Movie Capsules: Now Showing

'Casa de mi Padre' for poster.

"Casa de mi Padre" for poster.

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

Being Flynn (R, 102 min.) Robert De Niro is a drunken would-be author and Paul Dano his son in this adaptation of Nick Flynn's acclaimed 2004 memoir, "Another Bull---- Night in Suck City."

Ridgeway Four.

Casa de mi Padre (R, 84 min.) Will Ferrell stars in a Spanish-language spoof of Spaghetti Westerns and telenovelas.

Paradiso.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (R, 83 min.) Jason Segel and Ed Helms are loser brothers in a new comedy from successful brothers Jay and Mark Duplass.

Studio on the Square.

Thin Ice (R, 93 min.) See review.

Studio on the Square.

21 Jump Street (R, 110 min.) See review.

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

Ballet in Cinema: Le Corsaire (Not rated, 205 min.) Based on a poem by Lord Byron, this recent Bolshoi Ballet production of a work debuted in 1865 about the problematic love between a pirate and a slave girl was filmed live onstage in Moscow. Includes two intermissions.

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

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.

The Counterfeiters (R, 98 min.) This fact-based 2007 release about a Nazi counterfeiting operation staffed by concentration camp inmates became the first Austrian production to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art, 119 S. Main. Free with $6 museum admission. Visit belzmuseum.org.

Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football (R, 98 min.) A new documentary about the challenges faced by the football team at a Dearborn, Mich., high school where 90 percent of the student body is Muslim. Director Rashid Ghazi, football coach Fouad Zaban and principal Imad Fadlallah will participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening.

7:30 p.m., Michael D. Rose Theatre, University of Memphis. Admission: $10. Visit muslimsinmemphis.org.

The Greenhorns (R, 90 min.) To make this 2010 documentary, farmer-filmmaker-activist Severine von Tscharner traveled across America with a camcorder for two years, to explore the work of "revolutionary" young farmers/entrepreneurs who use "sustainable" agriculture to "reclaim our national soil."

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

LA Phil Live: Gustavo Dudamel and Herbie Hancock Celebrate Gershwin (Not rated, 135 min.) A filmed version of a recent tribute to one of America's great composers, featuring legendary jazz pianist Hancock, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as conducted by Dudamel at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

2 p.m. Sunday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

National Theatre Live: The Comedy of Errors (Not rated, 180 min.) A recent production of Shakespeare's fast-paced comedy, filmed live onstage in London.

1 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

Tornado Alley: Narrated by Bill Paxton, IMAX film follows a handful of storm-chasing scientists piloting rugged vehicles decked out in innovative instruments, as close to raging tornadoes as safety allows. Runs 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.

Waterwalker (Not rated, 87 min.) A cult classic among outdoors enthusiasts, this 1984 documentary follows Canadian naturalist/canoeist/filmmaker Bill Mason as he explores the waterways around Lake Superior. Preceded at 6 p.m. by a party with Ghost River beer hosted by Outdoors Inc., the Wolf River Conservancy and Live From Memphis.

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

NOW SHOWING

Act of Valor (R, 101 min.) Actual active-duty Navy SEALs star in this action film about a mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA agent.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (G, 90 min.) If you can't get enough of aggressively cute digitally animated rodents shaking their fuzzy tails while singing helium-voiced covers of mostly recent funk/hip-hop dance hits and spouting clichéd "urban" catchphrases ("Oh no she di'int!"), then this "squeakquel" -- the second follow-up to 2007's "Alvin and the Chipmunks" -- is for you. The essentially plotless film follows the Chipmunks and increasingly dominant Chipettes from a cruise ship to a volcanic tropical island, where the stranded furballs are separated from their father figure, Dave (a sinewy Jason Lee). To amuse adults, series regular David Cross brings the snark as an obnoxious music promoter, while Jenny Slate brings the bare legs and the over-the-kids'-heads "Cast Away" jokes as a lost treasure-hunter. Directed by Mike Mitchell.

Bartlett 10, Majestic.

The Artist (PG-13, 100 min.) Celebrated and perhaps overhyped as the first wide-release black-and-white silent film of the modern era (its old-fashioned squarish screen ratio is an even more extreme retro formal choice), writer-director Michel Hazanavicius' salute to the romance of the movies is novel, funny and refreshing -- it's terrific entertainment.

Ridgeway Four.

Chronicle (PG-13, 84 min.) Three teenage buddies gain mysterious telekinetic powers in yet another "found footage" thriller, an ingenious "Carrie"-meets-"Spider-Man"- meets-"The Blair Witch Project" construction that suggests — contrary to Marvel Comics lore — that fate is as likely to bestow a superpower on an abused, resentful, psychologically damaged high-school loser as on an inherently decent Peter Parker type. Presented, for the most part, as home-video footage shot by the lead character (Dane DeHaan), the movie is utterly gripping, although it flags a bit during its final act, which favors (beautifully shot and edited) action spectacle over intense character interaction. Directed by feature newcomer Josh Trank, from a script by Trank and Max (son of John) Landis.

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

The Descendants (R, 115 min.) Winner of the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay, the first film in seven years from director Alexander Payne ("Sideways") casts George Clooney as Matt King, a haole (white person in Hawaii) lawyer with royal Hawaiian blood who is facing two terrible deadlines: As trustee, he must determine what to do with his family's "huge parcel of virgin land," worth millions; and as husband, he has to decide when to pull the plug on his comatose wife.

Cordova Cinema.

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (PG, 94 min.) A furry orange grump (voiced by Danny DeVito) fights to protect his world's trees.

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.

Friends with Kids (R, 107 min.) Jennifer Westfeldt directs herself and her husband, Jon Hamm, in a relationship comedy that co-stars Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox and Maya Rudolph, among others.

Studio on the Square.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (PG-13, 96 min.) Thanks to the turbocharged bad-trip direction of "Crank" auteurs Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who use extreme angles, distorting lenses and disorienting digital effects to essentially place the moviegoer inside Johnny Blaze's devil-haunted, pill-addled, literally fiery skull, this Marvel Comics sequel is a huge if wack improvement over its forgettable 2007 predecessor. Bug-eyed and manic as ever, Nicolas Cage returns as Blaze, who this time hopes to free himself from his demonic curse by rescuing a young boy (Fergus Riordan) from his Satanic father (Ciarán Hinds); the supernatural-adventure aspect makes this as much a horror film as an action thriller, and the Ghost Rider — his leather biker gear bubbling and smoking — appears more nightmarish than "cool," as if this impossible and absurd scenario were inspired not by a comic book but by a drug fiend's delirium. Even the already infamous shot in which the Ghost Rider takes a flaming napalm wizz is justified as the product of a child's inherently surreal imagination.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).

Gone (PG-13, 95 min.) Amanda Seyfried is a traumatized, perhaps mentally disturbed waitress who can't convince the police that the serial killer who kidnapped her years before has returned to snatch her sister (Emily Wickersham) in this somnambulant would-be-thriller refugee from the Lifetime Movie Network, directed by Brazil's Heitor Dhalia. Implausible and risible, the film asks us to believe that the Portland police department would mount a massive manhunt for a young woman whose only crime is unauthorized possession of a firearm; meanwhile, the fashion-conscious detectives we meet would be an embarrassment even in a Concorde-New Horizons production. ("You wanna chase splittail, then go be a firefighter, ya feel me?" cool ethnic cop Daniel Sunjata warns creepy WASPy cop Wes Bentley, when the latter takes a suspicious shine to Seyfried.) So lame the only scare during the first hour is the old cat-jumping-into-frame trick.

Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic.

Good Deeds (PG-13, 111 min.) Tyler Perry doffs the drag to portray Wesley Deeds, a complacent businessman jolted by his feelings for a working-class single mother (Thandie Newton).

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

The Grey (R, 117 min.) Rugged Liam Neeson leads a group of roughneck plane-crash survivors through the Alaskan wilderness while a complementary but more efficient pack of hungry wolves dogs their heels in this existentialist Man vs. Death/Man vs. Himself action drama. The final act is marred by too much unnecessary backstory and "characterization," not to mention a leap-from-a-cliff episode that shatters the integrity of the movie's relative realism; even so, this marks a solid comeback for director Joe Carnahan, who followed his excellent "Narc" (2002) with the idiocies of "Smokin' Aces" and "The A-Team." Stick around through the credits for a teasing final shot.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Hugo (PG, 127 min.) Winner of five Academy Awards.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).

