Movie Capsules: What's Showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

Adore (R, 100 min.) See review elsewhere on gomemphis.com.

Studio on the Square.

Austenland (PG-13, 97 min.) See review elsewhere on gomemphis.com.

Ridgeway Cinema Grill.

The Family (R, 111 min.) A mafia clan led by Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer is relocated to France under the witness protection program in this action-comedy from director Luc Besson.

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.

In a World ... (R, 93 min.) Lake Bell wrote, directed and stars in this comedy about a vocal coach (Bell) whose father (Fred Melamed) is the king of movie-trailer voice-overs.

Ridgeway Cinema Grill.

Insidious: Chapter 2 (PG-13, 105 min.) Less than two months after the arrival of his “The Conjuring,” director James Wan delivers another ghost story.

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.

One Direction: This Is Us — Extended Cut (PG-13, 106 min.) The doc about the boy band opened only two weeks ago, but here’s a cut with extra footage, in what best can be described as a blatant and shameless money grab.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Animal House (R, 109 min.) The 1978 campus comedy classic, with John Belushi as the zit-aping, can-crushing, eyebrow-arching Bluto Blutarsky.

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

Clean Guys of Comedy (R, 105 min.) Live via satellite from Denver, this standup comedy concert promises lots of laughs but zero F-bombs. Featured comics include Dave Coulier, Jamie Kennedy, Andy Hendrickson, Ralph Harris and Heather McDonald.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: .$12.50 Visit malco.com.

Great White Shark: This IMAX feature film takes a close look at this predator’s place in our imaginations and fears while exploring the shark’s reality and role at the top of the ocean food chain. Runs through Nov. 22. 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 showtimes, tickets and reservations.

The Hollow Crown: Richard II (Not rated, 60 min.) Ben Whishaw is a vain and foolish king in this free preview screening of an episode from the upcoming PBS “Great Performances” miniseries. A discussion will follow.

2 p.m. Sunday, WKNO Digital Media Center, 7151 Cherry Farms Road Visit wkno.org or call (901) 729-8735.

How to Make Movies at Home (Not rated, 94 min.) The first film in this year’s “Southern Circuit of Independent Filmmakers” series is a comedy about a group of DIY filmmakers who fight back when a Hollywood production company sets up shop in their tiny Maine town. Writer-director Morgan Nichols will attend.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Studio on the Square. Tickets: $8, or $6 for seniors; free for students and Indie Memphis members. Visit indiememphis.com.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? — The Sing-a-Long (PG-13, 106 min.) Memphis singer-songwriter Jimmy Davis leads a singalong version of the Coen Brothers’ comedy classic. Lyric sheets will be passed out, so audience members can croon along with “Man of Constant Sorrow” and other blues, folk and country numbers.

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

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R, 100 min.) The monthly screening of the ultimate audience-participation sci-fi rock ‘n roll musical cult classic.

11:30 p.m. Friday, Evergreen Theatre, 1705 Poplar. Tickets: $10. Visit rockyhorrormemphis.com.

The Source Family (Not rated, 98 min.) This is the Memphis debut for the acclaimed documentary about the rise and fall of a 1970s California “utopian” cult, led by the mysterious “Father Yod.”

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

Southwest (Not rated, 128 min.) The “Global Lens” series continues with director Eduardo Nunes’ 2012 black-and-white fable about a girl in a small lakeside village in Brazil who lives her entire life, from infancy to old age, in a single day.

2 p.m. Sunday, Meeting Room C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission: free. Visit indiememphis. com.

Titans of the Ice Age: Go back to the beautiful and foreign frozen landscapes of North America, Europe and Asia 10,000 years before civilization, when humans shared the tundra with mammoths and other woolly beasts. Runs through Nov. 22. 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

NOW SHOWING

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (R, 105 min.) HHH½ As the arcane phrasing of its title suggests, this might be a folk song or murder ballad in movie form — an evocative outlaw saga of undying love distilled to its emotional essence, as if it were something to be inhaled or applied to the skin, to work at the level of the blood and bypass the cynical defenses of the intellect, as music often does. Unseen robberies and jail escapes are part of the story, and shootouts occur on-screen, but this is a story about waiting and separation, involving a young mother (Rooney Mara), her imprisoned true love (Casey Affleck), a taciturn deputy (Ben Foster) and a mysterious crime boss (Keith Carradine); the time (apparently) is the 1970s, but the movie uses editing to suggest the simultaneity of events that happen years apart, reminding us that even this insignificant parcel of rural Texas belongs to a cosmic whole. The writer and director is David Lowery, an essential participant in the true American independent cinema scene of the past decade who has worked in a variety of capacities on such films as “Upstream Color,” “Sun Don’t Shine” and the made-in-Memphis “Open Five” -- films that, like Lowery’s latest, practice a poetic and potent brand of realism (influenced by Malick and Altman) that recognizes the world as a place of mystery as well as fact.

