Film
The Founder
The Founder

At the Movies

by / Jan. 17, 2017 2pm EST

 OPENING THIS WEEK 

THE FOUNDER—Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who was not, as you probably think, the founder of McDonalds. Co-starring Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, and Linda Cardellini. Directed by John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks). Reviewed this issue. Regal  Transit, Regal  Quaker, Regal Walden Galleria

SPLITJames McAvoy as a kidnapper with 24 separate personalities. Can his victims escape by appealing to the right one? Yes, that’s really the plot, and no, it’s not a comedy. With Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, and Betty Buckley. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (After Earth). Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

20TH CENTURY WOMENAnnette Bening as a 1970s California mom whose disheveled Victorian mansion shelters not only her teenaged son (Lucas Jade Zumann) but two quasi-daughters (Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig). And, for good measure, Billy Crudup. Directed by Mike Mills (Beginners). Reviewed this issue. Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE— Sequel. You gotta give Vin Diesel this: It takes serious balls to pretend to be a bad-ass action hero when your co-stars are Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. Who, along with Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, clue you in that the US is not where the producers expect to make their money back. Directed by D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four). Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

 ALTERNATIVE CINEMA 

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934)—An ordinary English couple accidentally learn of a plot to assassinate a foreign diplomat by agents who kidnap their daughter in order to keep them quiet. Alfred Hitchcock’s efficient early thriller is more effective than his overwrought 1956 remake. Starring Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre and Pierre Fresnay. Fri-Sat, Wed Jan 25, 7:30pm. Screening Room

NUDE ON THE MOON (1961)—In which Doris Wishman, the female Ed Wood, shows her boredom with nudist camp movies (a genre she was only two films into) by adding chintzy sci-fi. A scientist and his buddy use a financial windfall to build a rocketship and fly to the moon, where they find—well, see if you can guess. Everyone needs to see a Doris Wishman movie or two before they die, and this isn’t even one of the weird ones. Wed 7pm. Squeaky Wheel

POM POKO (Japan, 1994)—Animated film from Studio Ghibli, based on an idea by Hayao Miyazaki, about wild dogs trying to save their forest home from being destroyed by a nearby city. Directed Isao Takahata. Sat-Sun 11:30am. North Park

SAVING BANKSY—Documentary following the ethically and commercially twisted path of a San Francisco man who “rescues” part of a Banksy mural in order to preserve it but is unable because of it’s nature as unauthorized art either to sell it or give it away to a museum. Directed by Colin M. Day. Fri 9pm, Tue 7:30pm. Screening Room

Ultraman Double Feature: ULTRAMAN X: THE MOVIE and ULTRAMAN GINGA S: THE MOVIE-SHOWDOWN—Two recent films featuring the giant fighter of giant monsters best known to Americans from the late 1960s TV show. Tue, Thu 7pm. Screening Room

 CONTINUING 

THE ACCOUNTANT—The premise sounds like a Monty Python skit: an action film whose hero is a member of the world’s least dangerous profession. But the result is surprisingly entertaining, with Ben Affleck as an autistic savant raised by a military father who had his own ideas on how to prepare him for survival in a cruel world. The character’s backstory unfolds along with the present-day one that ties in mobsters, government agents, and crooked businessmen, and the result is finally a bit overstuffed: It’s a 130-minute movie that you wish was longer, if only so that every member of the first-rate cast could have more screen time. Along with Affleck, that includes J. K. Simmons, John Lithgow, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, and Cynthia Addai-Robinson. Directed by Gavin O’Connor (Jane Got a GunMF Dipson McKinley

ASSASSIN’S CREED—Effects-heavy video game adaptation, but check out this cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, and Michael Kenneth Williams. Directed by Justin Kurzel, who worked with Fassbender on last year’s Macbeth. Four Seasons, Regal Quaker, Regal Walden Galleria

THE BYE BYE MANHorror movie that I probably wouldn’t bother mentioning other than that the cast list includes Faye Dunaway as the “Widow Redmon.” Directed by Stacy Title (Hood of Horror). Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

