Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 6, 2014 Edition

Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 6, 2014 Edition
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Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Good Day to Die Hard *
Silver Screen: A Million Ways to Die in the West *1/2
Silver Screen: A Most Wanted Man ***1/2
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: A Walk Among the Tombstones ***
Silver Screen: About Last Night ***1/2
Silver Screen: Admission ***1/2
Silver Screen: After Earth *
Silver Screen: All Is Lost ****
Silver Screen: American Hustle ****1/2
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: Annabelle ***1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: As Above, so Below ***1/2
Silver Screen: August: Osage County ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Bad Words **
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Beautiful Creatures *1/2
Silver Screen: Before Midnight ****1/2
Silver Screen: Begin Again ***1/2
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blended **1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Jasmine ****1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Boyhood ****1/2
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Brick Mansions **
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Broken City ***
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***1/2
Silver Screen: Captain Phillips ****
Silver Screen: Carrie **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chef ****
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Cloud Atlas ***
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Dallas Buyers Club ****
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: Dark Skies **1/2
Silver Screen: David Wong’s John Dies at the End: A Local Author Sees His Novel Hit the Big Screen
Silver Screen: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****1/2
Silver Screen: Dead Man Down 1/2*
Silver Screen: Deliver Us from Evil *
Silver Screen: Delivery Man ***
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Despicable Me II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Divergent *1/2
Silver Screen: Django Unchained ****1/2
Silver Screen: Don Jon *
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dracula Untold **1/2
Silver Screen: Draft Day *
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Edge of Tomorrow ****
Silver Screen: Elysium **
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Ender’s Game ***
Silver Screen: Escape Plan ***
Silver Screen: Evil Dead ***
Silver Screen: Fast and Furious VI **
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Faster **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Flight ****
Silver Screen: Forty-two ***1/2
Silver Screen: Frances Ha ****1/2
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Fruitvale Station ****
Silver Screen: Fury ***
Silver Screen: G.I. Joe: Retaliation *
Silver Screen: Gangster Squad *1/2
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Godzilla **1/2
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Gone Girl ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Grown Ups II zero stars
Silver Screen: Guardians of the Galaxy ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Her ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Homefront *1/2
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: How to Train Your Dragon II ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Identity Thief ***
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Inside Llewyn Davis *****
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious: Chapter Two ***
Silver Screen: Iron Man III **1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jack Reacher ***
Silver Screen: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ***
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa *1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jersey Boys **1/2
Silver Screen: Jobs **
Silver Screen: John Wick ***
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Kick-Ass II zero stars
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killing Them Softly **1/2
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Let’s Be Cops ***1/2
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Life of Pi **1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lincoln ****
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Lone Survivor ***
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Love and Other Drugs *1/2
Silver Screen: Lucy ***
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Machete Kills **1/2
Silver Screen: Magic in the Moonlight **
Silver Screen: Mama **1/2
Silver Screen: Man of Steel *
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Million Dollar Arm **1/2
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Monsters University ***
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: Movie Forty-three zero stars
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: Nebraska ****1/2
Silver Screen: Need for Speed *
Silver Screen: Neighbors ***1/2
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: Nightcrawler ****
Silver Screen: No Good Deed *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: Noah 1/2*
Silver Screen: Non-Stop ***1/2
Silver Screen: Now You See Me 1/2*
Silver Screen: Oblivion ***1/2
Silver Screen: Oculus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Olympus Has Fallen zero stars
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Ouija *
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Out of the Furnace *
Silver Screen: Oz the Great and Powerful **
Silver Screen: Pacific Rim ****
Silver Screen: Pain and Gain ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Parker ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Playing for Keeps 1/2*
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prisoners ****
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Dawn *
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Riddick ***
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: RoboCop ***
Silver Screen: Runner Runner *1/2
Silver Screen: Rush ****
Silver Screen: Sabotage **
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe Haven *1/2
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Saint Vincent ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sex Tape *
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Side Effects ****1/2
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Skyfall ****
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snitch ***
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Star Trek into Darkness ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: Tammy **1/2
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles *
Silver Screen: That Awkward Moment 1/2*
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Wedding *
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Book Thief **
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boxtrolls ****
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Butler ****
Silver Screen: The Call **1/2
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Company You Keep *1/2
Silver Screen: The Conjuring ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Counselor ****
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dictator ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Drop ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Equalizer **
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fault in Our Stars ****
Silver Screen: The Fifth Estate 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Giver ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Grand Budapest Hotel ****
Silver Screen: The Great Gatsby ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Guilt Trip ***
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part III *1/2
Silver Screen: The Heat **1/2
Silver Screen: The Host 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Internship **1/2
Silver Screen: The Judge *1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Last Stand ***
Silver Screen: The Lego Movie ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lone Ranger ***
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Man with the Iron Fists **1/2
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Maze Runner ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Monuments Men ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The November Man **
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ****
Silver Screen: The Place Beyond the Pines ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Purge *
Silver Screen: The Purge: Anarchy **1/2
Silver Screen: The Quiet Ones *
Silver Screen: The Raid II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rover **
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 3, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , March 31, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card , September 16, 2010 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card August 19, 2010 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, November 1, 2012 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, October 4 , 2012 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 11, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 12, 2013 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 19, 2013 Edition
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Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 25, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 26, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 27, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 29, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 4, 2014 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 5, 2013 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 6, 2012 Edition
Silver Screen: The Score Card, September 8, 2011 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 01, 2020 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 15, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 22, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard July 29, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 10, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 17, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Scorecard June 24, 2010 Edition
Silver Screen: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ****
Silver Screen: The Sitter ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Social Network ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Sorcerer's Apprentice **
Silver Screen: The Spectacular Now ****
Silver Screen: The Thing **1/2
Silver Screen: The Three Stooges ***
Silver Screen: The Tourist **
Silver Screen: The Town ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Tree of Life *****
Silver Screen: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse *1/2
Silver Screen: The Vow **
Silver Screen: The Watch **
Silver Screen: The Way Way Back ****
Silver Screen: The Wolf of Wall Street ****
Silver Screen: The Wolverine *1/2
Silver Screen: The Woman in Black **
Silver Screen: The Words 1/2*
Silver Screen: The World’s End ****
Silver Screen: Thirty Minutes or Less ***1/2
Silver Screen: This Is Forty ****
Silver Screen: This Is The End ***1/2
Silver Screen: Thor ***
Silver Screen: Thor: The Dark World *
Silver Screen: Three Days to Kill **
Silver Screen: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ***1/2
Silver Screen: To Rome with Love ***1/2
Silver Screen: Total Recall **1/2
Silver Screen: Tower Heist ***
Silver Screen: Toy Story III ****
Silver Screen: Transcendence *1/2
Silver Screen: Transformers: Age of Extinction 1/2*
Silver Screen: Transformers: Dark of the Moon *1/2
Silver Screen: True Grit ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twelve Years a Slave ****1/2
Silver Screen: Twenty-two Jump Street ***1/2
Silver Screen: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II *
Silver Screen: Two Guns ***
Silver Screen: Unknown ***
Silver Screen: Unstoppable **
Silver Screen: Veronica Mars ***1/2
Silver Screen: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps ****
Silver Screen: Wanderlust ***1/2
Silver Screen: War Horse **
Silver Screen: Water for Elephants ***
Silver Screen: We Bought a Zoo ****
Silver Screen: White House Down ***
Silver Screen: Winter's Tale 1/2*
Silver Screen: World War Z **
Silver Screen: Wrath of the Titans 1/2*
Silver Screen: Wreck-it Ralph ***1/2
Silver Screen: X-Men: Days of Future Past ***
Silver Screen: X-Men: First Class ***
Silver Screen: Your Highness ***1/2
Silver Screen: You’re Next **1/2
Silver Screen: Zero Dark Thirty ****1/2
Silver Screen: Zookeeper *


