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Los Angeles Times Movie Guide

Thursday, July 03, 2014 - Updated: 6:49 AM

OPENING THIS WEEK

"Beyond the Edge" -- A dramatized account of Edmund Hillary's historic 1953 ascent of Mount Everest. With Chad Moffitt, Sonam Sherpa and John Wraight. Written and directed by Leanne Pooley. (1:30) NR.

"Cinemanovels" -- The estranged daughter of a famous, recently deceased filmmaker decides to help put together a retrospective of his work. With Lauren Lee Smith and Jennifer Beals. Written and directed by Terry Miles. (1:31) R.

"Deliver Us From Evil" -- A New York police officer joins forces with an unconventional priest to investigate a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. With Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez and Olivia Munn. Written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Directed by Derrickson. (1:37) R.

"Earth to Echo" -- After a construction project begins in their neighborhood, three boys start to receive strange coded messages on their cellphones, and their investigation brings them into contact with an extraterrestrial who needs their help. With Teo Halm, Brian "Astro" Bradley and Reese Hartwig. Written by Henry Gayden. Directed by Dave Green. (1:22) PG.

"Gabrielle" -- A young, musically gifted woman living with Williams syndrome falls for a fellow member of her choir for developmentally disabled adults. With Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, Alexandre Landry and Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin. Written and directed by Louise Archambault. In French with English subtitles. (1:43) R.

"The Girl on the Train" -- A documentary filmmaker headed to an interview in upstate New York has a chance encounter with a mysterious woman who leads him on a dangerous journey. With Henry Ian Cusick, Stephen Lang and Nicki Aycox. Written and directed by Larry Brand. (1:20) R.

"A Hard Day's Night" -- The Fab Four embark from Liverpool to London for a TV appearance and deal with their uptight manager, obsessed fans and a troublemaking grandfather along the way in this 1964 rerelease. With John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Written by Alun Owen. Directed by Richard Lester. (1:27) G.

"Life Itself" -- A documentary recounting the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, based on his best-selling memoir of the same name. Directed by Steve James. (1:58) R.

"The Pleasures of Being Out of Step" -- A documentary portrait of the jazz writer, journalist and civil libertarian Nat Hentoff. Directed by David L. Lewis. (1:26) NR.

"Premature" -- A high school student trying to win over his longtime crush and nail a college interview keeps reliving the same day over and over again. With John Karna, Craig Roberts and Katie Findlay. Written by Dan Beers and Mathew Harawitz. Directed by Beers. (1:33) R.

"Tammy" -- After wrecking her car, getting fired from her thankless fast-foot job and catching her husband cheating, a small-town woman sets out on a trip to Niagara Falls with her hard-drinking grandmother. With Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Allison Janney and Gary Cole. Written by McCarthy and Ben Falcone. Directed by Falcone. (1:57) R.

"Venus in Fur" -- After an unsuccessful day auditioning actresses for his new play, a writer-director is surprised by a last-minute candidate who seems ill-prepared but proves to be an all-too-perfect fit. With Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner. Written by Roman Polanski and David Ives. Directed by Polanski. In French with English subtitles. (1:36) NR.

CRITICS' CHOICES

"Edge of Tomorrow" -- With Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt starring in an Earth-versus-aliens epic, this is one mass-market entertainment that's smart, exciting and unexpected while not stinting on genre satisfactions. (K.Tu., June 6) In 3-D and Imax. (1:53) PG-13.

"How to Train Your Dragon 2" -- From the fashionable day-old scruff on Hiccup's 20-year-old Viking chin to the amped-up firepower of Toothless, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" has made good use of the years since the villagers of Berk and the boy who'd rather not be chief first charmed us. The spot-on cast led by Jay Baruchel now includes Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. There's a new villain played by Djimon Hounsou, a major family reunion and Hiccup continuing his fight for dragon rights. Those battles on the back of the beasties are when the animation, and the film, soars. (B.S., June 13) In 3-D. (1:45) PG.

"Ida" -- Spare, haunting, uncompromising, this Polish film about a novitiate who discovers she is Jewish is a work of exceptional artistry whose emotions are as potent and persuasive as its images are indelibly beautiful. (K.Tu., May 2) In Polish with English subtitles. (1:20) PG-13.

