comscore Movies: ‘Allied,’ ‘Arrival,’ ‘Believe’ | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Movies Calendar | TGIF

Movies: ‘Allied,’ ‘Arrival,’ ‘Believe’

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    Brad Pitt plays Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard plays Marianne Beausejour in ‘Allied.’

OPENING TODAY

“Believe”

Not reviewed (PG, 2:00)

When a man meets a boy who believes in miracles, he must choose between selfish goals and opening his heart to a new friend and community. Dole Cannery

“The Eagle Huntress”

“Incarnate”

Not reviewed (PG-13, 1:27)

An exorcist encounters a boy possessed by a demon.

“Man Down”

NOW PLAYING

“The Accountant” **1/2

Ben Affleck is a high-functioning math savant and loner who finds solace in ritual, patterns and finishing his tasks. He leads an unassuming life in Illinois as a strip mall accountant, but his unique gifts allow him a lucrative side hustle as a bookkeeper for “some of the scariest people on the planet.” That puts the Treasury Department on his trail, sending him on the run with an innocent co-worker (Anna Kendrick) and bringing out his brutal facility at self-defense. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. (R, 2:08)

“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. (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” H

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. (R, 1:32)

“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. (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” ***

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. 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. (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 fis**ook back, but what he really wants is for mortals to admire him for his wondrous feats. 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)

“Nocturnal Animals” ***

One ordinary day in her unhappy marriage, cash-strapped Los Angeles art gallery owner Susan, played by Amy Adams, receives a plain brown envelope. Inside is the new novel written by her ex-husband, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, titled “Nocturnal Animals,” with a note attached suggesting they reunite sometime soon. Adapter-director Tom Ford, in his second feature, sets up three distinct narratives. Susan’s life in the present interweaves with grad-school flashbacks depicting her time with the promising, dreamy novelist. Then there’s the story of the novel itself, which plays out in “Nocturnal Animals” as a violent, vindictive movie within a movie. Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher are the city couple, traveling by car with their teenage daughter (Ellie Bamber) one dark West Texas night. They’re terrorized by a group of thugs led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Rape, murder and retribution all get their due in this nightmare yarn, which has the primary benefit of giving Michael Shannon, in one of his very best performances, the role of a laconic police detective who, as he says, “looks into things around here.” But where is “here,” exactly? Ford’s critique of this world is dicey; as a director, he’s a bit of a hypocrite, damning the tragic glamour even as he’s drooling over it. (R, 1:57)

“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. 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)

“The Unmarried Wife”

Not reviewed

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. (Not rated, 2:10)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“A Christmas Story”

Noon Saturday, Regal Kapolei Commons, $5 (PG, 1:33)

This 1983 holiday comedy, a perennial fan favorite, has a boy (Peter Billingsley) trying to survive the holidays and his wacky parents, while pining for a BB gun.

Metropolitan Opera: “The Magic Flute”

12:55 p.m. Saturday, Dole Cannery, $16 (not rated, 2:00)

Encore presentation of Mozart’s beloved opera.

“Spirited Away,” 15th anniversary

Noon Sunday, Dole Cannery, $13 (PG, 2:30)

Studio Ghibli’s classic animation about a girl who is abducted from a haunted amusement park.

“Nerdland”

8 p.m. Tuesday, Dole Cannery, $16 (R, 2:10)

Animated comedy about two best friends, aspiring screenwriter Elliot and actor John, whose dreams have fizzed, with the voices of Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt and Hannibal Buress.

“Sherlock: The Abominable Bride”

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dole Cannery, $16 (PG-13, 1:50)

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ 21st-century take on Sherlock Holmes for PBS reverts to the time of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original — Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman play the classic Holmes and Watson, with the pipe and the tweeds. Moving back and forth between past and present in a ghost story for the holidays, it’s quick-witted enough to stay fun while it happens.