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Pictured: Interstellar.
Bryan Miller

> opening this week in Carbondale (Friday unless otherwise noted).

< leaving Carbondale this Friday.

 

Bryan Miller unless otherwise credited.

 

<   The Boxtrolls (PG, ****): This wonderful stop-motion-animated feature from the studio that created ParaNorman and Coraline is a storybook tale heavy on the allegory but never just heavy. In the peculiar town of Cheesebridge, nefarious social climber Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) schemes to rise to the top of the town hierarchy by promising to rid the streets of the boxtrolls, a harmless group of cardboard-dwelling gremlins who love to build rather than destroy. Snatcher frames the boxtrolls for the kidnapping of a child who is actually an orphan adopted by the subterranean critters, who raise the tot, named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright). With the help of his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning), a preteen Eggs must ascend to the city streets to prove his adopted family means humans no harm. The Boxtrolls has just the right amount of salty satire; the city elders (led by an especially funny Jared Harris) spend all their time eating fancy cheeses in “the tasting room,” not to be distracted by petty endeavors like building a children’s hospital. Snatcher’s henchmen (voiced by the great trio of Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan) ponder the nature of thugdom and come up with a philosophy eerily similar to “We were just following orders.” But this dynamite debut from relative newcomers Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi isn’t dour, it’s delightful, and its titular creatures are lumpily endearing. They speak their own silly, indecipherable language, yet their personalities are clearly distinguished and emotions beautifully conveyed through the pure animation of gesture and expression thanks to more stellar work from the folks at the independent animation studio Laika.

