Movie Capsules: Now showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Hyde Park on Hudson (R, 94 min.) See review on Page 12.

Ridgeway Four.

Not Fade Away (R, 112 min.) See review on Page 16.

Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso.

Promised Land (R, 106 min.) See review on Page 14

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

Texas Chainsaw 3D (R, 92 min.) Leatherface, version 2013: This time, he's comin' at ya!

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

Hospitalité (Not rated, 96 min.) Dedicated to international cinema, the "Wider Angle" series returns with a 2010 farce in which a quiet Tokyo family is overrun by a series of uninvited houseguests. Director Koji Fukada "maintains a marvelous tension between a prim comedy of manners and unbridled slapstick," according to Variety.

6 p.m. Wednesday, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission is free; children under 17 admitted with parent or guardian. Call (901) 415-2726.

The Metropolitan Opera: Les Troyens (Not rated, 345 min.) Live via satellite from New York, this is the Met's first production in almost a decade of Berlioz's massive five-act grand opera, inspired by Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid, about the Trojan War.

11 a.m. Saturday, Paradiso. Tickets: $20. Visit malco.com.

The Metropolitan Opera: Un Ballo in Maschera (Not rated, 240 min.) An encore presentation of a recent New York production of Verdi's historical opera, inspired by the 1792 assassination of the king of Sweden at a masked ball.

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

Opera in Cinema: Carmen (Not rated, 150 min.) A new production of Bizet's masterpiece, filmed live onstage at the Royal Opera House in London.

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 follows a polar bear family as it adapts to its changing environment. Runs through March 8. 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.

Wuthering Heights (Not rated, 129 min.) British director Andrea Arnold's haunting film cuts beneath the romantic accretion of decades of movie and TV adaptations to penetrate the dark heathen heart of Emily Brontë's 1847 novel. Full review at TheBloodshotEye.com.

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

NOW SHOWING

Alex Cross (PG-13, 102 min.) Tyler Perry.

Bartlett 10.

Anna Karenina (R, 130 min.) Eschewing the faithful approach of his previous literary adaptations ("Pride and Prejudice," "Atonement"), director Joe Wright transforms Leo Tolstoy's 900-page doorstop of a 19th-century Russian masterpiece into something intended to be playful and light on its feet, for all its weighty themes of adultery and dishonor: He stages most of the story in what appears to be a theater, complete with flats, painted backdrops and breakaway walls, and choreographs much of the movement as if this were a musical; clerks stamp paper in syncopated rhythm, while scandalized socialites gasp en masse.

Cordova Cinema.

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.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (Not rated, 91 min.) Andrew Adamson, director of "Shrek" and "Narnia" movies, helmed this 3D fantasy about a pair of lovers lost in the "dreamlike worlds" of the circus art-acrobatics performance company.

Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D).

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.

Bartlett 10.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (PG, 94 min.) With episodes involving a country club, a camping trip and an amusement-park ride called the "Cranium Shaker," this third "Wimpy" comedy in as many years affirms the simple sitcom pleasures of an amusing and reliable franchise. Bartlett 10.

Django Unchained (R, 165 min.) Part bloody buddy picture, part revenge thriller, part action-comedy and entirely a racial provocation, Quentin Tarantino's latest would-be masterpiece mashup reaches beyond the writer-director's beloved Spaghetti Westerns and "blaxploitation" movies all the way back to D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" (1915) for inspiration. Griffith's film, which celebrated the "heroism" of the Ku Klux Klan even as it helped give birth to the modern motion picture, was "like history writ with lightning," in a remark widely attributed to Woodrow Wilson. "Django Unchained" is history — film and otherwise — writ with bursting squibs of blood and the calligraphy of makeup-effects scars on whipped slaves' backs and a compulsive use of the N-word that detractors may liken to Tourette's syndrome. Like Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," this "Django" (the character name originated in a 1966 Western) is a retroactive wish-fulfillment revenge fantasy on the grandest of scales, imagining the righteous pre-Civil War massacre of a plantation of slave-owners and their sympathizers by an armed ex-slave; the movie thus offers a cinematic reparation, if you will, to atone for the infamy of Griffith's film and the many subsequent screen whitewashes of the Old South. As fascinating and freighted with possible meaning as the director's previous films, "Django" nonetheless lacks the usual Tarantino pop; the suspense scenes don't crackle with danger, and the violence doesn't surprise. (The humor mostly works, however, especially during a Mel Brooksesque interlude involving some white racists who can't see through the poorly placed eyeholes of their hoods.) With Jamie Foxx as the title slave turned avenger; Christoph Waltz as Django's bounty-hunter mentor; Leonardo DiCaprio as a sinister phrenologist and plantation owner; and Samuel L. Jackson as an Uncle Tom who is a totem of evil.

