OPENING THIS WEEK
2 chiles - DOCTOR SLEEP
Grown up and battlling ghosts and alcoholism, Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is struggling to compartmentalize his demons, when he runs into a girl (Kyliegh Curran) with more “shine” than is good for her. Perhaps not surprisingly, his bid to save her takes him back to the Overlook, the site of his daily nightmares. Inspired as much by Kubrick’s revisionist film as by either of Stephen King’s books — 1977’s The Shining and its sequel, 2013’s Doctor Sleep — this film by horror wunderkind Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) returns to the Overlook in ways both literal and figurative. Part homage to Kubrick’s moody atmospherics, and part hyper-literal superhero story, Doctor Sleep is stylish, engrossing, at times frustratingly illogical, and ultimately less than profoundly unsettling. Which is, in a word, a disappointment. Horror, rated R, 151 minutes, Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Michael O’Sullivan/The Washington Post)
2 chiles - LAST CHRISTMAS
Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) films a script co-written by Emma Thompson (who also co-stars) about a London woman named Kate (Emilia Clarke) who continuously makes bad decisions in life. Her choice to accept a holiday job as a department-store elf initially seems to follow that pattern, until she meets Tom (Henry Golding). After that, it’s a matter of believing her good fortune and not screwing it up. Taken at face value, Last Christmas is a charming enough entry into the holiday rom-com canon. Clarke and Golding are likable together, if not electric. Feig manages a tone that’s heavy on chuckles and light on belly laughs. Still, Last Christmas eventually reveals itself as a warmhearted story of trauma, survivors’ guilt, and reinvention. Somehow, Kate and Tom’s story still finds a way to play out in painfully predictable fashion. Romantic comedy, rated PG-13, 102 minutes, Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Thomas Floyd/The Washington Post)
Hitting theaters to coincide with Veterans Day, this movie centers on the Battle of Midway in 1942, in which the U.S. Navy defeated an incoming fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Director Roland Emmerich details the historic events, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the retaliatory Doolittle Raid on Tokyo to Midway. Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, and Patrick Wilson star. War movie, rated PG-13, 138 minutes, Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
2.5 chiles - MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN
Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton, who also wrote, directed, and produced) is private dick whose mentor, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis, whose infrequent appearance in movies of late has only heightened his powerful presence), adopted Lionel and raised him in his private investigator business. When Minna is killed in the film’s opening scenes, Essrog throws himself into discovering the murderers, whipping up his fellow detectives — Tony (Bobby Cannavale), Gilbert (Ethan Suplee) and Danny (Dallas Roberts) — to join in the search. Just as Jake Gittes unwittingly uncovered the water supply sins on which Los Angeles was built in Chinatown, Motherless Brooklyn winds its way through the neighborhood-destroying freeway laying of Robert Moses’ New York. Norton, who last directed the 2000 romantic comedy Keeping the Faith, has made a resolutely sturdy movie, filled with excellent actors (Willem Dafoe is also in the mix) and composed with a vivid feel for New York. Motherless Brooklyn is done well enough that you wish it had struck out on its own path, rather than crib from Robert Towne and Roman Polanski. It’s hard to forget it, but that’s Chinatown. Crime drama, rated R, 144 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (Jake Coyle/Associated Press)
4 chiles - PAIN AND GLORY
Drama, rated R, 113 minutes, in Spanish with subtitles, The Screen and Violet Crown. See review.
PLAYING WITH FIRE
John Cena heads a cast that includes Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo in this comedy set in the world of wildlife firefighting. The three men play rugged, if buffoonish, firefighters who are quickly in over their heads when tasked with rescuing and taking care of a trio of boisterous young kids. Comedy, rated PG, 96 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
2.5 chiles - THE PORTAL
Documentary, not rated, 88 minutes, The Screen. See review.
