.
“Boyhood” — Writer-director Richard Linklater couldn’t have known where 12 years of shooting this story would lead, following a boy and his family (played by Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater) across time. But we are blessed that he did, because it has resulted in an extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional film in which not much else occurs. Never has so little meant more. (B.S., July 11) (2:45) R.
“Edge of Tomorrow” — With Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt starring in an Earth-versus-aliens epic, this is one mass-market entertainment that’s smart, exciting and unexpected while not stinting on genre satisfactions. (K.Tu., June 6) In 3-D and Imax. (1:53) PG-13.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” — From the fashionable day-old scruff on Hiccup’s 20-year-old Viking chin to the amped-up firepower of Toothless, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” has made good use of the years since the villagers of Berk and the boy who’d rather not be chief first charmed us. The spot-on cast led by Jay Baruchel now includes Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. There’s a new villain played by Djimon Hounsou, a major family reunion and Hiccup continuing his fight for dragon rights. Those battles on the back of the beasties are when the animation, and the film, soars. (B.S., June 13) In 3-D. (1:45) PG.
“Land Ho!” is full of surprises, rich in the way it noses around the rocky terrain of aging in an indifferent world through the engaging performances of its two stars. Colin and Mitch (Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) are a couple of 70-ish brothers-in-law reconnecting during a trip to Iceland years after they’d drifted apart. The weather may be cold, but the conversations are warm. As Colin begins to thaw, it becomes a gentle reminder that life is something to be embraced. And that it is never too late to grab it with whatever gusto you’ve got. (B.S., July 11) (1:35) R.
“A Most Wanted Man” — A taut, involving thriller, based on the novel by John le Carre, that’s a fitting final film for star Philip Seymour Hoffman, not only because it is so expertly done but because his role as a German spymaster combating terrorism was so challenging. (K.Tu., July 25) (2:01) R.
“Snowpiercer” — Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho packs all of his apocalyptic angst inside an unforgettable “Snowpiercer.” Using a great cast, a gripping idea and a gorgeously grimy retro aesthetic, Bong keeps this eerie examination of the train wreck of humanity racing along. Both the material and the messengers — Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton lead a cast top-heavy with international talent — lend a kind of gravitas to what might otherwise have been mindless action fare. (B.S., June 27) (2:06) R.
“A Summer’s Tale” — Like a forgotten gift we now get to unwrap with delight, French director Eric Rohmer’s 1996 film, never before released in this country, arrives just in time to add a touch of delight to the cinematic landscape. (K.Tu., July 18) In French with English subtitles. (1:54) NR.
Also in theaters
“4 Minute Mile” — A high-school student mixed up with a local drug dealer tries to overcome his rough surroundings with the help of an ex-track coach who has his own demons. With Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins and Cam Gigandet. Written by Josh Campbell and Jeff Van Wie. Directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud. (1:35) PG-13.
“Alive Inside” — A documentary about social worker Dan Cohen and his efforts to promote the rejuvenating power of music. Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett. (1:14) NR.
“And So It Goes” — What would “And So It Goes” be without Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton? It’s hard to fathom, because even with these star wattage pros, Rob Reiner’s senior citizen romantic comedy is about as engaging as a drooling nap on a porch. (Robert Abele, July 25) (1:34) PG-13.
“Around the Block” — A passionate American drama teacher takes a job at an inner-city school in Sydney and tries to help an Aboriginal student avoid following his father into a life of crime. With Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard and Jack Thompson. Written and directed by Sarah Spillane. (1:44) NR.
“Begin Again” — A teaming of Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and “Once” filmmaker John Carney in a tale of music’s transformative power certainly has appeal, but you may end up wanting to enjoy it more than its qualities will allow. (K.Tu., June 27) (1:44) R.
“Behaving Badly” — A socially awkward high-schooler goes to great lengths to try to win over the girl of his dreams. With Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez and Mary-Louise Parker. Written by Tim Garrick and Scott Russell. Directed by Garrick. (1:38) R.
“Beneath” — Trapped underground by a massive collapse, a crew of coal miners struggle to survive and say sane. With Jeff Fahey, Kelly Noonan and Joey Kern. Written and directed by Ben Ketai. (1:29) NR.
“Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” — Friends’ vacation in the Caribbean devolves into a nightmare after they stumble upon an abandoned research facility where a deadly, flesh-eating virus has been unleashed. With Sean Astin, Currie Graham and Ryan Donowho. Written by Jake Wade Wall. Directed by Kaare Andrews. (1:31) NR.
“Calvary” — During confession, a good Irish priest is told by an unseen member of his parish that he intends to kill the clergyman in one week’s time. With Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly and Aidan Gillen. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. (1:40) R.
“Child of God” — A Tennessee outcast living on the fringes of society descends into crime and degredation in this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. With Scott Haze, James Franco and Timothy Blake Nelson. Written by Franco and Vince Joliette. Directed by Franco. (1:44) R.
“Code Black” portrays the experience of an emergency room from a perspective many of us otherwise might not know, directed by Ryan McGarry when he was a young doctor at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. The film feels like neither a polemic, a reality show pilot nor some kind of soap opera doctor drama. This is for the best. (M.O., June 27) (1:28) NR.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — If you want apes, you’ve come to the right place with this next iteration of the ever-popular science fiction sage. If people are your passion, not so much. (K.Tu., July 11) In 3-D. (2:10) PG-13.
“Earth to Echo” — It’s no “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” (What is?) But on its own modest terms, the alien adventure “Earth to Echo” is a lively and likable knockoff that should divert, if not exactly enthrall, tweens and young teens. (Gary Goldstein, July 2) (1:22) PG.
“A Five Star Life” — A 40-something woman devoted to her job as an incognito hotel critic has her luxurious lifestyle shaken by a series of personal setbacks. With Margherita Buy, Stefano Accorsi and Henry Arnold. Written by Maria Sole Tognazzi, Francesca Marciano and Ivan Cotroneo. Directed by Tognazzi. In Italian with English subtitles. (1:25) NR.
“The Fluffy Movie” — Despite Mexican-American comic Gabriel Iglesias’ engaging presence, amusing observations and deft imitations, “Fluffy” is a standard-issue comedy concert film far better suited to a 90-minute cable TV slot than the big screen. (Gary Goldstein, July 28) (1:41) PG-13.
“Get on Up” — A biopic about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, from his impoverished childhood to his musical stardom. With Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Nelsan Ellis. Written by Steve Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth and Tate Taylor. Directed by Taylor. (2:18) PG-13.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” — After stealing a mysterious orb coveted by an intergalactic villain, a brash adventurer teams up with a motley crew of alien outlaws to survive and save the universe in this movie based on the Marvel comic book. With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper. Written and directed by James Gunn. In 3-D and Imax. (2:01) PG-13.
“Hercules” — If at first blush it feels as if casting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the mighty son of Zeus was more inevitable than inspired, the truth is the part fits the big guy like a glove. Without putting too fine a point on it, Hercules is Johnson’s King Lear or Willy Loman; an iconic, aspirational role that’s been long-simmering in his wheelhouse. (Gary Goldstein, July 25) (1:38) PG-13.
“I Origins” — Starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Astrid Berges-Frisbey, “I Origins” contemplates evolution and spirituality against a shaky romantic tableau. The film’s existential crisis revolves around the iris of the eye, as individual as a fingerprint, with Pitt’s scientist pulled between evolution and god as the guiding force. There are occasional flashes of the exceptional in writer-director Mike Cahill’s film, but the dodgy story can’t sustain them. (B.S., July 18) (1:48) R.
“Le Chef” — not to be confused with the current Jon Favreau gastro-hit “Chef” — is an amusing souffle of a comedy that pokes fun at foodies while honoring the art of those who cook for them. It’s an enjoyably comic fairy tale, one that’s greatly enhanced by the nimble performances of Jean Reno and Michael Youn. (Gary Goldstein, July 25) In French and English, with English subtitles. (1:25) PG-13.
“Louder Than Words” — A couple grieving the death of their young daughter establish a children’s hospital to honor her memory. With David Duchovny, Hope Davis and Timothy Hutton. Written by Benjamin Chapin. Directed by Anthony Fabian. (1:33) PG-13.