An Oscar-worthy animated film for grownups dominates theaters this weekend, while a tuneful documentary about the 1960s’ most successful (yet unknown) band will have you dancing in your TV room.
A monumental triumph for Disney/Pixar, this animated film burrows into the mind of a tween girl named Riley, where we meet her emotions: perky Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), trembling Fear (Bill Hader), eye-rolling Disgust (Mindy Kaling), fiery Anger (Lewis Black) and short, misfit Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Part adventure story, part meditation on how memories shape our lives, the big-hearted Inside Out is that rare film that lives up to its tagline — in its case, “A Major Emotion Picture.”
Al Pacino adds to his recent gallery of quirky, finely focused characters in this story of an eccentric small-town locksmith with a secret past. The film doesn’t really go anywhere until the old fellow summons the gumption to ask a lovely bank teller (Holly Hunter) out for dinner. Their sweetly fumbling attempts to find a connection come close to redeeming the entire enterprise.
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. The movie won’t pull kids in from the beach, but cowriter Celyn Jones is riveting as Thomas, and director Andy Goddard’s black-and-white film starkly captures the perils of coming face-to-face with your idol.
New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand
Run All Night
Liam Neeson has a gun. His old mobster buddy, Ed Harris, has his son. Father will save son, even if he has to, you know … run all night! (FULL REVIEW)
Welcome to Me
What does a woman with borderline personality disorder do when she wins the lottery? Quits her meds and launches her own talk show, of course! Welcome to Me is uneven, but it’s heartening to watch Kristen Wiig further define herself as one of the funniest and most thoughtful stars on screen today. Costars Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Robbins are priceless, too.
The Wrecking Crew
They won record-of-the-year Grammys six years in a row in the 1960s and ’70s, yet you couldn’t find their names on a single record. The studio musicians known to insiders as the Wrecking Crew backed up acts from Sinatra to the Monkees to the Beach Boys (they also show up in the new Brian Wilson film, Love and Mercy). This music-packed documentary finally gives the Crew its due.
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 walk-up 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.
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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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)
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.
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.
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; 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 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. (FULL REVIEW)
Robert Duvall writes, directs and stars in this drama about a rancher implicated in the disappearance of a boy 15 years earlier.
Also of Interest
- Beach Boys and Bad Boys Heat Up the Weekend
- JFK: Personal Portraits From a Public Life
- Get Involved: Learn How You Can Give Back
- Join AARP: savings, resources and news for your well-being
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