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Weekend: Dinos Dash, Garbo Laughs

Sprawling dino disasters and finely observed teen friendships give moviegoers a fun choice in theaters this weekend. At home, meanwhile, spies, golfers and a classic 1930s romance all provide excellent excuses to stay in (and out of the heat!).


Jurassic World
Twenty-two years have passed since the unfortunate events on Isla Nublar, and a new generation has finally opened a brand-new theme park there, featuring genetically cloned dinosaurs. Humanity’s hubris, by contrast, has changed not one bit in the intervening decades, so pretty soon we’ve got “carnivores on the rampage” all over again. Stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard stay one step ahead of the jaws of death — not easy, considering her truly inappropriate heels. (FULL REVIEW)


Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
There are grownups on hand (Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman), but this film about a high school senior forced by his mother to befriend a girl with leukemia belongs to its young stars, Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke. Smart where other teen movies are patronizing, the film earns its emotional punch — and hearty laughs — through sharp characterizations. Thirty years from now, today’s teens will recall this movie with the same fondness boomers have for Stand By Me and The Breakfast Club.


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Kingsman: The Secret Service
A delightful surprise. Director/cowriter Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, X-Men First Class) mixes action and humor to create this frothy entertainment about a street kid (Taron Egerton) dragooned into Britain’s spy biz. The trusty cast includes Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson and Mark Hamill.


The Squeeze
Golf enthusiasts tell us this fun little film about a talented young duffer who gets mixed up with the mob is one of the most authentic golf movies ever. Jeremy Sumpter is the kid with the perfect swing; Michael Nouri and Christopher McDonald are the heavy hitters who tussle over his talents. (You may recall the latter as smirkmeister Shooter McGavin from another golf movie, Happy Gilmore.)

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Ninotchka (1939)
What? You’ve never seen the comic romance in which “Garbo laughs”?! She stars as a by-the-book Russian commie who, on a mission to Paris, finds herself falling for a freewheeling capitalist pig in the person of suave Melvyn Douglas. Funny in ways movies seldom are anymore, Ninotchka’s all-star supporting cast includes Ina Clare and — horrors! — Bela Lugosi.


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 and a stellar cast (Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone,  Bill Murray) went to  Hawaii, and all they brought back was this lousy movie. Cooper plays a military contractor whose ex-girlfriend (Rachel McAdams), has a deep dark secret that everyone in the theater except Cooper’s supposedly ingenious character gets immediately. 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.

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 more 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 take-no-prisoners über-agent Ari Gold ( Jeremy Piven) and his harried assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee). Boom!  There’s your movie!

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.

Good Kill
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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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.

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) 

San Andreas
This just in from  California: There  is no California! Dwayne Johnson stars as a Los Angeles county rescue-chopper pilot; as  the seismologist who warns of a coming catastrophe,  Paul Giamatti spends much of the movie hiding under a desk.

As director, Brad Bird gives us a dazzling glimpse of an idealized future city. As cowriter, 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.   (FULL REVIEW)

Wild Horses
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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