This Week: A Singular Look at Stephen Hawking

In Theaters: A heartfelt look at the burden of genius.

At Home: Rob Reiner’s latest. Plus: The first true horror movie looks better than ever.

 

The Theory of Everything
The life of a monumental thinker gets landmark treatment in this superbly acted and lovingly directed biography. Eddie Redmayne plays astrophysicist Stephen Hawking from his carefree college days, through his heartrending descent into Lou Gehrig’s Disease, to his ultimate triumph in the realm of science. Felicity Jones costars as his first wife, Jane, who married him despite his rapidly advancing illness and raised their three children. Both the story and the performances are inspired.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
Shameful disclosure: We haven’t seen a single Hunger Games movie. Yes, we know the youthful cast is peppered with vets like Donald Sutherland and Julianne Moore, but that just reminds us of Buster Keaton and Elsa Lanchester popping up in a 1960s beach movie. At least Annette and Frankie weren’t asked to kill each other.

Still out there:

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Did Michael Keaton quit the  Batman series 22 years ago just so he could one day make this dreamlike film about an actor who walked away from a smash superhero franchise? If so, the wait was worth every minute. ( FULL REVIEW)

Dumb and Dumber To
It’s been an eventful 20 years for Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, whose 1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber redefined the depths of stupidity (or heights, per your view) that movie-comedy fans would pay to see. Back in the roles of Harry and Lloyd, the pair try to make lightning strike twice. Judging by those haircuts, they succeed.

Elsa & Fred
Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer are the cute title characters in this story of late-life love. He’s a bitter old dude; she’s a free-spirited, impulsive breath of fresh air (who also happens to be a cheat and a pathological liar). Elsa in the hands of any other actress: insufferable. But à la MacLaine? Irresistible!

>> 'The Graduate' — and Other Essential Boomer Movies

Foxcatcher
The true story of two Olympic-wrestler brothers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) who settled into a tragic relationship with a wealthy benefactor (Steve Carell, barely recognizable behind that understated performance and prosthetic nose) should have been a perfect match for director Bennett Miller ( Moneyball, Capote). But his two-and-a-half-hour telling drags like a grappler stalling to avoid a final takedown.

Gone Girl
Hotly anticipated by fans of the book, this crackerjack mystery about a husband (Ben Affleck) suspected of killing his missing wife (Rosamund Pike) keeps the viewer wondering: Who’s dead, who killed them, is anybody dead at all, and who’s next?   (FULL REVIEW)

Interstellar
As he transports his intrepid crew of space explorers (including Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) to a distant black hole, writer-director Christopher Nolan ( Inception) nods to sci-fi classics from  2001 to  Ziggy Stardust. The results are spectacular, but we’ve grown to expect more originality from this screen visionary.

The Judge
Robert Downey Jr. is a hotshot big-city lawyer; Robert Duvall is a beloved small-town judge accused of murder. Will Junior find it in his heart to defend his estranged pop? And will Dad swallow his pride long enough to accept his son’s help?  (FULL REVIEW)

>> Get entertainment and dining discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.

Nightcrawler
Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a wild-eyed go-getter who discovers that a local TV producer ( Rene Russo) will pay him big bucks for video footage of accidents and crime scenes—even if it means moving bodies for better shots and following crooks after he witnesses their foul deeds.  (FULL REVIEW)

Rosewater
Daily Show host Jon Stewart doesn’t go for laughs in his directorial debut: He’s dead serious in telling the true story of a reporter (Gael Garcia Bernal) imprisoned by the government of Iran for alleged spying — and locked away in one of that country’s most notorious prisons.

St. Vincent
Bill Murray deserves an Oscar nomination for his grumpy Long Island loner who agrees to look after the young son of his new neighbor (Melissa McCarthy). Would you subject  your kid to Murravian supervision? (Think field trips to the racetrack and a local bar.)   (FULL REVIEW)

Whiplash
J.K. Simmons — that bald, beaming guy we’ve loved for years in so many movies and commercials — finds the breakout role of a lifetime as the Mentor from Hell to a young drummer at a high-stakes music conservatory.  (FULL REVIEW)

 

New on DVD, Blu-Ray and Video on Demand:  

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And So It Goes
Twenty-five years after he arranged for Harry to meet Sally, director Rob Reiner proves that his take on grownup love has grown only richer with time. The knowing script by Mark Andrus (As Good As It Gets), combined with Reiner's jaunty direction and solid performances by Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, make And So It Goes go down easy. FULL REVIEW

 

 

 

 

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Alive Inside
Can music do more to help Alzheimer's patients than any medication? Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit Music & Memory, makes his case for the affirmative in this deeply moving film in which patients — some who’ve been unresponsive for years — flicker to life (and sometimes explode into song) the moment they hear music from their past.

 

 

 

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
F. W. Murnau created the prototype for filmed psychological horror with this 1919 tale of sleepwalking, insanity and murder. To achieve a dreamlike effect, Murnau built angular, surreal sets and had his actors move in grotesque, dancelike movements. The twist ending has been cribbed for nearly 100 years. This beautifully restored version makes Caligari look even better than it may have in Berlin a century ago.

 

 

 

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