JACK REACHER 3 1/2
Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A
Ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) investigates a trumped-up murder charge against an unbalanced ex-army sniper accused of randomly killing five civilians. Cruise may bear no resemblance to the literary Reacher, but he carries the film well enough, and director Christopher McQuarrie pulls off one of the better action films of the year, including one of the more thrilling car chase scenes in recent memory.
THE FIRST WINTER
Cinematheque. Subject to classification.
This Winnipeg-lensed film stars Rob Vilar as a DJ living in Portugal who learns that an affair has led to a pregnancy. But when he flies back to Winnipeg, he encounters an icy reception and an even icier city.
Polo Park. PG
Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor are the parents of a British family on vacation in Thailand who find themselves fighting for their survival when a tsunami hits in this fact-based drama.
Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A
A noble cop (Josh Brolin) is tasked with taking on the spreading crime empire of Micky Cohen (Sean Penn) in this L.A. noir cops-and-robbers movie featuring Ryan Gosling as another cop dangerously courting Cohen's mistress (Emma Stone).
This film, a portrait of a child soldier in the Congo, is Canada's entry to the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, from writer-director Kim Nguyen, who spent 10 years bringing this story to film.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
Globe, Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. Subject to classification.
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) directs this dramatic chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden through the eyes of an obsessive CIA agent (Jessica Chastain).
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
Globe, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. 18A
Quentin Tarantino's latest stars Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who joins up with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from the decadent plantation of a depraved southern gentleman (Leonardo DiCaprio). It's a runaway stagecoach of a movie, suspenseful, shocking and grimly funny. As always with Tarantino, it is wildly referential. (Hey, that zoom shot is right out of The Wild Bunch! Hey, I recognize that music from Two Mules for Sister Sara!) But as usual, the disparate references add up to something entirely unique. 4 stars
THE GUILT TRIP
McGillivray, Polo Park. PG
For their latest comic trick, Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen go for something that neither has been known for over the course of their respective careers -- cute with a holiday comedy safer for Streisand's audience than for Rogen's, a mild-mannered movie you won't be embarrassed to take your mom to. Well, not too embarrassed. 2 1/2 stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park IMAX, St. Vital, Towne. PG
Director Peter Jackson revisits Lord of the Rings turf with another three-part epic, albeit one based on a much slimmer story than the first trilogy. Martin Freeman plays the young Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf, who comes to the Shire with a mission to help restore a dwarf kingdom to an heir to the throne. While it feels good to be back in Middle-earth, one can't help the niggling feeling that Jackson is padding out this story in a transparent attempt to duplicate LOTR's multi-billion box office. 3 stars
LIFE OF PI
Grant Park, Polo Park, Towne. PG
Ang Lee adapts the best selling novel by Yann Martel about a young man who finds himself adrift on a lifeboat with a man-eating tiger. Lee crafts one of the finest entries in his eclectic resume with this gorgeous, ruminative film that is soulfully, provocatively entertaining. 3 1/2 stars (Reviewed by David Germain)
Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG
The hit musical finally gets its big-screen treatment as Victor Hugo's tragic novel comes to life with the help of Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as, respectively, the fugitive Jean Valjean and the relentless Inspector Javert. While this may not be a feel-good movie, it's doubtful there has been any movie so invested with such raw feeling, especially a musical. Anne Hathaway's performance of I Dreamed a Dream is one for the ages. 3 1/2 stars
NOT FADE AWAY
Director David Chase (The Sopranos) visits New Jersey in 1964 where a college drop-out (John Magaro) tries to make a go of a rock band, to the consternation of his father (James Gandolfini) Like a lot of the early rock 'n' roll music it so shamelessly, exuberantly celebrates, it is filled with familiar riffs. But in Chase's heartfelt delivery, this same old tune somehow comes out sounding fresh. 3 1/2 stars (Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan)
Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital. G
The family-friendliest movie comedy this holiday season is a mild-mannered riff on parenting, then-and-now. Bette Midler and Billy Crystal as a pair of grandparents who attempt to bring some old-school child-rearing techniques on their grandkids while their parents are away for a vacation. Basically, it's a vehicle for Billy Crystal, and to a lesser degree Bette Midler, to riff on the spoiled, over-indulged and sometimes uptight kids their kid is raising. 2 1/2 stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Matt Damon stars as a corporate salesman who goes to a small rural community to buy up drilling rights. Expecting the townies to roll over and sell, he faces a grassroots rebellion against the practice of "fracking" headed up by a savvy organizer (John Krasinski). What makes the movie is Damon, who has a complicated mixture of all-American looks with a corporate heart. He provides the kind of firm touch to make the movie's message come across with absolute clarity without making the viewer feel like he's been slapped by the point. 3 1/2 stars (Reviewed by Rick Bentley)
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Grant Park, Polo Park, Towne. 14A
Bradley Cooper plays an unemployed bipolar school teacher who moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) planning to reunite with his estranged wife, only to be distracted by a young widow (Jennifer Lawrence) with issues of her own. Director David O. Russell returns to the same eccentric/blue-collar milieu as The Fighter but a climactic dance competition doesn't have the same impact as a prize fight, and Bradley Cooper doesn't have the same impact as Mark Wahlberg. 3 stars
Grant Park, Polo Park, Portage Place IMAX, St. Vital. 14A
The 24th James Bond movie pits Daniel Craig's secret agent against a former agent (Javier Bardem) intent on destroying the British Seceret Service, and M (Judi Dench) in particular. In the 50th year of the franchise, Bond manages to be realpolitik-pertinent while paying discreet homage to the films of the past. Director Sam Mendes also brings unexpected dramatic heft but manages the action stuff very well too. 4 stars
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
McGillivray, Polo Park, Towne. 18A
This 3D thriller takes place years after the events of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, when a young woman inherits an old house in Texas only to discover it houses the depraved secrets of a killer cannibal clan. But there's nothing thrilling about summarily dispatching everybody who isn't meant to survive to the credits, nothing entertaining about meathook-, hatchet- and chainsaw-murdering that we've seen scores of times. 1 star (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THIS IS 40
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A
This semi-sequel to Knocked Up focuses on the married couple Pete and Debbie played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. As they enter their fourth decades the same week, they negotiate sex, parenting, careers and frayed relationships with their own parents in this raucous but relatable comedy from writer-director Judd Apatow. 3 1/2 stars