ELLE—The Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven was an arthouse success (Soldier of Orange, Spetters, The Fourth Man) before his penchant for shocking audiences with sex, violence and occasionally both brought him Hollywood hits with RoboCop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct. The degree to which his films critiqued the very audiences who were eating them up remains open to debate, and one suspects that’s just the way he likes it. The opening of this film, in which a Parisian publisher (Isabelle Huppert) is raped in her living room and responds with detachment is designed to shock us. But the ensuing parade of lurid, melodramatic plot elements feel arbitrary: Satirizing the bourgeoisie isn’t as easy as it was in Verhoeven’s heyday. But it’s worth seeing for Huppert in a role that no other actress could have pulled off. With Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny and Charles Berling. –MF. Dipson Amherst 

FENCES—Set in the 1950s, August Wilson’s play is as lacerating a portrait of American manhood as Death of a Salesman. Denzel Washington (who also directed) recreates his performance from the 2010 Broadway revival of Troy Maxson, a Pittsburgh garbage collector reflecting on the journey of his life. He is a powerful tragic figure, far from flawless, and those flaws are not noble ones, as his wife (Viola Davis, tremendous as she always is given a worthy role) knows too well. Co-starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby and Mykelti Williamson. –MF Four Seasons, Regal Transit

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN—Positioned to be “this year’s Gone Girl,” this adaptation of a best-selling psychological thriller makes an engrossing cinematic stew out of what in the end is trashy material. Emily Blunt does sold work with the tricky title role, a woman who sees a clue to a murder from the window of a commuter train. The complications, including her link to the victim and her alcoholism, are exploited for all they’re worth by scripter Erin Cressida Wilson and director Tate Taylor (The Help). It doesn’t take you anywhere memorable, but the trip itself is worth the ride.  Co-starring Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Rebecca Ferguson, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramírez, and Lisa Kudrow. –MF Dipson McKinley

HIDDEN FIGURES Fact-based story starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians who were integral to NASA’s moon landing program in the late 1960s. Co-starring Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Mahershala Ali. Directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent). AMC Maple Ridge, Aurora, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

INFERNO—Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are back with their third adaptation of the thrillers of Dan Brown, giving all of you with degrees in art history and comparative religions a chance to exercise your educations while waiting for a new Peter Greenaway film. In this one Hanks’ Robert Langdon, professor of religious iconology and symbology, searches for a virus whose release will be triggered by the death of brilliant billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) whose parting gift to mankind is to wipe out half of them now in order to prevent the inevitable dangers of overpopulation. (He makes an awfully good case.) Struggling with short-term amnesia and accompanied by a beautiful and brilliant ER doctor (Felicity Jones), he uncovers clues to a plot that is, as usual, preposterously baroque. Having excised the faithful-baiting that made The Da Vinci Code briefly notorious, Howard has hit on an entertaining formula filled with museum porn, juicy casting (Jones, Irrfan Khan and Sidse Babett Knudsen are all delightful to watch) and a not-too tongue in cheek approach. If you’ve read the book, be forewarned that the movie has a completely different ending. With Omar Sy and Ben Foster. –MF Dipson McKinley

JACKIE is not a biography but a portrait of the First Lady at what was presumably the worst week of her life, between the murder of John Kennedy, shot in the head by a rifle as he sat next to her in an open convertible in Dallas, to his funeral. Directed by Pablo Larraín, the Chilean whose last two features No and The Club were both Oscar contenders, Jackie is an intimate, chiseled look at a woman in crisis. It is blunt without being disrespectful. Shot on 16 mm, it is almost wholly contained in Natalie Portman’s performance: after opening on a close up of her face, it puts her in every scene, practically every shot, and she proves equal to the challenge. And present circumstances give the film more power than its makers could ever have expected, or wanted. As Jackie, who was so concerned with restoring the history of the White House and the inspiration her husband’s office gave to so many people, watches all of that slip away, taken from her and from the country by an injustice that we know was never satisfactorily addressed, the office taken over by a famous vulgarian, we can’t help but rue how history repeats itself. With Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt and Richard E. Grant.  –MF Dipson Eastern Hills, North Park

