News Column

movies hed goes here [Buffalo News (NY)]

November 21, 2013


about time. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy. Directed by Richard Curtis. An awkward young man can travel back to moments in his own life and get a redo, helping his love life and teaching him about real happiness. "Curtis has made a nice name for himself crafting clever romantic comedies that manage to soar above their down-to-earth settings. Here, takes his ideas of love and happiness further in time past the first blush of romance turns his bit of fluff into heartier stuff." 124 minutes. (Rated R for language and some sexual content.) *** (Melinda Miller)

All Is Lost. Robert Redford in J. C. Chandor's film about a man alone aboard his yacht in the Indian Ocean tries to survive a series of increasingly catastrophic disasters. "A great film - not just by the standards of other 2013 movies but in the far more demanding standards of American film history, for which this is a brilliant, terrifying and enthralling treatment of one of the primal American subjects: a man trying to prevail over hostile nature." 106 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for intense dramatic imagery and natural disaster.) **** (Jeff Simon)

baggage claim. Starring Taye Diggs, Paula Patton and Jill Scott. Directed by David E. Talbert. Pledging to keep herself from being the only woman in her entire family never to wed, Montana embarks on a 30-day, 30,000-mile expedition to charm a potential suitor into becoming her fiance. 96 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for sexual content and some language.)

Battle of the Year. Starring Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso and Josh Peck. An international dance crew tournament that attracts all the best teams from around the world is approaching, but the Americans haven't won in 15 years. A Los Angeles hip-hop mogul wants to put the country that started the sport back on top. 109 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for language and some rude behavior.)

The Best Man Holiday. Starring Monica Calhoune, Morris Chestnut, Melissa De Sousa and Taye Diggs. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. College friends reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays, and discover how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited. 122 minutes. (Rated R for language, sexual content and brief nudity.) **o (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)

Blue is the warmest Color. Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in Abellatif Kechiche's Cannes Grand Prize winning film about the long course of a teenage girl's first serious love affair with a woman whose hair is, at first, dyed blue. "An extremely unusual film and, in its way, a beautiful and very moving one." 187 minutes. (Rated NC- 17 for constant nudity and explicit sex.) ***o (Jeff Simon)

Blue Jasmine. Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Alec Baldwin and Bobby Cannavale in Woody Allen's comedy/drama about a Park Avenue diva forced to live with her struggling sister in San Francisco when her Wall Street crook of a husband is sent to jail. 98 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content.) **** (Jeff Simon)

Captain Phillips. Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Barkhad Abdirahman. The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama. 134 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use.) **** (Jeff Simon)

Carrie. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde and Alex Russell. Remake of the Stephen King horror story about a sheltered teen who unleashes her telekinetic powers after being bullied by fellow students. 99 minutes. (Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.)

cloudy with a chance of meatballs 2. With the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Kristen Schaal and Will Forte. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Fun sequel to the original story about a machine that made it rain food. Now, the food is alive. 95 minutes. (Rated PG for mild rude humor.) ***o (Melinda Miller)

The Counselor. Starring Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt. Directed by Ridley Scott. A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking. 117 minutes. (Rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and profanity.) **o (Jeff Simon)

DESPICABLE ME 2. With the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove. Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal. 98 minutes. (Rated PG for rude humor and mild action.) *** (Christopher Schobert)

Elysium. Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley in Neill Blomkamp's dystopian fantasy about a foul, polluted Earth in the year 2154 where only the poor and struggling live while the privileged live on a nearby space station paradise called Elysium where people are always young and never die. 109 minutes. (Rated R for strong violence and rough language.) *** (Jeff Simon)

Ender's Game. Starring Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin. Directed by Gavin Hood. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle for Earth's future. 114 minutes. (Rated PG- 13 for some violence, sci-fi action and thematic material.) ** (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)

enough said. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini and Catherine Keener. Directed by Nicole Holofcener. A divorced woman pursues a man only to learn he's her new friend's ex-husband. "'Enough Said' is a movie whose lack of underlining and italicizing would seem to be the whole point of it all. In the warmth and off- hand and low-key charm Gandolfini exhibits, it is clear that, in its small way, it showed a new side to his talents that would undoubtedly have grown." 93 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, comic violence and partial nudity.) *** (Jeff Simon)

ESCAPE PLAN. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Amy Ryan, Jim Caviezel and 50 Cent. A security expert and prisoner team up to escape a new maximum security prison run by the C.I.A. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom. 112 minutes. (Rated R for violence and language throughout.) *** (Jeff Simon)

The Family. Starring Robert De Niro Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron and Jon D'Leo. A mob family hides out in France under the witness protection program. Directed by Luc Besson. 108 minutes. (Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality.) ** (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)

