Movie Capsules: Now showing

Anne Le as Yvonne, Francois Cluzet as Philippe and Omar Sy as Driss are shown in a scene from the French phenomenon "The Intouchables." The film's impeccable production values obscure the film's improbable set-up and its clichéd treatment of race. Sy won the French equivalent of the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a Senegalese immigrant who befriends the disabled multimillionaire Philippe.

Photo by THIERRY VALLETOUX

Anne Le as Yvonne, Francois Cluzet as Philippe and Omar Sy as Driss are shown in a scene from the French phenomenon "The Intouchables." The film's impeccable production values obscure the film's improbable set-up and its clichéd treatment of race. Sy won the French equivalent of the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a Senegalese immigrant who befriends the disabled multimillionaire Philippe.

Capsule descriptions by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Beasts of the Southern Wild (PG-13, 93 min.) See review.

Ridgeway Four.

Step Up: Revolution (PG-13, 99 min.) The third in the popular dance series is the second in 3D.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D).

The Watch (R, 98 min.) Some hapless neighborhood watch volunteers (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade) stumble upon an alien invasion.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

SPECIAL MOVIES

The Art Academy: A History of Memphis College of Art (Not rated, 98 min.) An encore presentation of the recent documentary, produced and directed by Joann Self Selvidge.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $10, or $8 for museum members Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Blazing Saddles (R, 93 min.) Bring a can of beans to donate to the Mid-South Food Bank and receive $2 off admission to this special screening of the 1973 Mel Brooks comedy classic.

7:15 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for children 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Not rated, 110 min.) Has Sundance learned to swim? Are raindrops still falling on their heads? Find out when the Orpheum revives this beloved 1969 Western.

7:15 p.m. Thursday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7, or $5 for children 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Born To Be Wild: The latest IMAX film is "an inspiring story of love, dedication and the remarkable bond between humans and animals" that focuses on efforts to reintroduce rescued elephants and orangutans into the wild. Narrated by Morgan Freeman. Runs through Nov. 16.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

Fat, Bald, Short Man (Gordo, Calvo y Bajito) (Not rated, 91 min.) From the "Global Lens" series, an encore presentation of an inventive, smart and charming animated film from Colombia about a lonely, bullied office worker.

2 p.m. Friday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members; free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Jimi Plays Monterey (Not rated, 50 min.), plus Shake! Otis at Monterey (Not rated, 19 min.): The Indie Memphis Concert Film Series continues with a double feature of legendary performances from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Both films are directed by D.A. Pennebaker, whose 5-minute short, "Daylight Express," his 1953 debut film, begins the show.

Show starts at dusk Saturday, the Levitt Shell, Overton Park. Admission: free. Visit indiememphis.com.

The Karate Kid (PG, 140) The 2010 remake, with Jaden Smith as a 12-year-old American frustrated by chopsticks and bullies in Beijing.

1:30 p.m. Sunday, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, 119 S. Main. Free with $6 museum admission. Visit belzmuseum.org.

Mourning (Soog) (Not rated, 85 min.) The "Global Lens" international series continues with a drama from Iran about a young boy traveling to Tehran with his deaf aunt and uncle, who seem to be concealing a terrible secret.

2 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members; free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Opera in Cinema: Boris Godunov (Not rated, 180 min.) A recent production of Mussorgsky's masterpiece, filmed live on stage in Torino.

2 p.m. Sunday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $15, or $12 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

To the Arctic: Narrated by Meryl Streep, this journey to the top of the world is the ultimate tale of survival. Become part of the lives of a polar bear family learning to adapt to their changing Arctic home. Runs through March 8, 2013. Tickets $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3-12.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

Tornado Alley: Narrated by Bill Paxton, this IMAX film follows storm-chasing scientists who travel in rugged high-tech vehicles as they hunt raging tornadoes. Through Nov. 16. Tickets: $8.25 ($7.50 for senior citizens), $6.50 for children ages 3-12; combo/group tickets available.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for show times, tickets and reservations.

NOW SHOWING

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (R, 105 min.) HH½ The Great Emancipator becomes a pretty great decapitator in this ridiculous and entertaining but ultimately exhausting mashup of 19th century American history and 21st century pop trendiness. Adapted by scripter Seth Grahame-Smith from his own novel, and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the Russian auteur responsible for the similarly hyperactive "Night Watch" shockers, the movie imagines that Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) used a silver-tipped ax to split bloodsuckers as well as rails as he cut a bloody path to the White House, to prevent the secret vampire overseers of the Confederacy from maintaining a legal supply of freshly imported victims through the institution of slavery. Is there a statute of limitations on offensiveness? Lincoln buffs may not appreciate the idea that the president's 11-year-old son died not from typhoid but from vampire bites. The visuals are more "Matrix" than Mathew Brady; as usual, Bekmambetov's initially exhilarating action-effects sequences go beyond over-the-top to overkill.