LA LA LAND—Heralded by some as a tribute to classic Hollywood movie musicals, the new film by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) has more in common with Fame than anything starring Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. Its story of an actress (Emma Stone) and a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) looking for love and success in modern Los Angeles is more reliant on drama, character, and emotion than traditional musicals. It has its contrivances and arbitrary plotting, but the tone is more intimate (at least after the razzle-dazzle of the opening number, set on a freeway ramp where stymied motorists burst from their cars to sing and dance). Neither Stone nor Gosling is experienced at song and dance work, but it hardly matters. The movie doesn’t make outsized demands on their proficiency, and the result seems integral to their performances, which aren’t stylized or mannered. Their musical numbers are really subsidiary to the film’s poignant, but charming and (mostly) hopeful mood-making. With John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, and J. K. Simmons. —GS Dipson Amherst, Dipson Flix

LION—The true story of Saroo Brierley, who as a five-year-old boy was separated from his family in a small Indian village and spent several years living on the streets before being adopted by an Australian couple. That could well be an unbearable story to watch, but it only takes up the first half of the movie, and is handled with attention to what n audience can tolerate. The remainder of the story follows the adult Saroo (Dev Patel, oozing movie star charisma) as he comes to grips with his dimly remembered past and decides to find his birth place. That he accomplishes this online gives the film an odd dramatic shape after its almost Dickensian opening; the finale is satisfying, but it feels rushed. Co-starring Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, and David Wenham. Directed by Garth Davis.—MF Dipson Amherst, Dipson Eastern Hills

LIVE BY NIGHT—Ben Affleck, whose directorial debut was adapted from Dennis Lehane’s Gone Baby Gone, returns to Lehane for this gangster saga set in Prohibition era Boston and Florida. It’s a chapter of Prohibition that hasn’t been told in many films, and Lehane’s story is rich in details, so much so that it could have been developed it into a cable miniseries a la Boardwalk Empire. Too much of what is interesting here is developed only to be dismissed with a line or two of narration. Affleck has done better work, both in front of and behind the camera; he’s adequate, but the movie is stolen in a brief appearance by Elle Fanning as a would-be actress turned temperance leader. With Brendan Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Chris Cooper. -MF AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA—Heartbreakingly perfect, an emotionally transcendent drama in a year that has not been lacking in them: Along with Moonlight and Loving, it’s enough to revive your faith in the ongoing strength of cinema in an era when it seems that all the best stories are being told on television. Casey Affleck stars as a man crushed by guilt (the nature of which is not immediately apparent) who becomes the guardian of his teenage nephew when his brother dies. That summary sounds terribly mawkish, but don’t hold that against it: Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me) is interested in real people more than feel-good stories, and the care with which he and Affleck peel back the layers is all the more affecting for being so apparently artless (aided by the hardscrabble New England setting). As affecting as it is, it’s never a downer, with humor in places where you wouldn’t expect to find it. With Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Matthew Broderick, and Stephen McKinley Henderson. MF Dipson Eastern Hills

A MONSTER CALLS—A monster helps a boy (Lewis MacDougall) deal with his mother’s terminal illness. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson. Starring Directed by J. A. Bayona (The Impossible). Dipson Flix, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

MOONLIGHT is by an overwhelming critical consensus one of the best films of the year, which might be a bad thing to tell you; that kind of high expectation can blind audiences to the accomplishments of this deliberately paced, delicate film about a boy’s growth to adulthood. And please don’t consider those adjectives synonyms for “boring.” Audiences are reacting as strongly to the film as are critics. If you can’t see a film without knowing in advance what it’s about, look it up. Otherwise, take a leap of faith and go see it. Starring Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Janelle Monáe. Directed by Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy). -MF. Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker , Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