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.

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; the gimmick this time is that much of the often-violent action and profane dialogue is presented as documentary footage shot by a South Central patrol officer (Jake Gyllenhaal) for a film class. Bartlett 10.

Flight (R, 139 min.) Returning to live action after a decade of disappointing experimentation with performance-capture animation, director Robert Zemeckis provides Denzel Washington with one of the more complex roles of the actor's career as an airline pilot whose skill and heroism are matched by his alcoholism and drug addiction. The fine supporting cast includes Kelly Reilly as a junkie (think Robin Wright in "Forrest Gump"), Don Cheadle as a pilots union lawyer and John Goodman as a scene-stealing Dr. Feelgood.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Guilt Trip (PG-13, 95 min.) Seth Rogen (son) and Barbra Streisand (mother) take a cross-country comedy road trip.

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

Here Comes the Boom (PG, 105 min.) Kevin James. 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.

Bartlett 10.

Hitchcock (PG-13, 98 min.) Pitched somewhere between the larky "My Week with Marilyn" and the wry "Ed Wood," and aimed — despite its many cinephiliac-flattering in-jokes — more at the senior crowd that made "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a hit than at those cinéastes who believe "Marnie" is a masterpiece, this more or less comic dramatization of the personal and professional crises faced by the aging "Master of Suspense" (Anthony Hopkins) while working on his most "tasteless" and déclassé production, 1960s "Psycho," is thoroughly entertaining: It ought to be subtitled "Dial M for Marriage," because the "Psycho"-therapy storyline is essentially a framework for the depiction of Hitchcock's longtime relationship with his wife and collaborator, Alma Reville (a wonderful Helen Mirren), frustrated by her husband's blond obsession and pursuing a possible romance with a dapper screenwriter (Danny Huston). Despite the disturbing presence of real-life Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) as a sort of gruesome muse, the film is essentially a reassuring movie-themed nostalgia piece in psychoanalytic drag, with Scarlett Johansson as famous shower victim Janet Leigh, Jessica Biel as the out-of-favor Vera Miles and James D'Arcy as closeted Anthony Perkins.

Ridgeway Four.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (PG-13, 170 min.) Nine years after the conclusion of his box-office-conquering, Oscar-grabbing "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth (i.e., the landscapes and green screens of New Zealand) to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's earlier novel, "The Hobbit," a simpler children's adventure that the producer-director has transformed into another epic trilogy, as well as a "prequel" (such "Rings" characters as Elijah Wood's Frodo, Cate Blanchett's Galadriel and Christopher Lee's Saruman make brief appearances). Jackson clearly loves immersing himself in Tolkien's elaborate mythology, but viewers with less enthusiasm may be impatient with this somewhat dawdling "Journey," in which reluctant hobbit Bilbo Baggins (a fine Martin Freeman) is recruited from his comfy hobbit-hole by the great wizard, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), to join a band of 13 dwarves (led by Richard Armitage as heroic and handsome Thorin Oakenshield) on an "adventure" to reclaim their ancestral homeland from the occupying dragon, Smaug (unseen here, except for flashes of tail and eye). The effect is like watching the opening episode of an unhurried HBO fantasy series, in which humorous asides and bits of dramatic foreshadowing alternate with elaborate, somewhat tiresome battles (there are sword-swinging orcs and goblins aplenty) and tepid monster comedy (Bilbo is almost eaten by some Three Stooges-like trolls). As for Jackson's much-ballyhooed innovation, HFR 3D, to my eyes this "High Frame Rate" technology gives the image an unfortunate "soap opera effect"; it's like watching a movie on the incorrect setting on the new hi-def TV at your brother-in-law's house.

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 HFR 3-D and 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square.

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.

Bartlett 10.

Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG, 94 min.) The climate change of cliché has melted most of the charm and novelty from this computer-animated comedy-adventure series.

Bartlett 10.