Dracula Untold (PG-13, **1/2): This prequel to Bram Stoker’s classic horror tale answers all the burning origin-story questions you never had any interest in asking, such as “Did Dracula used to be a real good dad?” and “Before he was a bloodthirsty creature of the night, how were his sword-dueling skills?” In this revisionist take, Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) is a hunky soldier who feels really bad about all that impaling he did. He’s forced to make a deal with a demonic creature (the wonderfully menacing Charles Dance) to gain the powers of the vampire to save his family and kingdom from a horde of invading Turkish soldiers. The result is much less a horror movie than an episode of Game of Thrones that, in an ironic twist, has been softened and edited for content to be suitable for the big screen. Director Gary Shore wisely keeps it brief, and it is passably entertaining as pure dum-dum spectacle. The sight of Evans exploding into an army of vengeful bats and wreaking havoc on armies is fleetingly cool, although it fails to resonate half as much as Charles Dance using shadows, prosthetic fingernails, and the timbre of his voice to creep you out. It’s a shame this all wasn’t a five-minute flashback in the spooky Dracula movie we’d all rather see, starring the imposing Dance, who shows the potential to be an heir to the greats like Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Christopher Lee.

<   The Equalizer (R, **): Antoine Fuqua’s latest begins with the patient rhythms and careful composition of a more thoughtful and nuanced movie, but it turns out to be like sitting in a high-backed chair at a white-tablecloth restaurant to eat a frozen pizza. After a compelling slow-burn of a first half-hour leads to a startling, thrilling run-in between retired killer Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) and a group of Russian gangsters, the movie gives way to cartoon silliness that’s dissonant with its grim, bloody aesthetic. McCall becomes a kind of aging superhero that even an army of machine-gun-toting killers can’t stop, even if he’s armed with nothing more than the stock, off-the-shelves hammer at his local Home Depot. The movie too often shows its roots as a mostly forgotten 1980s action series, cramming a full season’s worth of subplots and murders into a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute slog.

Fury (R, ***): Writer/director David Ayer makes a familiar war-is-hell case in this story about an American tank crew storming into Germany during the waning days of World War II, but the movie’s brutal realism is sometimes undercut by the movie’s queasy bursts of nihilistic glee. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) has led his men through three years of fighting without a casualty until April 1945, when his gunner is shot and replaced by a fresh-faced innocent (Logan Lerman). Wardaddy and his cohorts (including Michael Peña, Shia LaBeouf, and Jon Bernthal) indoctrinate the newbie into the ways of combat, which forces them to examine their own lost humanity. This is an intense, viscerally powerful movie, but too often Ayer’s insistence on leering at every mangled corpse and exploding head threatens to tip it into war porn. His fidelity to realism unfortunately stops when the tank battles begin and the action is clear and thrilling in a way that thrills just when the movie should be repelling. The nods toward verisimilitude don’t carry over to the inside of the tank, which isn’t particularly grimy, smoky, or claustrophobic. Fury is solid and well-acted, but inferior to the subtler, more affecting Israeli film Lebanon, where the action is confined almost entirely to the inside of the tank.

Gone Girl (R, ****1/2): Director David Fincher helms this fantastic adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s terrific novel, the book everyone is talking about that you can’t talk about without spoiling the surprise. The entire, meticulously constructed plot hinges on a big revelation that pivots the story into an entirely new direction without sacrificing fidelity to what has come before it. But this is no one-note M. Night Shyamalan reversal. The film is deliriously twisty throughout and maintains an incredible amount of suspense for the entire duration of its generous but not excessive two-and-a-half hour running time. Here’s what you can know going in: Ben Affleck stars as Nick, one half of an unhappy couple forced into humility by the recession and family health issues. When his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) goes missing, the investigating detective (Kim Dickens) is suspicious of the kidnapping story. Evidence begins to mount against Nick, who suspects the culprit may be one of Amy’s obsessive ex-boyfriends (Neil Patrick Harris and Scoot McNairy). The truth is startling— and don’t let anyone tell you what that truth is before seeing this for yourself, one of the year’s most intoxicating movies. It’s a truly unnerving psychological headtrip that earns its place among the pantheon of unforgettable thrillers by the likes of Thomas Harris and Ira Levin.