Forest Hill 8.

Blue Jasmine (PG-13, 98 min.) HHHH Cate Blanchett is intense, unlikable, pathetic, sympathetic, hateful, clueless, charming, fragile and frightening as an Upper East Side socialite turned San Francisco sponge in writer-director Woody Allen’s 45th film, a “Streetcar Named Desire” gloss about a spoiled, self-medicating, suddenly broke (in more ways than one) woman who is forced to move in with her unglamorous working-class sister (Sally Hawkins) after her millionaire husband (Alec Baldwin) is revealed to be a Bernie Madoff-esque crook.

Ridgeway Cinema Grill. The Conjuring (R, 112 min.) HHH Inspired by (supposedly) true events, this Amityville-esque chiller set in 1971 casts Patrick Wilson and the impeccable Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, asked to examine a haunted farmhouse occupied by a working-class couple (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) and their five daughters.

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

Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 min.) Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his minions return.

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

Elysium (R, 109 min.) HHH½ Like much purposeful science fiction, Neil Blomkamp’s follow-up to “District 9” is not so much a vision of another world as an exaggerated picture of our own. The writer-director has taken note of the growing gap between the world’s have and have-nots and made it literal by imagining a “diseased, polluted and vastly overpopulated” slum of a future Earth that has been abandoned to the so-called 99 percent while the privileged 1 percent lives in security and luxury on the ring-shaped orbiting “habitat” of Elysium, a clean green place of classical music and almost magical health care, protected by a stern pantsuited Defense Secretary (Jodie Foster) who shoots down the “illegals” in “undocumented” ships who try to infiltrate her Year 2154 paradise. Bald and buff, Matt Damon is the sympathetic “Metropolis”-esque industrial wage slave who returns to his outlaw ways after receiving a death-sentence dose of on-the-job radiation and being outfitted, crucifixion-style, with a strength-enhancing “exo suit” by Earth’s rebels; his increasingly violent clash with a brutal special ops agent (Sharlto Copley) distances the film from its beautifully realized dystopian setup, in favor of the dull routine of “blockbuster” action-violence and an unconvincing “happy” ending.

Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Epic (PG, 103 min.) HH A teenage girl (voiced by Amanda Seyfried) discovers a hidden forest world of tiny warriors and talking slugs when she is shrunk to bug size.

Bartlett 10.

Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13, 130 min.) HH Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson.

Bartlett 10.

Getaway (PG-13, 90 min.) Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez in a race-against-the-clock car-chase thriller.

CinePlanet 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

The Grandmaster (PG-13, 123 min.) HHH For his first feature in close to six years (following the partly made-in-Memphis “My Blueberry Nights”), Hong Kong’s master movie artist, Wong Kar-wai, has delivered his second martial arts story; but more impressive than the film’s flurry of fists is its sleight-of-hand — the misdirection that conceals for some the truth that this is not primarily a decades-spanning historical drama but a romance of unrequited love, more melancholy at its heart than even Wong’s acknowledged masterpiece, “In the Mood for Love” (2000). The message here is that the deepest passion may be the one that is never acted upon or even acknowledged, as the married and honorable Ip Man (Tony Leung), the most famous real-life martial arts master of the 20th century, spars with but never actually courts beautiful Gong Re (Ziyi Zhang), the other half of what might be dubbed a phantom relationship.

Paradiso.

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13, 101 min.) HH Jettisoning the earlier film’s egregious schmaltz for an overload of (literal) gags involving vomit, loaded diapers and a CG urinating deer, this Happy Madison remedial-school version of “This Is 40” is as insane and dumbfounding and worthy of WTF mock-cult status as “The Room” or “Manos, Hands of Fate,” even if it did earn $42 million on 3,491 screens its first weekend.