ARTHOUSE

DORIS DUKE THEATRE

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

STAFF PICKS 2016

>> “Cameraperson”

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

Documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson weaves together scenes filmed over her 25-year career, including a boxing match in Brooklyn; postwar life in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife. (2016, 1:42)

>> “Kampai! For the Love of Sake”

7 p.m. today. $15, $12 members; each ticket includes complimentary serving of sake

Mirai Konishi explores the art of sake, a staple in Japanese culture and cuisine that is increasing in demand across the world. In English and Japanese with English subtitles. (2016, Japan, 1:35)

>> “King Cobra”

9:30 p.m. today, 4 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday

In Justin Kelly’s film that explores the pornography industry’s dark side, a fresh wanna-be performer is discovered by the mogul of Cobra Video, but his rise to fame and increased demand for money creates a rift, and a rival producer looks to swoop in and capitalize on the situation. Starring Garrett Clayton, Christian Slater, James Franco, Alicia Silverstone and Molly Ringwald. (2016, 1:32)

>> “Ma”

1 and 4 p.m. Sunday

Directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall, this film about Mother Mary’s pilgrimage as she crosses the scorched landscape of the American Southwest is told entirely through movement, leading to a new ending to this familiar journey. (2015, 1:20)

>> “Spa Night”

1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

A timid 18-year-old living with his financially struggling immigrant parents takes a job at a secret all-male spa, where he begins to realize forbidden hidden desires that threaten his life as a dutiful son and student. (2016, 1:33)

>> “Certain Women”

1 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

The lives of three women — a lawyer fighting both office sexism and a hostage situation, a wife and mother who dreams of building her new home but finds herself in conflict with all of the men in her life, and a young law student who bonds with a lonely ranch hand — subtly intersect but in powerful ways. (2016, 1:47)

Honolulu Surf Film Festival: Winter Break 2016

>> “Shorebreak: The Clark Little Story”

1 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Renowned water photographer Clark Little shares insider tips and techniques as he takes on dangerous shorebreaks across Oahu in his efforts to capture the perfect photographs, some of which have been displayed in the Smithsonian. (2016, 0:55)

MOVIE MUSEUM

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

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

11 a.m. and 3:15, 5 and 6:45 p.m. today

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)

“My Way” (“Mai Wei”)

12:45 and 8:30 p.m. today; 1:45, 6 and 8:45 p.m. Sunday

Juk-shik, who works on a farm owned by his rival’s grandfather in Japanese-occupied Korea, must join Japan’s Kwantung Army along with his rival, and both are captured by Soviets during the 1939 Battles of Khalkhin Gol. Enlisted by the Soviets, they are captured once again and forced into the German army, only to be captured at Normandy by U.S. forces on D-Day. Inspired by two true stories. Rated R. In Korean with English subtitles. (2011, South Korea, 2:17)

“After the Rain” (“Ame Agaru”)

11:30 a.m. and 3:15 and 7 p.m. Saturday

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)

“Indignation”

1:15, 5 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday

This is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about a Jewish student from New Jersey who enrolls in a conservative Christian college in Ohio just to avoid being drafted during the Korean War. Meanwhile he struggles in restraining both his sociopolitical views and sexual desire for beautiful Olivia. Rated R. (2016, U.S./China, 1:50)

“Cluny Brown”

Noon and 4:15 p.m. Sunday, 2:30 and 6:45 p.m. Monday

A working-class girl in London is taken under the wing of a mooching Czech writer who knows how to work the social ladder. For ages 12 and older. (1946, 1:36)

“The Little House” (“Chiisai Ouchi”)

Noon, 4:15 and 8:45 p.m. Monday

After the death of his beloved great-aunt, Takeshi looks back upon her secretive life in the 1930s and ’40s when she worked as a maid in the home of the Hirai family. For ages 12 and older. In Japanese with English subtitles. (2014, Japan, 2:17)

“The Manzanar Fishing Club”

12:15, 3:45 and 7:15 p.m. Thursday

Cory Shiozaki’s documentary, filled with archival films, photos and interviews, shares the history of the Japanese-American internment in California following the Pearl Harbor attack as told from the perspective of the internees in Manzanar, who asserted their rights through fishing. For all ages. (2012, 1:14)

“After the Flowers”

1:45, 5:15 and 8:45 p.m. Thursday

The daughter of a high-ranking official defeats all of the men at a local dojo, except the best one, who wasn’t there. While viewing cherry blossoms, they meet for the first time and, together, form a perfect match in more ways than one. For ages 12 and older. In Japanese with English titles. (2010, Japan, 1:49)

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