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RECOMMENDED

CALVARY

Towne. 14A. 101 minutes.

Brendan Gleeson plays a much-loved Irish priest threatened with murder by an enraged anonymous parishioner abused years earlier by a different cleric. As in director John Michael McDonagh's last collaboration with Gleeson, the unsung comedy The Guard, the writing here is wonderfully sharp and the performances uniformly excellent. Gleeson is especially magnificent as a decent man visited upon by the sins of other Fathers. HHHHH

 

STARTING FRIDAY

THE F WORD

Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 98 minutes.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a medical-school dropout who befriends a charming animator (Zoe Kazan) but must tamp down his percolating sexual attraction for her out of respect for her relationship with her live-in boyfriend. A romantic comedy directed by Michael Dowse (Goon).

 

A FILM ABOUT COFFEE

Cinematheque. Subject to classification. 67 minutes.

A love letter to "specialty coffee" as seen through the eyes of everyone from farmers to baristas from around the world.

 

FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 18A. 102 minutes.

This sequel to Robert Rodriguez/Frank Miller's hardboiled Sin City offers return engagements by Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis with new blood (literally in most cases) supplied by Joseph Gordon Levitt, Josh Brolin and, vying for the role of the most fatale femme ever, Eva Green.

 

IF I STAY

McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Kildonan. PG. 107 minutes.

Chloe Moretz plays a 17-year-old cellist who finds herself trapped between life and death following a car accident and is forced to decide for herself if she wants to die or live.

 

ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR

Polo Park. G. 39 minutes.

Narrated by (who else?) Morgan Freeman, this short and sweet documentary offers an intimate look at lemurs -- cute, curious creatures who have inhabited the island of Madagascar for millions of years and are now highly endangered.

 

WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL

Grant Park. PG. 115 minutes.

Surreal title notwithstanding, this is the altogether conventional story of high school football Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) and his record-breaking 151-game winning streak of the De La Salle High School Spartans football team.

 

NOW PLAYING

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

 

BOYHOOD

Grant Park. 14A. 166 minutes.

This unique Richard Linklater film was 12 years in the making, delineating the growth of a Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the age of six to 18, coming to terms with his parents' marital breakup, enduring a new alcoholic stepdad and flirting with drugs, alcohol and girls. Given an opportunity to engage in real-world nostalgia, Linklater doesn't take that bait. The emphasis is on an organic coming-of-age tale where the audience is spared the typically jarring transition in which a child actor is suddenly replaced by a different teen actor. HHHH

 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Polo Park, Towne. 14A. 101 minutes.

The genetically enhanced apes introduced in the franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) are back and beginning to take control of the world. This action-packed epic is a moving sci-fi allegory rendered in broad, lush strokes by the latest state of the computer animator's art. But it's all in service of an utterly conventional story, however, one you'll be three steps ahead of even if you have no memories of the '70s Apes movie (Battle for the Planet of the Apes) this is largely based on. HHH (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

THE EXPENDABLES 3

McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 126 minutes.

Sly Stallone rounds up the usual aging action star suspects (including Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger) to take on the rogue co-founder of the Expendables (Mel Gibson). This entry essentially sucks all the marrow from the old bone of '80s action movie tropes, leaving behind the dry, bleached bones of the genre. HH

 

THE GIVER

McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. Subject to classification. 100 minutes.

In yet another dystopian future, it falls on a teen lad (Brenton Thwaites) to open the eyes of his fellow citizens to the oppressive nature society when he is assigned the task of exploring the past under the tutelage of the titular wise elder (Jeff Bridges). Despite contributions from heavyweights Bridges and Meryl Streep (both looking and like antagonistic hippie cultists), The Giver registers as a maddeningly poor excuse for science fiction. After going to the trouble and expense of creating a dystopia populated by Oscar-winning actors, the movie degenerates into goofy, anti-scientific fantasy of magic and miracles of such extremes, it makes a Greek tragedy's deus ex machina look like documentary realism. HH

 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillivray VIP, Polo Park, Polo Park Imax, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 121 minutes.