The Iron Lady (PG-13, 105 min.) This isn't a great movie, but Best Actress Oscar-winner Meryl Streep is great in it: As Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom's first and only woman prime minister to date, Streep is convincing and astonishing and eminently watchable.

Studio on the Square.

Jack and Jill (PG, 91 min.) Adam Sandler, times two.

Bartlett 10.

John Carter (PG-13, 132 min.) A Confederate soldier turned Martian swashbuckler, John Carter was introduced to readers by future Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912, which makes the hero's belated motion-picture debut a particularly extravagant birthday celebration: Not many people, fictional or otherwise, are feted with a failed $250 million Disney 3D blockbuster when they reach 100. Directed by Pixar graduate and ERB enthusiast Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo," WALL-E"), the movie is both a bloated misfire and a true labor of love; unfortunately, the labor is more evident than the love, as Stanton and his screenwriters — who include Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon — struggle to remain faithful to the source material, crowding the screen with four-armed Tharks and eight-legged Thoats and giant fanged gorillas and other weightlessly digital marvels that seem more old hat than awesome in a movie culture that has become supersatured with science-fiction images. Taylor Kitsch (whose surname proves unfortunately appropriate) stars as Carter, almost magically transported from an Arizona cave to the desert-like terrain of Mars (or "Barsoom," as the native calls it), where the low gravity gives him extraordinary strength and leaping ability; Lynn Collins is sexy/brainy Dejah Thoris, a red-skinned Martian princess who is both scientist and swashbuckler, although she unsurprisingly favors skimpy piratical outfits over lab coats. Carter's status as a Confederate is not irrelevant: The Barsoomian races are identified and more or less segregated by color (red, white and green), which makes the saga of John Carter — like that of Burroughs' Tarzan — another demonstration of the idea that a brave, competent white man can master any environment into which he is inserted, and become the master of any competing species or race, whether ape, human or extraterrestrial. One might have expected this theme to have lost its potency by the 21st century, but it continues to resonate, most recently and spectacularly in "Avatar," which borrowed heavily from the John Carter stories.

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.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG, 94 min.) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson replaces Brendan Fraser in this silly, colorful, harmless and fun sequel to the similarly family-friendly surprise hit of 2008, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which helped launch the current 3D revival. .

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic (in 3-D), Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8 (in 3-D).

Joyful Noise (PG-13, 118 min.) Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton.

Bartlett 10.

Man on a Ledge (PG-13, 103 min.) Is a seemingly suicidal "jumper" part of a diamond-heist scheme?

Bartlett 10.

Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol (PG-13, 133 min.) Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg.

Bartlett 10.

Project X (R, 88 min.) A teen party hosted by a high-school loser (Thomas Mann) and his stereotypical friends (Oliver Cooper is the crude misogynist braggart, Jonathan Daniel Brown is the shy fat kid) spirals wildly out of control in this "found footage" film that suggests "Risky Business" as reimagined by the director of "The Hangover." (In fact, Todd Phillips produced this "Project"; the director is newcomer Nima Nourizadeh.) As truly an exploitation film as ever unreeled at a skid-row grindhouse or rural drive-in, the movie encourages and vicariously fulfills the often base fantasies of its (primarily male) target audience, while providing token bits of John Hughesque sweetness to make it an acceptable if unlikely "date" movie, and to leaven the frequently loathsome behavior. Although much of this obvious yet ingenious film is filler (random "documentary" shots of crazy party action), it may be a game-changer in its genre, and its fiery, almost apocalyptic final act recalls the liberating anarchy of the great "Rock 'n' Roll High School."

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

Red Tails (PG-13, 125 min.) Nate Parker, David Oyelowo.

Bartlett 10, Majestic, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Safe House (R, 115 min.) Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds.

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.

