BLUE JASMINE (R). Woody Allen takes a break from comedy in his annual offering, this time focusing on a New York woman (Cate Blanchett) who must move to San Francisco after a serious life crisis.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (R). Matthew McConaughey keeps getting better and better, turning in performances that are layered and powerful while portraying characters who are resolutely of a particular time and place. But he might find it hard to top himself after this flawed but moving drama based on a true story about a 1980s Texas electrician, amateur rodeo rider and Dallas ladies man battling both terminal AIDS and the federal government. With Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto. HH1/2 (Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- 11/23). 1:57.
DELIVERY MAN (PG-13). An irresponsible 40ish guy learns he’s been the sperm donor daddy to hundreds of kids, and decides to secretly involve himself in their lives. Vaughn is at his most appealing here, even if it robs the film of many potential laughs. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 11/25). 1:45.
FROZEN (PG). There’s wit and whimsy in this 53rd Disney animated feature -- a distant cousin of Hans Christian Anderson’s "The Snow Queen" -- about a young girl cursed with an X-Men-like ability to freeze things and her baby sister’s determined effort to lift the curse. With the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 11/27). 1:42.
HOMEFRONT (R). Jason Statham stars as a DEA agent who quits his job and moves to a small town under a new identity to live a quiet life with his 17-year-old daughter until a seemingly everyday occurrence -- a schoolyard scrap -- turns into an increasingly dangerous situation that spirals out of control. Statham is that rare breed of action star who not only does most of his own stunts but can also act, too. Ultimately, however, the film is done in by uninspired action scenes in which Statham’s prowess is rendered unwatchable by hyper-editing, a shameful reliance on child-in-peril cliches, and so many loose ends that you wonder if 20 minutes were accidentally cut from the movie. With James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Izabela Vidovic. H1/2 (Rodriguez, Miami Herald -- 11/27). 1:40.
IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? (NR). In a series of conversations taking place over the course of a couple of years beginning in 2010, filmmaker Michel Gondry probes 85-year-old author and MIT professor Noam Chomsky’s studies into the way in which words give shape to our world, defining how we humans feel, think and relate in the broadest sense. But Gondry is also interested in the specific -- Chomsky -- and how language, ideas and experiences intersect in his very particular life.
KILL YOUR DARLINGS (R). Director John Krokidas’ drama focuses on the transformative year when Beat writers Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs first meet. With Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Huston, Ben Foster.
OUT OF THE FURNACE (R). When his brother goes missing under shady circumstances shortly after returning home from Iraq, a blue-collar steel worker seeks justice on his own terms. This ambitious, impressionistic and confused ode to steel belt machismo is unsettling, violent and unfocused. With Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Forest Whitaker. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/9). 1:56.
PHILOMENA (PG-13). A disgraced journalist in search of a human interest story teams up with an old, ill-educated Irish woman who sets off to America in search of the out-of-wedlock child she was forced to give up 50 years earlier by the Irish Catholic Church. Judi Dench gives a performance of spunk and sparkle, bringing to life a twinkly, grandmotherly working-class woman who isn’t above enjoying a drink or a naughty word. Director Stephen Frears never lets the story lapse into sentiment and Steve Coogan -- who co-wrote the screenplay -- is pitch-perfect as the journalist who follows a 50-year-old trail to America. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 11/27). 1:38.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (PG-13). Bilbo Baggins’ adventures and misadventures in Middle Earth continue in this second of three films based on J. R. R. Tolkein’s prelude to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (PG-13). A satisfying second installment in the promised quadrilogy based on Suzanne Collins’ megaselling series about life in a dystopian land where a select group of boys and girls run into the woods and kill each other for the entertainment of the masses. Bigger, better and broodier than the first film. With Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Jena Malone, Amanda Plummer. HHH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer -- 11/23). 2:26.
TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS (PG-13). Mabel "Madea" Simmons (Tyler Perry) gets coaxed into helping her niece pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, where everyone gets just a bit more than they bargained for.