"The Immigrant" -- One of those prickly period pieces about hard times that gets under your skin. Though its story is far more about survival than love, there is a sense of seduction to it, a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing quality. Not unlike Bruno Weiss, the dandy who trolls Ellis Island for pretty girls in bad straits played so well by Joaquin Phoenix. Marion Cotillard's Ewa is one of those weary and desperate beauties, fate hanging in the balance. Though the film is sometimes as fraught at the immigrant experience, in the end the ideas are so rich, the look so lovely, Ewa's journey so heartbreakingly real, even the flaws seem to suit it. (B.S., May 16) (2 hrs.) R.

"The Rover" -- Australian writer-director David Michod's first film after "Animal Kingdom" features Guy Pearce's pure controlled ferocity as a man on a stop-at-nothing quest to recover his stolen vehicle. (K.Tu., June 13) (1:42) R.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" -- Time travel, Peter Dinklage and '70s kitsch top a very long list of what make "X-Men: Days of Future Past" such a blast. Its massive top-drawer cast includes James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and basically anyone who's had an "X-Men" walk-on. There is action galore, but this deeper, richer, more thoughtful film is the best "X" yet. (B.S., May 23) In 3-D. (2:10) PG-13.

ALSO IN THEATERS

"22 Jump Street" -- A monument to mocking, a master class in dissing, a parody of pastiche, poking its R-rated finger at social conventions, sequels, stereotypes, football, frats, friends, drugs, sex -- even its stars. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back for yet another capricious crime caper. Their chemistry crackles around strains in their bromance and the fallout from bungling any case they get. You might think the laughs are over when the credits start to roll. They aren't. Hang around for a final bit of fun. (B.S., June 13) (1:51) R.

"Begin Again" -- Reeling from a breakup with her musical partner and longtime boyfriend, a songwriter in New York City has a chance encounter with a disgraced record label exec that blossoms into something more. With Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Levine. Written and directed by John Carney. (1:44) R.

"Belle" -- Dressed up in the corsets and social conventions of Georgian England, "Belle" proves a good canvas for its mannered conversation about race. In an even stranger sense, it echoes many of our current conversations about race, which makes the film's shortfalls disappointing. "Belle" is greatly buoyed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw's performance as the mixed-race beauty Dido Elizabeth Belle, but with family ties, race relations, marriage proposals, legal issues and London's not-so-polite society fighting for attention, it leaves the film fighting for its identity. (B.S., May 2) (1:45) PG-13.

"Bound by Flesh" -- A documentary about the conjoined twins and vaudeville superstars Daisy and Violet Hilton. Directed by Leslie Zemeckis. (1:30) NR.

"The Breakup Guru" -- An expert who has helped more than 2,000 couples break up has his skills put to the ultimate test. With Deng Chao, Yang Mi and Liang Chao. Written by Yu Baimei. Directed by Deng and Yu. In Mandarin, with English and Chinese subtitles. (1:54) NR.

"Chaplin of the Mountains" -- A young Kurdish-French woman travels to Kurdistan to find her late mother's village and meets two American film students who are travelling in the remote region screening Charlie Chaplin films. With Estelle Bajou, Zack Gold and Bennet Viso. Written and directed by Jano Rosebiani. (1:26) NR.

"Chef" -- Writer-director-star Jon Favreau cooks up tureens of fun and charm in this welcome return to his more intimate, indie film roots ("Swingers," "Made") after helming such mega-budget pictures as "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2" and "Cowboys & Aliens." As for the movie's food porn quotient: Like most else here, it doesn't disappoint. (Gary Goldstein, May 9) (1:55) NR.

"Citizen Koch" -- A documentary about the growing influence of corporate interests in American politics. Directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin. (1:26) NR.

"Code Black" -- A documentary following a team of young doctors-in-training as they work in the "C-Booth," the trauma bay of Los Angeles County Hospital. Directed by Ryan McGarry. (1:28) NR.

"A Coffee in Berlin" -- A 20-something law-school dropout drifting through Berlin is forced to reconsider his ways after a being cut off financially by his father and rebuffed by his girlfriend. With Tom Schilling, Friederike Kempter and Marc Hosemann. Written and directed by Jan Ole Gerster. In German with English subtitles. (1:25) NR.

"The Fault in Our Stars" -- Despite the way death and cancer gnaw at "The Fault in Our Stars," the new teenage love story starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort is really about living. The two play the hand they're dealt quite well, balancing the sentiment with teenage moxie. Make no mistake, "Fault" is a certifiable weepie, but it comes by its emotions honestly. What sustains it through the rockier times are its challenging themes, offering real issues for the young protagonists to wrestle with, rather than whether anyone will be carded trying to buy beer. (B.S., June 6) (2:05) PG-13.

