News Column

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., John Beifuss column

December 5, 2013


Dec. 05--Descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.


The Armstrong Lie (R, 122 min.) See review on Page 15.

Studio on the Square.

Out of the Furnace (R, 116 min.) See review on Page 14.

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


"Memphis Fried Movie": See story on Page 12.

7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, Studio on the Square. Admission by donation. Visit

A Miracle in Spanish Harlem (PG, 90 min.) Telenovela superstar Kate de Castillo plays a woman who becomes attracted to a bitter widower (Luis Antonio Ramos) in this one-night-only screening of a "humorous and magical story of love, sin, faith and redemption."

7 p.m. Tuesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $10.50 per adult, $7.50 per child or senior. Visit

Noel Coward's Private Lives (Not rated, 140 min.) A revival of the famous comedy of manners, first presented in 1930, about a glamorous divorced couple whose love is rekindled when they take adjoining suites at a French hotel while honeymooning with their new spouses. Filmed live onstage, with a cast headed by Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $15. Visit

Santa vs. the Snowman and The Light Before Christmas: Two Imax films, through Dec. 31 (closed Christmas). 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.

Shun Li and the Poet (Not rated, 98 min.) The "Wider Angle" international film series continues with this 2011 film from Andrea Segre about the friendship that develops between a Chinese woman and a Yugoslavian fisherman in a small island city in Northern Italy.

6 p.m. Wednesday, Meeting Room C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar. Admission: free. Call (901) 415-2846.

White Christmas (Not rated, 120 min.) The classic 1954 musical with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is revived in a fundraiser to help restore the historic Luez Theater in downtown Bolivar, Tenn.

3 p.m. Saturday, Luez Theater, 219 N. Main, Bolivar. Admission: $5. Visit or call (731) 659-0341.


About Time (R, 123 min.) A young man (Domhnall Gleeson) tries to use his newly discovered time-traveling ability to get the perfect girlfriend (Rachel McAdams).

Forest Hill 8.

All Is Lost (PG-13, 106 min.) HHH 1/2 Writer-director J.C. Chandor's existential survival story might be an Earthbound, naturalistic complement to "Gravity," as a lone yachtsman -- played by craggy Robert Redford, and identified in the credits only as "Our Man" -- struggles to keep his head above water, literally, after a stray cargo container collides with his sailboat in the Indian Ocean.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Best Man Holiday (R, 124 min.) Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Nia Long and the other cast members of "The Best Man" reunite for a 15-years-later sequel.

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

Black Nativity (PG, 93 min.) HH Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes' gospel musical provides the inspiration if not the content for this muddled bid for an inspirational family-friendly hit from talented director Kasi Lemmons.

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

The Book Thief (PG-13, 131 min.) A young girl in Nazi Germany finds solace in books in this Holocaust drama with Geoffrey Rush.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Stage Cinema.

Captain Phillips (PG-13, 134 min.) HHH Like "Zero Dark Thirty," this is a fact-based suspense film that ends in a confrontation between the highly trained, disciplined and lethal juggernaut of the U.S. military and several terrorist-criminals who become suddenly, sickeningly aware that they are in the wrong place at the wrong time; unlike Osama bin Laden, however, the Somali pirates here are small-timers, and a certain poignancy attaches itself to the certainty of their pathetic if deserved fates and to their hopeless situation, emblematic of the inequality that was the impetus for their crimes.

Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Christmas Candle (PG, 91 min.) An inspirational drama with Susan Boyle in the cast, from Rick Santorum's new production company.

Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG, 95 min.) HHH 1/2 The "ecosystem of living food" that inhabits this digitally animated sequel to 2009's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" contains many types of adorable and hostile eatables, but the movie itself is pure eye candy -- so imaginative and amusing that it makes not only most live-action fantasy films but most computer-animated features look conventional and timid.

CinePlanet 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Dallas Buyers Club (R, 117 min.) HHH Typically robust Matthew McConaughey is ghastly, almost skeletal here, and that is, of course, the point: This is the more or less true story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic, coke-snorting, hard-partying "white trash" ladies' man who became a champion of affordable, easy access to health care for AIDS patients after he tested positive for HIV in 1985.

Ridgeway Cinema Grill

Delivery Man (PG-13, 103 min.) Sperm donor Vince Vaughn discovers he's the father of 533 children.

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

Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 min.) HH The beautiful digital animation is state of the art, but the story and comedy are utter cliche as reformed supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), now essentially a suburban father to his three adorable adopted daughters, is recruited to join the Anti-Villain League by secret agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig), who has romance as well as espionage on her mind.

Bartlett 10.

Ender's Game (PG-13, 114 min.) HHH The idea that young people are exploited as "cannon fodder" for old men's wars gets a futuristic twist in this adaptation of Orson Scott Card's classic 1985 sci-fi novel about a boy whose "tactical genius" makes him the standout in a class of children and teenagers recruited for a high-tech Earth-vs-aliens space war that is fought, essentially, like a video game.

Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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

Bartlett 10.

Free Birds (PG, 91 min.) Turkeys team up to escape the Thanksgiving ax.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Stage Cinema.

Frozen (PG, 108 min.) The latest Disney animated feature, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen."

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 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Gravity (PG-13, 91 min.) HHH 1/2 Director Alfonso Cuaron's first feature since his unforgettable "Children of Men" (2006). The only person on-screen for the most of the movie, Sandra Bullock is a novice astronaut stranded in orbit when disaster strikes a routine mission.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13, 101 min.) HH Adam Sandler.

Bartlett 10.

Homefront (R, 102 min.) DEA agent Jason Statham vs. meth lord James Franco? I'm betting on Statham.

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.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13, 146 min.) HHH With this cliffhanger second film, the "Hunger Games" trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins continues its successful transition to the screen thanks to sympathetic directors (Francis Lawence, this time), witty production design and inspired casting. Jennifer Lawrence returns as sturdy Katniss Everdeen, the District 12 archer who here emerges as a symbol of "hope" and "defiance" for the oppressed citizens of Panem.

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.

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

Bartlett 10.

Instructions Not Included (PG-13, 100 min.) Mexican TV superstar Eugenio Derbez directed and stars in this Spanish-language comedy-drama.

Bartlett 10.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (R, 92 min.) An 86-year-old curmudgeon (Johnny Knoxville) goes cross-country with his 8-year-old grandson (Jackson Nicoll).

CinePlanet 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Palace Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Kill Your Darlings (R, 104 min.) HH "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked," Allen Ginsberg wrote in his epic poem, "Howl." And so it came to pass that six decades later some of the best actors of our generation are starved for direction, occasionally hysterical and sometimes even naked in this latest failed attempt to capture, distill and reflect the energy and invention of the Beat Generation writers in a motion-picture format. The film is not as kitschy as James Franco's "Howl" or as dull as Walter Salles' "On the Road," but it's a muddled and silly enterprise that wastes a wonderful central performance by skinny, bespectacled Daniel Radcliffe as the young Ginsberg.

Studio on the Square.

Last Vegas (PG-13, 104 min.) A Geritol "Hangover," with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline and Michael Douglas.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Lee Daniels' The Butler (PG-13, 132 min.) HHHForest Whitaker, Orpah Winfrey. 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.

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

Monsters University (G, 118 min.) HHH 1/2 A prequel to 2001's "Monsters, Inc." The 14th Pixar feature film lacks the grandeur and ambition that characterize the company's most impressive work, but succeeds absolutely as a clever, beautifully rendered "Revenge of the Nerds" campus comedy and origin story for the friendship of high-energy walking eyeball Mike Wazowksi (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his shaggy bearlike friend, Sulley (John Goodman).

Bartlett 10.

Oldboy (R, 104 min.) HHH Spike Lee's "reinterpretation" of South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook's violent and stylized cult classic casts Josh Brolin as a crass and drunken ad executive who is kidnapped and held prisoner inside a fake hotel room for 20 years, then released just as abruptly and inexplicably; the film follows his angry quest for answers, with the help of a sympathetic social worker (Elizabeth Olsen).

Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Studio on the Square.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (PG, 106 min.) HH The second special effects-heavy adventure inspired by Rick Riordan's fantasy book series about the teen son of Poseidon, Percy Jackson.

Bartlett 10.

Philomena (PG-13, 95 min.) HHH Charming yet tough and not blinkered by its own good intentions, the new film from director Stephen Frears ("The Grifters," "The Queen") is an ideal vehicle for the beloved Judi Dench, cast as an unsophisticated Irish-Catholic woman searching for the young son taken from her when she was a teenage unwed mother living in a convent orphanage under the rule of nuns who disapproved of her "carnal incontinence.".

Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Cinema Grill.

Runner Runner (R, 91 min.) A college poker ace (Justin Timberlake) is recruited by a gambling tycoon (Ben Affleck).

Bartlett 10.

Rush (R, 123 min.) HHHThirty-six years after making his directorial debut with "Grand Theft Auto," Ron Howard again puts the pedal to the metal with one of his better films, a rubber-burning Formula One saga that is less a paean to the power of the internal combustion engine than a portrait of two strong personalities in conflict. The clash is between real-life 1970s racing rivals James Hunt, a reckless jet-setting ladies' man, and conceited and disciplined Niki Lauda, an analytical Austrian with the warmth of Mr. Spock.

Bartlett 10.

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.

Bartlett 10.

Thor: The Dark World (PG-13, 112 min.) HH 1/2 This addition to the Marvel Comics movie universe recycles much of the imagery and tongue-in-cheek humor of its predecessors, "Thor" and "The Avengers."

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

12 Years a Slave (R, 133 min.) HHHH Director Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley deliver not only the most powerful and remarkable movie yet produced about our national shame, but also the rare film about history and race that does not seek to absolve, comfort or flatter the mass audience it aspires to reach.

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

Two Guns (R, 109 min.) HHH Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are reluctant allies.

Bartlett 10.

We're the Millers (R, 110 min.) HH 1/2 This lazily agreeable, harmlessly vulgar comedy casts Jason Sudeikis as a loser marijuana dealer who enlists a cynical stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a steetwise runaway (Emma Roberts) and a virginal teen "dork" (Will Poulter) to form a fake tourist family to help him avoid suspicion as he smuggles pot from Mexico.

Bartlett 10.


(c)2013 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters