Movie guide: Capsule listings, reviews of current releases (Los Angeles Times)
August 10, 2015
Ratings by the Motion Picture Association of America are: for general audiences; 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; restricted, younger than 17 admitted only with parent or adult guardian; (NC-17) no one 17 and younger admitted.
Capsule reviews are by Kenneth Turan (K.Tu.), Mark Olsen and other reviewers. Compiled by Oliver Gettell.
OPENING IN HOLLYWOOD THIS WEEK
“Air” — In a future where the air has turned toxic and humanity has retreated into suspended animation, two engineers try to ensure the survival of the human race while maintaining their own sanity. With Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou. Written by Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa. Directed by Cantamessa. (1:35) PG-13.
“Big Sky” — A teenage girl with a fear of open spaces is enrolled in a high-end treatment facility, only to have her van attacked by masked gunman en route. With Bella Thorne, Kyra Sedgwick and Frank Grillo. Written by Eva M. Wiener. Directed by Jorge Michel Grau. (1:30) NR.
“Brothers: Blood Against Blood” — Two estranged brothers cross paths again when they both enter a mixed martial arts tournament. With Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra and Jackie Shroff. Written by Ekta Pathak Malhotra. Directed by Karan Malhotra. In Hindu with English subtitles. (2:20) NR.
“Children and America” — A documentary following a fourth-grader and his filmmaker father as they travel the nation exploring issues of politics, education, technology, health and environment. Directed by Ranjit Koka. (1:48) NR.
“Court” — An elderly folk singer and grassroots activist is arrested on trumped-up charges and fights for his freedom. With Usha Bane, Vivek Gomber and Pradeep Joshi. Written and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. In Marathi, Hindi, English and Gujarati, with English subtitles. (1:56) NR.
“Fort Tilden” — Two self-absorbed twentysomething Brooklynite women take a day trip to the beach and begin to realize some uncomfortable truths about their lives. With Bridey Elliott, Clare McNulty and Griffin Newman. Written and directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. (1:35) R.
“The Kindergarten Teacher” — A schoolteacher discovers that a young student has a talent for language and poetry and becomes increasingly interested in cultivating the boy’s gift. With Avi Shnaidman, Ester Rada, Lior Raz. Written and directed by Nadav Lapid. In Hebrew with English subtitles. (1:59) NR.
“The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” — At the height of the Cold War, a CIA operative and a KGB agent join forces to stop an international criminal organization. With Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander. Written by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram. Directed by Ritchie. In Imax. (1:56) PG-13.
“Meru” — A documentary following three American climbers as they attempt to become the first people to scale Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, a 21,000-foot peak in the Himalayas. Directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. (1:30) R.
“Metropolitan” — A 25th-anniversary re-release of the comedy about a young man’s romantic misadventures while trying to fit into New York City’s high society. With Carolyn Farina, Edward Clements and Chris Eigeman. Written and directed by Whit Stillman. (1:38) PG-13.
“Mistress America” — A lonely college freshman in New York City is taken under the wing of her adventurous soon-to-be stepsister. With Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke. Written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Directed by Baumbach. (1:24) R.
“People, Places, Things” — A graphic novelist and art teacher’s seemingly perfect Brooklyn life is upended when he catches the mother of his children cheating on him. With Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall and Stephanie Allynne. Written and directed by Jim Strouse. (1:26) R.
“Prince” — A 17-year-old from a broken family falls in with a flashy, violent local criminal. With Ayoub Elasri, Freddy Tratlehner and Sigrid ten Napel. Written and directed by Sam de Jong. In Dutch with English subtitles. (1:18) NR.
“Return to Sender” — A nurse survives a brutal assault and sees her attacker locked up but plots revenge when he’s granted parole. With Rosamund Pike, Shiloh Fernandez and Nick Nolte. Written by Patricia Beauchamp and Joe Gossett. Directed by Fouad Mikati. (1:35) NR.
“Straight Outta Compton” — A biopic about the rise and fall of the seminal Los Angeles gangsta rap group N.W.A, led by Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E. With O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell. Written by Andrea Berloff. Directed by F. Gary Gray. (2:22) R.
