Movie guide: Capsule listings, reviews of current releases

By Los Angeles Times

“Alive Inside” — A documentary about social worker Dan Cohen and his efforts to promote the rejuvenating power of music. Directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett. (1:14) NR.

“Around the Block” — A passionate American drama teacher takes a job at an inner-city school in Sydney and tries to help an Aboriginal student avoid following his father into a life of crime. With Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard and Jack Thompson. Written and directed by Sarah Spillane. (1:44) NR.

“Behaving Badly” — A socially awkward high-schooler goes to great lengths to try to win over the girl of his dreams. With Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez and Mary-Louise Parker. Written by Tim Garrick and Scott Russell. Directed by Garrick. (1:38) R.

“Beneath” — Trapped underground by a massive collapse, coal miners struggle to survive and stay sane. With Jeff Fahey, Kelly Noonan and Joey Kern. Written and directed by Ben Ketai. (1:29) NR.

“Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” — Friends’ vacation in the Caribbean devolves into a nightmare after they stumble upon an abandoned research facility where a deadly, flesh-eating virus has been unleashed. With Sean Astin, Currie Graham and Ryan Donowho. Written by Jake Wade Wall. Directed by Kaare Andrews. (1:31) NR.

“Calvary” — During confession, a good Irish priest is told by an unseen member of his parish that he intends to kill the clergyman in one week’s time. With Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly and Aidan Gillen. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. (1:40) R.

“Child of God” — A Tennessee outcast living on the fringes of society descends into crime and degradation in this adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. With Scott Haze, James Franco and Timothy Blake Nelson. Written by Franco and Vince Joliette. Directed by Franco. (1:44) R.

“A Five Star Life” — A fortysomething woman devoted to her job as an incognito hotel critic has her luxurious lifestyle shaken by a series of personal setbacks. With Margherita Buy, Stefano Accorsi and Henry Arnold. Written by Maria Sole Tognazzi, Francesca Marciano and Ivan Cotroneo. Directed by Tognazzi. In Italian with English subtitles. (1:25) NR.

“Get on Up” — A biopic about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, from his impoverished childhood to his musical stardom. With Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Nelsan Ellis. Written by Steve Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, John Butterworth and Tate Taylor. Directed by Taylor. (2:18) PG-13.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” — After stealing a mysterious orb coveted by an intergalactic villain, a brash adventurer teams with a motley crew of alien outlaws to survive and save the universe in this movie based on the Marvel comic book. With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper. Written and directed by James Gunn. In 3-D and Imax. (2:01) PG-13.

“Louder Than Words” — A couple grieving the death of their young daughter establish a children’s hospital to honor her memory. With David Duchovny, Hope Davis and Timothy Hutton. Written by Benjamin Chapin. Directed by Anthony Fabian. (1:33) PG-13.

“Raw Cut” — Two couples travel to Wyoming for a weekend getaway and work on a found-footage horror movie, but the lines between reality and fiction become blurred. With Daniel Ponickly, Zoe Quist and Christopher Kelly. Written by Ponickly. Directed by Quist. (1:23) NR.

CRITICS’ CHOICES

“Boyhood” — Writer-director Richard Linklater couldn’t have known where 12 years of shooting this story would lead, following a boy and his family (played by Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelei Linklater) across time. But we are blessed that he did, because it has resulted in an extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional film in which not much else occurs. Never has so little meant more. (B.S., July 11) (2:45) R.

“Edge of Tomorrow” — With Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt starring in an Earth-versus-aliens epic, this is one mass-market entertainment that’s smart, exciting and unexpected while not stinting on genre satisfactions. (K.Tu., June 6) In 3-D and Imax. (1:53) PG-13.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” — From the fashionable day-old scruff on Hiccup’s 20-year-old Viking chin to the amped-up firepower of Toothless, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” has made good use of the years since the villagers of Berk and the boy who’d rather not be chief first charmed us. The spot-on cast led by Jay Baruchel now includes Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. There’s a new villain played by Djimon Hounsou, a major family reunion and Hiccup continuing his fight for dragon rights. Those battles on the back of the beasties are when the animation, and the film, soars. (B.S., June 13) In 3-D. (1:45) PG.

“Land Ho!” is full of surprises, rich in the way it noses around the rocky terrain of aging in an indifferent world through the engaging performances of its two stars. Colin and Mitch (Paul Eenhoorn and Earl Lynn Nelson) are a couple of 70-ish brothers-in-law reconnecting during a trip to Iceland years after they’d drifted apart. The weather may be cold, but the conversations are warm. As Colin begins to thaw, it becomes a gentle reminder that life is something to be embraced. And that it is never too late to grab it with whatever gusto you’ve got. (B.S., July 11) (1:35) R.

“Life Itself” — Expert documentarian Steve James provides a fine and moving examination of the life and legacy of the engaging and influential critic Roger Ebert. (K.Tu., July 4) (1:58) R.