NOW IN THEATERS
2.5 chiles - THE ADDAMS FAMILY
The new animated version of The Addams Family begins with the wedding of Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) before they are chased off by angry villagers. They wind up in New Jersey and make their home in an abandoned asylum where Thing gives Lurch tips on tickling the ivories. The movie is the diversion you would expect, getting laughs from the disparity between the Addams’ congenital gloominess and the planned community, called Assimilation, that’s being developed near their mansion. If this installment lays on the moral (all families are freaky in their own ways) a bit thick, it has just enough wit and weirdness to honor its source material. Animated comedy, rated PG, 105 minutes, screens in 2D only at Regal Santa Fe 6 and Regal Stadium 14. (Ben Kenigsberg/New York Times)
Jeremy Renner voices Swifty, a fox who works in the mailroom of an arctic delivery service but dreams of becoming one of the husky couriers. On his way to prove his worth, he comes into a hidden fortress headed up by an evil walrus named Otto ( John Cleese) who has a plot to destroy the Arctic. Swifty and his friends (voiced by Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Heidi Klum, and more) join forces to stop Otto and save their land. Animated family film, rated PG, 93 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
BLACK AND BLUE
New Orleans Police Department rookie Alicia West (Naomie Harris) finds herself trapped between two worlds when she witnesses a squad of dirty cops murder a drug dealer. She can’t tell anyone within the force because she is outnumbered by veteran officers, and she can’t turn to her African-American community, as she feels rejected by them after joining the NOPD. She finds a friend in a stranger named Milo (Tyrese Gibson) and attempts to resolve the issue while avoiding the contract on her head. Action, rated R, 108 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
When a young woman (Elizabeth Lail) downloads an app to her phone that claims to predict when its user will die, it informs her that her end is coming in just two days. As she researches the app and discovers that its prognoses are eerily accurate — and when a mysterious figure suddenly begins following her — she scrambles in a race against time to save herself. Horror, rated PG-13, 90 minutes, Regal Santa Fe 6 and Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
THE CURRENT WAR: DIRECTOR’S CUT
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon is George Westinghouse in this historical drama about the two inventors and the race to determine whose electrical system would ultimately power society. As Edison and Westinghouse compete to get cities across the United States to use their system, Edison strives to find ways to make his system cheaper while Westinghouse looks for ways to make his safer. Nicholas Hoult plays fellow titan of electricity Nikola Tesla, while Tom Holland plays business magnate Samuel Insull. Drama, not rated, 107 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
3.5 chiles - DOWNTON ABBEY
Set in the 1910s and 1920s at a fictional English estate, the TV show Downton Abbey centered on the esteemed Crawley family and their domestic servants, as they all attempt to keep the massive estate afloat and shipshape in a rapidly modernizing England. The extraordinary ensemble cast almost entirely return for the film, which finds the characters in 1927, with the events of the series finale receding into the past. The family receives a letter informing them that the royal family is stopping in for an overnight visit. This news has everyone in a tizzy, although the staffers downstairs are affected far more profoundly than the family upstairs. That is the extent of the central plot, and the movie is well-served by its simplicity; creator and writer Julian Fellowes devotes himself to sprinkling the story with small moments that are delightful, letting each character warm the hearts of everyone who spent years getting to know them. Drama, rated PG, 122 minutes, Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Robert Ker)
Brie Larson narrates this documentary that shows us the inside world of mushrooms, molds, and other fungi. Director Louie Schwartzberg takes viewers on a time-lapse journey that describes the ancient history of these organisms and their power in the present to heal and to sustain life. Some of the most-renowned mycologists in the world also offer their thoughts on the potential of fungi to help humans across a wide variety of uses. Documentary, not rated, 81 minutes, Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
3 chiles - HARRIET
The image most of us have of Harriet Tubman is of the noble older woman wearing a headscarf and somewhat inscrutable expression. With Harriet, she ibecomes a vital, fearless, spiritually driven hero. Co-written and directed by Kasi Lemmons, the film begins in 1849, when Tubman — born Araminta “Minty” Ross — is still living in Dorchester County. Although legally she and her siblings were supposed to be freed, her owners are keeping her as a veritable prisoner. Tubman decides to risk escape, eluding slave catchers, collaborationists, and hounds literally at her heels. Once in Philadelphia, she meets William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monáe), who introduce Tubman to a hitherto unknown world of black prosperity and political agency. Peppered with tense action sequences and propelled by a gorgeous musical score by Terence Blanchard, Harriet is the kind of instructional, no-nonsense biopic that may not take many artistic risks or sophisticated stylistic departures but manages to benefit from that lack of pretension. Biopic, rated PG-13, 125 minutes, Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Ann Hornaday/The Washington Post)
3 chiles - JOJO RABBIT
Writer and director Taika Waititi presents a twee version of World War II-era Berlin in Jojo Rabbit that is seen through the eyes of a child. Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is an only child whose father, he thinks, is off fighting the war for Germany. He lives with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), in a middle-class section of Berlin. His only real friend is imaginary: a fatherly Adolf Hitler with a tendency to fly off the handle whenever Jews are mentioned. Ten-year-old Jojo is one of the Hitlerjungend, or Hitler Youth, and decorates his room with swastikas and posters of the Führer. Its comedy is fast-paced, at times approaching slapstick. It takes its time to find its emotional core and, as it does, the humor settles down and the drama mostly takes over, edging, at times, into rank sentimentalism. Jojo Rabbit may strain your credulity, but never at the expense of its young protagonists, who shine throughout. Comedy, rated PG-13, 108 minutes, Center for Contemporary Arts and Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