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

The Heat (R, 117 min.) Slobby Melissa McCarthy and uptight Sandra Bullock are an “odd couple” of cops.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Instructions Not Included (PG-13, 100 min.) Mexican TV superstar Eugenio Derbez directed and stars in this Spanish-language comedy-drama about a party-hearty man suddenly saddled with the daughter he never knew he had.

Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Iron Man 3 (PG-13, 128 min.) HHH Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce.

Bartlett 10.

Laughing to the Bank (R, 89 min.) Star Brian Hooks directed this low-budget comedy about a struggling actor. No doubt the title is provi less than prophetic for the film, which arrives in theaters three years after its completion date.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (PG-13, 132 min.) HHH Loosely inspired by the true story of Eugene Allen (1919-2010), who worked as a domestic servant at the White House from the Truman through Reagan administrations, this is a history lesson and symbolic portrait of U.S. racial alienation and aspiration presented through the strong, dignified, inspirational yet somewhat tragic figure of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), orphaned in the cotton fields of Georgia and taught to be a “house Negro”; it’s a testimony to Gaines’ character and perhaps evidence of the depth of his emotional damage that he absorbs the lesson so well he becomes what might be called the ultimate “house Negro,” the head butler at “America’s house,” the White House. A weary-looking Oprah Winfrey is a convincing Mrs. Gaines, but this is Whitaker’s movie: It’s another of the film’s ironies that while Gaines owes his success to an ability to make a room feel empty, Whitaker, even at his most still and silent, fills the frame with life — with presence.

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.

The Lone Ranger (PG-13, 149 min.) HHH Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer.

Bartlett 10.

Man of Steel (PG-13, 143 min.) HHH Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon.

Bartlett 10.

The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones (PG-13, 130 min.) A New York teenager (Lily Collins) battles demons in the latest post-“Harry Potter” would-be fantasy franchise-starter, inspired by the Young Adult novel series by Cassandra Clare.

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

Now You See Me (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson.

Bartlett 10.

Pacific Rim (PG-13, 131 min.) HH½ Guillermo del Toro’s sincere, elaborate tribute to the (mostly) Japanese colossal-creature features that enthralled him as a child proves to be the director’s squarest, least interesting film, as if the project’s sense of fun and wonder collapsed beneath the gargantuism of its $190 million budget, in an aesthetic equivalent of the square-cube law that makes the story’s monsters impossible in real life.

Bartlett 10.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (PG, 106 min.) HH “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” director Thor Freudenthal graduates to adolescent demigods in this second special effects-heavy adventure inspired by Rick Riordan’s fantasy book series about the teen son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman).

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

Planes (PG, 92 min.) An airborne “Cars” spinoff.

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

Red 2 (PG-13, 116 min.) HHH Directed with snap by Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”), this witty follow-up to 2010’s DC Comics-inspired sleeper hit succeeds largely on the charm of its wily veteran cast, with top comedy honors going to John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, a paranoid ex-“black ops” agent.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Riddick (R, 119 min.) Not the sound a frog makes but the sound of Vin Diesel, flexing his pecs cashing his checks and battling alien predators.

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.

Smurfs 2 (PG, 105 min.) HH “It’s in my face!” complained a young girl new to 3D at the Memphis preview for this film; child, we feel your pain. Another blend of live-action and digital animation from director Raja Gosnell, this sequel to the 2011 hit could give anyone — dare I say it? — the blues.

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

The Spectacular Now (R, 95 min.) HHH Miles Teller is the film’s narrator, Sutter, the irresponsible, irrepressible “life of every party” whose Vince Vaughn humor covers his serious alcohol problem; Shailene Woodley is Aimee, bookish and sincere. Working from a novel by Tim Tharp, director James Ponsoldt presents this working-class, so-called unlikely high-school romance with uncommon tenderness and compassion as well as suspense, as we wait for the inevitable moment when the sexually experienced and reckless Sutter breaks Aimee’s shy, sweet heart. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, an odd paradox emerges: The more we learn about the self-deprecating Aimee, the more she is revealed to be, in fact, just a prop for Sutter’s rehabilitation and redemption. “I don’t really have any stories,” she insists early in the film; the movie works to give her one but then dismisses it, maintaining — as the first-person narration at the start suggests — that this is Sutter’s story, after all.

Studio on the Square.

Taming the Bull: The John Bramlett Story (Not rated, 64 min.) Inspirational documentary about the ultimately purposeful life of the notorious Memphis football player once known for his violence, boozing and women.

