BEGIN AGAIN (R). Keira Knightley stars as Gretta, a songwriter trying to find her voice in the wake of a bad breakup with her pop-star boyfriend (Adam Levine). She’s discovered at an open mic night by Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a down-on-his-luck music industry executive. Without the financial means to make a demo, the traditional path to courting a record company, the two embark on a plan to record an album on the streets of New York that will incorporate the ambient sounds of the city. From John Carney, the director of "Once," who keeps flipping clichés to keep us guessing. The film also improves on the typical genre picture with its rueful, intelligence, warmth and creative use of music to advance the story. HHH (Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune -- 7/12).
CHEF (R). Having quit his job at a prominent restaurant over refusing to compromise his creative integrity, a chef teams with his ex-wife and son to start his own food truck. Writer-director-actor Jon Favreau brings his A-game patter to this romp about an embattled Los Angeles chef, once celebrated, now in a rut, who has to take a road trip in a food truck to find his soul, and his food, again. With Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 6/9). 1:55.
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (PG-13). Picking up where "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" left off, the first scientifically evolved ape, Caesar, has led his tribe into the Muir Woods, where they’ve built a village, mastered fire, SSL (Simian Sign Language) and horseback riding, isolated and safe from human interference. Then some humans, led by the curious and compassionate Malcolm (Jason Clarke), encounter the colony. An action-packed epic, a moving sci-fi allegory rendered in broad, lush brush strokes by the latest state of the computer animator’s art. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 7/16). 2:10.
EARTH TO ECHO (PG). Alex (Teo Halm), Tuck (Astro) and Munch (Reese Hartwig) are three best friends being forced apart by a freeway being built through their neighborhood. They spend their last night together following some weird electronic signals that show up mysteriously on their cellphones. Their quest becomes a close encounter when they find a tiny robotic figure in the desert. Through what seems like an endless series of questions -- and with the help of Emma (Ella Wahlestedt) -- the group figures out the alien they have named Echo is trying to put together the ignition key for his spacecraft.
IDA (NR). Set in 1962, when Poland was part of the Soviet bloc, "Ida" is about a young novitiate, an orphan, who discovers she has an aunt. She is sent to the city to meet this woman before she takes her vows, and so a journey begins. "Ida" is a breathtakingly concise film -- just 80 minutes long -- with a clear, simple narrative line. But within its relatively brief duration and its narrow black-and-white frames, the movie somehow contains a cosmos of guilt, violence and pain. Its intimate drama unfolds at the crossroads where the Catholic, Jewish and Communist strains of Poland’s endlessly and bitterly contested national identity intersect. (Scott, New York Times -- 6/30). 1:20.
MALEFICENT (PG). A retelling of the classic "Sleeping Beauty" tale from the perspective of the villainess Maleficent, who suffered a betrayal that turned her once-pure heart to stone. For all its pixie dust and dragon fire, the most special effect throughout is Angelina Jolie radiating imperious authority over a disorderly movie; a miracle of movie rescue, both valiant and viciously elegant. With Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 5/31). 1:37.
PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (PG). In this sequel, Dusty the racing plane learns to be a S.E.A.T., a Single Engine Ariel Tanker, a fire-fighting plane.
SEX TAPES (R). A couple wake up to find the sex tape they made the night before to spice up their marriage has gone missing. With Cameron Diaz, Jason Siegel.
TAMMY (R). Melissa McCarthy plays the title character who, after wrecking her car, losing her job and discovering her husband cheating on her, decides to run away. Joining her on this trek of self-discovery is her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon). Poorly written and acted, a monumental waste of talent. 0H (Bentley, The Fresno Bee -- 7/9). 1:36.
22 JUMP STREET (R). Having conducted a successful narcotics operation posing as high school students, two undercover cops try to crack a new case at the local college. This comedy produces the biggest, loudest laughs of any movie this summer. You’re going to have to see it twice -- just to catch all the jokes the roars of laughter make you miss. With Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Peter Stormare. HHH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 6/16). 1:52.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (PG-13). This new film departs from the prescribed "Transformers" universe to present a world in which Autobots are no longer viewed as friends of man. It’s a post-Witwicky era when the Earth’s populace is unclear about who their extraterrestrial robot enemies are.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY (R). In the near future, during a single 12-hour period every year, Americans are free to commit any crime they choose, no matter how cruel or bloody. Sponsored by the U.S. government, the event is called the "purge," and participants are encouraged to "release the beast."
WORDS AND PICTURES (PG-13). A prep-school English teacher trying to galvanize student interest in the power of the written word declares a war between literature and visual art, and an intriguing new teacher on campus accepts his challenge. With Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, Valerie Tian.
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