2 chiles - JOKER
In Joker, director Todd Phillips takes a grim, shallow, and distractingly derivative homage to 1970s movies to an even more grisly, nihilistic level. Arthur Fleck is an aspiring stand-up comedian whose day job is working as a clown. Portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in a florid, Pagliacci-like turn as sad-clown-turned-mad-clown, Fleck is a pathetic man-child who nurses a deluded ambition to appear on a late-night show hosted by a comic named Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). The fact that Franklin is played by De Niro is just one of many nods to Martin Scorsese, in this case to the brilliant King of Comedy (1982). Joker is so monotonously grandiose and full of its own pretensions that it winds up feeling puny and predictable. Like the antihero at its center, it’s a movie trying so hard to be capital-b Big that it can’t help looking small. Drama, rated R, 121 minutes, Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Ann Hornaday/The Washington Post)
4 chiles - THE LIGHTHOUSE
A horror movie about inner and outer darkness, this film begins with two lighthouse workers, Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Winslow (Robert Pattinson), arriving on a small, desolate island. Over many solitary days and nights, they work, eat, drink, and dig at each other, establishing a bristling antagonism born of temperament and boredom or maybe just narrative convenience. The wind howls, the camera prowls, the sea roars, and director Robert Eggers flexes his estimable filmmaking technique as an air of mystery rapidly thickens. He has created a story about an age-old struggle, one that is most satisfyingly expressed in this film’s own tussle between genre and its deviations. Horror, rated R, 109 minutes, Violet Crown. (Manohla Dargis/The New York Times)
1.5 chiles - MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL
Disney’s revisionist Maleficent took the Sleeping Beauty story that inspired the studio’s own 1959 animated classic and turned it upside down. In that live-action retelling, the evil sorceress Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) became both hero and villain. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil picks up where the first film left off: in the land known as the Moors, a CGI paradise now ruled by the former Sleeping Beauty, Aurora (Elle Fanning), and overrun with mythical critters straight out of Tolkien Lite. Aurora’s love interest (Harris Dickinson) is still in the picture, and, as the film opens, this anodyne Prince has just proposed marriage to Aurora. It’s a big and busy film, characterized by a focus on fighting and weaponry. But the worse sin is that it’s boring; unlike the first film, there’s no one to care about. Fantasy action, rated PG, 118 minutes, Regal Stadium 14, 2D only at Regal Santa Fe 6, and Violet Crown. (Michael O’Sullivan/The Washington Post)
3 chiles - PARASITE
Parasite takes place in South Korea but could easily unfold in Los Angeles or London. Director Bong Joon Ho (Okja) creates specific spaces and faces that are in service to universal ideas about human dignity, class, and life itself. That’s a good way of telegraphing the larger catastrophe represented by the cramped, gloomy, and altogether disordered basement apartment where Kim Ki-taek (the great Song Kang Ho) benignly reigns. A sedentary lump, Ki-taek doesn’t have a lot obviously going for him. Fortunes change after the son, Ki-woo (Choi Woo Shik), lands a lucrative job as an English-language tutor for the teenage daughter, Da-hye (Jung Ziso), of the wealthy Park family. The other Kims don’t secure their positions as art tutor, housekeeper, and chauffeur. The Parks make it easy (no background checks). Yet they’re not gullible, as Ki-taek believes, but are instead defined by cultivated helplessness, the near-infantilization that money affords. In outsourcing their lives, all the cooking and cleaning and caring for their children, the Parks are as parasitical as their humorously opportunistic interlopers. The cost of that comfort and those pretty rooms comes at a terrible price. Drama, rated R, 132 minutes, in Korean with subtitles, Center for Contemporary Arts and Violet Crown. (Manohla Dargis/The New York Times)
TERMINATOR: DARK FATE
James Cameron, creator of the Terminator franchise, contributes to his first film in the series since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, co-writing and producing while Tim Miller (Deadpool) directs. Linda Hamilton, the heroine of the first two films, also returns to the series for the first time since 1991. She once more plays Sarah Connor, who must just forces with the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a cyborg named Grace (Mackenzie Davis) to protect a young girl (Natalia Reyes) from a highly advanced robot (Gabriel Luna) from the future. Science fiction, rated R, 128 minutes, Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
3 chiles - ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP
Has it really been an entire decade since Zombieland, in which Woody Harrelson joined forces with Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin to crack wise while the skulls of the undead exploded around them? Apparently it has, though part of the charm of this undemanding sequel (directed, like the first one, by Ruben Fleischer) is that it treats 10 years like 10 minutes. In the post-apocalyptic world, there’s no history, and the filmmakers wisely refrain from calibrating too many jokes to the present-day world beyond the screen. Like the first episode, but even more so, this chapter is aware that zombies are a pop-culture cliché and is content to goof on that fact. There’s nothing here to rival Bill Murray in Zombieland, but the performers commit to the silliness in a spirit of well-compensated affability. The film doesn’t have much on its mind, but it isn’t completely brain-dead either. Comedy, rated R, 99 minutes, Regal Stadium 14. (A.O. Scott/New York Times)
PERFORMANCE AND OTHER SCREENINGS
Jean Cocteau Cinema
▼ The Love That Would Not Die episodes 1-3.
▼ 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11: National Alliance on Mental Illness presents Stripes (1981).
Lensic Performing Arts Center
▼ 11 a.m. with a 6 p.m. encore: The Met Live in HD presents Madama Butterfly.
▼ 5:15 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10: The Portal with filmmaker in person.
▼ 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12: National Organization for Women presents City Dreamers with panel discussion.
▼ 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 10: The Brothers Karamazov from the Eifman Ballet Company.
▼ 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13: Shakira in Concert: El Dorado World Tour.
▼ 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14: Creativity for Peace presents Soufra.