NEW THIS WEEK
Opening dates are subject to change.
BE MY FAMILY Two laid-off workers seek to repay their debts by caring for the debtor’s daughter in this Chinese drama. In Mandarin with subtitles. Not rated. 131 mins. At AMC Grapevine Mills.
GOOD EGG This adventure comedy follows a high school teacher (Yara Martinez) who unwittingly gets sucked into a dangerous scheme by her IVF egg donor (Andrea Londo). As the chaos escalates, the teacher and her husband (Joel Johnstone) must try to outwit their criminal pursuers. Not rated. 90 mins. At the Angelika Plano.
(C-) THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES In this dour prequel set six decades before Katniss Everdeen volunteered as a Hunger Games tribute, Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) mentors a young tribute (a feisty and appealing Rachel Zegler) from the impoverished District 12. It’s hard to build much intrigue into whether a love-struck teen with a seemingly firm moral compass will betray those who trust him and cross over to the dark side when his name is Coriolanus Snow and we know from four previous films that he will grow up to be an evil overlord. Also starring Peter Dinklage, Viola Davis, Hunter Schafer and Jason Schwartzman. PG-13 (for strong violent content and disturbing material). 157 mins. In wide release.
(B+) MAY DECEMBER Two decades after their scandalous tabloid romance captivated the nation, a woman (Julianne Moore) and her much younger husband (Charles Melton) see old wounds reopened when a Hollywood actress (Natalie Portman) shows up to do research for a film about the couple’s past. Moore and Portman are riveting, but the film is too detached for its own good. R (for some sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language). 113 mins. At the Landmark Inwood.
(C-) NEXT GOAL WINS A down-on- his-luck coach (Michael Fassbender) aims to turn around the infamously awful American Samoa soccer team (best known for a 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001) in this comedy from director Taika Waititi. The film takes pleasure in mocking sports drama tropes even though it relies on them for emotional payoffs, an odd approach that results in a film that doesn’t really earn any of its grand conclusions. PG-13 (for some strong language and crude material). 103 mins. In wide release.
SPARK: L.I.F.E. A man’s love for a woman leads to a deadly chain of events in this action thriller starring writer-director Vikranth Reddy. In Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil, with subtitles. Not rated. 170 mins. At the Angelika Plano.
(C) THANKSGIVING A killer terrorizes Plymouth, Mass., in this gory slasher romp from director Eli Roth. The script is underbaked, the movement from scene to scene hardly makes sense, and the story feels dated (the idea for the film began as a joke trailer for the 2007 Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse). Starring Nell Verlaque, Addison Rae, Rick Hoffman, Gina Gershon and Patrick Dempsey. R (for strong bloody horror violence and gore, pervasive language and some sexual material). 107 mins. In wide release.
(B) TROLLS BAND TOGETHER In this fun and trippy animated sequel, Poppy (Anna Kendrick) discovers that Branch (Justin Timberlake) has a secret past: He was once in a boy band with his brothers. When one of the brothers is kidnapped, they go into hero mode. Filled with one-liners and aphorisms, the movie embraces its own silliness. Also featuring the voices of Camila Cabello, Eric André, Amy Schumer and Andrew Rannells. PG (for some mild rude and suggestive humor). 92 mins. In wide release.
COMING NEXT WEEK
LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali star in this dystopian thriller about two families forced to live together in the middle of nowhere as civilization collapses around them.
NAPOLEON Joaquin Phoenix stars in director Ridley Scott’s epic about the rise and fall of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Also starring Vanessa Kirby, Rupert Everett and Ludivine Sagnier.
RUN NIXON With her child in need of a heart operation, a desperate woman decides to rob a strip club to pay for the surgery. Starring Wavyy Jonez, Lil’ Fizz, Jordan Lee Brown and Brianna Robinson.
SALTBURN A student (Barry Keoghan) at Oxford University is invited to spend the summer at a classmate’s sprawling estate. Also starring Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike and Richard E. Grant.
WISH In this animated musical comedy from Disney, a young girl has her wish upon a star answered by a cosmic force. Featuring the voices of Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine and Alan Tudyk.
