The only local member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, three-time S.P.J. (Society of Professional Journalists) award-winning critic Milan Paurich takes a look at movies currently playing in area theaters as well as the latest home video releases.


BLACK PANTHER--Ryan Coogler--director of "Creed," the best darn Rocky movie ever--works similar magic with Marvel in this exhilarating origin tale of the titular superhero played by Chadwick Boseman of "42" and "Get On Up" fame. Buttressing the comic book silliness--this is Marvel and not Shakespeare, after all--and giving it real emotional heft is a supporting cast with extraordinary bench strength (Michael B. Jordan, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o and "Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya). As the first African-American Marvel entry, "Black Panther" is already historic. It's also terrific entertainment. (A MINUS.)

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME--During the summer of 1983, an American teenager (Timothee Chalamet) living in Italy has a life-altering romance with his college professor father's twentysomething research assistant (Armie Hammer). Directed by Luca ("I Am Love," "A Bigger Splash") Guadagnino and written by 89-year-old screen veteran James ("Howards End," "A Room With a View") Ivory, the film is an intoxicatingly sensual immersion into the ecstasies and agonies of young love and the many glories that comprise Italy. Chalamet and Hammer are pitch-perfect as the lovers, as is Michael Stuhlbarg as Chalamet's sympathetic dad. (A.)

COCO--Aspiring 12-year-old musician Miguel visits the Land of the Dead in the latest CGI Pixar 'toon. As visually resplendent as it sometimes is, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen this movie before. (And I had:  2014's underrated "The Book of Life.") More culturally sensitive and politically correct than your average Disney production. (B.)

THE COMMUTER--Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra reteam for a fourth Hitchcockian pastiche ("Non-Stop," "Unknown" and "Run All Night" were their previous collaborations). Neeson plays an ex-cop taking the Metro-North train from Manhattan during rush hour who's approached by a fellow passenger (Vera Farmiga) with an offer he can't refuse. Hokey and instantly forgettable, but entertaining while it lasts.


DARKEST HOUR--Gary Oldman is electrifying as Winston Churchill in WW II-era England. Churchill's bid to become Prime Minister is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Dunkirk evacuation. Kristen Scott-Thomas and Lily James provide invaluable distaff support, but this is Oldman's show every step of the way. And his tour-de-force performance just might win him the Oscar he's been denied for three decades. Directed by the estimable Joe ("Atonement," "Anna Karenina") Wright, it's the artistic equal to Chris Nolan's "Dunkirk." (A.)

DEN OF THIEVES-- Another glorified "B" movie toplining Gerard Butler, an actor who's made so many lousy career choices over the past decade that his SAG card deserves to be revoked. Clocking it at a derriere-numbing 140 minutes, this wannabe Michael Mann policier-noir about an elite unit of the L.A. County Sheriff's Office infiltrating a cadre of bank robbers is slightly more ambitious than, say, Butler's recent "Geostorm," but not appreciably better. (D PLUS.)

EARLY MAN--Aardman auteur Nick ("Wallace and Gromit") Park directed this impishly funny, defiantly silly stop-motion animated film about prehistoric men, women and soccer (yes, soccer) with voices provided by Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston and "Game of Thrones" alumnus Maisie Williams among others. It's that increasingly rare 'toon audiences of all ages can enjoy--and not just very small (and undemanding) children. (B PLUS.)

FERDINAND--As in "Ferdinand the bull," the same pacifist bovine immortalized in the storybook perennial and Oscar-winning 1938 Disney

short. This version, expanded to feature length, lacks the charm, wit and artistry of the original, but it's not terrible by current CGI animation standards. John Cena voices Ferdinand and Kate McKinnon steals the show as his goofy goat sidekick. (C PLUS.)

THE 15:17 TO PARIS--Clint Eastwood's new film about the August 2015 French terrorist attack foiled by three American tourists is what "Sully" might have looked like if Sully had played himself instead of Tom Hanks. These earnest young men (Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler) are clearly not actors:  their halting, deer-caught-in-the-headlights amateurishness, ironically, takes us out of their own true story. Tautly paced and expertly crafted on a tech level (Eastwood remains a master filmmaker), but ultimately lacking in any true emotional impact. (C PLUS.)

FIFTY SHADES FREED--Free at last! The conclusion of the mildly smutty, inordinately tedious S&M franchise is for completists only. Hopefully Dakota Johnson will move on to bigger and (far) better things. She has been the only element in this trifecta of soft-porn silliness to emerge unscathed from all the heavy-breathing insipidity. (C MINUS.)

FOREVER MY GIRL--A country music star (Alex Roe) returns to his hometown hoping to win back his childhood sweetheart (Jessica Rothe).

Nicholas Sparks with a twang. (C MINUS.)

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN--A musical biopic about legendary circus impresario P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman is mildly entertaining as a "whatzit?," but so misconceived on a conceptual level that you have to wonder what the filmmakers were thinking. Jackman's song-and-dance man roots insure that he doesn't embarrass himself, and Zac Efron (with musical roots of his own) scores in a supporting role. But Michelle Williams is so completely out of her depth that her performance as Barnum's wife inspires more sympathy than scorn. (C.)

HOSTILES--Christian Bale gives a career-best performance in writer/director Scott ("Black Mass," "Crazy Heart") Cooper's masterful new film which deserves a slot in the canon of great revisionist westerns. Bale plays a hardened army captain charged with escorting a Cheyenne Indian chief (Wes Studi) and his family to their Montana home in 1892. During the course of the journey, Bale's career soldier is forced to confront his innate racism--as well as some equally fraught physical perils along the way. Rosamund Pike, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Ben Foster and "Call Me By Your Name" Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalamet (among others) provide solid thesping support. (A.)

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY--A sequel to 2015's "Insidious, Chapter 3" (which was itself a prequel to the first two films), this edition is so confused and confusing you'd swear everyone was making it up as they went along. Let's hope the title's a promise because this teen horror franchise is now officially running on fumes. (D.)

I, TONYA--Craig ("Lars and the Real Girl") Gillespie's laugh-till-you-cry quasi-biopic revisits 1994's infamous "Tonya-Gate," and explores pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about onetime Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding but were afraid to ask. The performances by Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney as Harding, Jeff Gillooly and Harding's tough-as-nails mom are unimpeachable. (A MINUS.)