PASSENGERSSo you’re one of 5000 passengers on a space ship for a 120-year trip to a new planet. An accident jars you out of your induced coma, leaving you to face 90 years of solitude (in the unlikely chance you live that long). Would you wake up someone else to keep you company? You know that engineer Chris Pratt will, because he’s second billed to Jennifer Lawrence, but that doesn’t make the ethical question any less interesting. Unfortunately, this is not a little indie speculative fiction movie but a big budget sci-fi spectacular, and the premise is sidelined in favor of the kind of adventure movie stuff that keeps the special effects guys busy. Nice production design, if that’s worth the cost of a ticket to you. -MF With Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne. Directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). AMC Maple Ridge, Four Seasons, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit

PATRIOTS DAY— Docudrama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt to find the two young men responsible for it. It’s competently done, but as it’s less than four months since director Peter Berg did the same thing with Deepwater Horizon, you have to wonder what it is in audiences that wants to replay such horrible events: is it that watching a movie about them allows us to feel that we have grasped them? Or that we prefer a tidy fictionalization to a documentary with unanswered questions? Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan, Alex Wolff, Themo Melikidze, and J. K. Simmmons. –MF AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

SILENCE—Martin Scorsese’s long-in-development adaptation of the novel by Shûsaku Endô set in 17th century Japan, where European priests fight the efforts of the Japanese ruler to stamp out Christianity. The plot sounds like a cross between The Mission and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but be forewarned that this is Scorsese not in audience-pleasing epic mode but rather his Euro arthouse spiritually questing mode, a la Kundun. The film is handsome to look at, at least in the second half (the first half is mostly just muddy) but not ostentatiously so. But it suffers from a lack of historical context, reducing many of the Japanese characters to an unfortunate, brutal stereotype. And too much of what is left will strike most filmgoers as abstruse arguments about the nature of faith. (Non-believers are likely to find it all almost entirely pointless.) Starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, and Tadanobu Asano. MF Dipson Flix, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

SLEEPLESS—Remake of the excellent 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, which was set almost entirely inside a nightclub where a crooked cop tried to rescue his son from the criminals he double-crossed. Starring Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Gabrielle Union, and Scoot McNairy. Directed by Baran bo Odar (Who Am I). Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

SULLY—Clint Eastwood’s trademark low-key approach to filmmaking is pleasurably displayed in this thoughtful look at the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson,” the 2009 incident in which a damaged airplane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River with no loss of life. Though pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) was lionized by a public that had long been starved of unambiguous heroes, behind the scenes he was subjected to interrogation by flight officials who questioned his judgment in the face of what their computer models say he should have done. It’s not hard to read a political subtext into this, that we should trust people of proven skill and experience instead of Monday morning micromanaging them (and at the age of 86, Eastwood is entitled to that opinion). But if the story’s drama is built on a shaky pivot (was the second engine functional?), the way it unfolds is smoothly compelling. With Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Jamey Sheridan, Valerie Mahaffey, and Anna Gunn. –MF Dipson McKinley

UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS Vampire death dealerKate Beckinsale goes back into the breech in the fifth installment in a vampires-vs.-werewolves saga that looks like it’s never going to end. Directed by Anna Foerster. AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Elmwood, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

WHY HIM?What does it say about modern America that every holiday season brings us at least one movie about disparate people struggling to form a family? In this entry, Bryan Cranston is the square Midwestern father struggling to accept her daughter’s fiancée, a free-spirited but insanely rich California weirdo played by (who else?) James Franco. The comedy is largely based on embarrassment, including an endless scene with Cranston sitting on a malfunctioning Japanese toilet. There are no really big laughs, though a fair share of gigglers on the sidelines. A must see for fans of the band Kiss, though. -MF With Megan Mullally, Zoey Deutch, Keegan-Michael Key, and Cedric the Entertainer. Directed by John Hamburg (I Love You, Man). AMC Maple Ridge, Dipson Flix, Regal Niagara Falls, Regal Quaker, Regal Transit, Regal Walden Galleria

 


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