“Snowpiercer” — Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho packs all of his apocalyptic angst inside an unforgettable “Snowpiercer.” Using a great cast, a gripping idea and a gorgeously grimy retro aesthetic, Bong keeps this eerie examination of the train wreck of humanity racing along. Both the material and the messengers — Chris Evans, John Hurt, Ed Harris and Tilda Swinton lead a cast top-heavy with international talent — lend a kind of gravitas to what might otherwise have been mindless action fare. (B.S., June 27) (2:06) R.

“A Summer’s Tale” — Like a forgotten gift we now get to unwrap with delight, French director Eric Rohmer’s 1996 film, never before released in this country, arrives just in time to add a touch of delight to the cinematic landscape. (K.Tu., July 18) In French with English subtitles. (1:54) NR.

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ALSO IN THEATERS

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“22 Jump Street” is a monument to mocking, a master class in dissing, a parody of pastiche, poking its R-rated finger at social conventions, sequels, stereotypes, football, frats, friends, drugs, sex — even its stars. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back for yet another capricious crime caper. Their chemistry crackles around strains in their bromance and the fallout from bungling any case they get. You might think the laughs are over when the credits start to roll. They aren’t. Hang around for a final bit of fun. (B.S., June 13) (1:51) R.

“And So It Goes” — A willfully obnoxious realtor wants nothing more than to sell one last house and retire, until his estranged son suddenly drops off a 9-year-old granddaughter he never knew existed. With Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton and Sterling Jerins. Written by Mark Andrus. Directed by Rob Reiner. (1:34) PG-13.

“Begin Again” — A teaming of Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and “Once” filmmaker John Carney in a tale of music’s transformative power certainly has appeal, but you may end up wanting to enjoy it more than its qualities will allow. (K.Tu., June 27) In French with English subtitles. (2:18) NR. (1:44) R.

“Chef” — Writer-director-star Jon Favreau cooks up tureens of fun and charm in this welcome return to his more intimate, indie film roots (“Swingers,” “Made”) after helming such mega-budget pictures as “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2” and “Cowboys & Aliens.” As for the movie’s food porn quotient: Like most else here, it doesn’t disappoint. (Gary Goldstein, May 9) (1:55) NR.

“Code Black” portrays the experience of an emergency room from a perspective many of us otherwise might not know, directed by Ryan McGarry when he was a young doctor at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. The film feels like neither a polemic, a reality show pilot nor some kind of soap opera doctor drama. This is for the best. (M.O., June 27) (1:28) NR.

“Come Back to Me” — After being involved in a car accident, a young married woman begins experiencing frequent blackouts and increasingly mysterious occurrences. With Matt Passmore, Katie Walder and Nathan Keyes. Written and directed by Paul Leyden. (1:36) R.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — If you want apes, you’ve come to the right place with this next iteration of the ever-popular science fiction saga. If people are your passion, not so much. (K.Tu., July 11) In 3-D. (2:10) PG-13.

“Deliver Us From Evil” — Buckle up for this highly intense and effective mash-up of police procedural and horror show. Director Scott Derrickson, who adapted the script with frequent collaborator Paul Harris Boardman, has infused this winding tale with propulsive urgency and snowballing tension, providing plenty of jumps, nightmarish imagery and things that literally go bump in the night. (Gary Goldstein, July 2) (1:37) R.

“Earth to Echo” — It’s no “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” (What is?) But on its own modest terms, the alien adventure “Earth to Echo” is a lively and likable knockoff that should divert, if not exactly enthrall, tweens and young teens. (Gary Goldstein, July 2) (1:22) PG.

“The Fluffy Movie” — A documentary following the comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias on stage and off. Directed by Manny Rodriguez. (1:41) PG-13.

“Happy Christmas” — The household of an aspiring novelist, her filmmaker husband and their 2-year-old son is turned upside-down when the father’s irresponsible younger sister comes to stay with them after a breakup. With Melanie Lynskey, Joe Swanberg, Anna Kendrick and Lena Dunham. Written and directed by Swanberg. (1:18) R.

“Hercules” — The mythical Greek hero Hercules leads a band of mercenaries to help end a bloody civil war in the land of Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne. With Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell and Joseph Fiennes. Written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Directed by Brett Ratner. (1:38) PG-13.

“I Origins” — Starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling and Astrid Berges-Frisbey, “I Origins” contemplates evolution and spirituality against a shaky romantic tableau. The film’s existential crisis revolves around the iris of the eye, as individual as a fingerprint, with Pitt’s scientist pulled between evolution and God as the guiding force. There are occasional flashes of the exceptional in writer-director Mike Cahill’s film, but the dodgy story can’t sustain them. (B.S., July 18) (1:48) R.

“Ironclad: Battle for Blood” — In medieval England, a young warrior and a small band of hired swords try to hold off a tribe of Celtic raiders hell-bent on revenge. With Michelle Fairley, Tom Austen and Tom Rhys Harries. Written by Jonathan English and Steven McDool. Directed by English. (1:48) NR.