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE--A pointless reboot of the so-so 1995 Robin Williams kidflick in which some nerdy teens transport themselves into an old video game in which Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black become their online avatars. The overreliance on CGI is distracting; the absence of any discernible wit or creative imagination is deadly. Nostalgists and kids both deserve better. (D.)

JUSTICE LEAGUE--D.C.'s attempt to forge their own "Avengers"-style franchise is a hit-and-miss affair that  largely coasts on the goodwill generated from last summer's "Wonder Woman." Ben Affleck's Batman, Henry Cavill's Superman (well, sort of) and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman are the marquee players, but Jason Momoa makes a pretty good case for himself as the newly anointed Aquaman. The rest of the newbies (Cyborg and the Flash) tend to blend into the CGI scenery, but it's passably entertaining and--at just under two hours--mercifully brief considering the bloated run times of most recent comic book flicks. (C PLUS.)

LADY BIRD--Director/screenwriter Greta Gerwig's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age movie is so pitch-perfect and beautifully realized on every front that you'll be in tears when you aren't laughing your ass off. Saoirse ("Brooklyn") Ronan plays a high school senior in Sacramento, CA circa 2002 whose parents (Laurie Metcalf and Tracy Letts, both wonderful) mean well, but are driving her bonkers. All she wants is to skip town after graduation and head east for college. "Manchester by the Sea" Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges plays Ronan's too-good-to-be-true-because-he-isn't boyfriend. An instant classic, it's a spiritual prequel to Noah Baumbach's great "Frances Ha" (which Gerwig wrote and starred in). (A.)

MAZE RUNNER:  THE DEATH CURE--Another dystopian YA franchise signs off. Dylan O'Brien has grown in the lead role of Thomas, and has become a formidable action hero in the process. He's the best thing here. Unfortunately, in an attempt to give a series that always prided itself on unpretentiousness--certainly in comparison with, say, the "Divergent" movies--"epic" weight, a certain ponderousness has set in. It's a (too) leisurely paced 142-minute sprint to the finish line. (C PLUS.)

MOLLY'S GAME--As Molly Bloom, the former Olympic hopeful who ran high-stakes poker games on both the east and west coasts earlier this millennium, Jessica Chastain gave my favorite performance of 2017. Aaron Sorkin's long-awaited directorial debut deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as "The Social Network" and "The Big Short." His whip-smart dialogue ricochets across the screen like tennis balls at Wimbledon. It's positively exhilarating. As the ultimate in tough-love dads, a superb Kevin Costner deserves to be remembered at Oscar time as surely as Chastain and Sorkin.  (A.)

PADDINGTON 2--Innocuous follow-up to the popular 2015 kidflick. Sally Hawkins and High Bonneville return as adoptive "parents" to a twee CGI bear who once again wreaks benign havoc on their proper British household. Small children will love it. Anyone else? Snoozeville. (C.)

PETER RABBIT--The mix of CGI and live action is mostly seamless in director Will ("Annie") Gluck's occasionally belabored, intermittently charming attempt to take Beatrix Potter's cuddly bunnies into the 21st century. Ubiquitous, unctuous James Corden voices Peter which is why it sometimes feels like a feature-length installment of Carpool Karaoke. The first-rate supporting cast includes Sam Neill (as Peter's nemesis Farmer McGregor), Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne as human antagonists (or friends). "I, Tonya" Oscar nominee Margot Robbie and "Star Wars" heroine Daisy Ridley provide the voices for Peter pals Flopsy and Cotton-Tail. (C PLUS.)

PHANTOM THREAD--From the opening strains of Jonny Greenwood's lushly retro score, Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will be Blood," "Boogie Nights") sucks you into his seductive tale of codependent love taken to pathological extremes. Daniel Day Lewis (in his final screen appearance?), Vicky Krieps and Leslie Manville form the year's most exquisite thesping trilogy. A masterpiece. (A.)

PITCH PERFECT 3--Sadly, the third entry in the popular a cappella series is more depressing than entertaining. After experiencing professional disappointment in the post-collegiate world, the Bellas (Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, et al) reunite for an overseas USO tour as a sort of last hurrah. If you're a fan, you may find it intermittently amusing. If not, you should have probably gone to another movie instead.


THE POST--Steven Spielberg's entertaining account of the true-life story behind the rocky 1971 publication of Daniel Ellsberg's Pentagon Papers is briskly paced and nicely acted (Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep play Washington Post icons Ben Bradlee and Kay Graham), but the rush to finish for an awards season launch definitely shows. The overly glib script needed an additional polish, and the period details (especially costuming, hair and make-up) seem to have been laid on with a trowel. "All the President's Men" it's not. (B.)

SAMSON--No advance screenings.

THE SHAPE OF WATER--Cold War thriller, creature feature, fairy tale and romantic comedy, Guillermo del Toro's well-nigh uncategorizable new film is his best since "Pan's Labyrinth." Sally Hawkins (wonderful) is a mute janitor at a government research facility circa 1962 who makes a love connection with a scaly aquatic beast that's being held captive. She teams up with coworker Octavia Spencer and closeted gay neighbor Richard Jenkins to rescue the creature and return it to the sea. Michael Shannon plays a sadistic G-Man and Michael Stuhlbarg is a Soviet double-agent who wants to take the monster back to Soviet Russia. Yes, it sounds completely bonkers, but del Toro's humanity, whimsicality and soulfulness make it one of the most unique and unforgettable love stories in recent memory. (A.)    

STAR WARS:  THE LAST JEDI--The third entry in the new "Star Wars" generation of movies boasts the best director (Rian Johnson of "Looper" and "Brick" fame), but is the least satisfying overall. The film is so busy spinning off into parallel story threads (Rey and Luke Skywalker; Poe and the rebels; Finn doing whatever he's doing; Kylo Ren's identity crisis; etc.) that it never finds a focus. Plus, there are far too many cutesy space critters for anyone over the age of 6. (If you hated the Ewoks, beware.) Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro join the cast and acquit themselves nicely. Maybe they'll actually have substantive roles to play in future installments. Too choppy and, at 152-minutes, definitely too long. (C PLUS.)

THOR: RAGNAROK--Entrusting the latest entry in the "Thor" franchise to New Zealand wunderkind Taika ("What We Do in the Shadows," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople") Waititi was the smartest decision in Marvel Land since Robert Downey Jr. landed his "Iron-Man" gig. Wapiti's screwball humanism is the perfect tonic, and everyone involved seems newly energized and inspired to do their best work. Chris Hemsworth--with newly shorn locks; hurray!--Tom Hiddleston, Tessa ("Creed") Thompson, Jeff Goldblum and Mark Ruffalo are clearly having a blast, as is delicious new series villain Cate Blanchett. It's maybe 20 minutes too long, but entertaining (and laugh-out funny) from start to finish. (B PLUS.)

