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Grant Park, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 117 minutes.

Christian Bale stars as a steelworker in the Rust Belt who seeks justice when his brother (Casey Affleck) goes missing and the most likely suspect is a vicious backwoods drug kingpin (Woody Harrelson). While it invites comparisons to The Deer Hunter, director Scott Cooper's film is, on its own, a formally tight, unrelentingly grim portrait of a working class under siege from without and within. *** 1/2




Cinematheque. G. 83 minutes.

Cinematheque's Best of 2013 program brings the return of George Godwin's loving and unapologetically nostalgic ode to Winnipeg's pre-multiplex movie theatres, examining the profound differences between contemporary movie-going and the way it was for past generations. ***




Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 162 minutes.

In this second instalment of Peter Jackson's latest J.R.R. Tolkein adaptation, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) attempts to aid a band of plucky dwarves in reclaiming their kingdom from the titular dragon. Sherlock fans, note the thespian reunion of Freeman's Watson with Benedict Cumberbatch, who provides the voice and motion-capture menace of Smaug.



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


Globe. 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. ***



Grant Park, McGillivray, Polo Park. PG. 128 minutes.

During the Second World War in Germany, a young girl (Sophie Nélisse) steals books and shares them with others while her foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) secretly shelter a Jewish refugee in their home. The Book Thief clearly has no desire to sell a political tract or explore a new chapter of history. It simply wants to tell a human story with humour, compassion and a steely eye for mortality. *** 1/2 (Reviewed by Katherine Monk)



McGillivray. 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. ****



McGillivray VIP. 18A. 117 minutes.

Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof, a Dallas electrician and rodeo rider who contracted the AIDS virus in the mid-'80s and, on his own, found a workable treatment for himself and many other AIDS sufferers at a time the Food and Drug Administration was insisting on patients participating in protracted drug trials. Director Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) keeps the story grounded by mapping a solid inspirational character arc for Woodroof, from exploiter to advocate. But McConaughey takes it to the next level, not just in the much-publicized 50-pound weight loss he took upon himself for the role, but in his deeper embrace of the character. *** 1/2



Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 105 minutes

This English-language remake of the Quebec comedy Starbuck stars Vince Vaughn as a hapless truck driver who discovers a deeper purpose in his life when he learns he fathered some 500 young adults through a mistaken distribution of his contributions to a sperm bank. What we have here is the makings of a charming time-to-grow-up-and-be-responsible-comedy. And that is exactly what Delivery Man manages to be. *** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)



Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 102 minutes.

A young princess (voiced by Kristen Bell) must rise to the occasion when her sorceress sister (Idina Menzel) accidentally puts their kingdom in a deep freeze in this Disney animated musical. The songs are more poppy than the enduring Broadway-like songbooks of Disney musicals past, a weakness compensated in animation art that is particularly gorgeous. *** 1/2



Kildonan Place, Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 101 minutes.

A few surprises lurk in this standard action thriller about a retired undercover cop (Jason Statham) trying to rebuild his life in Louisiana with his young daughter: A screenplay by Sylvester Stallone? A meth kingpin bad guy played by James Franco? Both Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder playing lowlife meth molls? Alas, unexpected casting and a script by the writer of Rocky don't necessarily translate into anything but a rote punch-up. **



Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 146 minutes.

Teen tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) inspires rebellion in the future dystopia of Panem, compelling the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) to force her to compete in a rigged 75th edition of the battle-to-the-death. "Hunger" notwithstanding, this is an overflowing cornucopia of cinematic stuff: Romance, action, social commentary, nature gone mad, mystery, intrigue, and even fashion. And yet, as in the first installment, there is the gnawing feeling of something lacking. ** 1/2



Polo Park. 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. Despite the presence of four Oscar winners in the ensemble, this is an exceedingly rote comedy enlivened here and there by Kline's eccentric sensibility and Freeman's redeeming cool. **



Globe 18A. 104 minutes.

A man (Josh Brolin) is mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years and then, just as inexplicably released to investigate the mystery of his captivity. Spike Lee directs this remake of the 2003 Korean film by Chan-wook Park, and while it's short on the originality and delirious style of the former, the theme of retributive violence does dovetail nicely in the realm of the American crime story. ***



Grant Park. 14A. 98 minutes.

A political journalist (Steve Coogan) gets emotionally involved when he helps an older woman (Judi Dench) search for the son she forcibly gave up for adoption decades earlier. Philomena is a standard issue little-old-lady tour de force for Oscar winner Judi Dench, but it's a delicious change of pace for snarky funnyman Steve Coogan. **** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)



Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 112 minutes.

Marvel Comics' God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) faces off against the malevolent elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who has devastating designs against Thor's home world, and his earthly love Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). The handsome heroics are impressive, but let's face it: Hemsworth's hero is a bit dull compared to his entertainingly wicked brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). ***



Globe. 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. The beauty of this movie is in how we identify with Northup and come to understand the awful effects his loss of liberty had not just on him, but on the moral relativists and outright sadists who ran the machinery of slavery. ***** (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 ??65524

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