<   John Wick (R, ***): In this stylish action thriller, Keanu Reeves plays the titular hitman who comes out of retirement when the son of a Russian mob boss kills his dog. Not unlike Wilson’s far superior Yip Man, in which Donnie Yen dispatched a legion of assailants with his bare hands, John Wick makes no pretense that anyone stands a chance against its ruthless hero. We are asked simply to marvel at his deadly artistry. Stuntmen turned codirectors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski stage some excellently choreographed action sequences, and the excellent supporting cast includes Willem Dafoe, Ian McShane, Dean Winters, and Lance Reddick. That said, it’s also a grim, dehumanizing bummer. If you can’t get me to care about your story without graphically beating a puppy to death, maybe you shouldn’t be in the storytelling business.

The Judge (R, *1/2): The presence of powerhouse actors Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr. can only do so much to steady this wildly uneven attempt at a prestige picture, which mashes together a legal thriller and syrupy homecoming drama. Slick Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) is the kind of fast-talking, self-assured prick movies love to put in their place with a double dose of homespun wisdom plied by a feisty ex-girlfriend and the forgotten townsfolk. There’s plenty of that when the prodigal son of a bitch returns for his mother’s funeral, but while he’s back his domineering father (Duvall), an aging judge, is accused of murdering a guilty man he once set free. The film works much better when it shifts into legal-thriller mode. Downey is fairly well-anchored, but the movie sways uneasily around him, and in its worst moments trawls for sympathy with a mentally challenged character played alternately for pathos and laughs. Actually, in its worst moments it teases an incest subplot, then playfully downgrades it to a lesser form of incest. So, happy ending? Supporting players Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Grace Zabriskie, and Dennis O’Hare are all reliably good, but the film’s handful of strong scenes can’t be neatly separated from the rest of the mess.

The Maze Runner (PG-13, ***): The latest adaptation of a dystopian young-adult novel distinguishes itself from the crowded pack by mostly shirking the pandering adornments and special-effects flourishes of its contemporaries in favor of focused storytelling. Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) awakens with no memories in a verdant clearing surrounded on all sides by a massive concrete maze. He joins a society of similarly mind-wiped boys who have formed a society as they search for a way out of their elaborate confines—and for answers as to who put them there. First-time feature director Wes Ball does a nice job of keeping the pace crisp and the high-concept premise clear. The movie benefits greatly from a lack of overly complicated backstory, although during the final ten minutes the piper must be paid and some of the mysteries must be solved. The answers, alas, point to an overarching storyline that’s too familiar and which seems destined to collapse into sci-fi absurdity in the same way the TV series Lost came apart when it had to start answering questions rather than posing them. Despite the unsatisfying conclusion and likelihood of seriously inferior sequels, this installment at least remains engaging throughout. Featuring a strong young cast that includes Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, and Aml Ameen.

Nightcrawler (R, ****): Writer/director Dan Gilroy’s debut feature, about a sociopathic freelance news journalist, works infinitely better as a character study than an alarmist media critique. His hand-wringing about the increasing salaciousness of TV news is woefully outdated and belongs back in the 1970s with the movie’s primary influences, namely Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. But when Gilroy delves into the icily unknowable Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose total lack of empathy makes him perfectly suited to a job flitting around the fringes of tragedy, it sings. Gyllenhaal gives the best performance of his career, which is significant given his outstanding résumé (Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, Zodiac, Prisoners). The weight he lost for the role sharpens his softer features and gives him a scarecrow’s hollow-eyed visage. With the help of his guileless right-hand man (Riz Ahmed), he patrols nighttime Los Angeles in search of footage for a desperate, craven news director (Rene Russo). The chase doesn’t drive Louis to extremes, but rather reveals the extremes lurking within him the whole time. Gilroy’s impressive first outing is most compelling when making the case that Louis isn’t so much a media monster as a monster who found a comfortable home in the media.