Jack Reacher (PG-13, 130 min.) The tough-guy star of 17 novels in i5 years, author Lee Child's 6-foot-5, 250-pound military police officer turned crime-solving drifter morphs into smallish if fit Tom Cruise to make his movie debut. A less robotic lead might have helped, but writer-director Christopher McQuarrie has delivered an efficient action-crime film with Reacher as the sort of fearless, unstoppable, ultracompetent reluctant hero once played on the B-movie circuit by Chuck Norris. The opening sniper sequence is startling, while the dialogue is alternately absurd ("I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot" is perhaps the most extreme Reacher taunt) and witty (Reacher's barroom encounter with a "slut" and her thug pals is especially memorable). Also notable: the too-brief presence of Germanic auteur Werner Herzog as a finger-chewing gulag survivor and ice-cold corporate über-villain.

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

Les Misérables (PG-13, 157 min.) Inspired by Victor Hugo's very serious 1862 novel of history, romance and moral philosophy, the musical "Les Misérables" has been a global phenomenon since the 1980s, generating a rabid and influential fan base that helped make America safe again for show tunes (as demonstrated by the living-room sing-a-long successes as "American Idol" and "Glee"). Contrary to its genre categorization, however, this epic film version from director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") is not particularly musical or even tuneful; opening in cinemas on Christmas Day, the movie thuds, like an overstuffed fruitcake hitting a kitchen table. Singing live on set and often shot in looming close-ups, the cast includes Hugh Jackman as the heroic Jean Valjean, sentenced to 18 years of hard labor for stealing a loaf of bread; Russell Crowed as Inspector Javert, obsessed with returning Valjean to prison; and the Falconetti-coiffed Anne Hathaway as a virtuous factory seamstress turned unwed mother and prostitute whose showstopping, single-take, solo version of "I Dreamed a Dream" provides the only moment of transcendence. The other scene-stealer is young Daniel Huttlestone as a rebel street urchin who speaks with a pronounced cockney accent, as if he had wandered over from the set of "Oliver Twist"; cute and confident, he's like the Lil' P-Nut of the Paris Uprising, and if he's absurd, at least he's good for a few laughs.

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

Life of Pi (PG, 127 min.) We're all in the same boat. Like its source novel, director Ang Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 best-seller is captivating as long as it sticks to literalizing this notion of man's relationship to nature and the animal kingdom; it's less persuasive when it insists that its inspirational message may cause its audience to "believe in God." Suraj Sharma stars as 16-year-old Pi, a zookeeper's son shipwrecked in a lifeboat in the Pacific with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Bengal tiger with the incongruous name of "Richard Parker."

Collierville Towne 16, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Lincoln (R, 150 min.) Returning to the themes of race, bondage and liberation that marked not just "Amistad" and "Schindler's List" but also "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," director Steven Spielberg delivers his most actor-centric and word-heavy film, and the result is as much a tour de force as was "Jurassic Park" — and as much a glorious resurrection of an extinct species: If only some amber-trapped DNA could be discovered to bring some of these great men back to life. Scripted by Tony Kushner (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of "Angels in America") from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," the movie is a timely depiction of the backroom finagling and ethically dubious deal-making required to gain even the most virtuous political result, in this case House passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery. The cast (including Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward and Tommy Lee Jones as Pennsylvania abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens) is terrific, but Daniel Day-Lewis' wise, rustic, gnarled Lincoln truly seems a creature from another age; remarkably, there's no apparent vanity in the actor's somewhat hobbled gait or high, thin voice.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Studio on the Square. Opens Wednesday at the CinePlanet 16 and Hollywood 20 Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Looper (R, 119 min.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Bartlett 10.

Monsters, Inc. (G, 92 min.) The Pixar classic is reissued 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 Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D).

Parental Guidance (PG, 104 min.) A domestic comedy with Bette Midler and Billy Crystal as nosy parents.

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.

Pitch Perfect (PG-13, 112 min.) Too-cool-for-school freshman Anna Kendrick learns to love college when she joins a wacky female a cappella singing group in this spry B-film aimed at Generation Glee.

Bartlett 10.

