ALL IS LOST (PG-13). An old man (Robert Redford) sailing alone around the world is confronted with his mortality after his sailboat starts to sink. This solo ordeal won’t be to every taste but it is a grand vehicle for Redford and for that viewer ready to consider his or her own mortality, the problems, conflicts, strengths and shortcomings you’re not sure you leave behind when you just sail away. As it turns out, you don’t. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 11/11). 1:47.
AMERICAN HUSTLE (R). From director David O. Russell comes this kinetcially retro, left-field funny crime caper inspired by the Abscam scandal about a con man (Christian Bale), his loony wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and his British partner in crime (Amy Adams) who are forced to collaborate with a loose-cannon FBI agent (Bradley Cooper). Their target: a New Jersey politician (Jeremy Renner). HHH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 12/21). 2:09.
ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (R). The bumbling news anchor Ron Burgundy and his cohorts join the nation’s first 24-hour news channel in this 1980s-set sequel to the 2004 comedy "Anchorman." A somewhat baggy successor to a gem, "Anchorman 2" may not have the same imprint in American culture as its predecessor but it has moments of howling hilarity and the improvisatory spit that gave Ron Burgundy’s origin story its ramshackle charm. With Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate. HHH (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 12/18). 1:59.
47 RONIN (PG-13). After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, a band of leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Taken as a blithe excercise in fantasy with historical trappings, the skewed results are more inevitable than disappointing. With Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano. (Rapold, New York Times -- 12/31). 1:59.
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.
GRUDGE MATCH (PG-13). Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone square off as aged boxers brought back by desperation and a desperate fight promoter, played by Kevin Hart. As formulas go, this one feels gassed. With Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/28). 1:53.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (R). The franchise continues.
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.
SAVING MR. BANKS (PG-13). Drama based on the real-life story of Walt Disney’s courtly struggles with the dismissive writer P.L. Travers as he and his dream factory turned her "Mary Poppins" into one of the most beloved children’s musicals ever. The film’s a trifle long but with Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson at the center as Disney and Travers, director John Lee Hancock finds that holiday film sweet spot, blending the poignant with the unpleasnat and the grim with the giddy. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/24). 2:00.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (PG-13). Bilbo Baggins’ and the elves’ 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. Funnier, livelier and action-packed. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/14). 2:41.
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.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (PG). James Thurber’s whimsical short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" was about a bored, unassuming married man who escapes his humdrum life through wildly adventurous fantasies in which he becomes a war hero, a test pilot and the like. In Ben Stiller’s new film based on that 1939 story, the daydreaming Mitty becomes a shy 40something who isn’t so much avoiding reality as using fantasy as an excuse for not seizing the day, for not asking out the woman (Kristen Wiig) at the office, for never traveling and experiencing the world. He’s not so much avoiding his dull reality as failing to, as the Latins said, "carpe diem." It’s a charming, whimsical and ever-so-slight film, a bit of an overreach but pleasant enough, even when it falls short. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/26). 1:53.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (R). A biopic charting the rise and fall of the hard-living New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (*Leonardo DiCaprio), who founded the infamous boiler-room brokerage Stratton Oakmont and cheated investors out of as much as $200 million in the early 1990s. DiCaprio’s most charismatic performance ever anchors director Martin Scorsese’s robust and raunchy lowlifes-of-high-finance comedy. This is their greatest teaming, a veritable "Citizen Kane" of the post-"greed is good" era. With Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/31). 3:00.
WALKING WITH DINOSAURS (PG). A young pachyrhinosaurus comes of age and tries to protect his herd on a great migration in this animated film. Aimed squarely at the dino-crazy demographic (7-12), the film pumps a few IQ points into a kid film genre sorely in need of them. With the voices of John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 12/23). 1:36.