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI--This whimsical dramedy by writer/director Martin ("In Bruges") McDonagh gives Oscar winner Frances McDormand her juiciest big-screen role since 1996's "Fargo." She plays Mildred, the grieving mom of a dead teenage girl whose killer (or killers?) was never caught. Because Mildred harbors a grudge against local law enforcement for not solving the crime, she blows her life savings on the titular billboards which accuse police chief Woody Harrelson of criminal negligence. Smashingly written and directed with one of the year's finest ensemble casts (Sam Rockwell is a standout as an idiot cop), it's a film whose impact will linger long after you've hit the parking lot. And you can't say that about a whole lot of movies today. (A.)

TWELVE STRONG--Chris Hemsworth plays a member of a Special Forces Green Beret unit assigned to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Newbie director Nicolai Fuglsig can't decide whether he wants to make a rah-rah slice of America First agitprop or a more nuanced, morally ambiguous "Black Hawk Down"-style procedural. That innate schizophrenia sabotages the movie's best intentions. Good supporting cast (Michael Shannon, Bill Fichtner, Michael Pena and Taylor Sheridan), though. (C.)

WINCHESTER--Oscar winner Helen Mirren plays a member of the Winchester rifle family convinced that her mansion is haunted by gunfire victims. Don't you hate when that happens? An old-fashioned, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night ghost story in the "Woman in Black" tradition directed by the Spierig Brothers whose horror flicks (e.g., "Jigsaw,"  their recent "Saw" reboot) are usually a lot more gruesome and graphic. Underwhelming and not particularly scary, but still better than "Insidious: The Last Key." (D PLUS.)

WONDER--Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the parents of facially disfigured Jacob Tremblay in director Stephen ("The Perks of Being a Wallflower") Chbosky's warm and fuzzy dramedy about inclusiveness and celebrating difference. While it's no "Mask," the gentle, non-dogmatic tone marks it as one of the more satisfying feel-good movies of recent vintage. Bring Kleenexes. (B.)

---Milan Paurich


ALL I SEE IS YOU--Blind Blake Lively has her sight restored which causes unexpected problems in her marriage to Jason Clarke. Half Lifetime movie, half artsy psychological drama, it fails on both counts. Director Marc ("Finding Neverland," "The Kite Runner") has done better. A lot better. (C MINUS.)

AMERICAN ASSASSIN--Dylan ("The Maze Runner") O'Brien is trained to be, well, precisely what the title suggests in Michael ("Homeland") Cuesta's entertaining, if largely forgettable action-thriller based on Vince Flynn's 16-book series. As his ex-Navy SEAL trainer, Michael Keaton steals every scene he's in. The movie might have been better if Keaton---who seemingly can do no wrong these days--had been the titular assassin. (C PLUS.)

AMERICAN MADE--Tom Cruise has his "Cruise"-iest role in years as an airline pilot who works as both drug runner for the Medellin cartel and a C.I.A. informant. Doug ("The Bourne Identity," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith") Liman slickly directs this fact-based tale which has delusions of being another "American Hustle" or "Wolf of Wall Street," but the satire is a little too glib and its attempts at social commentary are skin-deep at best. Enjoyable while it lasts, though, and Cruise is clearly having more fun than he did in last summer's execrable "The Mummy." (B.)

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING--Amityville--at least the long dormant horror movie franchise--should have stayed asleep. (D.)

AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL--Follow-up to the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary that brought climate change (and Al Gore) to multiplexes across America. And according to Gore, things have only gotten worse in the intervening decade, both domestically and internationally. While movies like this essentially preach to the converted, it also succeeds as a clarion wake-up call to anyone not yet up to speed on the perils of global warming. (B.) 

ANNABELLE: CREATION--Prequel to the 2014 haunted doll horror flick which was itself a prequel to 2013's "The Conjuring." A slight improvement over the original (which made my 10-worst list that year), but still no great shakes. Egregiously overlong at 109 minutes, too. (C MINUS.)

ATOMIC BLONDE--Charlize Theron has her best screen role in years as a kickass "British" secret agent working in 1989 Berlin. This breathlessly-paced, adults-only roller-coaster ride is directed with tongue firmly in cheek by David ("John Wick 1") Leitch whose stunt choreography roots inform nearly every frame. Good support from Sofia Boutella, a cast-against-type John Goodman and the always welcome James McAvoy. (B.)

BABY DRIVER--Edgar Wright's personal best since "Shaun of the Dead" is a sensationally entertaining joy ride, and the finest studio release of the year (so far anyway). Ansel Elgort is Baby, a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey's Atlanta crime syndicate whose surly ranks include Jamie Foxx and, in his best big screen role to date, Jon Hamm. Elgort and love interest Lily ("Cinderella") James are the cutest movie couple in recent memory, and the uber-cool soundtrack is worthy of vintage Tarantino. Don't miss it. (A.)

A BAD MOM'S CHRISTMAS--This holiday-themed follow-up to the 2016 sleeper is just as crude, toxic and unfunny as the inexplicably popular original. Adding a patina of cloying Yuletide sentimentality to the mix isn't an improvement. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn and Christina Applegate all deserve better. As do you. (D PLUS.)

BATTLE OF THE SEXES--Emma Stone and Steve Carell (both terrific) play Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' richly entertaining look back at the gender/culture wars of 1973. Although it occasionally errs on the side of superficiality (look at those early '70s sideburns! wasn't Howard Cosell a hoot?), it's so much fun--and so unstintingly good-natured--you won't care. (B PLUS.)

BEACH RATS--Harris Dickinson delivers a breakout performance as a sexually conflicted Brooklyn teenager in director Eliza Hittman's powerful--and powerfully discomfiting--character study. A worthy follow-up to Hittman's extraordinary 2013 debut, "It Felt Like Love." (A MINUS.)

BOO 2: A MADEA HALLOWEEN--Formulaic and utterly dreary sequel to Tyler Perry's Halloween-themed 2016 hit (his top-grossing film to date). Even hardcore Perry fans will want to sit this one out. (D MINUS.)

BRAD'S STATUS--Brad (Ben Stiller) takes his teenage son (a fantastic Austin Abrams) on a tour of East Coast colleges in writer-director Mike ("Chuck and Buck") White's witty, wise and exceedingly moving dramedy. Confronted with the relative mediocrity of his own life--especially when judged against fabulously successful old school friends played by Luke Wilson, Jermaine

Clement and Michael Sheen--Brad suffers a debilitating, cringe-inducing and occasionally very funny midlife crisis. One of the very few recent American movies brave enough to tackle the way we live now in the 21st century economy. (A.)

BREATHE--The true story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) who contracted polio in his twenties and spent the remainder of his life hooked up to a ventilator isn't as depressing as it sounds. If anything, first-time director Andy Serkis errs on the side of positivity: Cavendish's life couldn't have been nearly as rose-colored as depicted here. But Garfield and Claire Foy (as his supportive wife) are so good you're willing to cut it some slack. And it's less of a slog to sit through than 2014's "The Theory of Everything." (C PLUS.)

BRIGSY BEAR--Quirky Sundance indie about a misfit (Kyle Mooney) obsessed with a lo-fi sci-fi TV show and its lead character, a giant stuffed bear named Brigsby. Claire Danes is his shrink; Greg Kinnear plays a sympathetic cop. It shouldn't work--the potential for treacle overkill is off the charts--but the darn thing manages to be well-nigh irresistible. (B PLUS.)

CARS 3--The second sequel to Pixar's 2006 smash corrects many of the mistakes of its lackluster 2011 precursor by essentially remaking the original 'toon. After flaming out in a spectacular crash, Lightning McQueen (once again voiced by Owen Wilson) is mentored by Cruz Ramirez (newcomer Cristela Alonzo) who helps whip him back into racing shape. While not appreciably better than your average straight-to-DVD animated sequel, it's satisfactory entertainment for little boys (and, yes, girls) of all ages. (B MINUS.)

CERTAIN WOMEN--Regional minimalist Kelly ("Wendy and Lucy," "Old Joy") Reichardt continues to go against the grain of contemporary American independent cinema. Even when working in ostensible genre terrain (eco-thriller "Night Moves" and revisionist western "Meek's Cutoff") she somehow managed to avoid the cliches lazy directors traditionally cling to. The fact that Reichardt still hasn't broken through commercially probably isn't coincidental. Adapted from three short stories by Maile Meloy, Reichardt's "Certain Women" didn't win her any new fans in theaters, but home video should prove to be a more conducive home for its ephemeral charms. Composed of three self-contained but interlocking vignettes--all set against the backdrop of small town Montana life--Reichardt's triptych provides meaty roles for some of our finest actresses. While the Michelle Williams and Laura Dern episodes are compelling in their own right, the standout segment features Kristen Stewart (wonderful as always) as a night-school teacher who befriends a lonely Native American ranch hand (remarkable newcomer Lily Gladstone). Don't be surprised if you find yourself wiping away tears at the end. One of the rare contemporary films released by the Criterion Collection, it features only a handful of extras (interviews with Reichardt, producer Todd Haynes and Meloy; an essay by film critic Ella Taylor), but is still worth seeking out. (A MINUS.)

CROOKED HOUSE--Based on a lesser known Agatha Christie murder mystery, this entertaining adaptation gets great mileage out of a spectacular English country estate, 1950's period trappings and an amusingly eclectic cast (Glenn Close, Terrence Stamp, Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, et al). Cowritten by Julian Fellowes of "Gosford Park" and "Downton Abbey" fame. (B.)

DADDY'S HOME 2--Yuletide-themed sequel to the 2015 hit adds Mel Gibson and John Lithgow (both perfectly cast) to the mix as, respectively, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell's dads. The humor is once again as broad as a barn (and as subtle as a network sitcom), but fans of the original are unlikely to care. (C.)

THE DARK TOWER--Dumbed-down, reductionist adaptation of Stephen King's fetishized multiverse novel series pits Gunslinger Idris Elba against Matthew McConaughey's Man in Black. If judged by who chews the most scenery, it's McConaughey's movie all the way. Personally, I

found the dystopian/apocalyptic tone seriously, grimly overwrought and even borderline risible. It's also kind of boring. The director, sadly enough, is Denmark's gifted Nikolaj Arcel who previously helmed 2012's Oscar-nominated historical romance, "A Royal Affair," with Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen. (C MINUS.)

DESPICABLE ME 3--Former baddie Gru is reunited with long-last twin brother Dru (both voiced by Steve Carrel) and battles a new super villain (Trey Parker) in the third--and least--entry in the Illumination CGI 'toon franchise that turned Minions into household names. It's fast-paced and silly enough to amuse small fry; adults will probably grow restless long before it's over. I did. (C.)

DETROIT--Oscar-winning director Kathryn ("The Hurt Locker," "Zero Dark Thirty") Bigelow's bruising, brutal examination of one of the most shameful chapters in America's fraught racial history is utterly riveting for nearly two-and-a-half hours. Because serious adult movies have become an endangered species in today's Hollywood, Bigelow's molotov cocktail of a film should be seen by anyone who cherishes the medium as an art form. (A.) 

DUNKIRK--At 107 fat-free minutes, visionary auteur Christopher ("The Dark Knight," "Inception") Nolan's hotly anticipated WW II epic is a tour de force of kinetic action cinema. An ensemble piece in the truest sense of the word (Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh are the most familiar faces, all first-rate), the real marquee star is Nolan. It's among the "Dark Knight" helmer's finest directorial achievements to date. (A.)

FLATLINERS--Another remake that nobody asked for, this flat (sorry) reboot of Joel Schumacher's entertainingly schlocky 1990 sci-fi thriller stars Ellen ("Juno") Page as a med student whose life-after-death experiments get, er, increasingly out of hand. An empty exercise in glossy style and cheeseball scare tactics, it lacks both heat and heart. And unlike the Schumacher version which featured a glittery cast (Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Keifer Sutherland, et al), this one is conspicuously lacking in star wattage (Page, whose career peaked a decade ago, is the biggest name here). (C MINUS.)

THE FLORIDA PROJECT--Sean ("Tangerine") Baker's neorealist slice of contemporary life pivots around the comings and goings in a "no tell" motel located near Orlando's theme parks. Amazing first-time juvenile actor Brooklynn Prince plays a spunky little girl who lives there with her skanky mom (equally remarkable newcomer Bria Vinaite). The only source of humanity in their lives is provided by Willem Dafoe's compassionate motel manager. (A.)

