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This article was published 12/3/2014 (784 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Polo Park. 14A. 87 minutes.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays a troubled history professor who realizes he has a doppelganger in this unsettling and hallucinogenic film by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners), boasting one of the most sublimely strange surprise endings in recent memory. Starts tomorrow. 3 1/2 stars
PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER
Cinematheque. 18A. 92 minutes.
A portrait of the Russian feminist punk collective, some of whose members were imprisoned by Vladimir Putin's iron-fisted regime after a notorious concert/demonstration at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Cinematheque. G. 87 minutes.
This collaboration between filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and composer Phillip Glass consists of 74 shots, mostly lingering portraits of human faces contrasted with cityscapes and lunar surfaces.
NEED FOR SPEED
Grant Park Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 131 minutes.
An ace mechanic and driver (Aaron Paul) participates in a reckless cross-country race to clear his name against the unsavoury professional driver (Dominic Cooper) who let him take the fall for a crime he didn't commit.
Polo Park. PG. 108 minutes.
This crowdfunded feature film catches us up with the titular sleuth (Kristen Bell), a high school-age crime-solver in the original TV series, now a New Yorker obliged to return to the town of Neptune for a 10-year high school reunion (and to solve a murder in which the chief suspect is her ex-boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring).
The following movies have been previously reviewed by Free Press movie critic Randall King, unless otherwise noted.
McGillivray. 14A. 138 minutes.
Director David O. Russell follows up last year's unexpected hit Silver Linings Playbook with a movie deserving of any and all accolades, recycling two of that film's stars -- Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence -- paired with Christian Bale and Amy Adams of The Fighter. Russell's take on the Abscam affair offers riches of deception and danger with terrific performances by Cooper and Lawrence as genuinely horrible people. 4 Stars
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
Grant Park. 14A. 121 minutes.
In the grand tradition of Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, playwright Tracy Letts introduces another dysfunctional American family in the Westons. Fire-breathing matriarch Violet (Meryl Streep) holds savage court when her three daughters (Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson) show up to comfort their newly widowed, cancer-afflicted mom. Trimmed from its three-hour-and-20-minute stage incarnation, the downbeat drama retains its cathartic humour, but two hours of shrill tantrums and plate-smashing hysterics are overpowering. 3 Stars (Reviewed by Kevin Prokosh)
Polo Park. 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. 3 Stars
THE LEGO MOVIE
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 101 minutes. An ordinary Lego figure (voiced by Chris Pratt) is enlisted to lead a force of Lego good guys (including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) against an evil megalomaniac plotting to glue the Lego universe together. This wild animated feature may appeal to kids, but adults will be heartened by its potent satiric undercurrent and its championing of creativity. 3 Stars
THE MONUMENTS MEN
Grant Park. PG. 118 minutes.
A platoon of art experts is assembled to retrieve stolen works of art from the Nazis in this fact-based combat drama starring and directed by George Clooney. It's a great idea for a war movie, but the screenplay feels a few drafts short of completion, with a sketchy narrative that never achieves any momentum, in addition to Clooney's heavy-handed messaging: Art is good. 2-1/2
MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN
Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. G. 93 minutes.
This studio-produced animated epic, based on Jay Ward's more humbly satiric 'toon from the '60s, gives us the return of the time-travelling genius canine Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) attempting to undo the temporal damage done by his adopted son Sherman when he used their time travel "Wabac" machine to impress a girl. Fans of the old TV show may take longer in adjusting to the new voices, but the witty wordplay and the pull-out-all-stops supporting cast pays off. 3 Stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Polo Park, PG. 97 minutes.
Brent Butt plays a novelty ad salesman mistaken for a gumshoe by a beautiful, mysterious blond (Amy Smart) seeking her missing brother. Smitten, he masquerades as a detective and finds himself over his head in a murder case. This comedy-mystery aspires to nothing more than a pleasant diversion, and in that it succeeds. 3 Stars
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 107 minutes.
An air marshal (Liam Neeson) finds himself in the hot seat on a trans-Atlantic flight when an anonymous psycho threatens to kill one person on board the flight every 20 minutes. In the movie's third act, the implausibility factor hits an altitude higher than 40,000 feet, but Neeson holds the centre well by virtue of his physically imposing presence and tragic demeanour. 3 Stars
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. 4 Stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. PG. 105 minutes.
A gladiator (Kit Harington) falls for the daughter of a senator (Emily Browning) in the Roman city of Pompeii, while more serious issues await due to the impending apocalyptic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Kiefer Sutherland co-stars as an evil Roman general bent on claiming Browning for himself. It's a clumsy Titanic-meets-Gladiator conjoining of disaster and gladiator movies so serious and bombastic that it makes one pine for the days English directors hired Frankie Howerd for their Pompeii movies. 2 Stars
Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 100 minutes
Kevin Hart stars as a security guard who accepts the challenge when the cop brother (Ice Cube) of his intended bride invites him to accompany him on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta. Even by the standards of the well-worn buddy-cop genre, this is a lazy movie, insulting the audience by letting us stay five steps ahead of the hack screenwriters. 2 Stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 118 minutes.
This remake stars Joel Kinnaman as a cop transformed into a law enforcement cyborg by a corporation with dubious respect for the rule of law. It lacks the ferocity and originality of the original Paul Verhoeven classic -- note the PG rating -- but it does take the material in an interesting, not terrible direction. Cybernautic fighting units aren't as outlandish a concept as they were in 1987 and director José Padhila accommodates with a movie more grounded in contemporary reality. 3 Stars
SON OF GOD
McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 138 minutes.
The stand-alone story of Jesus Christ is adapted for the big screen from last year's History Channel miniseries The Bible with Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as the titular scion. It's too brutal at times, but it has a redemptive optimism about it that makes the brutality go down more easily. 3 Stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
Kildonan Place, St. Vital. 14A. 95 minutes.
In a show of solidarity you'd only find in a rom-com, Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) come to the support of their about-to-be divorced pal Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) by promising to stay single and unattached, a vow that inevitably comes back to bite them, especially when Jason falls for a winsome writer (Imogen Poots). Coming after Joseph Gordon-Levitt's more gutsy rom-com deconstruction Don Jon, this movie feels not only spineless but emasculated. 1 Star
3 DAYS TO KILL
Towne. 14A. 117 minutes.
A dying Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) accepts one last assignment in exchange for a potentially life-saving drug that might give him a chance to reconcile with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Daft and sloppy as it is, this rarely fails to entertain, all part and parcel of the madness of producer Luc Besson, 'Ö'Ö'Ö (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 103 minutes.
This sequel to Zack Snyder's 300 offers stylized, bloody seagoing action concurrent to the events of the first movie, involving a raging female admiral (Eva Green) fighting for Persia against the Greeks, led by the formidable Gen. Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). It's sexy, violent and stylish, which certainly makes for an improvement over Pompeii. 3 Stars
12 YEARS A SLAVE
Globe. 14A. 134 minutes.
Director Steve McQueen adapted a harrowing memoir by Solomon Northup (here played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man in upstate New York, abducted and sold into slavery. The beauty of this movie, the best picture winner at this year's Oscars, 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. 5 Stars (Reviewed by Roger Moore)
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Grant Park, McGillivray VIP. 18A. 180 minutes.
Martin Scorsese draws a bold parallel between the underworld of Goodfellas and the supposedly straight world of high finance with this memoir of a depraved stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio). Instead of violent excess, the film goes with sexual excess, but it remains a concise macroscopic depiction of the over-arching greed that derailed the economy. 4 Stars