Marvel Studios dares to give us a one-off about an obscure band of heroes familiar to few but the most committed comics geeks, consisting of a thief (Chris Pratt), a glamourous assassin (Zoe Saldana), a muscle-bound, vengeance-obsessed "maniac" (Dave Bautista), a super-intelligent, genetically enhanced raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a tree creature named Groot (Vin Diesel). Employing a wise-ass sensibility, a penchant for sardonic dialogue, and a soundtrack of all-'70s hits, director James Gunn makes it work very well by locating a heart in all the lovingly rendered comic book mayhem. HHHH

 

HERCULES

Polo Park, St. Vital. 14A. 98 minutes.

Dwayne Johnson plays Herc as a simple mercenary whose demi-god status is actually presented as PR, making this the first Hercules movie to openly question the existence of Zeus. Hence, this is a summer movie with sufficient wit, action and spectacle to pass as a modestly entertaining summer diversion. The sincere Johnson is sufficiently pumped-up to make his more ridiculous feats of strength (including horse-tossing) seem not all that ridiculous. HHH

 

THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY

Grant Park, Polo Park. G. 123 minutes.

Helen Mirren plays the persnickety owner of a snooty French restaurant who goes on the attack when an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai, opens within 100 feet of her establishment, a problem that amplifies when her sous-chef (Charlotte Le Bon) falls in love with the Maison's gifted chef Hassan (Manish Dayal). It's a nice concoction, but director Lasse Hallstrom makes it all relentlessly pretty, whether in its depiction of racism or kitchen procedure. HHH

 

INTO THE STORM

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 89 minutes.

A weather disaster movie in the tradition of Twister, this summer epic is centred on a small town hit by a series of ever-worsening cyclones where a group of high school students recklessly decide to hang around and document the effects of the high winds. The most unbelievable accomplishment here is that it makes viewers long for the preposterous, over-the-top camp gore of the Sharknado TV films. HH (Reviewed by Kevin Prokosh)

 

LET'S BE COPS

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, McGillvray VIP, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 105 minutes.

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. play two Ohio losers in L.A. who experience an upswing in popularity and excitement when they dress up as cops, only to find themselves in conflict with the Russian mob. The laughs are loud, lewd and infrequent in a comedy that is pretty much the definition of an August comedy release: a month designated as a dumping ground for titles for which the studios don't have high hopes. HH (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

LUCY

Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. 14A. 90 minutes.

Scarlett Johansson stars in this Luc Besson action movie as a reluctant drug mule who accidentally ingests an overdose of a new chemical concoction that allows her to utilize her brain power to superhuman effect. It comes off as the kind of science fiction created by someone who never actually read a book on science. Besson's intellectual energy went into making this a calculatedly international hit, designed as a three-prong attack on Asian, European and American audiences, with Johansson at the calm centre, going from panicky tourist to ass-kicking demi-goddess with aplomb. HH 1/2

 

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

Grant Park. G. 97 minutes.

Woody Allen's latest comedy -- as awkwardly stagey as a drawing room comedy from the 1920s -- assigns a cynical professional illusionist (Colin Firth) the task of debunking a winsome young medium (Emma Stone) suspected of fleecing Europe's wealthiest denizens. HH 1/2

 

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE

Polo Park, St. Vital. G. 84 minutes.

This sequel to last year's unexpected hit Planes offers up the return of racer Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) facing a forced retirement from competition and entering the world of aerial firefighting. A couple of flight sequences take us over majestic deserts and amber waves of grain -- beautiful animated scenery. Other than that, there's not much to this. But its predecessor was so story-and-laugh starved, there was nowhere to go but up. HH1/2 (Reviewed by Roger Moore)

 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Grant Park, Kildonan Place, McGillivray, Polo Park, St. Vital, Towne. PG. 101 minutes.

This reboot from producer Michael Bay combines martial arts action with turtle power, starring Bay's formerly exiled Transformers leading lady Megan Fox as reporter April O'Neil. It captures some of the thrills of the much-loved comic book franchise, but is hampered by miscasting and some baffling action sequences bearing the stamp of producer Michael Bay. HH

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2014 ??65526

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