THE FOREIGNER--After his daughter is killed in a London terrorist bombing, Jackie Chan goes on the warpath, ruffling the feathers of ex-IRA deputy minister Pierce Brosnan. Directed by Martin ("The Mask of Zorro," "Casino Royale") Campbell, it's a moderately compelling actioner for anyone suffering withdrawal pains between Liam Neeson's "Taken" movies. (C PLUS.)  

GENERAL IDI AMIN DADA: A SELF PORTRAIT--Barbet ("Reversal of Fortune," "Barfly") Schroeder's provocative 1974 documentary about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin has finally been released on Blu-Ray by the Criterion Collection, and it remains one of the most definitive portraits of evil ever captured on celluloid. Schroeder had extraordinary access to Amin and the strongman turned on the charm offensive, never realizing that he was being set up. (Can you say "Hanging yourself with your own petard?") Whether staging "national pride" rallies or faux military escapades for the benefit of Schroeder's crew (Oscar-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros was the film's DP), Amin's quicksilver temperament turns on a dime. Even at his most foolish/silly he exudes a blood-curdling menace that makes it easy to believe the very worst about this egomaniacal baby man. For a Criterion release, the extras are surprisingly skimpy:  two Schroeder interviews, from 2001 and 2017 respectively; an interview with journalist Andrew Rice about Amin's reign of terror; and an informative essay by former Village Voice critic J. Hoberman that neatly contextualizes "General Idi Amin: A Self-Portrait" within Schroeder's eclectic oeuvre and the history of documentary cinema. (A MINUS.)

GEOSTORM--With all the disasters--natural and otherwise--occurring on a daily basis, another ecological disaster movie hardly qualifies as "entertainment." Lousy acting, stupid script, hackneyed execution, no fun. Skip it. (D.)

THE GLASS CASTLE--Based on Jeanette Walls' autobiographical best-selling novel, director Destin Daniel Cretton's follow-up to 2013's "Short Term 12" reteams him with that film's star (Brie Larson, Oscar winner for 2015's "Room") for a fraught, decades-spanning family drama. Reminiscent of last year's "Captain Fantastic" (a free-spirited dad chooses to raise his family off the grid with unforeseen consequences), but told from a female POV. The performances by Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts are all very strong; I just wish the film was more psychologically nuanced and a lot less soapy.


GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN--Domhnall Gleeson (very good) is kid-lit author A.A. Milne, a WW I combat vet suffering from PTSD who wrote his Winnie the Pooh books as a way to forge a bond with his lonely young son (the titular Christopher Robin). Much darker than you were probably expecting, the film is actually a tale of inadvertent child abuse as Christopher is exploited as a marketing prop to help sell Milne's books to the world. Margot Robbie brings a suitably icy hauteur to the role of Mrs. Milne, and Kelly McDonald supplies much-needed warmth as Christopher's beloved nanny. (B.) 

GOOD TIME--Former "Twilight" heartthrob Robert Pattison kills it as a small-time hood willing to do anything to protect his mentally challenged brother (Benny Safdie) in the latest pressure cooker from the Safdie Brothers (Josh and Benny). Gritty and sometimes unbearably intense, it's an apt companion piece to Martin Scorsese's 1973 masterpiece "Mean Streets." (A MINUS.)

THE HERO--Sam Elliott knocks it out of the park as a former movie cowboy whose twilight years prove the adage that old age isn't for sissies. There's not much more to it than that, but Elliott makes this a laid-back pleasure just the same. (B.)

INGRID GOES WEST--Aubrey Plaza travels cross country to meet her social media "friend" Elizabeth Olsen. As a clear-eyed look at Millennial myopia--and the perils of confusing Instagram "like"s with real life--the film is quietly devastating. It's also pretty funny. (B.)

IT--Moderately successful adaptation of Stephen King's 1,138-page magnum opus wisely elects to tell only half of the story (the part with the Losers Club), the better to play up its "Stand by Me" similarities. Directed by Andy ("Mama") Muschietti, it's chockablock with spooky setpieces, appealing juvenile performers ("St. Vincent" alumnus Jaeden Lieberher is a standout), and a classic, Freddie Krueger-esque boogey man in Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise. If the whole thing feels a tad lumpy and unfinished, it's probably because we'll have to wait for the in-the-works sequel to see how it all turns out. Or you can just read the book. (B.)

JIGSAW--The return of the original torture porn franchise that nobody, expect maybe a few sadists, were clamoring for. If this is your cup of fright film arsenic, knock yourselves out. Anyone else has been warned. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig who did much better work with the 2010 Ethan Hawke vampire opus, "Daybreakers." (D.)

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER--Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to 2016's "The Lobster" is an equally discomfiting tale of a respected surgeon, husband and father (Colin Farrell) whose perfect life comes undone when he befriends the disturbed teenage son (Barry Keoghan) of a former patient who died in the operating room. Part pitch-black comedy, psychological horror film and Grimm Brothers fairy tale, it's not as metaphorically rich or resonant as "The Lobster," but so masterfully written, directed and acted (Nicole Kidman is superb as Farrell's understandably bewildered spouse) that it grips--and amuses--every step of the way. (A.) 

LADY MACBETH--Impressive newcomer Florence Pugh shines as a 19th century bride whose extra-marital affair unleashes a wanton side she never experienced in her loveless marriage to a man twice her age. Shockingly primal and stunningly realized by first-time director William Oldroyd. (B PLUS.)

LANDLINE--Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn (both terrific) play sisters in 1995 Manhattan whose discovery of dad John Turturro's infidelity upends their lives. "Sopranos" vet Edie Falco costars as the gals' understandably gobsmacked mom. Directed by Gillian Robespierre who previously teamed with Slate for 2014's abortion rom-com "Obvious Child." (B.)

THE LAST FACE--Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem are relief workers who fall in love while toiling in a war-torn African country. Directed by the estimable Sean Penn ("Into the Wild," "The Pledge"), it's a tone-deaf, perversely misjudged failure that doesn't succeed on any level. No wonder it was booed off the screen at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and received only a perfunctory U.S. theatrical release. (D.)

LAST FLAG FLYING--A kind of spiritual sequel to Hal Ashby's 1973 New Hollywood masterpiece "The Last Detail," Richard ("Boyhood") Linklater's beautifully acted three-hander casts Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne as three old sailors who reunite for a road trip to

bury Carell's fallen Marine son. Funny and even bawdy at times, but powerfully moving. (A.)