DREAM SCENARIO In this surreal comedy, a family man (Nicolas Cage) has his life upended when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams.
AFTER DEATH Based on real near-death experiences, this documentary explores the afterlife with the guidance of New York Times bestselling authors, medical experts, scientists and survivors. PG-13 (for thematic material including violent descriptions, some bloody images and drug references). 102 mins.
(A-) ANATOMY OF A FALL In this thriller set in a remote town in the French Alps, a woman (Sandra Hüller) is suspected of murder when her husband (Samuel Theis) is found dead in the snow below their chalet. The investigation and ensuing courtroom battle lay bare the couple’s own plummet into disharmony and revisit past events that involve their son Daniel, who is blind, and even the family dog. An emotional puzzle that will keep you guessing, the movie from director Justine Triet won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. R (for some language, sexual references and violent images). 150 mins.
(C+) THE CREATOR The sprawling sci-fi film from writer-director Gareth Edwards makes the argument for a peaceful coexistence with artificial intelligence. Against the backdrop of a war between humans and AI robots, a former special forces soldier (John David Washington) is recruited to hunt down and kill an elusive AI architect, but all he finds is a small AI child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). Although it is a stunningly beautiful film and the kind of original movie that is too rare in Hollywood today, the storytelling has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. PG-13 (for violence, some bloody images and strong language). 133 mins.
(B-) THE EQUALIZER 3 Denzel Washington is back as former government assassin Robert McCall in the final installment of the Equalizer trilogy. At home in Southern Italy, McCall discovers that his new friends are under the control of local crime bosses. As events turn deadly, he becomes his friends’ protector by taking on the mafia. We don’t come to the Equalizer movies for plot, and this one prizes performance and visceral, dramatic imagery over everything else. The appeal is watching Washington do what he does best, and he’s having a lot of fun here, quietly threatening bad guys, flashing toothy grins and pontificating about good and evil. Also starring Dakota Fanning. R (for strong bloody violence and some language). 103 mins.
(C) THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER Having already made a direct sequel to 1978′s Halloween with an identically titled movie in 2018, director David Gordon Green is at the helm of this direct sequel to 1973′s The Exorcist, the sixth entry in the franchise. It’s an unrelenting film that attempts to cover up its lack of shock and suspense with smash cuts, jump scares, overlapping sound design and chaotic camerawork. Despite all this stylistic violence, the demonic histrionics of two possessed tweens (Lidya Jewett and Olivia Marcum) grow tiresome almost immediately. Green wants to spread a message that’s less about faith and more about the people who come together to save their young by any means necessary, and that comes through loud and clear — it’s just a shame that we don’t particularly care about any of these people. Also starring Leslie Odom Jr., Ellen Burstyn, Ann Dowd and Okwui Okpokwasili. R (for some violent content, disturbing images, language and sexual references). 121 mins.
(C) FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S Video game creator Scott Cawthon’s Chuck E. Cheese-inspired phenomenon takes place at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, where threatening animatronic creatures run the place at night. Players take the role of night security guard Mike, trying to stay alive. This movie version of the game, starring Josh Hutcherson, is indecisive about its intentions. To earn a PG-13 rating, the filmmakers leaned away from carnage and toward new material devoted to Mike’s horrific childhood and his attempts to retain custody of his younger sister (Piper Rubio). The film attempts to be a cuddly version of Saw, with faces getting sliced open but the camera cutting away just before impact. The premise would’ve made more sense as an R-rated splatterfest. PG-13 (for strong violent content, bloody images and language). 110 mins.
(D+) FREELANCE Pierre Morel’s punishingly dull film looks and sounds like an action-comedy in the vein of The Lost City or Romancing the Stone, but the script, by Jacob Lentz, clearly wanted to be more of a political commentary before it was molded to fit the capabilities of its stars. The brightly lit, green-screen heavy film about an ex-special forces operative (John Cena) and a journalist (Alison Brie) who escape into a jungle after a military coup, is also a surprisingly cynical political story about the influence of global corporate entities in South America. It’s an incredibly goofy jumble of tones. R (for violence and language). 109 minutes.
