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Movies for Grownups Weekend Preview Nov. 22

The box office crown will certainly  land on the new Hunger Games installment; but we're betting the quiet story of a simple woman seeking the fate of her son will ultimately be remembered more fondly.

In a season of extraordinary acting accomplishments, Judi Dench gives the performance of a lifetime as the title character, a woman seeking the son she gave up as a child. Steve Coogan, who also wrote the film's moving and disarmingly funny script, costars as the investigative reporter who helps unravel the tangle of deceit and corruption that very nearly choked off the truth behind Philomena's quest. Based on a true story. FULL REVIEW


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Part two in the series based on a kidlit classic. If you're not a fan of the book series, you might enjoy Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Toby Jones as assorted good guys and villains.


  Still Out There . . .

12 Years a Slave
Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery leads a powerful cast. Movies from  Roots to  Django Unchained have shown us the evils of slavery;  12 Years a Slave makes us feel the lash.  FULL REVIEW

About Time
We'd watch the delightfully quirky Bill Nighy ( The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) if he were handing out food samples at Costco. Here he has to tell his son (Domhnall Gleeson)that the men in the family can travel through time. With Nighy on board, what starts out as a silly rom-com blossoms into a tall tale with some very grownup lessons.  FULL REVIEW

All Is Lost
Robert Redford has been a movie star for so long it's easy to forget he's also a  great screen actor. Here it's all Redford, all the time, wordlessly battling the elements as a lone sailor on an endless sea. He may well win his first acting Oscar for this one.  FULL REVIEW

Birth of the Living Dead
In 1968 George A. Romero made  Night of the Living Dead, and changed the way movies scare us. This entertaining documentary retraces Romero's shuffling footsteps to midnight movie immortality.

Blue Jasmine
If you're an actress, get yourself directed by Woody Allen: Here he casts Cate Blanchett as a latter-day Blanche DuBois, depending on the kindness of strangers in San Francisco. Smart, tragic and funny, it's Woody and Cate at their best.  FULL REVIEW

The Book Thief
Geoffrey Rush ( The King's Speech) and Emilly Watson ( War Horse) play the foster parents of a spunky young girl (Sophie Nelisse) who develops a passionate love for books during the dark days of Nazi Germany. The era's oppressive atmosphere fills the screen like smoke. But it is Rush, in perhaps the most tender performance of his career as the kind-hearted housepainter, who gives this movie its soul.  FULL REVIEW

Captain Phillips
Tom Hanks gives his best performance in years as the captain of a cargo ship overrun by Somali pirates-but the real revelation is Somali actor Barkhad Abdi. He stands toe-to-toe with Oscar-winner Hanks, who generously allows his unknown costar to unfold a complex, surprisingly vulnerable character.  FULL REVIEW

The Counselor
Michael Fassbender is the latest in a long line of movie lawyers who discover representing bad guys isn't always the best career move. The script is by Cormac McCarthy; the director is Ridley Scott ( Blade RunnerAmerican Gangster); and the cast includes  Brad Pitt. Unfortunately, the movie is a bit of a mess.

Dallas Buyers Club
At the height of the 1980s  AIDS epidemic, a tough heterosexual Texas electrician (Matthew McConaughey) gets the dread diagnosis - then sets up a lucrative business smuggling alternative anti-AIDS drugs into the state. McConaughey, who has been rising from beefcake idol to accomplished actor, may nab his first Oscar nomination for this.

Dear Mr. Watterson
It's been nearly 20 years since Bill Watterson stopped drawing  Calvin and Hobbes, and although the reclusive cartoonist is nowhere to be seen in this documentary, his presence is felt in the passion of the fans-readers and fellow artists alike-who remain devoted to his work.

Naomi Watts stars as the star-crossed  Princess of Wales. Here Diana is divorced and has taken up with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Sayid Jarrah, best known as the Iraqi torture expert on  Lost, but cleaned up considerably here). Now the lovers must somehow find happiness while eluding the paparazzi's eye. Wonder how  that'll turn out.  A Princess Grace movie is coming next year; our look at the  two princesses America loved

Ender's Game
If you have kids, they've probably read this 1991 sci-fi neoclassic, which despite its interplanetary war setting is considered must-reading for U.S. Marine Corps trainees (really!). The film, starring Asa Butterfield as a fighting child prodigy, offers  Harrison Ford both as the kid's mentor and a reminder of how much the science fiction movie genre still owes to  Star Wars.

Enough Said
We'll never forget the late  James Gandolfini as the conflicted mobster of  The Sopranos, but in this romantic comedy he's positively cuddly.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a woman who discovers that the man of her dreams (Gandolfini) is the ex-hubby of her new close friend.

Stars Sandra Bullock and  George Clooney are fine and the film's visual re-creation of a space voyage is breathtaking (especially in 3-D), but cowriter/director Alfonso Cuaron should have launched with a decent script.  FULL REVIEW

Last Vegas
This comedy about  four old pals reuniting for a bachelor party in Las Vegas gets its laughs from the chemistry of its stars:  Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline. The cast also makes the film's more dramatic moments - dealing with loneliness, loss and the passing of youth - unexpectedly effective. Throw in Mary Steenburgen as a sympathetic saloon singer and you've got a movie that's light years smarter than its stupid trailers would have you think.   FULL REVIEW

In a career-defining performance, Bruce Dern is a slightly befuddled fellow who's convinced he's won $1 million in a sweepstakes. Will Forte is the good son who offers to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim the dubious prize. Amazing performances all around, directed by Alexander Payne ( The Descendants, About Schmidt).

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are great fun as James Hunt and Niki Lauda, rival kings of Formula 1 racing in the 1970s.  Ron Howard, who cut his directing teeth with  Grand Theft Auto in 1977, seems right at home depicting the brutal beauty of high-octane racing.

Spider Solitaire





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