A Separation (PG-13, 123 min.) The deserving winner of this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film is a masterpiece -- a devastating portrait of two families in crisis in crowded, modern Tehran that may shock those whose images of Iran come entirely from demonizing news reports. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, the film is extremely authentic and thus specifically Iranian in detail, but moviegoers everywhere will be able to recognize themselves and their loved ones in the story's complex characters, whose worries include work, school, marriage, faith and coping with an elderly relative with Alzheimer's. The title event refers to the breakup of a marriage, but the real "separation" here is a class divide that couldn't be more relevant to the politically motivated culture war in the U.S.: One family is educated, liberal (the wife's veil is more fashion accessory than symbol of Islamic faith) and relatively well-to-do; the other is unsophisticated, devout and struggling. Farhadi shoots much of the film with a handheld camera, which creates intimacy but also instability, as regrettable decisions and stubborn adherence to almost dogmatic concepts of honor ignite unforeseen and potentially ruinous consequences; doors, windows, walls and other ubiquitous if sometimes penetrable urban barriers add visual interest to many shots, to signify both exclusion and access.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13, 129 min.) Robert Downey Jr..

Bartlett 10.

Silent House (R, 86 min.) Elizabeth Olsen stars in a horror movie from "Open Water" directors Chris Kentis and Laura Lau that is presented in "real time" as if it were one long continuous camera take.

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

This Means War (PG-13, 98 min.) Spies Chris Pine and Tom Hardy use CIA tactics to battle each other for Reese Witherspoon.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

A Thousand Words (PG-13, 91 min.) Eddie Murphy is a lying literary agent who learns a magical lesson about telling the truth.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Undefeated (PG-13, 115 min.) A fly-on-the-wall chronicle of almost a year in the life of the playoff-bound Manassas High School football team, this year's Oscar-winner for Best Documentary Feature finds the warmth, vulnerability and, yes, love that is sometimes hard for outsiders to see beneath the rough, prickly and damaged exterior of the impoverished North Memphis neighborhood where much of the action takes place. It's a sports film with all the come-from-behind suspense and stand-up-and-cheer appeal one expects from the genre, but with some real-life grit and surprise, and a naked emotionalism that makes it what might be called a tearjerker for men. Producer Rich Middlemas and directors T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay essentially embedded themselves at Manassas during the 2009-2010 football season, to capture the story of Bill Courtney and the other mostly white suburban volunteers acting as extracurricular mentors as well as gridiron coaches to such inner-city athletes as gentle giant O.C. Brown, Chavis Daniels (a kid with "serious anger issues") and undersized Montrail "Money" Brown, whose pet turtle offers a metaphor for the tough exterior/sensitive interior personalities of the players. "You think football builds character? It does not. Football reveals character," says wise, funny, frustrated Courtney, a great true-life movie character. On a less inspirational level, however, the movie provides a sense of false comfort: It doesn't address the fact that private volunteerism can't make up for the gaps in the social safety net that make the feel-good interventions depicted in such films as the "Undefeated" and "The Blind Side" necessary in the first place.

Paradiso.

Underworld: Awakening (R, 89 min.) Kate Beckinsale.

Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D).

The Vow (PG-13, 104 min.) Husband Channing Tatum must work to win the love of wife Rachel McAdams when she emerges from a coma.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Wanderlust (R, 98 min.) Manhattanites Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston move to a rural commune known for organic food and "free love."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

War Horse (PG-13, 146 min.) Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Bartlett 10.

We Bought a Zoo (PG, 124 min.) Seeking a radical lifestyle change, a grieving widower (Matt Damon) moves with his petulant teen son (Colin Ford) and cutie-pie little daughter (kleptomaniacal scene-stealer Maggie Elizabeth Jones, of Craig Brewer's "Footloose") to a broken-down California animal park; its rehabilitation becomes a worn metaphor for the family's healing. Directed by the Norman Rockwell of the classic-rock set, Cameron Crowe, the movie — overdetermined and painfully protracted — needs more animals and less bathos ("Their happy's too loud," the sad/wise little girl complains about some partying neighbors); kudos to Crowe, however, for giving a cameo role to a binturong. Based on a memoir by Benjamin Mee. With Scarlett Johansson as a zookeeper who appears to be the park's main attraction

Bartlett 10.

The Woman in Black (PG-13, 97 min.) Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds.

CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria.

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