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Movies Calendar | TGIF

Movies: ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ ‘Allied’

  • PARAMOUNT PICTURES

    Marion Cotillard and Brad Pitt star in the thriller “Allied.”

OPENING FRIDAY

“Nocturnal Animals” ***

A corrosively beautiful cocktail of a thriller, Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” tells three interwoven stories, all of them concerning roughly the same characters, but each one set in a different time and place.

“The Unmarried Wife”

Not reviewed; (Not rated, 2:10)

Filipino film follows the story of Anne (Angelica Panganiban), who finds that her husband, Geoff (Dingdong Dantes), cheated. She finds solace with Bryan (Paulo Avelino), but is faced with a decision to forgive or move on.

PLAYING

“Allied” ***

Loosely based on real events, “Allied” has spies Max and Marianne (Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, generating heat on screen and possibly off) first on a mission in Casablanca, then assuming a normal married life in London. But when British intelligence informs Max that Marianne is suspected of being a German double agent, Max sets out to prove her innocent. Both Cotillard and Pitt are remarkable in this thriller, set in the 1940s. Rated R (2:04)

“Arrival” ****

Director Denis Villeneuve has cast aside almost every sci-fi cliche in “Arrival,” which uses Hollywood stars but strips them of glamour. Amy Adams portrays linguistics professor Louise Banks, recruited by the military to establish a conversation with aliens who have landed on Earth. She teams with mathematician Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner. Both are excellent throughout, while addressing topics such as the challenge of communicating with beings whose language is a mystery, and the way international politics can create pressure to cut short scientific problem-solving. (PG-13, 1:56)

“Almost Christmas” **1/2

Besides a craving for Christmas cheer, the major reason to see “Almost Christmas” is Mo’Nique as the eccentric Aunt May of the Meyers clan, which has gathered for the holidays. The only one who can go toe to toe with her is J.B. Smoove as Lonny, a philandering former basketball player married to the uptight Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), the doctor daughter of Walter (Danny Glover). Walter’s there with his four kids, just 10 months after the death of his wife; sibling rivalries and long-standing family feuds erupt, and are interspersed with comic set pieces that have become a staple of holiday movies. (PG, 1:52)

“Bad Santa 2” *

Sometimes being sophomoric, transgressive and unimaginative isn’t enough. That’s the problem with “Bad Santa 2,” the dismal sequel to the 2003 hit “Bad Santa,” which merrily trashed the holiday season. The three principals are back: Billy Bob Thornton as the drunken, ne’er-do-well Willie Soke, a department store Santa; Tony Cox as hot-tempered Marcus; and Brett Kelly as the adult bully victim. The main addition to the cast, Kathy Bates as Willie’s down-and-dirty mom, provides the movie’s only spark. The plot involves a Christmastime plan by the Sokes, abetted by Marcus, to rob a dubious charity headed by wealthy sexpot Diane (Christina Hendricks). (R, 1:32)

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” **1/2

Coming off the 3-D technical marvel “Life of Pi,” director Ang Lee has set even loftier goals for his visuals with this adaptation of an Iraq War novel. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” depicts a day in the life of Bravo Squad in 2004, home for a victory and PR tour after the soldiers’ acts of heroism are caught on camera. Through flashbacks, the film shows us Bravo’s experiences in Iraq. The best parts show the easy camaraderie among the soldiers, and newcomer Joe Alwyn fully inhabits the role of Billy Lynn. But the film itself is scattered and unfocused. It’s a meta war movie that’s not about war, but about the way we tell stories about war. Yet we become too distracted to understand what this particular story is trying to say. Lee shot the film at 120 frames per second (the norm is 24), creating a hyper-realistic image. Some, though not all, theaters will be able to fully accommodate the intended display. (R, 1:50)

“Bleed for This” ***1/2

>> Review: Star’s acting is at heart of boxing film

You’ve heard this one before: A promising young boxer overcomes an impossible obstacle to snag a championship bout. But “Bleed for This” happens to be based on a true story, and it turns out to be a decent picture. It recounts the story of Vinny Pazienza, a tough Italian-American kid from Providence, R.I., played by Miles Teller, who completely convinces us of Vinny’s affability, flaws and steely determination. After getting whipped, he turns to a hard-drinking trainer (a very good Aaron Eckhart) for help. Vinny’s future looks good until an accident puts him in a metal neck brace. In a superhuman display of will, he begins training again, securing a title match against the legendary Roberto Duran. (R, 1:56)

“Doctor Strange” ****

Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the world’s most accomplished and egotistical surgeon when an accident mangles his hands and ends his career. Traditional medicine to fix the problem falls short, leaving Strange searching for unorthodox ways of healing. Those efforts unlock mystical powers that turn the man of medicine into a force to protect Earth from supernatural assaults. The movie gets massively visual, but it never gets away from the central strength of Cumberbatch’s performance. Cumberbatch brings a seriousness to the role that helps bridge the skepticism gap. (PG-13, 2:10)

“The Edge of Seventeen” ***

A charmingly sardonic coming-of-age story, “The Edge of Seventeen” follows Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a sarcastic and perpetually aggrieved young woman who exists on the peripheries of the high school ecosystem. It’s been this way since childhood, and hasn’t been helped by the fact that her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) is a popular athlete and a decent person. When her best friend, Krista (Haley Lu Richardson), takes up with him, Nadine is sent into a spiral of action and self-discovery. Steinfeld carries the movie effortlessly, walking that fine line of making a somewhat bratty, entitled and self-absorbed character endearing, funny and even empathetic. (R, 1:24)

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” ***

>> Review: ‘Beasts’ is a bit hollow but shows promise

Protagonist Newt Scamander, as played by Eddie Redmayne, is amiable, sheepish and surprisingly capable — as if he’s trying to channel Harry, Ron and Hermione from the “Harry Potter” series all at the same time. His allies are a trio of adults: comic relief Jacob (Dan Fogler), psychic Queenie (Alison Sudol) and overachieving witch Porpentia (Katherine Waterston). Scamander is sent to wrangle magical beasts, who are being spotted by the paranoid No-Maj crowd (American for “muggle,” or “humans with no special powers”). Suffice it to say that the plot is convoluted and confusing, but that isn’t a detriment. The movie feels like cramming for an examination from the coolest textbook, guided by the most engaging professor at the school. (PG-13. 2:13)

“Hacksaw Ridge” ***

Starring Andrew Garfield as real-life soldier Desmond Doss, Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” strikes an unusual balance. It’s a violent film whose hero espouses nonviolence, and a war film that will appeal to a religious audience. Doss experienced beatings, harassment and ultimately a court-martial over his beliefs before being thrust into the brutal battle at Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa and becomes a hero, saving countless men while others retreat, as Gibson reveals the suddenness, brutality and unfathomable randomness of death in combat. (R, 2:18)

“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” **1/2

Tom Cruise resurfaces as the ex-military cop who roams the land solving crimes, exacting justice, and calling the current commanding officer of his old unit, Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), to complain about it. When she’s arrested for espionage, he goes into full Reacher mode to free her and uncover a shady arms deal, while dealing with an eye-rolling teenager (Danika Yarosh) who might be his daughter. (PG-13,1:58)

“Loving” ***

Filmmaker Jeff Nichols displays his talent for telling stories from fresh perspectives in “Loving,” a deeply affecting drama about the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Joel Edgerton (“Warrior”) and Ruth Negga (“Preacher”) star as Richard and Mildred Loving, the celebrated couple — he was white, she African-American — who were arrested in 1958 at their Virginia home shortly after they drove up to Washington to get married. The film is mostly confined to the Lovings and their extended families. Edgerton and Negga burn intensely on screen – Edgerton has no more than 20 lines in the whole film, yet he and Negga convey the connection that sustains Richard and Mildred through facial expressions and gestures, visual cues, subtle physical contact. (PG-13, 2:03)

“Moana” ***

Those fretting over the authentic depiction of Polynesian cultures in “Moana” shouldn’t trouble themselves. The movie itself is not realistic. It’s fantasy, magical, with a cave of magic canoes and an anthropomorphic ocean. Kamehameha Schools student Auli‘i Cravalho does a wonderful job as the voice of Moana, bringing depth and heart to a character that could otherwise be just another stock Disney plucky girl. Moana feels the ocean is calling to her, but her father, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), forbids her to set sail. Suddenly, her island has no fish, and coconuts become infected with a blight, so Moana jumps on a canoe and sets sail. Her quest includes finding the powerful Maui (Dwayne Johnson), returning a green stone heart to a creation goddess, learning wayfinding and stopping the blight. Maui, meanwhile, needs to get his magic fishhook back, but what he really wants is for mortals to admire him for his wondrous feats. Johnson saves the problematic Maui character from being odious. Among ancillary characters, a favorite is undoubtedly the addled chicken Heihei, who steals every scene he’s in. Overall, “Moana” is a pretty movie and certainly one that many will enjoy, but it has the mark of this era, when Disney is concerned with growing its cadre of moneymaking princesses and tying its movies in with its resorts. (PG, 1:53)

“Moonlight” ****

The extraordinary new film “Moonlight” uses restraint, quiet honesty, fluid imagery and an observant, uncompromised way of imagining one outsider’s world so that it becomes our own. “Moonlight” traces the life of an African-American male — played in three segments, each by a different actor — growing up in Miami. Alex Hibbert portrays the boy, known as Little, who faces the dilemma of trusting a drug dealer (Mahershala Ali) who befriends him, acting as a father figure while serving crack to his mother (Naomie Harris, who is riveting), a loving, hostile paradox of a wreck. In segment two, Little, now called Chiron (superb young actor Ashton Sanders), has a clandestine sexual encounter with childhood friend Kevin, but is betrayed when Kevin joins in on a beating with some bullies. In the third act, Chiron is called Black (Trevante Rhodes); he gets a call out of the blue from Kevin. Their extended, nearly real-time conversation is reason enough to champion the film. (R, 1:50)

“Rules Don’t Apply” ***

“Rules Don’t Apply” feels unbalanced in terms of story, but the good things in it are so good that they make it fairly worthwhile. Written and directed by Warren Beatty, the movie benefits from his memory of the era depicted, the late 1950s and early ’60s, with the clothing and hairstyles on lead actors Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich all screaming 1960. “Rules Don’t Apply” tells the story of Marla, a religious young woman from Virginia who is brought to Hollywood in 1959 to become an actress and songwriter in Howard Hughes’ stock company, but it’s a mystery why Hughes has a company, as he doesn’t seem to be making any movies. When Beatty finally shows up as Hughes, his performance delivers, giving us a man who is charmingly and delightfully out of his mind. The problem is that “Rules Don’t Apply” changes focus midstream: First it’s on Marla and her driver Frank, setting up what seems to be a story of young love, but then attention shifts to Hughes. The film then becomes the story of a nutty billionaire who drives his subordinates to distraction. PG-13 (2:06)

“Trolls” **1/2

Justin Timberlake voices Branch, a misanthropic troll who just doesn’t fit in with his dancing, singing brethren. His foil, Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick), bursts with a weaponized sense of joy, forcing her subjects into an oppressive regime of glittery glee, replete with Top 40 hits. When they team up to save some of their troll friends plucked out of the rave by the evil Bergen Chef (Christine Baranski), they have to meet in the middle. The movie is a blank slate for the filmmakers to go wild, and there’s something about the neon-tinted, sugar-smacked highs of “Trolls” that is bizarrely infectious: When it’s weirder, it’s better. (PG, 1:32)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

UH vs. Massachusetts

6 p.m. Saturday, Koolau Stadium, Koko Marina, Consolidated Kapolei, $12

College football.

“I Am Bolt”

7:30 p.m. Monday, Kahala, $12, (PG, 1:43)

Documentary on Jamaican sprinter and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

Royal Shakespeare Company: “King Lear”

7 p.m. Tuesday, Kahala, $20

“Rifftrax Holiday Special Double Feature”

7 p.m. Thursday, Dole Cannery, $13 (PG, 3:45)

Holiday comedy double bill includes “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” and a collection of Christmas-themed shorts.