L.B.J.--As the titular former POTUS and Lady Bird Johnson, Woody Harrelson and Jennifer Jason Leigh are the best things in Rob Reiner's overly prosaic biopic. Jay Roach's 2016 HBO movie "All the Way" with Bryan Cranston as L.B.J. is the better Johnson flick. Rent that instead. (C PLUS.)

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE--The third--and least special--LEGO 'toon is sort of what "Kung Fu Panda" would look like minus the pandas and with, y'know, LEGOs. While great-looking and intermittently engaging/amusing, it's just not up to the same level of creativity and wit that distinguished the first two LEGO iterations. (C PLUS.)

LE SAMOURAI--If Jean-Pierre Melville had never been born, would Michael Mann have existed?

Discuss. In the meantime, check out the Criterion Collection's breathtaking new hi-def digital restoration of Melville's 1967 masterpiece starring Alain Delon as the coolest contract killer on the Champs-Elysees. Delon's Jef Costello--wearing Gallic sangfroid as effortlessly as he does his sporty fedora and trench coat--must contend with a cop on his tail and an employer even more ruthless than he is. But plot matters less than mise-en-scene, and the whole thing is uber-stylized, infused with an Asian lone-wolf sensibility that wouldn't have been out of place in one of Kurosawa's classic samurai flicks. The extras are less bountiful than usual for a Criterion Blu-Ray, but still choice. There are archival interviews with Melville, Delon, Francois Perier, Cathy Rosier and Nathalie Delon, and 2005 interviews with two Melville scholars (Ginette Vincendeau, author of "Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris," and Rui Nogueira, editor of "Melville on Melville"); a 2011 short exploring the relationship between Melville and Delon; an essay by critic David Thomson; an appreciation by none other than Melville acolyte John Woo; and excerpts from the afore-motioned "Melville on Melville." (A.)

LOVING VINCENT--Gorgeous hand-drawn animation propels this investigation into the death (suicide? murder?) of Vincent Van Gogh in late 19th century France. The decision to give the film the post-Impressionist look of a Van Gogh canvas pays off in spades:  it's the most visually striking animated film of 2017. The storyline isn't terribly compelling if you're familiar with Van Gogh's Wikipedia page, but it's still a veritable feast for the senses. (B PLUS.)

MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE--As the Watergate whistle blower immortalized as "Deep Throat" by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who used him as a source for their Washington Post reportage, Liam Neeson is strikingly good. The parallels between Watergate and Russiagate are devastating, especially when you consider that the film wrapped well before Trump's inauguration. (B PLUS.)

MARSHALL--Earnest, but never stodgy biopic about Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. The movie focuses on a case from Marshall's early years when he defended a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown of "This is Us") charged with sexual assault and attempted murder. The sensational Boseman, who's already played Jackie Robinson ("42") and James Brown ("Get On Up"), makes the movie worth seeing all by himself. And it's a lot easier to sit through than your average high school civics class. (B MINUS.)

MAUDIE--Sally Hawkins is wonderful as true-life Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis whose hardscrabble early years helped fuel her paintings. Ethan Hawke (also very good) plays her curmudgeonly, not particularly supportive mate. Beautifully directed by Aisling Walsh. (A MINUS.)

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US--After miraculously surviving a plane crash, Kate Winslet and Idris Elba fight for survival in freezing conditions while stranded atop a mountain. Brrr. Not bad per se and both leads are reliably strong, but we've already seen this movie before many times before both on cable and in theaters. Oscar-nominated director Hany Abu-Asad ("Omar," "Paradise Now") has done better, less generic and certainly more distinctive films. (C.)

MY LITTLE PONY--The '80s kiddie sensation is reprised in a thoroughly unremarkable, paint-by-numbers 'toon. Strictly for the youngest, most undemanding moviegoers. (D.)

ONLY THE BRAVE--The Granite Mountain Hotshots--an elite corps of Arizona fire fighters--are the subjects of an impressively visceral action flick that proves 1991's "Backdraft" wasn't the last word on firemen movies after all. Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch star in aptly uber-macho mode. Amidst all this roiling testosterone, Jennifer Connelly manages to turn in her best screen performance since "Requiem for a Dream" as Brolin's long-suffering wife. Nice. (B.)

OTHELLO--Thanks to The Criterion Collection, Orson Welles' cinema maudit (literally translated as "cursed film") receives the bells-and-whistles treatment Welles and Shakespeare buffs have been clamoring for. Shot over three years in Italy and Morocco--depending on when/where the latest infusion of cash arrived--"Othello" somehow managed to triumph despite all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that rained down on Welles during the movie's troubled production. The two-disc Criterion Blu-Ray includes gorgeously restored 4K digital transfers of both the 1952 European version as well as the 1955 U.S. cut. And because it's Criterion, there's a veritable treasure trove of supplements, including Welles' last completed work, the 1979 docu-essay, "Filming Othello." Other choice extras include:  a well-nigh definitive 1995 audio commentary with director/Welles BFF Peter Bogdanovich and Welles expert Myron Meisel; the 1953 short film, "Return to Glennascaul," made during the film's protracted shooting by "Othello" actors Hilton Edwards and Micheal MacLiammoir; and a 1995 documentary about the movie's ethereal Desdemona, Suzanne Cloutier, directed by Francois Girard. There are interviews with Welles biographer Simon Callow; "Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race and Contemporary America" author Ayanna Thompson; writer Joseph McBride; and scholar Francois Thomas who compares and contrasts the two extant versions of "Othello." If that's not enough, there's even a smashing print essay ("In Pieces") by film critic Geoffrey O'Brien. It's the most impressive--and impressively packaged--Blu-Ray release I've seen all year. (A PLUS.) 

PARIS CAN WAIT--A radiant Diane Lane returns to "Under the Tuscan Sun" turf for a pleasantly scenic road trip rom-com directed by Eleanor Coppola (yes, Francis Ford's wife). It's featherweight fare aimed strictly at the AARP crowd, but a modest pleasure nonetheless. (B MINUS.)

PATTI CAKE$--This pricey Fox Searchlight acquisition is further proof that oxygen at the Sundance Film Festival must be perilously thin. A plus-sized white rapper (Danielle Macdonald's Patti) struggles to make it out of New Jersey despite no discernible talent and a disapproving mom (scene stealer Bridgett Everett). Twenty years ago this might have found a cult following; today it just seems tone-deaf and passe. (C MINUS.)