(A) THE HOLDOVERS Alexander Payne’s misfit holiday movie, set in 1970, centers on a trio of stragglers who form an unlikely bond over Christmas break at a Massachusetts boarding school. Teacher Mr. Hunham (Paul Giamatti), troublesome student Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) and cafeteria manager Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) embark on a surprising emotional journey, but this isn’t just a story of found family that stays together — it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. The Holdovers is an instant addition to the holiday movie canon. R (for language, some drug use and brief sexual material). 133 mins.
IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE After saving her town from a psychotic killer, a struggling woman (Jane Widdop) wishes she’d never been born in this holiday horror comedy. Then she finds herself in a nightmare parallel universe where, without her, things could be much worse. Also starring Jess McLeod, Joel McHale and Justin Long. R (for bloody violence, drug use and language). 87 mins.
JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM This live-action musical adventure weaves classic Christmas melodies with humor, faith and new pop songs in a retelling of the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus. PG (for thematic elements). 98 mins.
(A) KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON Martin Scorsese’s latest is an adaptation of the popular 2017 nonfiction book by David Grann, which details a series of murders of Osage people in 1920s Oklahoma over oil rights. It’s a massively important film from the auteur, in which he uses the tropes and iconography of the Western — a genre that trafficked heavily in harmful Native American stereotypes — to tell the story of the heinous crimes known as the Reign of Terror, a bloodbath that helped to establish the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The epic tale centers on the deeply intimate violence that rocks one town, one tribe and one family. Deeply moving, at once sobering and enraging, it is a true masterpiece. Starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Dallas-born Jesse Plemons and Barry Corbin of Fort Worth. R (for violence, some grisly images, and language). 206 mins.
(C+) THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER A woman with a secret past, Helena (Daisy Ridley), ventures into the wilderness to confront her father (Ben Mendelsohn), the most dangerous person she’s ever known, after he escapes from prison. Based on novelist Karen Dionne’s 2017 bestseller, The Marsh King’s Daughter seems to have all the elements of a successful thriller. Yet despite a strong premise and a talented cast, director Neil Burger doesn’t completely sell the concept until the film’s tense final act. The lengthy cat and mouse game has a satisfying sense of closure, but the tale is too tame to hold the audience in thrall. R (for violence). 108 mins.
(C) THE MARVELS The stakes feel immensely low in The Marvels, and it’s possible that somewhere along the way, Marvel movies just stopped feeling like events. This galactic trifle from director Nia DaCosta does not seem to be the one to make them feel must-see again. Iman Vellani (as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan) gets her big moment and nails it, as does Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau). The female-led cast also includes new villain Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) and returning hero Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). DaCosta, working with Marvel for the first time, keeps the energy up and the story moving at a quick clip, but the movie teases danger while never feeling like anyone is in peril. Vellani is the real standout, a refreshingly human presence. PG-13 (for action/violence and brief language). 105 mins.
(C) THE NUN II A nun (Taissa Farmiga) once again comes face-to-face with a demon in this sequel to the 2018 supernatural horror flick. Set in a French boarding school in 1956, it’s the ninth film in the Conjuring Universe franchise. Director Michael Chaves and cinematographer Tristan Nyby bring some cool visuals, but the film is sorely lacking in scares and suspense — it’s an utter snooze. R (for violent content and some terror). 110 mins.
(B-) OPPENHEIMER Cillian Murphy leads a stacked cast — including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Casey Affleck, Gary Oldman and Kenneth Branagh — in this study of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the physicist behind the atomic bomb. Director Christopher Nolan dominates viewers with a visual and sonic riptide, bringing a jagged, dissonant sensibility to a film that focuses less on facts and more on feeling as it thrusts the audience into the advent and fallout of the nuclear arms race. R (for some sexuality, nudity and language). 180 mins.
(B-) PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE In this children’s tale, a magical meteor gives the PAW Patrol pups superpowers, which they’ll need to contend with a pair of newly superpowered baddies. The animated adventure is gently charming, inoffensive and just silly enough to make for a pleasant viewing experience. PG (for mild action/peril). 92 mins.
