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RECOMMENDED

CASTING BY ****

Cinematheque. PG. 89 minutes.

This delightful documentary looks at the role of the casting director, with emphasis on the legendary Marion Dougherty, featuring remembrances by a host of actors who got a boost from Dougherty's discerning eye for talent, including Robert Duvall, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Glenn Close, Diane Lane and Robert Redford. Last screening is Thursday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. ****

 

STARTING FRIDAY

ENDER'S GAME

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 114 minutes.

This adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi bestseller stars Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, a young teen prodigy drafted by a gruff colonel (Harrison Ford) to lead a military incursion against a hostile alien enemy.

 

EUPHORIA

Cinematheque. 14A. 92 minutes.

A young woman (Brooke Palsson) embarks on a trip back to her Manitoba hometown to learn the truth about why she and her mother (Sarah Constible) departed so mysteriously years earlier. Directed by Paula Kelly.

 

FREE BIRDS

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

Two turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) embark on a time-travel adventure in an effort to get turkey taken off the Thanksgiving menu in this animated comedy timed for American Thanksgiving release.

 

LAST VEGAS

Grant Park, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 105 minutes.

A quartet of older guys (Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas) venture out to Las Vegas for a weekend bachelor party... of the type that only warrants a PG rating.

 

12 YEARS A SLAVE

Polo Park. 14A. 134 minutes.

Director Steve McQueen adapted a harrowing memoir by Solomon Northrup (here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in upstate New York, abducted and sold into slavery.

 

NOW PLAYING

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

 

ALL IS LOST

Polo Park. PG. 106 minutes.

Robert Redford, all by himself, stars as a man whose leisurely solo sea cruise becomes a desperate fight for survival when he suffers a series of escalating misfortunes. Director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) creates an interesting, unconventional take on the survival story, but Redford's star power tends to interfere with what should be an intimate portrait of a man facing his mortality. ***

 

BAD GRANDPA

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 92 minutes.

Jackass's Johnny Knoxville adopts the persona of 86-year-old Irving Zisman for this semi-scripted road trip/prank movie in which Zisman raises the ire of bystanders while on the road with his eight-year-old grandson. Strip the danger out of Borat and the injuries out of Jackass and you've got a bead on Bad Grandpa. ** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS

Globe, 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. ****

 

CARRIE

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, 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. Brian De Palma's 1976 version casts a tall shadow over this iteration by director Kimberly Peirce, which seems especially haphazard in its horror elements, relying too heavily on cheap-looking CGI for its ineffective shocks. ** (Reviewed by Rene Rodriguez)

 

THE COUNSELOR

Globe, Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 118 minutes.

A lawyer (Michael Fassbender) puts his life in danger when he gets in over his head in the drug trade. Directed by Ridley Scott from an original script by Cormac McCarthy, this film co-stars Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt and Penelope Cruz. So... heavy-hitter cast. Check. Famous director. Check. Big-name writer. Check. Box-office ka-ching. Not so fast. The minds behind this would-be thriller forgot one thing: a script that anyone would care about or, heck, even one that makes much sense. * (Reviewed by Cary Darling)

 

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2

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)

 

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)

 

ESCAPE PLAN

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

Sylvester Stallone plays a designer of high-security prisons forced to escape from his most challenging pen yet with a little help from a resourceful fellow inmate (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in a movie that is equally clumsy and amusing. The tempered violence and the easy bonhomie of our leads certainly make Escape Plan go down easier than the other Rambo/The Last Stand/Expendables pictures that brought these two aged action stars back from the dead. ** 1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

GRAVITY

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, 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 Cuaròn 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

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

 

WATERMARK

Globe. G. 91 minutes.

This sumptuously visual film by Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky examines the human relationship with bodies of water -- sometimes spiritual, sometimes curious but more often controlling and downright abusive. ***1/2

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 31, 2013 ??65524

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