CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (PG-13). Tom Hanks stars as the captain of an American cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009. An engrossing, sober-minded, fact-centered account that makes a tight edge-of-your-seat thriller, from an unfussy director with a talent for tension. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 10/12). 2:14.
CARRIE (R). Chloe Grace Moretz takes over for Sissy Spacek as the bullied teen with telekinetic powers in this "reimagining" of the Stephen King novel and the superior 1976 Brian De Palma film. Julianne Moore co-stars as Carrie's fanatically religious mother. The cringe-inducing opening tells us this is about the cycle of birth and death, the fierce bond between mother and child. That the opening scene is by far the most chilling in the movie is both the strength of this remake and its key weakness. The real horror here is at home; everything else seems like an afterthought. HH (D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News -- 10/21). 1:30.
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (PG). Having previously endangered the world and then saved it from a machine that turned water into food, a young inventor learns that his contraption survived and is now creating dangerous food-animal hybrids. The design and color palette is as glorious as ever. But the laughs are few and innovations fewer in this generally winded knock-off. With the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Will Forte. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 9/27). 1:33.
CUTIE AND THE BOXER (R). An 82-minute exploration of a co-dependent marriage -- both artists struggling to assert their idiosyncratic talents -- that functions, after a fashion.
ENDER'S GAME (PG-13). An unusally gifted boy is chosen to lead the counterinsurgency against an alien invasion from space.
ENOUGH SAID (PG-13). Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini (in his final leading role) are divorced parents, each with a college-bound daughter, who meet, date and take a real liking to each other. And then the trouble begins.
ESCAPE PLAN (R). A security consultant (Sylvester Stallone) and his new prison buddy (Arnold Schwarzenegger) try to figure out a way to escape from a new escape-proof prison. The nostalgic kick of seeing these Jurassic action stars, Stallone and Schwarzenegger, back in the game hasn't worn off yet. Director Mikael Hafstrom churns out enough womp-crash-thud fight scenes to keep the momentum and adrenaline flowing. HH (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 10/22). 2:06.
FREE BIRDS (PG). Through a time machine, a pair of turkeys travel back to the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.
GRAVITY (PG-13). Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as scientists adrift in space after debris from an explosion wrecks their space lab and leaves them as the only survivors. A gamechanger in the realm of digital 3D special effects. A technical and emotional spectacle. HHH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 10/4). 1:31.
INEQUALITY FOR ALL (PG). Documentary about America's widening income gap and shrinking middle class, featuring former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA (R). Strip the danger out of "Borat" and the injuries out of "Jackass" and you've got a bead on "Bad Grandpa," a fitfully funny, semi-scripted "Jackass" outing built around elaborately staged pranks played on the unsuspecting by Johnny Knoxville, who dons old-age makeup and becomes Irving Zisman whom we meet at his wife's doctor's office. Better in concept and in its short, punchy TV commercials than it is as a feature. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 10/28). 1:32.
LAST VEGAS (PG-13). Four childhood pals, now retirees, gather in Las Vegas for the bachelor party and wedding of the Malibu member of their "Rat Pack." He's about to marry, for the first time and to a much younger woman. Gambling, partying and sexual hijinks ensue, along with some mending of fences, taking stock and reaching conclusions about their lives. With Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen.
THE COUNSELOR (R). An American lawyer in El Paso gets in way over his head when he puts up the money for some sort of drug deal. Novelist Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay begins promisingly but devolves into a film that is more talk than action. It's about as nihilistic as his screenplay for the Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men" but without the Coens' sense of humor. With Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt. HH1/2 (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 10/26). 1:51.
WADJDA (PG). Wadjda, the title character of Haifaa al-Mansour's first feature, is an entrepreneurial 10-year-old in Riyadh -- a girl who wears scruffy Converse sneakers and jeans under her long black robe, sells homemade bracelets and mix tapes to make extra money, constantly runs afoul of the headmistress at her school, and longs desperately for the shiny olive-green bicycle on sale at a neighborhood store. But girls are not supposed to ride bicycles -- it's undignified, inappropriate, in conservative Islamic culture, which is the culture all around her.
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