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic.

The Amazing Spider-Man (PG-13, 136 min.) HH Andrew Garfield is high-school science nerd turned web-slinging superhero Peter Parker in this too-soon Marvel Comics reboot that contains little of the comic-book snap and Pop Art pop that made director Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" (2002) and "Spider-Man 2" (2004) such, um, marvels. Director Marc Webb was selected not because of the homonymic association of his surname but on the strength of his only previous feature film, the eccentric romantic-comedy "(500) Days of Summer," but he allows the relationship between Peter and classmate Gwen Stacy (Stone) to be lost beneath the rote genre mechanics of Spidey's battle with Dr. Curt Connors (an excellent Rhys Ifans), the "cross-species genetics" genius who accidentally transforms himself into a squamous supervillain, the Lizard. The movie is glossy, handsome and utterly conventional.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Avengers (PG-13, 143 min.) HHHH The culmination of a Hollywood/Marvel Comics master plan that began in earnest four years ago with "Iron Man," writer-director Joss Whedon's all-star assembly — which gathers a cast of heavy hitters that includes Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), plus the more vulnerable Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — is a witty, action-packed triumph.

Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Battleship (PG-13, 131 min.) HH Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker.

Bartlett 10.

Bernie (PG-13, 104 min.) HHH Jack Black is a dapper and beloved and possibly "light in the loafers" small-town assistant funeral director in this wry true-crime story from director Richard Linklater, looking again to his home state for inspiration ("Slacker," "Dazed and Confused"). Adapted from a Texas Monthly magazine article about the 1996 murder of a feisty old millionaire widow, the movie mixes interviews with actual Carthage, Texas, townsfolk with black comedy and droll drama, with Shirley MacLaine as the ill-fated, unlikable dowager. Like "The Informant!" with Matt Damon and "I Love You Phillip Morris" with Jim Carrey, the movie is evidence of a post-noir trend in fact-based crime drama that suggests that those most eager to embrace the so-called American dream may be more remarkable for their psychoses than their achievements.

Studio on the Square.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13, 124 min.) HH Lured by exaggerated promises of leisure and luxury, a group of Kipling-quoting British retirees relocate to a ramshackle "palace" in Jaipur, India, where the earnest and clean-cut young manager (Dev Patel, the "Slumdog Millionaire") wants to "outsource old age"; predictably, the stuffy Brits are transformed for the better by their forced immersion into the "riot of color and noise."

Ridgeway Four.

Brave (PG, 101 min.) HHH Marketed as a saga of you-go-girl empowerment intended to update the tradition of the so-called "Disney princess" for the Katniss Everdeen generation, the latest Pixar release actually is a very odd and sometimes scary affirmation of mother-daughter love: Feisty Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is introduced shooting arrows and riding horses through the ancient Scottish countryside, but she spends most of the film trying to make up for a selfish wish by reversing the magic spell that changed her mother, the queen (Emma Thompson), into a bear. As the queen grows increasingly ursine, she becomes dangerous, and forgetful of her human identity: Brief scenes in which this Mama Bear seems ready to maim and even kill her daughter may frighten young children who never before have considered the possibility of their parents turning on them. The animation is stunning (Merida's tangled shock of flowing red hair is a marvel), but this may be the first Pixar film that doesn't convince us the story couldn't be told just as well with live action.

CinePlanet, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13, 165 min.) The conclusion of director Christopher Nolan's Bat-trilogy.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Dark Shadows (PG-13, 113 min.) HHH Johnny Depp, Eva Green.

Bartlett 10.

The Hunger Games (PG-13, 142 min.) HHH Like her young heroine, Katniss Everdeen, author Suzanne Collins is a sure shot: Her "Hunger Games" trilogy launched an arrow deep into the pulsing heart of a teenage audience eager for its affirmation of youth empowerment and its confirmation of adult conspiracy. A box-office sensation, the movie — inspired as much by reality television as by dystopian science fiction — may not be as powerful as the novel, but it treats its target audience and source material with respect.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG, 94 min.) More computer-animated prehysteria.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Intouchables (R, 86 min.) HH A sometimes irresponsible but irrepressible Senegalese immigrant and ex-con nicknamed Driss (Omar Sy, winner of the César Award for Best Actor) becomes the live-in employee and life coach of a paralyzed multimillionaire, Philippe (Franois Cluzet), in this theoretically uplifting buddy picture, which has become a cultural and box-office phenomenon in its native France. Written and directed by the previously unsung Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, the film — call it "Pushing Mr. Philippe," in recognition of its kinship to "Driving Miss Daisy" — is constructed with impeccable craft that doesn't quite obscure the clichéd "Magic Negro" aspect of a story that presents the energetic and libidinous Driss as the solution to what ails you, as long as part of what ails you is that you're white and uptight. (When Philippe tries to expose Driss to Chopin and Schubert, the African plugs in his iPod and gets the party started with Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang.) Inspired by a true story, the real-life Driss was actually one Abdel Sellou, a nonblack Algerian; the filmmakers must have decided that the mainstream international audience wasn't eager for a would-be crowd-pleaser about a lovable Arab-Berber.