“Ten Thousand Saints” — A surly teen who wants to reconnect with his deadbeat dad is sent to live with him in 1980s New York City, where the young man bonds with his best friend’s straight-edge older brother and a rich uptown girl. With Asa Butterfield, Ethan Hawke and Hailee Steinfeld. Written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. (1:44) R.
“Tom at the Farm” — After the sudden death of his lover, a gay man travels to a remote country farm for the funeral, where he finds that the family knows nothing about him and was expecting a woman in his place. With Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal and Lise Roy. Written by Dolan and Michael Marc Bouchard. Directed by Dolan. (1:42) NR.
“Underdogs” — When the players from his foosball table are magically brought to life, a table-soccer ace recruits them to help save his town and win the heart of his crush. With the voices of Matthew Morrison, Ariana Grande and Nicholas Hoult. Written by Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri and Gaston Gorali. Directed by Campanella. (1:46) NR.
“Amy” — It is the achievement of Asif Kapadia’s accomplished, quietly devastating documentary on the gifted British singer Amy Winehouse that it allows us to live the abbreviated life of this troubled and troubling individual right along with her. (K.Tu., July 3) (2:08) R.
“Ant-Man” — Playful in unexpected ways and graced with a genuinely off-center sense of humor, this superhero movie is light on its feet the way the standard-issue Marvel behemoths never are. (K.Tu., July 17) (1:57) PG-13.
“Cartel Land” — A strong documentary that follows vigilantes from the U.S. and Mexico determined to fight back against the endemic violence that Mexican drug cartels bring to everything they touch. (K.Tu., July 10) (1:40) R.
“Inside Out” — Simple and sophisticated, made with visual magic and emotional sensitivity, this examination of the mind of an 11-year-old girl typifies the best of Pixar productions. It goes not only to places other animation houses don’t dare, but also to places the rest of the pack doesn’t even know exist. (K.Tu., June 19) (1:35) PG.
“Listen to Me Marlon” — A revelatory, strikingly emotional look at a complex, troubled, enormously gifted man, this laceratingly candid documentary about Marlon Brando makes excellent use of hundreds of hours of previously unheard audiotapes the actor made to record his fascinating ruminations. (K.Tu., July 31) (1:40) NR.
“Minions” — This animated film’s all-silliness all-the-time philosophy will put a smile on faces and keep it there, like a fizzy beverage on a hot afternoon. (K.Tu., July 24) In 3-D. (1:28) PG.
“Mr. Holmes” — Aided greatly by the impeccable performance of Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, this elegant puzzler presents the sage of Baker Street dealing with the one thing he’s never had to contend with before: his own emotions. (K.Tu., July 17) (1:34) PG.
“Phoenix” — German director Christian Petzold and star Nina Hoss collaborate in an intoxicating post-Holocaust witches’ brew, equal parts melodrama and moral parable, that audaciously mixes diverse elements to compelling, disturbing effect. (K.Tu., July 31) In German with English subtitles. (1:39) PG-13.
“Shaun the Sheep Movie” — More endearing nonsense from the folks at Aardman Animation: A sheep is tasked with leaving the farm and taking part in a search-and-rescue mission in the big city. This may sound like a story for small children, but cleverness-starved adults may end up its biggest fans. (K.Tu., Aug. 5) (1:24) PG.
ALSO IN THEATERS
“Assassination” — During Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, resistance fighters plot to assassinate two high-level targets. With Gianna Jun, Lee Jung-jae, Ha Jung-woo. Written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon. In Korean with English subtitles. (2:20) NR.
“Best of Enemies” — Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s pungently entertaining, richly observed documentary revisits the 1968 TV debates between conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. and liberal provocateur Gore Vidal. Fleet, brutally funny and ultimately mournful for the lost art of informed public intellectuals brandishing wounding insights, the film is a fizzy bath of expertly organized archival footage and commentary from interviewees. (Robert Abele, July 31) (1:27) R.
“Cop Car” — Two rebellious boys take an abandoned police car for a joy ride and draw the ire of the county sheriff. With James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford and Kevin Bacon. Written by Jon Watts and Christopher Ford. Directed by Watts. (1:28) R.
