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One of the best movies of the year brings the Beach Boys to theaters this week, while those bad boys from Queens are back in Tinseltown. At home, a classic musical is restored to its full length for the first time.
Love & Mercy
Paul Dano and John Cusack both star as Beach Boy Brian Wilson — at different stages of his troubled life — in this heartfelt and tuneful biopic. The actors have very different takes on their subject, but director Bill Pohlad masterfully meshes their performances into a gratifying whole. Paul Giamatti breathes fire as the evil shrink who nearly ruined Wilson’s life.
The TV show that inspired this movie redefined the word “outré” in 2004, then ran for eight increasingly shield-your-eyes seasons. Now series creator Doug Ellin is back with a film-length reprise of the Hollywood antics of pretty boy Vinnie Chase (Adrien Grenier) and his bro-ho posse (Eric, Turtle, and Johnny Drama). Everyone who’s cool has at least a cameo, but the best reason to surround yourself with Entourage has always been the interplay between take-no-prisoners überagent Ari Gold ( Jeremy Piven) and his harried assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee). Boom! There’s your movie!
Robert Duvall writes, directs and stars in this drama about a rancher implicated in the disappearance of a boy 15 years earlier.
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New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand
William Daniels sizzles like a Fourth of July sparkler in this big-screen version of Sherman Edwards’s Broadway musical. Not only has it been restored, but 1776 now contains a number that was excised by producer Jack L. Warner at the request of that well-known film critic, President Richard Milhous Nixon. The song “Cool, Cool Considerate Men,” Tricky Dick complained, ridiculed conservatives. Imagine that!
This true story of an underdog school track team making good would probably work just as well as a made-for-TV movie. But the coach character fits Kevin Costner like a glove, and director Niki Caro shows off some beautiful camera work as she explores how different races and cultures can meld in small-town America.
Click here to see an exclusive interview with Diane Keaton talking about what happened when she asked Morgan Freeman out on a date.
Still out there in theaters:
5 Flights Up
Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman are the year’s most adorable screen couple. They star as a long-married pair who must decide whether or not to relinquish the fifth-floor Brooklyn walkup apartment they’ve shared for four decades. The film addresses some serious issues, notably “aging in place,” and has some insightful lessons to impart about planning for the future versus constantly fretting about it. FULL REVIEW
Writer-director Cameron Crowe ( Say Anything, Jerry Maguire) and a stellar cast (Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, John Krasinski) went to Hawaii, and all they brought me back was this lousy movie. Cooper plays a military contractor who travels to Hawaii to help billionaire Bill Murray secure access to a plot of land — for a sidewalk! While in the 49th State, he meets up with his ex-girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), whose deep dark secret has been figured out by everyone in the theater except Cooper’s supposedly ingenious yet remarkably dim character. In short, say goodbye to Aloha.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America (Chris Evans) has been around since World War II. Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is well into middle age. Those facts give an AARPropriate tinge to the latest all-star Marvel comics screen epic as the heroes battle a disagreeable robot voiced with trademark spookiness by James Spader.
Far from the Madding Crowd
Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel about a plucky farmer (adorable Carey Mulligan) and the three men who woo her (a sheep farmer, a military man and a rich bachelor) gets its fourth screen incarnation. We’ll always be partial to John Schelsinger’s 1967 version , however, with Julie Christie in the lead role.
Ethan Hawke stars as a U.S. Air Force drone pilot in one of the year’s most important films. (It’s also among the most dramatically engaging.) He tracks down and exterminates Afghan enemies from the comfort of a Las Vegas control room by day, then attempts to maintain a normal family life by night. Writer-director Andrew Niccol ( Gattaca) ingeniously explores the face of modern war without passing judgment on it. (FULL REVIEW)
I’ll See You in My Dreams
The latest star in a welcome string of grownup-movie love stories, Blythe Danner shines as a long-widowed woman who finds herself in an unexpected late-life romance with a charming, wealthy retiree ( Sam Elliott). FULL REVIEW
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This final film from legendary documentary maker Albert Maysles ( Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) is a love letter to style icon Iris Apfel, who wows the fashion world with her distinctive looks — at 93. “Life is gray and dull and you might as well have a little fun when you dress,” says Apfel. (FULL REVIEW)
Mad Max: Fury Road
Is this reboot of the original “Road Warrior” series any good? That’s for those of us who recall the original Mel Gibson classic to decide. Tom Hardy stars as the hero this time around.
Helen Hunt wrote, directed and stars in this gentle comic drama about a successful New Yorker editor who tails her son (Brenton Thwaites) to California to talk him out of becoming a beach bum. She winds up falling for the sand, the sea...and a handsome surfing instructor (Luke Wilson). (FULL REVIEW)
This just in from California: There is no California! Dwayne Johnson stars as a Los Angeles County rescue-chopper pilot who, in the aftermath of a massive earthquake that has killed perhaps millions, heroically abandons his professional duties to fly to San Francisco on a needle-in-a-haystack quest to find and save his daughter. As the seismologist who warned of the coming catastrophe, Paul Giamatti spends much of the movie hiding under a desk. So should everyone else involved in this cinematic shakedown.
As director, Brad Bird gives us a dazzling glimpse of an idealized future city. As co-writer, though, he leaves us somewhere this side of Utopia with a muddled plot about a mismatched pair — grizzled, cantankerous George Clooney and perky, ever-optimistic Britt Robertson — trying to stave off the end of the world. House star Hugh Laurie, speaking in his native British accent for a change, is fun as the misguided villain. (FULL REVIEW)
Also of Interest
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