A MOST WANTED MAN (R). A smart, bluntly effective adaptation of John le Carré’s political passion play about good, evil and the sins committed in the name of national security. Wth Philip Seymour Hoffman. (Dargis, New York Times -- 8/1). 2:01.
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW (R). Found footage horror film about two archaeologists searching for lost treasure in the catacombs below Paris.
BOYHOOD (R). Filmed over 12 years, director Richard Linklater traces a character named Mason Evans through a shy and curious childhood, his rebellious tweens, his quiet and considered teens and into a gregarious, smart and deep-thinking -- Linklaterish -- college freshman. An amazing achievment in telling an unremarkably remarkable life story. HHHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 8/12). 2:45.
CALVARY (R). In a small seaside Irish village, an unseen man in the confessional tells the community’s good Irish priest, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson), that he was molested as a child and will kill the only priest handy -- Lavelle -- in a week, because murdering a good priest will get more attention.
FRANK (R). Bleakly funny, ultimately touching film about an avant-garde rocker who has a giant papier-maché head that he can’t live without and wears everywhere. All the time. With Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scott McNalry. HHH (Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- 8/28). 1:38.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (PG-13). A ragtag team of thieves who get tossed together to battle a threat to the planet Xander and the galactic defense group, Nova Corps, that’s based there. A fun ride driven by top-notch performances, a galaxy of funny moments and a wicked soundtrack. HHH (Bentley, The Fresno Bee -- 8/5). 2:01.
IF I STAY (PG-13). Chloe Grace Moretz takes on her first real star-vehicle romance in this adaptation of Gayle Forman’s novel. Moretz is Mia, a Portland, Ore., high school cello prodigy who, 12 minutes into the movie, is in a car crash. Her spirit awakens in the crimson snow to see her broken body hauled off in an ambulance. Suspended between death and life, Mia’s spirit checks on the rest of her injured family and re-lives, through flashbacks, the life she might be leaving behind. It’s safe to reveal that the movie ends on an abrupt, somewhat ambiguous note. If that keep-’em-guessing strategy had been tapped more often throughout, it might have elevated this effort from merely acceptable to exceptional. HH1/2 (Tillotson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune). 1:46.
LET’S BE COPS (R). What starts out as a mistake about a costume party turns into a faked career in law enforcement for two mismatched guys. Less of a felony failure and more of a mundane misdemeanor. With Daman Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson. H1/2 (Bentley, The Fresno Bee -- 8/18). 1:49.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (PG-13). Set in the period between the two world wars, Woody Allen’s new film finds a stage magician summoned to the French Riviera to expose a fraud. His target is a pretty and penniless American clairvoyant who has dazzled a rich family with her supposed gifts. Less a movie than a dutiful recitation of themes and plot points conducted by a squad of costumed actors. (Scott, New York Times -- 8/15). 1:38.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (R). Like its predecessor, "A Dame to Kill For" was made with an almost entirely digital palate, placing actors -- Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Eva Green -- on a starkly black-and-white canvas in a fictional permanent-midnight metropolis of rampant crime, extreme brutality and skin-baring luridness. In a movie world so devoted to comics, "Sin City" tries like nothing else to faithfully transfer to the big screen the experience of reading one. But in the end, the filmmakers only highlight that such a union of mediums -- strip and cinema -- can lead down an empty rabbit hole. HH (Coyle, Associated Press). 1:42.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (PG). Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael are back on the big screen. With Megan Fox, Will Arnett.
THE GIVER (PG-13). Film adaptation of Lois Lowrys sci-fi novel about a teen named Jonas who is about to graduate from childhood in a futuristic society in which everyone sees the world monochromatically. Taken on its own, it’s a well-made and effectively told morality tale, spiced with some absolutely beautiful moments. With Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Katie Holmes, Alexander Skarsgard. HHH (Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- 8/18). 1:37.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (PG). An impossibly overstuffed culinary culture clash rom-com in which an imperious French restaurateur and a Mumbai family looking to open a kitchen in a quaint Pyrenees village do battle with pots and pans, spatulas and sieves, brulee and brouhaha. With Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon. HH (Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer). 2:02.
THE NOVEMBER MAN (R). Humorless, muddled, bloody and generally unpleasant thriller about an ex-agent stuck back in The Business because somebody needs his help. The film leaves us with no clear sense of whom to root for, or what. All we’re sure of is the body count. With Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko, Luke Bracey, Bill Smitrovich. H1/2 (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 8/27). 1:46.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (PG). A solid if unsurprising and uninspiring faith-based melodrama built around the true story of a California high school that, at one point, won 151 football games in a row and how their devoted pious coach rebuilds the team’s faith when the streak ends. With Jim Caviezel. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service). 1:55.
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