Ouija (PG-13, *): A horror movie based on a Parker Brothers board game was probably never going to be great, but it didn’t have to be this bad. Rather than use the titular game as a plot device in a more free-standing horror story, director and cowriter Stiles White fashions an entire movie around the Ouija rules— who knew there were rules?— yet can’t stick to his own set of silly guidelines. It’s never clear exactly how this group of teenagers, played by thirty-year-old actors, is being killed, or how they might be able to stop it, which drains away the suspense and makes all the deaths seem both inevitable and arbitrary. What’s left is a shoddy, atmosphere-free ghost story about a girl (Olivia Cooke) trying to contact her dead best friend (Shelly Hennig) and stumbling on a few other, less-friendly spirits. The movie is blatantly cheap, but it’s not a grungy, enjoyably sloppy cheapness; the aesthetic is far less do-it-yourself-punk than it is plastic Walmart knockoff. Thanks to its limited ambition, though, it’ll probably earn back its tiny budget several times over. If that dooms us to a sequel, allow me to humbly suggest a Monopoly board that can actually send you to jail.

Saint Vincent (PG-13, ***): This by-the-numbers dramedy about a crusty codger and the little boy who melts his heart is competently executed but would be otherwise unmemorable minus its stellar cast, most notably Bill Murray, king of the cynics and wiseasses. Murray gives Vincent a blue-collar soulfulness only hinted at in the script. His ability to charm without betraying his character’s world-weariness is what allows him to sell that redemption without sacrificing authenticity. He’s nicely matched with Melissa McCarthy, showing some real range and serious dramatic chops as a beleaguered single mother caught between a bad solution and an impossible choice. Even the kid, newcomer Jaeden Lieberher, is subtler and smarter than your average precocious movie moppet. The movie is bogged down by several superfluous subplots, most notably a tiresome diversion with a pregnant Eastern European prostitute (Naomi Watts) and a tangent about a vengeful bookie (Terrence Howard). Despite the distractions and some shameless heartstring-tugging from writer/director Theodore Melfi— not to mention two separate medical melodramas— Murray, McCarthy, and Lieberher form an emotional core that perseveres.

< Saw (R, ****): A decade has passed since James Wan’s grimy, gory cheapie of a horror movie launched one of the most odious franchises in film history. Despite its abysmal legacy of diminishing returns, however, the original remains a B-movie delight with a pulpy premise and a killer twist ending. A doctor (Cary Elwes) awakens in a dingy warehouse handcuffed to a radiator. Across the room, a stranger (writer Leigh Whannell) is in the same position. A handful of tape-recorded clues give only hints of how they came to be in this mysterious predicament. Their only hope for escape is a rusty saw... but it won’t cut through metal. The movie introduces the obnoxiously self-righteous Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell), but before he became a cartoon of George W. Bush’s bloody moralizing he was actually pretty damned scary.

 

Also in or Coming to Local Theaters

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (PG): Judith Viorst’s popular kids’ book comes to the big screen featuring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne, and newcomer Ed Oxenbould as Alexander, who wakes up with gum in his hair only to find that his day gets much, much worse from there.

<   Before I Go to Sleep (R): Excellent writer Rowan Joffe (The American, Twenty-eight Weeks Later) steps into the director’s chair for this thriller, in which Nicole Kidman’s character suffers from memory loss— a situation that could lead to her experiencing paranoid delusions or living in the center of real terrors. If the plot sounds like that of Memento, Joffe could certainly have looked to worse places for inspiration. (Wissmann)

The Best of Me (PG-13): The ninth feature film by writer Nicholas Sparks features a pair of young lovers (Liana Liberato and Luke Bracey in flashback, Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden in the present) reunited after a torturous separation. With the south and beaches and an evil rich guy, and all the Nicholas Sparks stuff.

>   Big Hero Six (PG): Disney-produced, anime-influenced cartoon about a prodigy (voiced by Ryan Potter) who turns his friends into a high-tech superhero team with the help of an affable robot. Featuring the voices of Scott Adsit, T.J. Miller, Damon Wayans Jr., James Cromwell, and Alan Tudyk.

The Book of Life (PG): In this computer-animated family friendly fable studded with pop songs, young Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) must travel through three worlds on a grand journey to win the love of his lady (Zoe Saldana). Featuring the voices of Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo, and Christina Applegate.

>   Interstellar (PG-13): Christopher Nolan reteams with his writer/brother Jonathan for this sci-fi tale about astronauts who explore faraway worlds with the help of a wormhole through space. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, and familiar Nolan players Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine.