Weekend: Three Stories of Survival

In theaters this weekend: Three people walk their own personal tightropes.

At home: Men (and a woman) of action.

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  Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice


 

 

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The Martian
NASA’s announcement this week that there’s flowing water on Mars would have been good news for Mark Watney (Matt Damon), the NASA astronaut stranded on the Red Planet in director Ridley Scott’s instant sci-fi classic. Damon’s as endearing as ever as the guy who coolly  MacGyvers his way through one crisis after another.

 

He Named Me Malala

This documentary about  Malala Yousafzai — the Pakistani teen who survived a bullet to the head after advocating education for girls — makes you wonder: What would you be willing to endure in the name of freedom?


 

The Walk
See this on the biggest screen you can, and shell out the extra dough for those 3-D glasses: Robert Zemeckis’s thrilling account of how Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) walked a high wire between the World Trade Center towers in 1974 will leave you breathless. Acrophobics need not attend. New on DVD, Blu-ray and Video on Demand


Cop Car
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 that thumping from the trunk can’t bode well. (In theaters and on Video on Demand).

Spy
Melissa McCarthy stars as a CIA desk jockey who gets her chance to head into the field to save her partner (Jude Law) and the world.

Entourage
Hollywood pretty boy Vinnie Chase (Adrien Grenier) and his bro-ho posse (Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama) are back in this big-screen version of the long-running   TV show. Everyone who’s cool has a cameo, but the best reason to hang with  Entourage has always been the interplay between take-no-prisoners überagent Ari Gold ( Jeremy Piven) and his harried assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee). Boom!  There’s your movie!

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Still in theaters (Click on Titles for Movie Trailers)

Black Mass
Johnny Depp re-emerges as one of our best actors with his exquisitely calibrated channeling of  James “Whitey” Bulger, the small-time Boston hood who became a big deal with the unwitting help of the FBI. As his G-man handler, Joel Edgerton seems too easily corrupted; we wish the film had spent more time with Whitey’s brother Bill, a respected and powerful president of the Massachusetts Senate, masterfully played by  Benedict Cumberbatch(FULL REVIEW)



Everest
And the year’s most devastating screen villain is…a 29,000-foot-high hunk of rock. In this re-creation of two doomed 1996 expeditions,  Mount Everest is one monstrous monolith, swatting away frail humans like so many goggled, wool-capped flies. Jake Gyllenhaal stars.

Grandma
Lily Tomlin stars as a grandmother trying to help her teenage granddaughter (Julia Garner) pay for an abortion. Crass, combative and vulnerable, Tomlin gives the performance of a lifetime in a film that suggests the planet might improve if all males were abducted by aliens.  (FULL REVIEW)

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Robert DeNiro is perfect as a 70-year-old retiree who attacks his boredom by enlisting in a “senior intern” program at a hip online-fashion company. The experienced newcomer has a lot to teach the young whippersnappers — especially company founder  Anne Hathaway, scrambling to keep her footing in the office and at home. Writer-director  Nancy Meyers ( Its Complicated) has a keen ear for each generation’s angst — and for how we can help each other cope in a world of nonstop change.

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VIDEO POPE-POURRI: Hollywood’s  most surprising cinematic pontiffs (Pope Ringo I, anyone?)

 




 


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 Learning to Drive
She’s an elitist Manhattan literary critic. He’s an Indian cab driver. Together,  Patricia Clarkson and  Ben Kingsley make a charmingly odd couple in a film about perfect strangers who discover they’re just what the other one needs.  (FULL REVIEW)

Pawn Sacrifice
In this retelling of the iconic 1972 square-off between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky,  Tobey Maguire brings uncommon intensity to the role of the deeply troubled U.S. chess champion. As Spassky, Liev Schreiber isn’t asked to do much more than glare at his emotionally fragmented opponent, but his glowering is eloquent.

The Second Mother
Brazilian star Regina Casé is brilliant as a housekeeper whose modern-minded daughter comes to stay at the home where she works in São Paulo, only to scandalize Mom and her employers with her disregard for class boundaries.

Karen Abercrombie and Priscilla Shirer in War Room.

 

VIDEO: War Room writer-director Alex Kendrick on the new success of faith-based movies.


 


She’s Funny That Way
Peter Bogdanovich returns to form in this frothy tale of a playwright ( Owen Wilson) caught in a love triangle with his wife, her old flame and a heart-of-gold hooker.  Jennifer Aniston is funny as a shrink entangled in the mess. And look who else pops up: PB’s old gal pal Cybill Shepherd!  (FULL REVIEW)

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Sicario
Unforgiving as a scorpion’s sting, director Denis Villeneuve’s brutal action film follows an idealistic U.S. border patrol agent (Emily Blunt) as she joins an elite task force bent on toppling a feared Mexican drug lord. Benicio del Toro, who won an Oscar for  Traffic — the previous best film about drugs in America — is even better here as a shadowy advisor to the task force.

Sleeping with Other People
Jake (Rob Delaney lookalike Jason Sudeikis) is a hopeless womanizer; Lainey (totes-adorbs Alison Brie from  Community) is a serial adulterer. The unlikely pair become platonic friends in hopes of straightening themselves out. Mutual attraction intervenes.

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Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine
This is  not the much-buzzed-about new film coming October 9; instead it’s the documentary that, even after interviews with some of his closest associates (not to mention the mother of his daughter), can’t suss out what made Apple’s core tick.

Stonewall
Mega-epic director Roland Emmerich ( Independence DayThe Day After Tomorrow) narrows his vision for this account of the historic 1969  Stonewall Riots, in which gay and lesbian activists protested police brutality at a New York bar; the gay rights movement ensued. The story is told through the eyes of a young gay man (Jeremy Irvine) thrown out of his house by his parents.

Straight Outta Compton
Director F. Gary Gray ( The Italian Job) chronicles the 1980s  growth of hip-hop in this splendidly gritty story of the rise of rap group NWA. The ensemble playing Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and company is perfect, while  Paul Giamatti shines as Jerry Heller, the producer who saw artistry in the group’s anger.

Time Out of Mind
Richard Gere is easily recognizable — and that’s just the problem — in this drama about a homeless man trying to restore his relationship with his daughter (Jena Malone). With  Ben Vereen,  Steve Buscemi and Kyra Sedgwick.  (FULL REVIEW)


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A Walk in the Woods
Robert Redford and  Nick Nolte make endearingly quirky hiking companions in this comedy based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 account of his failed quest to walk the Appalachian Trail. (The script and direction, by contrast, feel aimless.)  Emma Thompson is so darling as Bryson’s wife it’s clear he was a nut to leave her at home.

War Room
The latest faith-inspired film from the producing/directing team of Alex and Stephen Kendrick ( FireproofFacing the Giants) focuses on a family’s efforts to resolve their problems through prayer.

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