PLANETARIUM--While I was never entirely certain whose (or what) story this period piece wanted to tell, the performances of Natalie Portman and Lily Rose Depp (yes, Johnny's teenage daughter) as clairvoyant American sisters in WW II-era Paris kept me engaged. Part supernatural mystery, part Holocaust drama and part showbiz saga (the sisters get cast in a movie), it's a bit of a mess but consistently watchable nonetheless. (B MINUS.)

PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN--Intriguing true-life docudrama about psychologist William Marston (Luke Evans), creator of the Wonder Woman comic book. The movie spends as much time delineating Marston's, er, unconventional living arrangements--he and his wife (Rebecca Hall) share a home and bed with his mistress (Bella Heathcote)--as it does on his feminist comic icon. Entertaining and well-played even though the filmmaking itself never rises above a basic cable level of competence. (C PLUS.)

QUEEN OF THE DESERT--While hardly the disaster many have claimed, this glossy biopic about early 20th century British adventuress Gertrude Bell is definitely the most impersonal film ever made by visionary auteur Werner Herzog. (It might as well have been directed by Justin Chadwick or John Maddin.) Nicole Kidman is very good as Bell, and there are strong supporting performances from Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence. On paper, Bell might seem like kin to previous Herzogian protagonists like Aguirre and Fitzcaraldo, but their electrifying conquistador madness is absent. Bell seems much too demure and level-headed to flip out.


REBECCA--1940's Oscar-winning Best Picture has always been a peculiar case in that it's a great movie, but not necessarily a great "Alfred Hitchcock Movie." Hitch himself said that uber-producer David O. Selznick was the true auteur of the picture, and it feels as though it could have been directed by William Wyler, George Cukor, Michael Curtiz or any number of Old Hollywood master craftsmen. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier's novel, the film stars Joan Fontaine as the blushing bride of brooding widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier in his follow-up to Heathcliff in Wyler's "Wuthering Heights") whose arrival at Manderlay stirs up the ghost of de Winter's late wife (the titular Rebecca), as well as the dander of spooky housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson in an unforgettable performance). The Criterion Collection's 4K digital restoration insures that the movie has never looked better, and there are a treasure trove of yummy extras for Hitchcock completists. Chief among them are an audio commentary with film historian Leonard J. Leff; a conversation between critic Molly Haskell and scholar Patricia White; an interview with archivist Craig Barron on the visual effects; 2016 French television documentary, "Daphne du Maurier: In the Footsteps of 'Rebecca;'" a 2007 making-of doc; casting gallery with notes from both Hitchcock and Selznick; a 1975 television interview

Hitchcock did with Tom Snyder for NBC's old "Tomorrow" show; three radio versions of "Rebecca," including Orson Welles' 1938 Mercury Theater adaptation; screen, hair, makeup and costume tests with Fontaine, Vivien Leigh, Anne Baxter, Loretta Young and Margaret Sullavan; 1986 audio interviews with Fontaine and Anderson; an essay by Selznick biographer David Thompson; and Selznick production correspondence with (among others) Hitchcock. (A.)

REBEL IN THE RYE--In his best performance since "About a Boy," Nicholas Hoult plays the young J.D. Salinger in this affecting biopic about the "Catcher in the Rye" author's formative years. Kevin Spacey (excellent) is Salinger's literary mentor, and Zooey Deutch casts a winsome spell as erstwhile lover Oona O'Neill. Screenwriter Danny ("The Butler") Strong has made an impressive first film. (B PLUS.)

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME--After siting on Paramount's shelf for more than two years, this Renee Zellweger/Greg Kinnear soaper finally hits theaters via faith-based shingle Pure Flix. You have been warned. (D PLUS.)

SID AND NANCY--What ever happened to Chloe Webb? That's the question I kept asking myself while watching the Criterion Collection's restored 4K digital transfer of cult director Alex ("Repo Man") Cox's 1986 masterpiece. As Sid Vicious soulmate Nancy Spungen, Webb practically burns a hole through the screen with her voracious, unbridled intensity. Along with Debra Winger in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and Jessica Lange in "Sweet Dreams," Webb's searing turn is one of the truly great movie performances of the '80s. A sort of punk rock "Days of Wine and Roses," "Sid and Nancy" paints an indelible portrait of co-dependent addiction and l'amour fou set against the backdrop of the second British Invasion. Playing a snarling Romeo to Webb's smack-addicted Juliet, Gary Oldman is equally brilliant, but Oldman got a chance to play everyone from Lee Harvey Oswald to Beethoven to Joe Orton and Dracula after his star-making performance. And Webb? Despite winning the New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics Best Actress awards, a supporting role opposite Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzengger in 1988's "Twins" was the best Hollywood could offer. Not fair. Another thing that popped out on a second viewing--I hadn't seen the film since its original 1986 theatrical release--was Roger Deakins' crystalline cinematography. Deakins, who would emerge as one of the finest DPs of his generation, does amazing work here, crafting a graffiti-sprawled tapestry of squalor and snot as visceral as it is weirdly, hauntingly beautiful. Which makes it the perfect visual metaphor for Vicious and Spungen's star-crossed junkie romance. The newly issued Criterion Blu-Ray offers a cornucopia of extras:  two audio commentaries (from 1994 with Oldman, Webb and rock historian Greil Marcus, and an alternate 2001 track with Cox); a 2016 Cox interview; a 1987 making-of documentary; a 1976 television interview with the Sex Pistols; a Vicious telephone interview from 1978; interviews with Spungen and Vicious from 1980 documentary, "D.O.A.: A Right of Passage;" excerpts from "The London Weekend Show," a 1976 British TV show, and a 2016 doc, "Sad Vacation," about Vicious and Spungen; an essay by author Jon Savage; and Cox's 1986 musings about the titular couple and the making of the film. (A.)

THE SNOWMAN--Lackluster Tomas ("Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy") Alfredson adaptation of the best-selling 2007 Jo Nesbo serial killer procedural. The great Michael Fassbender sleepwalks through his role as a detective on the case with a serious drinking problem; Rebecca Ferguson

provides what little spark the movie has as his rookie partner. Considering the talent involved (Martin Scorsese is an executive producer!), the tepid results mark this as one of the season's most disappointing films. (C.)  