Ridgeway Four.

Katy Perry: Part of Me (PG, 95 min.) HHH With blue bangs and pinwheel peppermints on her breasts, Pentecostal Christian turned superstar pop idol Katy Perry resembles a Candyland version of Bettie Page, or a pinup from the land of Oz: "In some ways, I live in a fairy tale," says this polychrome Snow White, who doesn't just charm the birds out of the trees but sings of being "a phoenix," of having a "hummingbird heart," of longing for a bold display of "peacock." Propelled by insidiously catchy dance-pop beats, her sometimes naughty lyrics promote a free-to-be-you-and-me sense of community, preach the gospel of self-actualization and positive transformation, and inspire fierce loyalty among her "Katy Kats": the starry-eyed young girls and sympathetic boys who project their dreams and hopes onto the welcoming screens of her cream complexion and blue-gray eyes, and who long to be — as one testifies — "shot with an arrow of Katy Perry-ness." Constructed by directors Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth and executive producer Craig Brewer (the conflict between church and "sin" connects Perry to Brewer's past movie heroes), this entertaining and enlightening concert documentary uses dazzling concert footage to amplify a biographical narrative that presents Perry as the hardworking inventor and smart-cookie master of her own spun-sugar fate; home movies trace her evolution from Nashville gospel singer to coffeehouse folkie to the dance-pop provocateur of today, coping with fame and "hardship" — the latter a code word for soon-to-be-ex-husband Russell Brand, a much-discussed but rarely glimpsed presence.

Collierville Towne 16, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG, 93 min.) The computer-animated zoo crew joins a traveling circus.

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Palace Cinema, Stage Cinema.

Madea's Witness Protection (PG-13, 114 min.) When a mob-connected banker (Eugene Levy) moves in with Madea (Tyler Perry), will hilarity ensue?

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Magic Mike (R, 110 min.) HHHH Dropping dollar bills on a bank loan officer's desk is more humiliating than tucking them into a dancer's G-string in this wily, vivid and utterly All-American crowd-pleaser from restless, prolific director Steven Soderbergh, who uses a Tampa male strip club as a launchpad for not just funny, irresistible bump-and-grind choreography and offstage debauchery but a pointed commentary on an economic system built on illusion and exploitation. Channing Tatum — whose real-life adventures inspired the story — stars as the title showstopper, a buff but sensitive stripper with a passion for furniture-making who agrees to mentor a young would-be dancer (Alex Pettyfer) with a skeptical sister (Cody Horn); the film's only flaw is the inevitability of its downward-spiraling "All About Eve"-meets-''Showgirls" storyline. Matthew McConaughey is memorable as the club's self-styled cowboy owner, a creepy exhibitionist-entrepreneur who might have gone into politics if he didn't favor buttless chaps.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Men in Black 3 (PG-13, 106 min.) HH½ Perhaps reflecting a national yearning for the type of unifying heroism and epic achievement represented by the space program, this is the second film in as many years to incorporate the Apollo 11 moon landing into its science-fiction rewrite of history (the first was "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"). The result is one small step for cinema, one giant leap for creative accounting: "MIB3" reportedly cost a staggering $375 million to make and market. If the budget is bloated, the storytelling is economical, as is typical for this series — credit director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose penchant for witty, cartoonish visuals is more Mad magazine than Michael Bay. Nimble and lively, the movie spends most of its time in 1969, where Agent J (Will Smith), the focus of the story, travels back in time to prevent the assassination of his future mentor and partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), played as a young man by Josh Brolin.

Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13, 94 min.) HHHH An "emotionally disturbed" pipsqueak orphan in a coonskin cap (Jared Gilman) and a "very troubled" girl in glamorous eye shadow (Kara Hayward), both 12, make themselves fugitives on a New England island in 1965 in this heartbreaking yet rapturous film from writer-director Wes Anderson, who abandons none of his elaborate dollhouse esthetic to delivers what may be his emotionally richest film yet: a visit to the kingdom of youth and innocence that inevitably makes exiles of us all. As the runaways head into the eye of a literal storm, they are pursued by an eccentric alliance of authority figures, including parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), a scoutmaster (Edward Norton) and a "sad" cop (Bruce Willis), who all share a secret sorrow: They envy the children their freedom, carelessness, irresponsibility and, yes, love. References to Noah's Ark, American Indians and the tragic genius of Hank Williams lend a sense of loss to a story that remains buoyant and funny even as it blazes a trail, alongside its bold Khaki Scouts, through the haunted woods of myth, history and art.