“Dark Places” — Twenty-five years after her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered, a desperate woman reluctantly agrees to re-examine the crime that traumatized her and sent her brother to prison. With Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult and Corey Stoll. Written and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. (1:53) R.
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” — In 1976 San Francisco, a teenage girl left rudderless by her hard-partying mother and absent father begins an affair with her mom’s boyfriend. With Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig. Written by Phoebe Gloeckner. Directed by Marielle Heller. (1:41) R.
“The End of the Tour” — James Ponsoldt’s magnificent film gives us two guys talking, and the effect is breathtaking. The conversationalists happen to be hyper-articulate writers, screen versions of the real-life novelist David Foster Wallace and Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky. They’re played with a wrought and wary chemistry, synapses blazing, by Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. (Sheri Linden, July 31) (1:45) R.
“Fantastic Four” — When a scientific expedition to an alternate universe transforms them, a quartet of outsiders must learn to harness their new abilities and stop a former friend turned enemy. With Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell. Written by Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank. Directed by Trank. In 3-D. (1:40) PG-13.
“The Gift” — A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a tailspin after a chance encounter with an old high school acquaintance. With Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton. Written and directed by Edgerton. (1:48) R.
“Irrational Man” will likely change no one’s mind about what to do with Woody Allen. There will undoubtedly be those who will comb this film for signals or confessions, tells or traces of something more. In its own strange, deliberate way the film does wind up feeling surprising, fresh even, as Allen finds new ways to explore some of his most longstanding preoccupations. (M.O., July 17) (1:34) R.
“Jurassic World” — This revisiting of the dinosaur haven theme park turns out to be a family film with teeth, lots of them, mostly belonging to a genetically modified hybrid called Indomius rex. A solid effort, but without the first-love jolt of the original. (K.Tu., June 12) In 3-D. (2:04) PG-13.
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” — In this animated film set in a Mediterranean village, an exiled poet, his housekeeper, and her free-spirited young daughter embark on a fateful journey. With the voices of Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek and Quvenzhane Wallis. Written by Roger Allers. Multiple directors. (1:24) PG.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a weaselly liar of a movie. (It’s also good.) It comes on full of self-deprecating bluster, professing no interest in jerking tears a la “The Fault in Our Stars,” as it lays out its tale of a Pittsburgh high school senior’s friendship with a fellow classmate diagnosed with cancer. But gradually, as the narrator-protagonist learns to lower his emotional guard, the film lunges, sensitively, for the jugular. (Michael Phillips, June 12) (1:44) PG-13.
“Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation” — As an actor and producer, the “Mission: Impossible” series has been good to Tom Cruise, and he continues to return the favor. The fifth entry in the series is a polished and entertaining new film, the kind of neo-James Bond spy versus spy diversion where secrets are “triple encoded” and agents in trouble sound like ambitious dentists when they request “immediate extraction.” (K.Tu., July 31) (2:11) PG-13.
“The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” is a genial documentary that attempts to raise the contemporary profile of the remarkable singer who was once known far and wide as “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.” (K.Tu., July 24) (1:36) NR.
“Paper Towns” — Like a good prom date, a good high school movie just needs to keep you entertained and out of trouble for a couple hours. A great high school movie — “The Breakfast Club,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Boyz n the Hood” — will linger in your mind well into adulthood. “Paper Towns,” a mild coming-of-age mystery adapted from John Green’s novel, is only a good high school movie. (Rebecca Keegan, July 24) (1:49) PG-13.
“The Pardon” — A biographical drama about Toni Jo Henry, a woman who survived abuse and prostitution only to get entangled in kidnapping and murder in 1940s Louisiana. With Jaime King, John Hawkes and M.C. Gainey. Written by Tom Anton and Sandi Russell. Directed by Anton. (1:54) PG-13.
“Pixels” — Some movies are so interminable that it seems they might never end, while others are assembled with such indifference that you are essentially left waiting for them to start. “Pixels” somehow manages both. Directed by Chris Columbus and starring Adam Sandler, the film takes a spectacular premise and then treats it flatly, with no sense of wonder. (M.O., July 24) (1:38) PG-13.
