Friday September 14, 2012

ARBITRAGE (R). Richard Gere stars in a Wall Street thriller about a deceitful hedge-fund manager negotiating a merger. With Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth. Review, D2

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (PG-13). The fictional tale of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy and her struggle for survival in the southern Delta with her ailing father as a storm approaches. This damply poetic debut film explores the fertile and terrifying world of a child's imagination which knows no sealed barrier cleaving reality from fantasy. The film is its own beast, and it's a rare one. HHHH (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 8/4). 1:33.

DARK HORSE (NR). A tubby 30-year-old underachiever living with his parents and working for his dad courts a mopey young woman who also lives at home in this new film from director Tod Solondz.

FINDING NEMO 3D (G). The beloved father-son animated fish tale returns in a 3-D version.

HOPE SPRINGS (PG-13). Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are a long-married couple trying to renew the spark with a counselor (Steve Carell). You've never seen Streep and Jones like this -- by turns silly, befuddled, awkward and confused -- and this comedy is all the richer for it. HHH (Moore, McClatchy Newspapers -- 8/8). 1:50.

LAWLESS (R). A tale of three bootlegging brothers (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke) in rural 1920s Virginia. This drama makes vivid and real a Prohibition of earth tones, full of stone-faced monosyllabic people with dirty collars. HHH (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/29). 1:55.

MOONRISE KINGDOM (PG-13). Set on the fictional island of New Penzance, off the coast of New England, "Moonrise Kingdom" follows Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Heyward), a pair of teenagers hiding their romance from their parents. Director Wes Anderson has created an autumnal, briskly paced film that is as much an elegaic postcard to youth as it is a showcase for his exacting, quirky sensibilities. HHH (Jones, McClatchy Newspapers -- 7/4). 1:34.

PARANORMAN (PG). This stop-action animated comedy centers on a boy who can speak with the dead and becomes the last hope of his cursed hometown after it's overrun by zombies. The story feels familiar (and better suited to a Halloween-season release), and the movie seems to end a few too many times. But it's a pleasure to listen to the motley crew of voice talent (particularly the foghorn-toned Elaine Stritch as a ghost grandma, and the perfectly slurred teenspeak of Anna Kendrick as Courtney) and watch the witty invention of the stop-motion animation. HHH (Macdonald, Seattle Times -- 8/18). 1:41.

PREMIUM RUSH (PG-13). A Manhattan bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is steered into a deadly chase when bad guys come looking for the delivery he's carrying. Writer/director David Koepp mixes sharp dialog, a hip tone and top-flight actors to create a nail-biting, seat-squirming thriller. It's an escapist blast. HHH (Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune -- 8/25). 1:31.

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION 3D (R). Milla Jovovich resumes
her battle against a plague of zombies.

ROBOT & FRANK (PG-13). A crusty old retiree living on his own in upstate New York tries to adjust to sharing his loner life with a robot helper given to him by his adult son. More humorous than funny, more charming than truly entertaining, but can still be savored for its human assets. With Frank Langella, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Susan Sarandon. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 8/31). 1:30.

RUBY SPARKS (R). Under the advice of his therapist, a young writer with an epic case of writer's block and woman problems writes something not for publication about his dream date, who comes magically to life. The great romantic gem of the summer, a diamond in the rough that bends genres, tickles the fancy and trips up expectations. With Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan. HHH1/2 (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 9/11). 1:44.

SLEEPWALK WITH ME (NR). Comedy about a comedian/bartender with a serious sleep disorder whose stale small-club stand-up routine gains life when he begins talking about his own relationship woes with a long-term partner who sees them as a married couple, but doesn't want to confront her commitment-phobic partner.

THE BOURNE LEGACY (PG-13). The spirit of lethal operative Jason Bourne lives on, minus Matt Damon, with Jeremy Renner at the center of fallout from the first three action hits. The franchise has found a compelling new hero in Aaron Cross and a commanding performer in Renner. Consider him and the new movie Bourne 2.0. With Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach. HHH1/2 (Kennedy, Denver Post -- 8/11). 2:05.

THE CAMPAIGN (R). This comedy pits Will Ferrell against Zach Galifianakis as two political rivals for whom no trick is too dirty as they compete for a North Carolina Congressional seat. Like its stars, the film seems to be two forces, in this case two movies, battling against one another, leaving its audience wondering which will win out. One is a genuinely funny political satire; the other is a typical low-rent comedy filled with poop jokes, raunch and little kids saying improbably dirty things. The first movie wins, but just barely. HH (Macdonald, Seattle Times -- 8/11). 1:37.

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (PG-13). A young Wall Street trader's fishing vacation in Spain is upended when his family is kidnapped and he finds himself dealing with intelligence agents looking for an important briefcase. A catastrophe worth noting only for its name cast. Who knows why stars of the caliber of Henry Cavill (the next Superman), Bruce Wllis and Sigourney Weaver signed on for this thoroughly incompetent "Bourne" movie imitation. (Holden, New York Times -- 9/12). 1:33.

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (PG-13). A young Wall Street trader's fishing vacation in Spain is upended when his family is kidnapped and he finds himself dealing with intelligence agents looking for an important briefcase. A catastrophe worth noting only for its name cast. Who knows why stars of the caliber of Henry Cavill (the next Superman), Bruce Wllis and Sigourney Weaver signed on for this thoroughly incompetent "Bourne" movie imitation. (Holden, New York Times -- 9/12). 1:33.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 (R). What passes for a plot has Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and his muscle-bound merry men forced into a suicide mission to stop a crazy mercenary, Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), from stealing truck loads of nuclear material. You really don't need to know more. Just like the original "Expendables," the worth of this film is measured in the amount of ammunition used, the number of bad guys eliminated and the total sum of equipment destroyed. What sneaks through all of the blood and guts is the kind of dry sense of humor that made action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis so much fun. HH 1/2 (Bentley, Fresno Bee -- 8/210. 1:43.

THE INTOUCHABLES (R). Popular French film about a Senegalese thief who somehow gets hired to be the personal attendant for an extremely wealthy quadriplegic. Not bad, sometimes corny, sometimes labored. HH (LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle -- 8/31). 1:52.

THE LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE (PG). Years after his father's death, the son of a fallen soldier tries to reconnect with his still-grieving grandfather. With Marshall R. Teague, Jennifer O'Neill, Fred Williamson.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (PG). A childless couple sets down on paper the qualities they would want in a perfect child and bury the list in their garden only to have the 10-year-old boy of their dreams mysteriously materialize and take his place in their home and lives. A very pretty movie to look at but beneath the pretty pictures is a stab at Capra-corn, the sort of magical story of simple, genuine people mastered by Frank Capra. Sadly, this is all corn and no Capra. With Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgertgon, CJ Adams. HH (Germain, Associated Press -- 8/15). 1:44.

THE POSSESSION (R). A well-behaved tween is quickly possessed when she finds and opens a locked box with strange Hebrew inscriptions. The effects are chilling enough, the build-up has its moments. But the film lacks impact, those horrific sucker touches that take you by surprise and raise the hairs on the back of your neck. With Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis. H (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers -- 9/1). 1:31.

THE WORDS (PG-13). A writer (Bradley Cooper) must face the music after plagiarizing a novel. If you were setting out to write the perfect fall film, you'd include much that's in this movie. But for that "perfect" film you'd have to heighten the emotions, make more of the characters and relationships and trim a lot of words out of it. With Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Jeremy Irons, Olivia Wlde. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 9/7). 1:31.

2016 OBAMA'S AMERICA (PG). Documentary offering a conservative view of what America could become if President Obama is elected to a second term.