(B-) THE PERSIAN VERSION Writer-director Maryam Keshavarz’s sophomore feature is an energetic and enjoyable memoir, if a bit busy. Layla Mohammadi stars as Leila, an aspiring filmmaker who is reeling from her divorce from Elena (Mia Foo) and finds herself pregnant. Meanwhile, her father is waiting for a heart transplant, and there is a family wedding on the horizon. We also flash back to Leila’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn, after her family immigrated from Iran, and her mother Shirin’s (Niousha Noor) struggles to provide for her family. Each story line could have been its own movie, but it’s easy to forgive when the film is so likable. R (for language and some sexual references). 107 minutes.
(B) PRISCILLA Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, starring Cailee Spaeny, captures the teenage dreaminess, absurdity and nightmare of falling in love with Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi). Coppola, writer-director of Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, has always been innately attuned to the forming identities of young women. In the story of Priscilla Presley, who met Elvis when she was just 14, Coppola has found a tale tailor-made for her delicately perceptive style of filmmaking. After a somewhat traditional courtship, their life together is sweet if a bit deranged. But then things turn increasingly dark for Priscilla, and Graceland turns out to be a prison. There aren’t many false notes in Coppola’s richly layered film, but the movie fades when Elvis’ downturn accelerates in Las Vegas. When Priscilla awakens, it feels underdeveloped. A constant throughout, though, is Spaeny, in a breakthrough performance. R (for drug use and some language). 113 mins.
(B-) RADICAL Inspired by a 2013 Wired magazine article, this classroom drama finds a glimmer of optimism by looking to our children. Written and directed by Christopher Zalla, the film is set in Matamoros, Mexico, where gangs have left a trail of blood around every corner. In this volatile environment, Sergio (Eugenio Derbez) is hired to teach at a primary school, where he does something unorthodox: He lets students tell him what they want to learn. His methods take a bit to work, but when they click, a whole new future appears possible. In Spanish with subtitles. PG-13 (for some strong violent content, thematic material and strong language). 125 mins.
SAW X Set between the events of Saw and Saw II, the latest installment of the horror franchise has John Kramer (Tobin Bell), aka Jigsaw, traveling to Mexico for an experimental medical procedure in hopes of curing his cancer. When he learns that the whole operation is a scam, he turns the tables on the con artists with a series of terrifying traps. R (for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and some drug use). 118 mins.
(B) TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR Expect fans to be out in force for the movie version of Taylor Swift’s hugely popular Eras Tour. To fully appreciate the film, an intimate yet spectacular documentary of Swift’s record-breaking, career-spanning victory lap of the past year, it’s best simply to surrender to the whole thing: the sparkly cowboy hats, the boots, the friendship bracelets and the screaming (there will be a lot of screaming). Filmed during Swift’s engagement at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles, the movie opens with a brief drone shot of the arena then zooms down to the stage, where dancers appear waving giant wings — a dazzling segue into Swift’s arrival in a crystal-encrusted body suit and matching boots. With its elaborate sets, special effects and props, the concert unfolds in chapters as Swift builds the show to a gratifying, even cathartic, climax, backloading it with her most triumphant albums, including Red, 1989, Folklore and the recent Midnights. Not rated. 168 mins.
TIGER 3 After being framed, Indian super spy Tiger (Salman Khan) fights to clear his name. In Hindi with subtitles. Not rated. 150 mins.
(B) WHAT HAPPENS LATER Meg Ryan and David Duchovny star in this rom-com about two former lovers who see each other for the first time in years when they are snowed in at an airport overnight. The wordy, whip-smart banter flows easily between the two, moving from corny generational riffs to opening old wounds; the dialogue harkens back to Ryan’s rom-coms of yore. There are a few beats of the screenplay that are a bit hokey and some secret revelations that feel forced, but the film is deeply heartfelt and beautifully performed. R (for language, some sexual references and brief drug use). 105 mins.
Compiled from staff and wire reports