“She Loves Me”

7 p.m. Thursday, Dole Cannery, $21 (PG, 2:20)

Broadway revival of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy about two shop employees who battle on the job while being secret pen pals, starring Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski.

ARTHOUSE

DORIS DUKE THEATRE

Honolulu Museum of Art, 900 S. Beretania St. (532-8768, honolulumuseum.org); $10, $8 members

China/Hong Kong/ Taiwan Cinema

Ends Tuesday.

>> “The Monkey King 2”

1 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

A monk accidentally frees the long-imprisoned Monkey King, who is then tasked to protect the monk as he sets out to collect Buddhist scriptures from India. In Mandarin with English subtitles. (2016, Hong Kong/China, 1:59)

>> “The Bodyguard”

7:30 p.m. today, 1 p.m. Sunday

Director Sammo Hung also stars in this film about a retired Central Security Bureau officer who must rely on his skills from the past as Russian gangsters endanger a little girl. In Cantonese, Mandarin and Russian with English subtitles. (2016, China/Hong Kong, 1:39)

>> “Enter the Dragon”

1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday

A martial artist goes undercover to enter a competition run by a man whose prostitution and narcotics ring killed his sister. Bruce Lee’s final film before his death. (1973, Hong Kong/U.S., 1:42)

2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour

4 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday and 1 p.m. Tuesday

MOVIE MUSEUM

3566 Harding Ave. (735-8771); $5, $4 members

“Always” (“O-jik geu-dae-man”)

11 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m. today; 3:15 and 8:45 p.m. Monday

A down-and-out boxer takes a job as a parking lot attendant who sits alone in a booth watching TV. A sudden unexpected romance blooms when an adorable, visually impaired woman slides into the seat next to him and turns on a K-drama, mistaking him for the former parking lot attendant. For ages 15 and older. In Korean with English subtitles. (2011, South Korea, 1:48)

“Gadjo Dilo” (“The Crazy Stranger”)

1, 5 and 9 p.m. today; 1:30 and 7 p.m. Monday

A young Frenchman sets off to a remote village in Romania in search of a gypsy singer whose music was loved by his late father and becomes enraptured by the community’s passionate musical lifestyle. For ages 17 and older. In French and Romany with subtitles. (1997, Romania/France, 1:40)

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

11:30 a.m. and 3:15, 5 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday

A samurai-era animated tale about a haunted mother and her son. Voices by Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Rooney Mara and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa. Rated PG. (2016, 1:41)

“Chonmage Purin” (A Boy and His Samurai)

1:15 and 6:45 p.m. Saturday

Through time travel a young samurai lands disoriented in modern-day Tokyo and is taken in by an overworked single mom who accepts his offer to do housework and care for her young son. Meanwhile he develops a passion for baking. For ages 10 and older. In Japanese with English subtitles. (2010, Japan, 1:48)

“Hell or High Water”

Noon and 1:45, 3:30, 5:15, 7 and 8:45 p.m. Sunday

Two brothers embark on a desperate mission to save the family ranch. While one brother is a criminal who spent years in jail, it”s the other who meticulously plans a series of bank heists. With Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham. Rated R. (2016, 1:42)

“Les Princes”

11:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Monday

A controlling Gypsy man kicks out his wife after she starts using birth control pills, while his mother and daughter fear eviction. For ages 12 and older. In French with English subtitles. (1983, France, 1:35)

“After the Rain” (“Ame agaru”)

3 and 7 p.m. Thursday

After a kind, unemployed samurai and his wife are stranded in an inn, the local lord hires him as a fencing master, but things don’t quite go as planned. For ages 12 and older. In Japanese with English subtitles. (1999, Japan, 1:31)

“A School Behind Bars” (“Hei no naka no chugakko”)

12:45, 4:45 and 8:45 p.m. Thursday

Based on a real prison school program in Japan, this drama focuses on a skeptical young teacher whose adult students prove him wrong. For ages 12 and older. In Japanese with English subtitles. (2010, Japan, 2:02)

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