Collierville Towne 16.

This Is the End (R, 107 min.) HHH½ Seth Rogen.

Majestic, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

2 Guns (R, 109 min.) HHH A pair of undercover agents (Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg) become reluctant allies after they attract the violent interest of the DEA, a Mexican drug lord (James Edward Olmos) and a rogue Navy Intelligence officer (James Marsden) in this unpretentious actioner, elevated by the wry likability of its star duo. Adapted from the graphic novel series published by Boom! Studios.

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

The Ultimate Life (PG, 124 min.) Michael Landon Jr. directed this faith-based film about a billionaire who re-examines his life after discovering his grandfather’s journals.

Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.

The Way, Way Back (PG-13, 103 min.) HH½ If “Meatballs” were relocated from a summer camp to a water park and reworked into a semi-“serious” film, with half its running time devoted to Chris Makepeace’s poignant back story and dysfunctional home life, it would be something like this somewhat trite but beautifully acted and nicely atmospheric coming-of-age tale, which marks the impressive directing debut of its screenwriters, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (adapted screenplay Oscar-winners for “The Descendants”). Sam Rockwell is the Bill Murray character here, the laid-back, deadpan, somewhat irresponsible but of course good-hearted manager of Water Wizz, a Massachusetts oceanfront attraction; with apparently nothing better to do, he becomes a tolerant guru of cool and conveniently available summer mentor to 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), an almost autistically awkward youth on a Fourth-of-July beach house vacation with his loving but insecure mother (Toni Collette) and her overbearing, vaguely menacing new boyfriend (played with change-of-pace coldness by Steve Carell), who — in a believably humiliating detail — grades Duncan as a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Ridgeway Cinema Grill.

We’re the Millers (R, 110 min.) Pot dealer Jason Sudeikis and stripper Jennifer Aniston form a fake family to elude the Feds.

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

White House Down (PG-13, 132 min.) HH Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx.

Bartlett 10.

The Wolverine (PG-13, 129 min.) HHH½ Donning the Blacula sideburns and adamantine claws of the surly Marvel Comics mutant for the fifth time, Hugh Jackman appears entirely at home in his character’s tortured skin in this superior, even adult Marvel Comics adaptation, which plays almost like a straight gangster/yakuza thriller for much of its length, until the obligatory climactic superhero/supervillain dust-up between the Wolverine and a massive CG robot, the Silver Samurai.

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

World War Z (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ The spectacular set-piece highlights — the antlike swarms of zombies attacking the Jerusalem wall, the lethal traffic jam in Philadelphia, the airplane attack — were revealed in the trailers; what’s left is nothing that hasn’t been done better many times before by Romero, Danny Boyle, even AMC.

Bartlett 10.

The World’s End (R, 109 min.) HHH Five middle-age mates reunite to complete a failed teen-years pub crawl in their cozy British hometown in this third film in a decade from the genre-loving, genre-spoofing, genre-respecting “Shaun of the Dead”/“Hot Fuzz” team of writer-director Edgar Wright, writer-actor Simon Pegg and actor Nick Frost. This time, Pegg rather than Frost is cast as the bad-influence Id of the group: Gary King (“the once and future King”), a wiry alcoholic with a Sisters of Mercy logo on his T-shirt, the Soup Dragons on his mixtape and a burning need to finish the 12-stop crawl that thwarted him and his running buddies in 1990. The movie is absolutely terrific — lively, witty, hilarious — for at least half its length, but it founders during the protracted final act, which becomes too noisy, too chaotic and too wordy. It nevertheless remains a delight, thanks to the presence of some of England’s best comic actors, including Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan, as Gary’s wary friends.

Paradiso.

You’re Next (R, 96 min.) HHH Mumblecore may be dead but mumblegore is alive and, well, pretty grisly, judging from this tongue-in-cheek, blender-in-head home-invasion horror thriller from director Adam Wingard, whose cast of (mostly doomed) characters includes such fellow lo-fi auteurs as Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz and Ti West. With its action confined almost entirely to a large isolated house, the film is a clever and convincing throwback to the heydays of the drive-in and grindhouse, complete with casual if infrequent nudity, illogical motivations, dubious acting, a clever twist or two, startling violence and — best of all — a sense of go-for-broke brashness and what-the-hell spirit.

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

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