"Godzilla" -- Someone's clearly lost sight of the obvious when the no-name monsters get more screen time than the main attraction. The cast led by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a good one. But forgotten is the primary reason we show up in such massive numbers -- we actually want to see the big guy go stomping and tromping through cities. As it happens, "Godzilla's" terrifying towering reptile is one very cool dude, with 3-D side effects that are monstrous in all the right ways. Ironically this big, lumbering movie could have used more, not less. More Godzilla, and more emotional content for its fine cast too. (B.S., May 16) In 3-D and Imax. (2:03) PG-13.

"Hellion" -- No amount of jittery camera work, heavy metal music and explosive violence can erase the feeling that this Texas-based working-class drama is more of a curated exhibit about a broken family than an organically engaging film about one. (Robert Abele, June 20) (1:38) NR.

"The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz" -- A documentary about programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz, who helped develop the Internet protocol RSS and co-founded the website Reddit. Directed by Brian Knappenberger. (1:45) NR.

"Jersey Boys" -- Director Clint Eastwood brings the successful Broadway musical to the screen in a pleasantly old-fashioned production that gives equal weight to personal drama and the classic rock anthems of the Four Seasons. (K.Tu., June 20) (2:14) R.

"La Bare" -- A documentary about the most popular male strip club in the world, La Bare Dallas. Directed by Joe Manganiello. (1:30) R.

"The Last Sentence" -- Jan Troell, one of the masters of Swedish cinema, does his usual impeccable directing in this examination of the public and private life of a Swedish journalist who stood up to Hitler when it wasn't popular. (K.Tu., June 20) In Swedish with English subtitles. (2:06) NR.

"Maleficent" -- In re-imagining the infamous evil queen who curses an innocent girl, "Maleficent" is very much a cautionary tale for modern times. It essentially prompts the question -- are you sure it was the shrew that needed taming? It stars a wickedly good Angelina Jolie. Unlike "Sleeping Beauty," "Maleficent" explains all: motivation, regrets -- from the queen's point of view. This multifaceted Maleficent has wit and empathy as well as rage. Though the film hits a few bumps, Jolie hasn't looked like she's had such fun with a role since 2005's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." (B.S., May 30) In 3-D and Imax. (1:37) PG.

"Manakamana" -- A documentary about pilgrims traveling via cable car to an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez. In Nepali and English, with English subtitles. (1:58) NR.

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" -- If Seth MacFarlane's latest accomplishes nothing else, it proves beyond doubt the old adage that dying is easy -- it's comedy that's hard. Deadly jokes certainly dog this latest bit of ridiculous raunch from the Hollywood whiz kid, who falls flat on his face many times over the course of the film, from the main drag of the frontier town of Old Stump to one comedy riff after another. The movie feels half-baked. Not even its very good cast, led by Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson, can save it. Of the million ways to die in the West, a comedy misfire is deadliest of all. (B.S., May 30) (1:56) R.

"Nothing Bad Can Happen" -- A young man involved with the underground Christian punk movement falls in with a dysfunctional family that tests his seemingly unwavering faith. With Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak and Annika Kuhl Written and directed by Katrin Gebbe. In German with English subtitles. (1:45) NR.

"Obvious Child" is about a few weeks in the life of aspiring stand-up comic Donna Stern, played by the very funny Jenny Slate. It follows her emotional journey from romance, to break-up, to one-night stand, to unexpected pregnancy, to romance, to abortion -- much of which is mined for laughs in her confessional-style late-night routines. This might not sound like a laughing matter, but writer-director Gillian Robespierre knows how to tease the comedy out of the human condition. As the film stumbles its way to the final punch line, it echoes Donna's onstage musings -- funny, but rough around the edges. (B.S., June 6) (1:23) R.

"One Candle, Two Candles" -- A young Kurdish woman rebels against her forced marriage to an elderly businessman and endures brutal punishment. With Enwer Shekhani, Katrin Ender and Hisen Hesen. Written and directed by Jano Rosebiani. In Kurdish with English subtitles. (1:31) NR.

"Postman Pat" -- A humble postman competing on a TV talent contest grapples with newfound fame and runs afoul of a devious plot to take over the world in this animated movie. With the voices of Stephen Mangan, Jim Broadbent and Rupert Grint. Written by Kim Fuller and Annika Bluhm. Directed by Mike Disa. (1:25) NR.

"Radio Free Albemuth" -- In an alternate reality, a Berkeley record-store clerk experiencing strange visions from an extraterrestrial source uproots his family and becomes a successful music executive with a secret mission to overthrow the government. With Jonathan Scarfe, Shea Whigham and Alanis Morissette. Written and directed by John Alan Simon. (1:51) R.

"Redemption Trail" -- The daughter of a murdered Black Panther revolutionary living off the grid on a Sonoma vineyard has her hermetic life interrupted when she gives reluctant shelter to a desperate young woman who has attempted suicide in a nearby forest. With Lily Rabe, LisaGay Hamilton and Hamish Linklater. Written and directed by Britta Sjogren. (1:31) NR.

"Snowpiercer" -- In a world where a failed global-warming experiment has killed off most life on the planet and the final survivors reside aboard a train that travels around the frozen globe, the oppressed passengers in the rear section of the train revolt against the elites upfront. With Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton. Written by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson. Directed by Bong. (2:06) R.

"Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" -- Light, frenetic and anecdote-rich, this documentary about talent manager Shep Gordon is the kind of back-patting Hollywood toast to the guy behind the guy that's breezy good fun if you don't examine it too hard. (Robert Abele, June 6) (1:24) PG-13.

"They Came Together" -- A corporate executive for a large candy store chain is tasked with shutting down a mom-and-pop sweet shop run by a woman he's falling for. With Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and Ed Helms. Written by Michael Showalter and David Wain. Directed by Wain. (1:24) R.

"Think Like a Man Too" -- Kevin Hart's amped-up style has earned him shooting-star status, but in "Think Like a Man Too" he hits such adrenaline-fueled extremes it's exhausting. Hart is on day and night as the sprawling group of friends we met in the 2012 adaptation of Steve Harvey's bestselling "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" heads to Vegas for a wedding -- and the requisite debauched bachelor and bachelorette parties beforehand. As funny as Hart can be, and there is no doubt he is funny, "Too" is a case of too much Hart. (B.S., June 20) (1:45) PG-13.

"Third Person" -- The latest interlocking puzzle from Paul Haggis is about love, but it's not a soft and fuzzy sort of love. Haggis uses a double-edged sword -- and a relatively blunt one at that -- to hack away at it. There are three theaters of operation -- the entanglement between Liam Neeson's and Olivia Wilde's characters unfolding in Paris, Adrien Brody and Moran Atias' mismatched pair sparring in Rome and Mila Kunis and James Franco battling it out in New York City. The actors bring their A-games, but ultimately the film's pieces remain scattered, its puzzle unfinished, its stories half-told. (B.S., June 20) (2:16) R.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" -- Three years after an epic battle has forced the shape-shifting robots known as Transformers into hiding, a garage inventor makes a startling discovery and gets caught up in a battle for the fate of Earth. With Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Sophia Miles. Written by Ehren Kruger. Directed by Michael Bay. In 3-D and Imax. PG-13.

"Under the Electric Sky" -- A documentary following a diverse group of fans journeying to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, one of the largest music festivals in the U.S. Directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. In 3-D. (1:25) PG-13.

"Violette" -- A biopic about the trailblazing French author and feminist Violette Leduc. With Emmanuelle Devos, Sandrine Kiberlain and Olivier Gourmet. Written by Martin Provost, Marc Abedelnour and Rene de Ceccatty. Directed by Provost. In French with English subtitles. (2:18) NR.

"Words and Pictures" is a middle-aged romantic comedy masquerading as a war between literature and art. The battleground is a Maine prep school. Clive Owen is the brash, unconventional English teacher in residence, and Juliette Binoche is the new art teacher, an aloof, acclaimed abstract painter. Adult and teenage angst and intellectual jockeying fill the corridors and classrooms. There are contrivances around every corner too. But for the most part, the florid flourishes are so lightly played by Owen and Binoche, the film's melodrama can almost be forgiven. (B.S., May 23) (1:56) PG-13.

"Yves Saint Laurent" -- The first of two French-made biopics being released this year about the iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is a stylish, serviceable recounting of his life from the late 1950s through the '70s. But watchable as it may be, this drama lacks intimacy and urgency. It's also missing the kind of deep artistic soul that would seem de rigueur for a look back at one of the world's most influential couturiers. (Gary Goldstein, June 25) In French with English subtitles. (1:46) R.

-- Los Angeles Times

     

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