Red Dawn (PG-13, 94 min.) Shot in 2009 but not released until three years later (probably to piggyback on star Chris Hemsworth's new fame as the Marvel superhero Thor), stunt coordinator-turned-director Dan Bradley's remake of the 1984 camp cult "classic" is as idiotic as its inspiration, but it lacks the live-free-or-die integrity that gun-collecting director and conservative "Zen anarchist" John Milius brought to the original production.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Rise of the Guardians (PG, 97 min.) Inspired by the "Guardians of Childhood" chapter books by William Joyce, this DreamWorks Animation action-fantasy imagines that Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the mute Sandman and newcomer Jack Frost (Chris Pine) are the members of a sort of bedtime-story Justice League, dedicated to protecting the kids of the world from the sinister Pitch Black, aka The Boogeyman (voice cast MVP Jude Law).

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

Silver Linings Playbook (R, 122 min.) "Screwball" is a slang term for "crazy," and perhaps this is what inspired David O. Russell to literalize as well as updates the screwball comedy genre in this charming and surprisingly affecting film, which continues the fascination with dysfunctional extended families that characterized the writer-director's previous feature, "The Fighter." Bradley Cooper is Pat Solitano Jr., an "undiagnosed bipolar" history teacher who moves back home with his working-class Philadelphia parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro, both wonderful); Jennifer Lawrence (never more adult, or hotter) is the neighbor hood "crazy slut with a dead husband who seems determined to catch Pat, literally.

Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

Sinister (R, 98 min.) A desperate true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) moves his unwitting family into a "murder house" that may be haunted.

Bartlett 10.

Skyfall (PG-13, 143 min.) If our 21st-century spies must be dark instead of Pop, let them be presented with as much conviction, professionalism and entertainment value as in this 23rd MGM 007 feature film, the best yet with Daniel Craig as a particularly vulnerable bruiser of a Bond for a cynical post-Cold War era.

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

Taken 2 (PG-13, 91 min.) Liam Neeson.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

This Is 40 (R, 133 min.) A portrait of a marriage in trouble if not exactly in crisis, the new film from writer-director Judd Apatow is a semi-successful if occasionally overly crude and sentimental return to form for the creator of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (once lampooned, that birthday is now all too real for the filmmaker). The premise promotes a pair of supporting characters from 2007's "Knocked Up" to lead status: Pete (Paul Rudd) is an indie record label-owner trying to revive the career of literate British rocker Graham Parker (who appears as himself), while his wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann, Apatow's real-life wife and Rudd's match in puppy-dog adorableness), manages a struggling boutique dress shop. Ensuring that this will be interpreted as his most personal project to date, Apatow also enlists his real-life daughters, teenager Maude Apatow and grade-schooler Iris Apatow, to play Pete and Debbie's children. As usual in an Apatow film, the comedy is mostly verbal, and its success depends on the easy delivery of a skilled ensemble (Jason Segel, Chris O'Dowd, Lena Dunham, Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi and Melissa McCarthy appear). The characters, however, are somewhat selfish, and their humor is sometimes mean; Apatow acknowledges these flaws when Debbie, with the encouragement of Pete, blames others for the family's problems. "It's not us, it's them," she whines, and this could be the couple's mantra. A braver film might have been less tolerant of Pete and Debbie's self-centeredness, and less blinkered to their affluence: In asking viewers to sympathize with the money woes of these people, "This Is 40" is the Romney campaign of film comedy.

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.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (PG-13, 116 min.) An increasingly risible parody of not just itself but the multitude of supernatural-romance series that have followed in its alternately preening and mopey wake, the "Twilight" so-called saga comes to its overdue end with another kitschy "indie"-pop-scored story of hemoglobin-hungry eternally young people (the actors' faces appear to have been digitally scrubbed of blemishes) and their coarser if sometimes hunky were-neighbors.

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

Wreck-It Ralph (PG) This arcade version of "Toy Story" imagines that when the lights are out and the players gone home, the avatars inside video games come to life with their own stories and personalities; if the premise is gimmicky, the execution is brilliant, as the title lovable lug of a villain (voiced to perfection by John C. Reilly) attempts to transcend his programming and become a hero, with the help of bratty Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), the "glitch" trapped inside the girlie go-kart game "Sugar Rush." Witty and genuinely heartwarming, this Disney production is looser and less insistent on your emotional acquiescence than its Pixar counterparts; plus, the video game premise is ideally suited to the digital animation process that brings it to life.

Collierville Towne 16, Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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