“Reset” — A dissatisfied young writer returns to his hometown without telling anyone he’s back and goes on a twisted journey of reinvention. With Edward Deraney, Melinda DeKay and Reggie Watkins. Written and directed by Paul Bojack. (1:15) NR.
“Ricki and the Flash” — A fading rock musician who chased stardom at the expense of her family tries to reconnect with her daughter, who has been devastated by her failed marriage. With Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Mamie Gummer. Written by Diablo Cody. Directed by Jonathan Demme. (1:40) PG-13.
“The Runner” — In the aftermath of the BP oil spill, an idealistic but flawed New Orleans politician gets mired in scandal. With Nicholas Cage, Sarah Paulson and Connie Nielsen. Written and directed by Austin Stark. (1:30) R.
“Samba” — For much of its overlong running time, this French dramedy is a warm and captivating look at the world of workers in that country illegally and the immigrant advocates battling on their behalf. But by its second half, the film becomes meandering and diffused, undermining the buckets of charm and goodwill it initially provides. (Gary Goldstein, July 24) In French with English subtitles. (1:58) R.
“Shooting the Warwicks” — A hotshot reality TV producer subjects an unsuspecting family to 24-hour surveillance and injects conflict into their lives to boost the ratings. With Adam Rifkin, Scott Anderson and Kelley Menighan Hensley. Written and directed by Rifkin. (1:35) NR.
“Sneakerheadz” — A documentary about the subculture of sneaker collecting. Directed by David T. Friendly. (1:10) NR.
“Southpaw” — If you consider yourself a connoisseur of contrivance, you’re going to have to tip your glove in the direction of this gleefully preposterous boxing melodrama starring Jake Gyllenhaal. (K.Tu., July 24) (2:04)R.
“The Stanford Prison Experiment” — A dramatic account of the infamous 1971 psychology experiment in which 24 male undergraduates acted out the randomly assigned roles of guards and prisoners, embracing their roles to a shocking degree. With Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller and Michael Angarano. Written by Tim Talbott. Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. (2:02) R.
“Tangerine” — With a witty and efficient script by director Sean Baker and co-writer Chris Bergoch, “Tangerine” peels back the curtain on a fascinating Los Angeles microculture — the world of transgender prostitutes who work the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue. The drama in this enchanting movie belongs to the ladies, specifically to two electric newcomers to the screen, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor. (Rebecca Keegan, July 10) (1:27) R.
“Tap World” — A documentary about the evolution of tap dancing across the globe. Directed by Dean Hargrove. (1:12) NR.
“Terminator Genisys” — Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in his signature role for the fifth installment in the “Terminator” series, again involving time travel and human resistance to a robot army. This time the action exits in an alternate timeline that could be exhibit A in why the current line of thinking in Hollywood regarding sequels, reboots and remakes often leads to terrible decisions and worse films. “Genisys” is no fresh start — it’s a mess. (M.O., July 1) (2:05) PG-13.
“Trainwreck” — Don’t be distracted by its low-cut blouse, “Trainwreck” is all about the heart, as the movie asks a question that has paid therapists’ and pop singers’ bills for years — do naughty girls need love too? (Spoiler alert: You bet they do!). Finding that love involves several hilarious, you-only-live-once-era detours for writer and star Amy Schumer, in the kind of lovable screw-up role that made Bill Murray a star. (Rebecca Keegan, July 17) (2:02) R.
“Two Step” — A directionless college dropout comes into conflict with a career criminal in Austin. With Skyy Moore, James Landry Hebert and Beth Broderick. Written and directed by Alex R. Johnson. (1:35) NR.
Vacation Pulling off the reinvention of a beloved comedy franchise is tricky business. Despite a strong cast and a few solid laughs, co-writers and directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley don’t succeed at the task, relying too much on unexamined nostalgia and vile gross-out gags. The new “Vacation” turns out to be a mostly bumpy, unpleasant trip. (Rebecca Keegan, July 29) (1:39) R.