Movie Capsules: Now showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING Friday

Flight (R, 139 min.) Heroic airline pilot Denzel Washington is caught in a troubling investigation. Directed by Robert Zemeckis.

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

The Man with the Iron Fists (R, 96 min.) The RZA directs an old-school fists-of-fury martial-arts action epic.

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

Samsara (PG-13, 102 min.) In the tradition of the 1982 cult classic "Koyaanisqatsi," this visually stunning documentary, shot over five years in 25 countries, presents a montage of life of Earth.

Ridgeway Four.

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) In the latest digitally animated Disney wonder, a lovable arcade game avatar (voiced by John C. Reilly) tries to escape his villainous programming. Imagine "Toy Story" transplanted inside a videogame.

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.

SPECIAL MOVIES

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.

Globe On Screen: Doctor Faustus (Not rated, 147 min.) A new production of Christopher Marlowe's classic 1604 play about a scholar who sells his soul to the devil.

7 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.

Indie Memphis Film Festival: The 15th annual event continues through Sunday. See stories on Pages ??.

VIsit indiememphis.com.

Lost Bohemia (Not rated, 77 min.) A documentary about the battle to save the studio apartments above Carnegie Hall, once home and workplace for Isadora Duncan, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer and others — including some less celebrated artists who suddenly face eviction after having lived there for decades.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

The Metropolitan Opera: L'Elisir d'Amore (Not rated, 185 min.) An encore presentation of a recent performance of Donizetti's comic masterpiece, filmed live onstage in New York.

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

To the Arctic Narrated by Meryl Streep, this journey to the top of the world follows a polar bear family as it adapts to its changing environment. 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 as they track 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

Alex Cross (PG-13, 102 min.) Tyler Perry trades Madea drag for the shoulder holster and scowl of a genius police psychologist-detective, but this movie couldn't be any sillier if the title sleuth pursued the story's sadistic professional killer in a gray wig and granny panties. A merger of late-period Charles Bronson brutishness with Perry's signature Lifetime-level bathos, the latest James Patterson adaptation — Morgan Freeman played Cross in two earlier, otherwise unrelated films — is pure pulp nonsense, with about as much relevance to police procedure as "Madea's Witness Protection." Sinewy and shaven-headed, Matthew Fox overacts outrageously and adds a soupcon of camp entertainment value as "the Butcher of Sligo," a "stimulus-seeking sociopathic narcissist" who leaves chopped-off literal ladyfingers in a glass bowl at a victim's bedside; Edward Burns and Rachel Nichols are Cross' attractive partners, who seem to have wandered off the set of a bad prime time cop show. Cross also has a picture-perfect family, which gives him an excuse to vow, re the Butcher: "I will meet his soul at the gates of hell before I let him take a person that I love." The crooks also talk funny: "You the headshrinker, but you ain't shrinkin' nothin' of mine," boasts one miscreant, even as moviegoers sense their own brains shriveling. Directed by the usually reliable Rob Cohen ("The Fast and the Furious").

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

Arbitrage (R, 100 min.) Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and indie beauty Brit Marling star in a drama about a desperate hedge-fund manager.

Ridgeway Four.

Argo (R, 120 min.) Inspired by the unlikely true story of the secret rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran in 1980 (while 52 of their less fortunate colleagues were held hostage by militants in the American embassy), this is an entertaining and intelligent suspense film, with a commitment to quality and what might be called self-consciously purposeful content that is typical of the producing team of George Clooney and Grant Heslov ("The Ides of March," "Good Night, and Good Luck"). Sporting a vintage Chuck Norris/porn star mustache and hairdo, increasingly confident director Ben Affleck stars as real-life CIA "exfiltration" specialist Tony Mendez, who concocts a rescue plan that requires the Americans to pose as science-fiction movie producers scouting locations in the Middle East; his collaborators include a smart-aleck veteran movie producer (Alan Arkin) and Oscar-winner John Chambers (John Goodman), the makeup artist for "Planet of the Apes." Abandoning the Boston crime milieu of his first two films, Affleck unnecessarily pumps up the action and sentiment in the final act and its coda, but the chaotic opening in Iran is gripping, and the in-jokes and movie references of the Hollywood scenes are witty and amusing.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

