In theaters, Meryl Streep rocks out in a family dramedy and Kevin Bacon sizzles as a bad cop. At home, imagine the chances of this: Two new DVDs debut a moody film starring Tom Hardy...and a period piece based on a novel by Thomas Hardy. Hardy har-har!
Designates a Movies for Grownups Critic’s Choice
Ricki and the Flash
Meryl Streep stars as a third-tier rocker who returns for a visit with her ex-hubby ( Kevin Kline) and grown kids years after she abandoned them to follow her guitar dream. Turns out, of course, they are all just what each other need right now. Meryl learned guitar for the film, and looks like a natural next to Rick Springfield, who plays her bandmate/boyfriend.
Part Stand By Me, part No Country for Old Men, this neat little thriller finds two cute kids (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) stumbling upon an abandoned police car on a country road and taking it for a joyride. They don't know a bad cop (delightfully dirty Kevin Bacon) is just over the hill dumping a body. And there's someone else in the trunk. Uh-oh. (In theaters and on Video on Demand).
The title is half-right. There are four of them.
Shaun the Sheep
Let's hear it for stop-action animation! From producer Nick Park ( Wallace and Gromit) comes this big-screen story of a sheep who heads for the big city with calamitous results.
New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand
Tom Hardy, one of our great screen actors, stars as a disgraced Stalin-era KGB agent on the trail of a child killer. Persistently grim and convoluted, the film (from the novel by Tom Rob Smith) is a notch above standard TV crime procedurals thanks to its fine cast, especially Gary Oldman as a Soviet officer. It’s been banned in Russia, so you’ll have to catch it over here.
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.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete First Season
As the big-screen reboot approaches, here's a chance to revisit the original—in glorious black and white—starring Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and, as their boss, Leo G. "Topper" Carroll. Ian Fleming helped create the series, and of its four seasons, the first shows the most 007 influence.
Still in theaters
A lovable cat burglar ( Paul Rudd) dons a suit that shrinks him to the size of an ant and endows him with superhuman strength. It’s really just a far-out heist film, and as the suit’s inventor, Michael Douglas is delightfully in on the joke.
The End of the Tour
“ Jason Segel” and “cerebral”: I’ve never used those two phrases in one sentence, but the former gross-out guru is a delightfully thoughtful revelation in this meaty true story of a five-day interview that Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace gave Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) in 1996. Don’t miss it.
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 a late-life romance with charming, wealthy retiree Sam Elliott.
Infinitely Polar Bear
Mark Ruffalo is irresistible as a Boston father struggling with bipolar disorder while raising two spirited daughters. Zoe Saldana brings unexpected warmth to the role of the girls’ absent mother, who loves her man despite his mercurial manner. ( FULL REVIEW)
GALLERY: Six new documentaries to spark up your summer
This Disney/Pixar animated film burrows into the mind of a tween girl, where we meet her emotions, voiced by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black and Phyllis Smith. Besides a great adventure story, it’s a meditation on how memories shape our lives. (FULL REVIEW)
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. Paul Giamatti breathes fire as the evil shrink who nearly ruined Wilson’s life. (FULL REVIEW)
Now 93, a retired Sherlock Holmes ( Ian McKellen) reopens the one case he could never solve, at the same time befriending the young son of his housekeeper ( Laura Linney). McKellen is fun as a man abashed by the legend that has grown up around him. (FULL REVIEW)
Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
After parsing the title’s tricky punctuation, taking down an international terror group should be easy for Tom Cruise & Co. We’ve seen this nonstop whirl of double agents, impossible stunts and (literally) breathtaking challenges before, but nobody does it like Tom and the IMF.
When 1980s video-game characters try to destroy the world, only a team of middle-age former gamers can save us. Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, and Kevin James (as the President!) try to evoke Ghostbusters, but we ain’t afraid of new ghosts.
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Set Fire to the Stars
Elijah Wood stars as John Malcolm Brinnin, the New York academic who worshiped poet Dylan Thomas — until he brought the hard-drinking, hell-raising writer to America. Director Andy Goddard starkly captures the perils of coming face-to-face with your idol.
Southpaw yearns to be On the Waterfront or Raging Bull, but it could never be a contenduh. Though Jake Gyllenhaal transforms himself to play Billy “The Great” Hope, his scarred muscle mass and punch-drunk slurring can’t save the predictable script and derivative characters. (FULL REVIEW)
Those who fondly recall the raucous-but-soft-hearted 1983 Chevy Chase original may want to skip this return trip. Ed Helms is fun as a grown-up Rusty Griswold retracing his family’s disastrous car ride, and there are some clever gags en route. But the nastiness pervading the film should have been kicked to the curb.
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