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. In his last completed film before his death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s presence is felt as a German intelligence officer and man of sorrows driven by his uncompromising belief in himself. (Dargis, New York Times -- 8/1). 2:01.
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 achievement in telling an unremarkably remarkable life story. HHHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 8/12). 2:45.
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. As the able doctors operate on her, somebody says, "If she wants to live, she’d better start fighting." That’s what the movie is about, Mia’s spirit, dashing barefoot through the halls of the hospital, checking on the rest of her injured family and re-living, through flashbacks, the life she might be leaving behind.
INTO THE STORM (PG-13). The action transpires in a single momentous day in the life of small-town Silverton, Okla., where an assistant high school principal and his two teen sons prepare for a graduation ceremony destined to be interrupted by an unrelenting series of mighty winds. Meanwhile, a group of storm chasers is casing the joint following a twister that recently claimed the lives of four teens in a car. "Into the Storm" is the latest attempt to pull off the "found footage" style, but it stumbles so often it takes a lot of wind out of the sails of this film about massive tornadoes. "Into the Storm" is little more than a cheesy cable film with a lot more money to spend and a lot fewer sharks. H1/2 (Bentley, The Fresno Bee). 1:29.
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.
LUCY (R). Scarlett Johansson stars in this sci-fi action-thriller about a woman who becomes the unwilling victim of an experimental drug that unlocks her brain so that it can function at 100% capacity -- something normally beyond the realm of human capability. "Lucy" would be fine without its pseudo-intellectualism, just Johansson doing her faster pussycat thing, with guns, knives and stunt doubles. With Morgan Freeman. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/29). 1:28.
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. With Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Jacki Weaver, Catherine McCormack, Simon McBurney. (Scott, New York Times -- 8/15). 1:38.
RICH HILL. Set over 12 months and book-ended by successive July Fourth celebrations, this examination of America’s rural poor focuses on the lives of three adolescents in a Missouri town of 1,396 located 80 miles south of Kansas City. Highly individualistic, and with their own particular quirks, they are trapped in what seems an unending cycle of desperation.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (R). "Sin City" is back in all its lurid, gory glory, a vivid and visceral graphic novel come to life in the capable hands of Robert Rodriguez and co-director and comic book creator Frank Miller. A couple of characters we saw die in "Sin City" are back -- Marv, the avenging angel thug played by Mickey Rourke, with-prosthetic jaw, brow and nose, and the last good cop, Hartigan, played by a fatalistic Bruce Willis. Prominent newcomers are Eva Green, showing off her Bond Babe bod in her birthday suit, luring men to their doom; Josh Brolin and Dennis Haysbert as two of those men; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an unfortunately lucky gambler; and Powers Boothe as a crooked senator the gambler crosses. Stacy Keach shows up in a full Jabba the Hutt blob mask; Juno Temple and Jaime King are fresh women of the night; Christopher Lloyd’s a demented mob doctor; Jeremy Piven and Christopher Meloni are ineffectual cops; and Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson return as bustier-and-fishnet-clad tough broads with a stripper touch.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (PG). Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael are back on the big screen. With Megan Fox, Will Arnett.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 (PG-13). After one of their number takes a bullet, Barney (Sylvester Stallone) lays them off and rounds up younger recruits -- played by Kellan Lutz, MMA star Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell -- to go catch the murderous arms dealer (Mel Gibson) that Barney thought he’d killed years ago. Despite some ruthless new tactics, there’s no saving this overpopulated third outing of Stallone’s all-star action ensemble. In its third incarnation, the series has become, well, expendable. H (Lang, Associated Press -- 8/18). 2:06.
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. But Jonas is different. He’s got the mark on his wrist, and he’s to be a "Receiver." In a world without strife, struggle, rudeness or even bad grammar, Jonas will be given that gift that few share -- memory. He has to be strong enough to handle this collective history of the World before The Ruin. 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.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.