Friday May 4, 2012

BOY (NR). Filmed in New Zealand in a Maori village near the Bay of Plenty, this comic tale explores a youngster's growing relationship with a long-absent father. Review, D5

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (PG-13). A group of college women try to mask their personal terrors through altruistic acts.

DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX (PG). A furry orange creature tries to stop an enterprising man from cutting down Truffula trees -- the key resource for his new invention, a soft and multipurpose thing called a Thneed. Despite the fact that the film exploits few of the book's loopy rhymes and loopier neo-Seussisms, the whole thing is harmless. HH1/2 (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 3/5). 1:26.

FOOTNOTE (PG). A prestigious award, intended for one scholar, is mistakenly bestowed on another. Trouble ensues. Deftly turning the law of inverse proportions on its head Amertican-born Israeli director Joseph Cedar spins a committee-room squabble into something authentically grand: a piercing satire, a poignant family drama and an investigation of the competing claims of honesty, loyalty, ambition and love. Really, the stakes could hardly be higher. (Scott, New York Times -- 4/ 23). 1:45.

MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS (PG-13). Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, the leather-clad assassin Black Widow, the lethal archer Hawkeye and the superheroes' one-eyed wrangler, Nick Fury, bunch together in the service of defeating Thor's malevolent brother, the god Loki, who hails from the interstellar world known as Asgard, and who yearns to conquer Earth with an all-powerful blue energy cube called the Tesseract.


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With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard. Review, D5

SAFE (R). As Luke Wright, Jason Statham goes up against a triumvirate of Russian mobsters, Chinese bad guys and dirty New York cops, in an effort to save the life of a young Chinese girl who's valued by the villains because of her mathematical skills.

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (PG-13). A wealthy sheik devises a mad scheme to build a dam ensuring the water supply to his part of Yemen, and to have fish ladders built into it so he can import salmon and introduce his favorite sport -- Scottish fly fishing -- to the high desert of the southern Arabian peninsula. A seeming satire that is, at heart, a by-the-numbers love story. With Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas. HH (Macdonald, Seattle Times -- 4/2). 1:47.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA (R). Director Terence Davies' refashioning of British playwright Terence Rattigan's 1952 drama which centers upon a woman, pushing past 40, who leaves her wealthy older husband for a passionate relationship, her first, with a former RAF pilot. A rather bloodless, suffocating thing, lent tragic passion more by its use of Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto than anything achieved by his star, Rachel Weisz, and her leading man, Tom Hiddleston. With Simon Russell Beale. (McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter -- 4/27).

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (R). A sous chef (Jason Segel) at an upscale San Francisco restaurant, proposes to his girlfriend (Emily Blunt) on the one-year anniversary of the night they met: New Year's Eve. But as they're planning their wedding, she gets accepted to the University of Michigan to study for her doctorate in psychology, so they postpone their big day for the first of many times. This is one of those movies you badly want to like more than you do. But it squanders its charms by dragging out the couple's happy ending for what seems like much longer than five years. You just want to tell these two people to get married already -- we can tell that these two are meant to live happily ever after. HH (Macdonald, Seattle Times -- 4/30). 2:03.

THE HUNGER GAMES (PG-13). The first of four films based on Suzanne Collins' hugely popular literary trilogy set in a totalitarian North America a century or so from now in which 24 teens are selected annually to fight to the death before a national television audience. The film earns its PG-13 rating honestly. The killings mean something in emotional terms and are meant to have cumulative effect on the crafty, stoical heroine, Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence with ferocity and purpose. With Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks. HHH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 3/22). 2:22.

THE KID WITH A BIKE (PG-13). Convinced it will help him put his life back in order, an 11-year-old boy runs away from the state-run boys home where his unemployed father has left him in search of his bicycle. When he finds it, he literally grabs on to a stranger to keep the authorities from taking him back. A wonderfully human and humane story about none of those lost-and-found children who tend to slip through society's not-so-safe safety net. In French, with English subtitles. (Sharkey, Los Angeles Timese -- 4/20). 1:27.

THE LUCKY ONE (PG-13). Zac Efron stars as a U.S. Marine sergeant who tracks down a beautiful woman (Taylor Schilling) whose photograph he believes saved his life in Iraq. Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, so you know what you're getting and Sparks delivers. The leads' chemistry is more theoretical than actual. Still, the sunsets and sunrises and sunbeams through the window fall easily on the eyes. HH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 4/20). 1:41.

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (PG). Accompanied by a rag-trag crew, an eager pirate captain sails the Seven Seas, determined to vanquish his rivals in an effort to be named Pirate of the Year. A cheeky mix of computer graphics and stop-motion animated high jinks. With the voices of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Brendan Gleason, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant. HHHH (Biancolli, Houston Chronicle -- 4/27). 1:28.

THE RAVEN (R). Edgar Allan Poe is enlisted by a Baltimore police detective (Luke Evans) to help solve a string of killings inspired by the author's macabre stories. Director James McTeigue and his colleagues peck at Poe's stories to fill out a plot that sounds sort of cool in concept but is featherheaded in execution. John Cusack makes a terrible Poe. With his little goatee and his black cape, Cusack vaguely looks the part, but he's a lightweight. The filmmakers make poor use of their source material, wringing a few moments of gore from them while adding no suspense or originality of their own. H1/2 (Germain, Associated Press -- 4/30). 1:40. THE THREE STOOGES (PG). The Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber," "There's Something About Mary") bring back the depression-era knuckleheads in a new feature film that finds the trio trying to raise money to save the orphanage in which they were raised. A retro exercise that is little more than a stare-out-loud cover-band project. With Sean Hayes, Chris Diamontopoulos, Will Sasso. HH (Phillips, Chicago Tribune -- 4/16). 1:32.