Free Birds. The voices of Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Dan Fogler and Amy Poehler. Directed by Jimmy Hayward. Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences to travel back in time and get turkey off the holiday menu for good. 91 minutes. (Rated PG for some action/peril and rude humor.) *o (McClatchy-Tribute News Service)

Gravity. Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and Ed Harris. A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. "What happens after the first 20 minutes follows the actors as they try to survive, much less cope. It is wrenchingly powerful and harrowingly imagined. I have nothing but admiration, too, for the story director Alfonso Cuaron's schema is trying to tell about Bullock's character, who is the movie's centerpiece in what is certainly the best performance in a career that has been probably underrated too often. Cuaron is, at first, asking us to live in outer space. And then, as the movie proceeds, he is trying to tell us about the heroine's terrors of inner space." 90 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.) **** (Jeff Simon)

Insidious: Chapter 2. Starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world. 105 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of terror and violence, and thematic elements.)

JAckass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Spike Jonze and Georgina Cates. An 86-year-old grandfather travels America with his 8-year-old grandson. 92 minutes. (Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.)

Last Vegas. Starring Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Three 60- something friends throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal. 105 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.) **o (Jeff Simon)

Lee Daniels' The Butler. Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Robin Williams and Jane Fonda in the story of one African-American man's 30 years in service in the White House during the most tumultuous times of the civil rights movement. 132 minutes. (Rated PG-13 for language, brutal violence, thematic elements, sexual material, language, disturbing images and smoking). **** (Jeff Simon)

percy jackson: sea of monsters. Starring Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario and Nathan Fillion. To restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. 106 minutes. (Rated PG for fantasy action violence, some scary images and mild language.) ** (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)

Planes. The voices of Dane Cook, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Brad Garrett, John Cleese and Cedric the Entertainer in Klay Hall's animated feature about a little cropduster named Dusty who wants to enter the "Wings Around the Globe" air race and compete with the bigger, faster planes. 92 minutes. (Rated PG for action intensity.) *** (Jeff Simon)

Prisoners. Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano in Denis Villeneuve's acclaimed and superbly performed thriller about a couple of distraught fathers who take the law into their own hands when their daughters are kidnapped and the police investigation seems to have stalled. "The movie is so much more intense than what people expect of our ordinary stylized wisecracking thrillers - especially when their emotions are of the canned TV variety - that some people laugh at the most inappropriate times at the film. It's the contrast between the film's overpowering emotional naturalism and the sudden bursts of its characters' impotent frenzy that people react to with nervous laughter. American films have taught us too well it seems, which is why powerful and brilliant films like this are needed to un- teach us." 153 minutes. (Rated R for violence, language and extremely brutal torture scenes.) ***o (Jeff Simon)

Ram-Leela. Starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. When two people from warring families meet and fall in love, they have to fight to live their dreams. 155 minutes. (Not rated. In Hindi with subtitles.)

rush. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde and Daniel Bruhl. Directed by Ron Howard. Based on the true story of the 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. 123 minutes. (Rated R for sexual content, nudity, strong language, disturbing images and some drug use.) *** (Jeff Simon)

The Smurfs 2. Starring Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays. The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel because she knows the secret spell to turn his newest creation, creatures called the Naughties - into Smurfs. 105 minutes. (Rated PG for some rude humor and action.)

THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Thor fights to protect his loved ones and the Nine Realms - including Earth - from the destruction of the Dark Elves. "Too much storytelling threatens to drag down this film that is equally a sequel to both 'Thor' and 'The Avengers.' Thankfully, the film gets a jump-start by unleashing Loki and letting the two brothers go at each other as only these two can. Add in a few more scenes of Stellan Skarsgard as the professor with "a god in his brain," and tender moments between Thor and his lady love, and you've got yourself a film." 111 minutes. (Rated PG-13 some suggestive content and intense sci-fi action/violence.) *** (Toni Ruberto)

12 Years a Slave. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, and Alfre Woodard in Steve McQueen's adaptation of 1853 narrative of a free black man in Saratoga who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. "When you consider that a film as aesthetically pioneering as D. W. Griffith's silent film 'Birth of a Nation' and as commercially monumental as 'Gone With the Wind' have both purported to show as American slavery, the achievement of '12 Years a Slave' is nothing less than the long overdue triumph of cinematic justice itself. It's an immensely powerful film and brilliantly acted by Ejiofor and Fassbender. For all that, it is sometimes tough to watch. But then this is a film American films have needed since they began to exist. Decades of loathsome exploitation and euphemism needed to be exploded for all our sakes. Finally they have." 133 minutes. (Rated R for a great deal of cruelty and violence, some sex and nudity.) ***o (Jeff Simon)

we're the millers. Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and Emma Roberts. A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico. 110 minutes. (Rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.) *** (Aidan Ryan)

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