Atlas Shrugged: Part II (PG-13, 112 min.) Paul Ryan, the wait is over: Here's the conclusion of producer and fitness-equipment magnate John Aglialoro's Ayn Rand adaptation.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Bourne Legacy (PG-13, 125 min.) Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz.

Bartlett 10.

Brave (PG, 101 min.) The latest from Pixar.

Bartlett 10.

The Campaign (R, 85 min.) Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis.

Bartlett 10.

Chasing Mavericks (PG, 116 min.) Jonny Weston stars as the late surfing legend Jay Moriarty (who died at 22 in a 2001 diving accident), on a quest "to surf America's most dangerous wave." With Gerard Butler as real-life surf coach/guru "Frosty" Hesson.

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

Cloud Atlas (R, 172 min.) "Matrix" masterminds Andy and Lana Wachowski join "Run Lola Run" auteur Tom Tykwer to direct a centuries-spanning epic of interconnectivity, adapted from the novel by David Mitchell. The all-star cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13, 165 min.) Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway.

Bartlett 10.

End of Watch (R, 109 min.) A sort of pulp-cinema Joseph Wambaugh, writer-director David Ayer ("Training Day," "Harsh Times," "Street Kings") returns with another vivid and gritty inner-city slice-of-life police drama; Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Expendables 2 (R, 103 min.) Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham.

Bartlett 10.

Frankenweenie (PG, 88 min.) Director Tim Burton expands his comic, career-defining 1984 short horror-movie homage into a Disney feature film that retains the original's black-and-white palette but replaces its flesh-and-blood actors with the puppety figures of the painstaking stop-motion animation process.

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Fun Size (PG-13, 90 min.) A Nickelodeon comedy about a baby-sitting big sister (Victoria Justice) who loses her trick-or-treating brother on Halloween night.

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

Here Comes the Boom (PG, 105 min.) More pabulum for moviegoers who can't be bothered to chew even the softest food for thought, courtesy of Happy Madison Productions, the Gerber of motion picture companies. Likable Kevin James stars as slovenly Scott Voss, a Boston high-school biology teacher and ex-wrestler who moonlights as a mixed martial arts fighter in hopes of raising the $48,000 needed to save the job of a beloved music teacher played by Henry Winkler, who is as cuddly here as the Fonz once was cool. Directed by Frank Coraci, who previously guided James through the punishing "Zookeeper," this ostensibly pro-teacher film should reassure anti-public education ideologues eager to cut funding for schools. Budget woes a problem? Just hold a bake sale, or, as seen here, send a faculty member into the Ultimate Fighting Championship Octagon at the MGM Grand.

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

Hope Springs (PG-13, 100 min.) Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones.

Bartlett 10.

Hotel Transylvania (PG, 91 min.) Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) opens a "human-free" castle hostelry in a computer-animated tribute to old-school ghouls that more or less pretends the past 50 years of horror movies never happened, even though it's aimed at kids who may be more familiar with Freddy, Jason and Chucky than Boris, Bela and Vincent.

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

House at the End of the Street (PG-13, 101 min.) Ignoring the concerns of mom Elisabeth Shue, teen Jennifer Lawrence befriends sensitive, soft-spoken Max Thieriot, whose parents were murdered in the scary house next door. The acting is persuasive, and the screenplay by David Loucka (from a story by Jonathan Mostow) has a nice twist that could have supported an inventively stylish giallo-esque thriller; unfortunately, director Mark Tonderai's delivers a real mess — an almost random tangle of choppy edits, handheld camera, "shock" sound effects and other clichés of the contemporary horror film.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic.