THE STAR--Ever wonder what barn animals at the Nativity were thinking? Me neither. Blandly inoffensive pabulum for the very youngest among the Sunday School set. (D PLUS.)

STRONGER--Jake Gyllenhaal gives a career-best performance as Jeff Bauman who lost both legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. David Gordon Green's film takes a warts-and-all

approach to its true-life subject (Bauman's bad behavior isn't glossed over like it would have been in a more conventional, sanitized biopic), and that honesty feels both bracing and welcome. An unrecognizable Miranda Richardson plays Bauman's tough-as-nails mother and, as his long-suffering girlfriend, Tatiana Maslany reminded me of the early-'80s Debra Winger. High praise indeed. (A MINUS.)

SUBURBICON--This uber-quirky dark comedy set in a prototypical 1950's American suburb was directed/ cowritten by George Clooney and adapted from an original Coen Brothers screenplay. While not a total success (too much of it feels overly broad, even cartoonish at times), there are enough interestingly subversive elements--and strong performances from Matt Damon, Oscar Isaacs, Julianne Moore and fantastic kid actor Noah Jupe among others--to keep you happily jazzed. (B MINUS.)

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE--Returning serviceman Miles Teller suffers from PTSD in a touching homefront drama, the first film directed by "American Sniper" screenwriter Jason Hall. The ensemble cast is superb (including an unrecognizable Amy Schumer), and Hall deftly sidesteps most of the cliches inherent in the genre. (B.)

THE TRIP TO SPAIN--Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon reteam for another gastronomic travelogue, this time (you guessed it) in Spain. While Coogan and Brydon remain an entertaining duo, riffing off each other like they've been doing it their whole lives, some of the bloom is off the rose in "Trip" #3. Directed once again by Michael Winterbottom who really knows how to photograph landscapes and food. (B.)

TULIP FEVER--Long-delayed adaptation of Deborah Moggach's popular novel is a flaccid non-starter, indifferently directed by Justin ("Mandela") Chadwick. Alicia Vikander plays a young woman in 17th century Amsterdam whose arranged marriage to a wealthy older man (Christoph Waltz) leaves her unsatisfied. When a young artist (Dane DeHaan, miscast) is commissioned to paint her portrait, an adulterous affair ensues. Tulips and Dame Judi Dench are somehow involved. (C MINUS.)

VICEROY'S HOUSE--"Downton Abbey" alum Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy in India whose task was overseeing the country's transition back to independent rule in 1947. Directed by Chadra ("Bend it Like Beckham") Chadra and sporting an esteemed supporting cast (including Michael Gambon, Simon Callow and Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Mountbaten), it's the kind of lushly appointed, old-fashioned period piece that used to be catnip with arthouse audiences. Slightly stodgy, but enjoyable nonetheless. (B MINUS.)

VICTORIA AND ABDUL--Judi Dench returns to the role of Queen Victoria that she essayed in 1997's "Mrs. Brown" for a fanciful account of the British monarch's friendship with an Indian Muslim (Ali Fazal). Because it feels more like a movie from 20 years ago than today where comic book tentpoles rule, audiences of a certain age should find it well-nigh irresistible. Directed by Stephen Frears ("Philomena," "The Queen") who knows a thing or two about royalty. And Dame Judi. (B.)

WALKING OUT--Matt Bomer and Josh Wiggins play a father and son whose Montana hunting trip takes a disastrous turn in Alex and Andrew Smith's emotionally grueling, albeit beautifully shot survival tale. Bomer--cast against type as a rugged outdoorsman--is very good, but this is Wiggins' movie every step of the way. He's one of the best young American actors to emerge since early-'90s Leo DiCaprio. Why isn't he getting the type of high-profile roles/movies his British and Aussie contemporaries are? (Yes, I'm looking at you "Amazing Spider-Man" Tom Holland.)


WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES--The third (and final?) entry in Twentieth Century Fox's rebooted franchise creates as fantastic a digital universe as "Avatar" or "The Jungle Book." (Yes, you'll believe those apes are real.) Returning director Matt Reeves brings a true epic grandeur to the film that makes its myriad references to Old School Hollywood spectaculars (everything from "Spartacus" to "The Ten Command- ments") feel truly earned. As Caesar rallies his simian troops to battle a human army led by a fierce and terrifying Woody Harrelson, it completely delivers on the promise of its title. This is a war movie in every sense of the word ("Apocalypse Now" and "Full Metal Jacket" are both given shout-outs), and therefore probably not suitable for young children. It's a tad overlong--certain scenes drag on well past their expiration point--but as big-screen spectacles go, it's everything you'd want in a 21st century action tentpole. (B PLUS.)

WIND RIVER--Federal wildlife officer Jeremy Renner and rookie F.B.I. agent Elisabeth Olsen investigate the rape/murder of a young woman on a Utah Indian reservation in virtuoso screenwriter Taylor ("Hell or High Water," "Sicario") Sheridan's stunningly assured sophomore directorial outing. Terse, beautifully crafted and with nary an ounce of fat, it's the best grown-up movie of the season. The ending will haunt you for years to come. (A.)

WOODSHOCK--As a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Kirsten Dunst (dependably good, but clearly struggling with a nonexistent role) is the entire show in a narcoleptic, fussily pretentious co-directorial debut by fashion designer sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Resembles a feature-length perfume ad...for anti-depressants. As insufferable as it sounds. (D.)

YOUNG MR. LINCOLN--The best Hollywood movie of 1939 wasn't "Gone With the Wind" or even "The Wizard of Oz," but this elegiac John Ford masterpiece about the early years of Honest Abe Lincoln, memorably played by Henry Fonda in one of his greatest screen performances. The film's stunning black-and-white photography (by frequent Ford collaborator Bert Glennon) has never looked better than in this new Criterion Collection Blu-Ray edition. Glennon's richly burnished images practically glisten. If you've never seen "Young Mr. Lincoln"--shockingly, the movie isn't as well-known as it should be: it's frequently overshadowed by Ford's "Stagecoach" released that same year--this is a fantastic introduction to one of the most enduring classics of

the American cinema. The extras are, per the Criterion norm, suitably choice:  an audio commentary with Ford biographer Joseph McBride; Lindsay Anderson's profile of Ford's life and work prior to WW II; a 1975 talk show appearance by Fonda; audio interviews from the seventies with Ford and Fonda conducted by Ford's grandson; a radio dramatization of the film; an essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien; and a Ford homage by master Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein.