‘U.N.C.L.E.’ Is Hip; ‘Compton’ Hops

In theaters, revisit ’60s glitz and ’80s grit. At home, get the inside story of two TV legends.

 


The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Director Guy Ritchie’s fond reimagining of the classic 1960s spy series is set smack in the Cold War. Henry Cavill channels his inner George Hamilton as dapper Napoleon Solo; Armie Hammer plays Russian spy Illya Kuryakin just the way we envisioned Russkies back then: humorless and musclebound.

 

Straight Outta Compton
Director F. Gary Gray ( The Italian Job) chronicles the 1980s rise of hip-hop — arguably the most significant musical development since 1950s rock ’n’ roll — in this splendidly gritty story of the rise of seminal rap group NWA. The ensemble playing Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and company is perfect; Paul Giamatti shines as Jerry Heller, the record producer who saw artistry in the group’s anger.

 

New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand

Hot Pursuit
Reese Witherspoon stars as a by-the-book cop protecting the free-spirited widow (Sofia Vergara) of a drug kingpin.

I Am Big Bird
Since 1969, Caroll Spinney has been the man inside the Big Bird suit on Sesame Street. His story is moving enough; just try to hold back a tear when Bird sings “Bein’ Green” at Jim Henson’s memorial service.

I Am Chris Farley
As uplifting as I Am Big Bird is, I Am Chris Farley is a heartbreaking tribute to yet another self-destructive comic genius.

Still in theaters


Ant-Man
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.

Cop Car
This neat little thriller finds two cute rural kids (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) stumbling upon an abandoned police car and taking it for a joyride. They don’t  know a bad cop (delightfully dirty  Kevin Bacon) is dumping a body nearby. (In theaters and on Video on Demand.)

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 The End of the Tour
Former gross-out guru Jason Segel 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.

Fantastic Four
The title is half right. There  are four of them.

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.

007-spectre

 

VIDEO: Spectre director Sam Mendes tells why he’s helming his second James Bond flick — and hints at what’s in store for Daniel Craig’s 007 this time around.

 



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 Inside Out
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)


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 Mr. Holmes
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. (FULL REVIEW)

Pixels
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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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. Rick Springfield plays her bandmate/boyfriend.

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VIDEO: As the Movies for Grownups Radio Show signs off after 12 years, here’s our all-star mashup of classic movie goodbyes.

 

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.

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.

Southpaw
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)

Vacation
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, but the nastiness pervading the film should have been kicked to the curb.

A lso of Interest

 

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