Collierville Towne 16, Ridgeway Four, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG, 88 min.) HHH Adapted from a book series by Gideon Defoe, the latest stop-motion feature from Aardman Animations (the producers of "Wallace & Gromit") is typically droll and charming.

Bartlett 10.

Prometheus (R, 124 min.) HHH Can slime be sublime? Unlike its predecessor, director Ridley Scott's long-anticipated prequel to "Alien" (1979) isn't content to shout "Boo!" at the audience. Inspired in part by the once trendy pseudoscience of Erich von Däniken's "ancient astronauts" best-seller, "Chariots of the Gods?," the new movie elicits screams, but also asks "Where do we come from? What is our purpose? What happens when we die?"

Majestic, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Rock of Ages (PG-13, 125 min.) HH Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough.

Bartlett 10.

Savages (R, 131 min.) A violent drug drama from director Oliver Stone, with an all-star cast that includes Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso.

Snow White and the Huntsman (PG-13, 127 min.) HHH Overlong but brilliantly realized, this debut from director Rupert Sanders treats its fairy-tale material with "Game of Thrones" seriousness, making it a powerful showcase for Charlize Theron's vain, evil and even tragic queen, who steals every scene from Snow White (Kristen Stewart) even as she steals the princess' father and freedom. Chris "Thor" Hemsworth provides brawn and a hint of sexual tension as the huntsman; a Who's Who of British character actors — Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Nick Frost, etc. — becomes the seven dwarves, with the aid of digital effects. (Why aren't dwarf performers protesting this seizure of a choice acting opportunity?) Visually imaginative and perhaps more grim than Grimm, the film goes off the deep end a bit during its final act, which overemphasizes action and transforms Snow White into a Joan of Arc figure, as if in fulfillment of the "Narnia"-esque Christian allegory of its storyline. (In a surprising moment early in the film, Snow even recites the Lord's Prayer.)

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Ted (R, 106 min.) HH½ "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed this live-action fantasy about a Boston underachiever named John (Mark Wahlberg) whose lifelong companion is his foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, hooker-hiring teddy bear (voiced by MacFarlane), a sort of less-lethal Chucky, magically brought to life by a childhood wish (and some impressive digital animation); Mila Kunis is John's long-suffering girlfriend. MacFarlane's feature-film directorial debut is an ugly-looking film, with the expected ugly jokes (a Chinese neighbor is played for racist laughs) and extended pop-culture riffs (a scene from "Airplane!" is lovingly recreated), but, like the similarly scattershot "Family Guy," its holds your interest even as it annoys. Norah Jones makes an appearance, but MacFarlane obviously is more interested in Sam Jones, star of the 1980 "Flash Gordon".

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Think Like a Man (PG-13, 122 min.) Inspired by Steve Harvey's best-seller.

Bartlett 10.

The Three Stooges (PG, 92 min.) HH Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos.

Bartlett 10.

To Rome With Love (R, 102 min.) HH If writer-director Woody Allen had remained in Paris, site of his previous film and the biggest box-office hit of his almost five-decade career ("Midnight in Paris"), we might call this erratic new ensemble piece a divertissement, albeit one crowded with characters and ideas. Essentially, this is an anthology hat hops about among four rushed and recycled stories. One is a variation on Allen's "Play It Again, Sam," with Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg (the best "imitation Allen" the director has yet found) and Ellen Page (miscast as a "hot" girl with an irresistible "sexual vibe"); the second casts Roberto Begnini as an unremarkable man who wakes up, inexplicably, as a celebrity (Allen's apparently belated awareness that popular culture now celebrates people who are "famous for being famous" will be old news to audiences); the third is a "Three's Company"-esque farce with Penélope Cruz — packed like a toothsome sausage into the casing of a red minidress — as a prostitute who disrupts the life of a young newlywed (Alessandro Tiberi); the fourth is a minor absurdist gem, both silly and hilarious, with Allen as a retired opera director who makes one last splash, so to speak. The characters and plot lines never connect, and some dramas unfold over several days while others wrap up in a few hours, in apparent contradiction of the to-and-fro editing; this elastic approach to narrative is one of the movie's charms, and it's matched by Allen's blithe lack of concern with the distinction between the real and surreal. (Casual acceptance of the impossible has become an increasingly significant theme in Allen's work, as exemplified by the nonchalant acceptance of time travel in "Midnight in Paris.")

Cordova Cinema.

What to Expect When You're Expecting (PG-13, 110 min.) The nonfiction best-seller inspires an all-star ensemble comedy.

Bartlett 10.

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