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RECOMMENDED

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 134 minutes.

Tom Hanks plays the titular captain whose vessel was overtaken by Somali pirates in 2009, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years. Director Paul Greengrass employs documentary realism to build tension but it's Hanks who impresses most with a performance that portrays not just heroism but the emotional cost of heroism. ****

 

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SPECIAL ED

Cinematheque. PG. 102 minutes.

This portrait of Winnipeg animator Ed Ackerman examines his abortive attempt to build a legacy for his three children by renovating three core-area homes with little else but found materials and a can-do attitude that bordered dangerously on delusion. See review in today's Uptown. *** 1/2

 

STARTING FRIDAY

CARRIE

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 100 minutes.

This remake of the teen horror classic stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the telekinetic teen whose poignant attempts to get past her outsider-geek status are stymied by mean kids and a religious zealot mom (Julianne Moore) resulting in apocalyptic consequences.

 

ESCAPE PLAN

Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 116 minutes.

Sylvester Stallone plays a high-security prison designer forced to escape from his most inescapable prison with a little help from a resourceful fellow inmate (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

 

THE FIFTH ESTATE

Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park. 14A. 128 minutes.

This dramatization tells the story of the creation of whistleblower website WikiLeaks and its embattled founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch).

 

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The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.

 

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 95 minutes.

After creating a massive food storm with his machine in the original 2009 film, inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) discovers his technology is now creating animal-food hybrids such as a taco-diles and shrimpanzees. The novelty of the first film is gone, and while the colour palette and design is as glorious as ever, the laughs are few and the innovations are fewer. ** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

DON JON

Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 90 minutes.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed this gutsy comedy-drama debut as well as starring as the titular porn addict forced to re-evaluate his life choices when challenged by a demanding girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson) and an older-wiser college classmate (Julianne Moore). If the film feels a little raw, the performances are uniformly solid, especially Johansson as a dream girl with a touch of nightmare. *** 1/2

 

ENOUGH SAID

Polo Park. PG. 93 minutes.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as a divorcee who learns the new man in her life (James Gandolfini) also happens to be the ex-husband of her new best friend (Catherine Keener). Director Nicole Holofcener has a gift of sensitivity to the nuances of insecurity and awkwardness that beset us as we struggle to avoid disappointing the people who mean the most to us. **** (Reviewed by Kenneth Turan)

 

THE FAMILY

Towne. 14A. 112 minutes.

This very odd comedy stars Robert De Niro as a mafiosi hiding out in France with his family, for whom sociopathic criminality is a hard habit to break. Director Luc Besson's weird tonal shifts between comedy and violence go well beyond the tropes of the usual dark comedy and create a crashing dissonance. It's like listening to gangsta rap and La Vie en Rose simultaneously for two hours straight. * 1/2

 

GRAVITY

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 91 minutes.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play a couple of astronauts facing a crisis in outer space when their space shuttle is destroyed by exploded satellite debris and they find themselves marooned and alone 600 kilometres above the Earth. Director Alfonso Cuaron constructs a sometimes awesome dramatic thriller that flows together so seamlessly, it seems like it wasn't even edited. When it comes to Hollywood narrative, it may be a game changer, and in that capacity, it deserved a more interesting protagonist. ****

 

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2

Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 106 minutes.

This sequel to the low-budget 2010 chiller carries on with the story of a family (including Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) besieged by malevolent forces from an unseen spirit world. While not as shriek-inducing as the commercials would have you believe, it does sustain director James Wan's admirable lo-fi approach to the material. When it does scare, it does so as a result of solid acting, writing directing and editing, not digital trickery. ** 1/2

 

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER

Grant Park, McGillivray. 14A. 133 minutes.

Lee Daniels (Precious) directs this drama starring Forest Whitaker as a sharecropper's son who grows up to become a White House butler in service to every U.S. president from Eisenhower (Robin Williams) to Reagan (Alan Rickman). The stunt casting is off-putting and Daniels prefers seamy melodrama to insights into the varying characters of presidents, but the central idea still manages to provoke. ***

 

MACHETE KILLS

Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 108 minutes.

Director Robert Rodriguez milks the joke of the first movie Machete with an all-new adventure that doubles down on the stunt casting, including Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas. The end result is not so much funny but creepy, with the added distinction of featuring Gibson's worst performance ever. * 1/2

 

PARKLAND

Globe. PG. 94 minutes.

Set in Dallas during the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath, this multi-character drama attempts to translate that historic event through the experiences of the regular people in the midst of the tragedy, including an emergency room doc (Zac Efron) tasked with saving the life of the president, Abraham Zapruder (Paul Giamatti), the amateur moviemaker who filmed the shooting, and Robert Edward Oswald (James Badge Dale), the brother of the accused assassin. Aside from some dubious casting -- Efron as a doctor -- this film's intimate views of a tragedy suggest the emotional connections to history are in its footnotes. ***

 

PRISONERS

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 153 minutes.

Hugh Jackman is a desperate father who resorts to vigilantism when his young daughter goes missing, and the creepy guy under suspicion (Paul Dano) has been released by the police. Jackman delivers the dramatic goods reasonably well and Jake Gyllenhaal offers more subtle shadings as the twitchy investigating cop. Quebec director Denis Villeneuve's Hollywood studio indulgence is a running time that's just a tad too much for the grim material. ***1/2

 

THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 97 minutes.

A lowly dishwasher falls in love with a bride on her wedding day in this comedy starring Ryan Kwanten and Sara Canning. Not reviewed.

 

ROMEO AND JULIET

Grant Park, Polo Park. PG. 119 minutes.

Director Carlo Carlei brings stunning sets, great swordplay and a serving of horseplay to William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy, but getting his young stars (Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth) to be comfortable as the star-crossed lovers of Verona was beyond his talents. ** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

RUNNER RUNNER

McGillivray, St. Vital. 14A. 92 minutes.

A clever college student (Justin Timberlake) finds himself working for the crooked entrepreneur (Ben Affleck) behind an online gambling empire. It's a thrill-free thriller with no urgency, scant wit and limited sex appeal, playing like a paycheque for A-list actors who should know better. *1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

RUSH

McGillivray. 14A. 123 minutes.

A dramatization of legendary rivalry in the '70s between Formula One racers as directed by Ron Howard, with Chris Hemsworth as Brit party boy James Hunt and Daniel Brºhl as persnickety Austrian Niki Lauda. If it's a sophisticated portrait of opposing personalities, it delivers the vroom-vroom goods too, befitting the director whose first effort was Grand Theft Auto. ***1/2

 

WE'RE THE MILLERS

Kildonan Place, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 110 minutes.

Jason Sudeikis is a lowly pot dealer forced to assemble a bogus wholesome family to get a huge shipment of marijuana across the border from Mexico. A twist on the snobs-vs.-slobs comedy formula -- call it straights-vs.-reprobates -- this is a pleasingly raunchy farce with Sudeikis ideally cast as a lowlife with a wholesome facade and Jennifer Aniston gleefully tearing apart her Friends image as the sensible good girl, in the role of a desperate stripper at the end of her G-string. ***

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 17, 2013 ??65524

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