Lawless (R, 115 min.) Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy.

Bartlett 10, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Looper (R, 119 min.) Making the leap from indieland ("Brick") to commercial Hollywood, writer-director Rian Johnson delivers a stunner from start to finish — a smart, exciting time-travel action film that respects its audience, its genre and even its characters. The story hook is ingenious, and the futuristic details are clever and convincing. (Mao's face is on the money, and recreational drugs are administered via eyedropper — a nice metaphor for the movie experience.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a "Looper," an assassin in the future who kills targets delivered to him via illegal time machine from an even further future; when his latest victim proves to be his older self (Bruce Willis), a cat-and-mouse chase ensues that leads to an isolated farm, where a tough single mother (Emily Blunt) is raising a little boy (Pierce Gagnon) with telekinetic powers. Unlike too many young directors, Johnson never sacrifices the humanity of the people in his story for a shot of violence or a cheap laugh. He is as interested in emotion as spectacle, which is to say he ties the two together: An explosion makes an impact because of its source and its consequence, not just because it looks cool.

Cordova Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (PG, 93 min.) The computer-animated zoo crew — Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) — joins a struggling traveling circus to elude a monomaniacal animal control officer (Frances McDormand) in this typically frenetic but wearying series entry, which lacks the Looney Tunes efficiency of its predecessors. Bartlett 10.

The Paperboy (R, 107 min.) A Miami reporter (Matthew McConaughey), a death-row killer (John Cusack) and an aging sexpot (Nicole Kidman) are among the participants in this lurid Southern Gothic drama from director Lee Daniels ("Precious"), working from a novel by Pete Dexter.

Ridgeway Four.

Paranormal Activity 4 (R, 88 min.) The popularity of the reliable if repetitious "Paranormal Activity" franchise — this is the fourth film in five years — suggests that anxieties over the ubiquity and invasiveness of social media and its related technologies may trouble even the most enthusiastic members of the plugged-in generation. To this end, the new film focuses for the first time in series history on a pair of young teenagers, Alex (charming Kathryn Newton) and her computer-savvy boyfriend (likable Matt Shively), who place secret surveillance cameras in Alex's possibly haunted but otherwise bland suburban home after strange occurrences accompany the arrival of a "weird" little neighbor boy (Brady Allen). Returning from part 3, directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schuman are let down by a silly, anticlimactic ending, but they ably exploit the spookiness inherent to the limited, often fixed perspective of the "found footage" frame. Much of the "action" involves people talking in looming closeup on Skype; as they block most of the camera's view, we wonder what's crept up, unseen, behind them.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

ParaNorman (PG, 92 min.) This second stop-motion 3D feature film from Laika, an Oregon-based animation studio, might be described as the little brother of its wonderful predecessor from 2009, "Coraline." Like most little brothers, it's ruder, rowdier, somewhat dumber and a good deal more gross and obvious than its sister; it's also funny, likable and smarter than the average movie, with a delightfully askew and Caligari-esque production and character design.

Bartlett 10, Palace Cinema.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (PG-13, 103 min.) Hogswart graduate Emma Watson plays the free-spirited crush of an emotionally troubled high-school freshman (Logan Lerman) in suburban Pittsburgh in this dewy, sympathetic early 1990s coming-of-age tale that is remarkable for its sensitivity and earnestness, even if its post-Salinger stations of the cross — first kiss, first drug experience, first gay friend (Ezra Miller), first cool English teacher (Paul Rudd), first exposure to The Smiths and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" — are almost entirely familiar. Directed by Stephen Chbosky, from his own 1999 novel.

CinePlanet 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

Pitch Perfect (PG-13, 112 min.) Can freshman Anna Kendrick and her female singing group beat the men's team in the campus vocal competition?

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

The Possession (PG-13, 92 min.) Inspired by a Los Angeles Times article about a supposedly haunted antique "dybbuk box," director Ole Bornedal's atmospheric, relatively low-key thriller benefits from a sympathetic lead performance by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a basketball coach unsure how to respond when the youngest (Natasha Calis) of his two daughters becomes obsessed with an old box she bought at a yard sale. Is it the stress of her parents' separation and impending divorce that is causing the little girl to stab daddy with a fork and spit moths from her mouth, or could it be ... Satan?

DeSoto Cinema 16.

Resident Evil: Retribution (R, 97 min.) "Regurgitation" might be a more appropriate subtitle for this redundant fifth go-round in director Paul W.S. Anderson's video game-inspired franchise, set in a post-apocalyptic future of corporate conspiracy and zombie plague. A "Dawn of the Dead"-esque prologue is effective, but most of this unsurprising entry too closely follows the structure of a game, as series regular Milla Jovovich kicks undead butt through a series of subterranean "simulation" environments (Tokyo, Moscow, etc.), accompanied by a deaf little girl (Aryana Engineer) who functions as Newt to her Ripley.

Bartlett 10, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Seven Psychopaths (R, 109 min.) Christopher Walken and Tom Waits are two of them. Directed by Martin ("In Bruges") McDonagh.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Silent Hill: Revelation (R, 94 min.) Why make a sequel to the 2006 chiller "Silent Hill"? Because its surreal supernatural shocks should look cool in 3D, that's why.

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

Sinister (R, 98 min.) A desperate true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) moves his unwitting family into a "murder house" that may be haunted by more than bad vibes, as he realizes when he discovers a cache of cutely titled ("Hanging Around") but gruesome home movies that appear to have been shot over several decades by a serial killer or some other evil auteur. The script by C. Robert Cargill and director Scott Derrickson is indebted to such welcome sources as Stephen King ("The Shining") and Michelangelo Antonioni ("Blowup"), as well as to the more recent Japanese-horror trend ("The Ring"), but the "shock" stutter-cuts, in-your-face "Boo!" moments and loud sound effects almost spoil the mood. Still, the movie is spooky, and the ending is not a cop-out.

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

Taken 2 (PG-13, 91 min.) Auspiciously named director Olivier Megaton ("Colombiana") deliver a real dud: a sequel to the 2008 action-thriller that is so absurd and moronic we'd assume it was a spoof if not for its insistent score, which demands our earnest appreciation, whether returning CIA hero Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is giving his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), a driving lesson or watching his wife (Famke Janssen) have her throat punctured by Albanians. This time, Mills' loved ones are targeted by the vengeful gangster father (Rade erbedija) of the sex trafficker the retired superspy electrocuted in the earlier film; unintentional hilarity runs rampant as Kim tosses grenades off the rooftops of Istanbul, so her father can locate her by the sounds of the explosions, in what might be called the Luc Besson version of the game "Marco Polo." The lesson: If you lie with dogs, you get fleas; if you go to Europe with Liam Neeson, you get kidnapped.

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.

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Comments » 1

talktotennessee writes:

To CA Editor: Can you put Beifuss on Sports or better still Politics where his rhetoric is more fitting? Although it is conceded Beifuss' narrowing bias is a direct result of a plethora of dumbed-down offerings by the entertainment industry, plus we find ourselves in a desert with only an occasional oasis in which to satisfy our thirst for excellence, one must question whether Beifuss would recognize a single jewel sparkling in the midst of all the pebbles, sand and grit to award it his prized 4 star approval, advising our attendance may find the offering mildly entertaining or rewarding, worthy of the expenditure.
The only really interesting thing about Beifuss' movie reviews is in counting how many words he can cram into one sentence. Today I counted 78+/- in his mini-capsule review of Argo! I eagerly await the day Beifuss hits 100 or perhaps I gave up reading his stuff too soon in my quest to out word him in reviewing his reviews by way of the sentence above yet still get my point across, something Beifuss might attend.

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