“Le Chef” — A self-taught cook with haute-cuisine ambitions and a celebrated chef in danger of losing his restaurant form an uneasy alliance. With Jean Reno, Michael Youn and Raphaelle Asogue. Written by Daniel Cohen and Olivier Dazat. Directed by Cohen. In French and English, with English subtitles. (1:25) PG-13.

“Lucy” — A woman forced to act as a drug mule accidentally ingests some of the contraband and finds it gives her superhuman abilities, then turns the tables on her captors. With Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman. Written and directed by Luc Besson. (1:28) R.

“Magic in the Moonlight” — A renowned English conjurer is called upon to get to the bottom of a possible swindle in the south of France of the 1920s. With Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden and Hamish Linklater. Written and directed by Woody Allen. (1:38) PG-13.

“Maleficent” — In re-imagining the infamous evil queen who curses an innocent girl, “Maleficent” is very much a cautionary tale for modern times. It essentially prompts the question — are you sure it was the shrew that needed taming? It stars a wickedly good Angelina Jolie. Unlike “Sleeping Beauty,” “Maleficent” explains all: motivation, regrets — from the queen’s point of view. This multifaceted Maleficent has wit and empathy as well as rage. Though the film hits a few bumps, Jolie hasn’t looked like she’s had such fun with a role since 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” (B.S., May 30) In 3-D and Imax. (1:37) PG.

“Mood Indigo” — Wacky, surreal, insanely playful, this version of Boris Vian’s cult novel is a film that believes that too much is not enough. Even for a wild and crazy French director such as Michel Gondry, this is something out of the ordinary. (K.Tu., July 18) In French with English subtitles. (1:34) NR.

“A Most Wanted Man” — German and U.S. intelligence agents take notice when a brutally tortured half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant turns up in Hamburg’s Islamic community laying claim to his father’s ill-gotten fortune. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe. Written by Andrew Bovell. Directed by Anton Corbijn. (2:01) R.

“Planes: Fire and Rescue” — What this Disney animated feature lacks in the naming department, it makes up for with fluid visuals and fast-moving action of the, yes, firefighting variety. You’ll feel you could fight a fire yourself after seeing it. (K.Tu., July 18) (1:23) PG.

“Premature” — A high-school student trying to win over his longtime crush and nail a college interview keeps reliving the same day over and over again. With John Karna, Craig Roberts and Katie Findlay. Written by Dan Beers and Mathew Harawitz. Directed by Beers. (1:33) R.

“The Purge: Anarchy” is a good deal bloodier, but also — gulp — a good deal better than its predecessor. Make no mistake, a good “Purge” does not equal a good movie, but the post-apocalyptic thriller is slightly more interesting because it takes itself, and its menace, more seriously. By building a marginally better “Anarchy,” no doubt we’re in for another purge next year. (B.S., July 18) (1:43) R.

“Sex Tape” — Let’s start with the bare facts. A big-screen shot of a naked handstand is an overshare of parts and places better left unexposed — even from the back, even in a raunchy sex comedy titled “Sex Tape,” even when executed by Jason Segel, like co-star Cameron Diaz, a very appealing actor, dressed or not. Worse still, given all the skin its stars show, never has sex been less sexy, though it is nonstop and all over the place. Is “Sex Tape” funny? Occasionally. But super sexy? Nope. (B.S., July 18) (1:35) R.

Tammy Oh, “Tammy.” Can I call you Tammy? I hate to break this to you, but the thrill is gone. I’d like to say it’s me, not you. But I really think it’s you. As the latest, loudest, R-rated, plus-size incarnation of Melissa McCarthy’s comic psyche, you had such promise. But the party’s over. And let me make this clear — it’s the shtick, not the size, that’s the problem. McCarthy is clearly talented. Comedy is her calling card. It’s just that she keeps playing it. Shuffling the deck wouldn’t mean walking away from comedy. It just means occasionally giving us, and herself, a break (B.S., July 2) (1:57) R.

“Think Like a Man Too” — Kevin Hart’s amped-up style has earned him shooting-star status, but in “Think Like a Man Too” he hits such adrenaline-fueled extremes it’s exhausting. Hart is on day and night as the sprawling group of friends we met in the 2012 adaptation of Steve Harvey’s best-selling “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” heads to Vegas for a wedding — and the requisite debauched bachelor and bachelorette parties beforehand. As funny as Hart can be, and there is no doubt he is funny, “Too” is a case of too much Hart. (B.S., June 20) (1:45) PG-13.

“Third Person” — The latest interlocking puzzle from Paul Haggis is about love, but it’s not a soft and fuzzy sort of love. Haggis uses a double-edged sword — and a relatively blunt one at that — to hack away at it. There are three theaters of operation — the entanglement between Liam Neeson’s and Olivia Wilde’s characters unfolding in Paris, Adrien Brody and Moran Atias’ mismatched pair sparring in Rome and Mila Kunis and James Franco battling it out in New York City. The actors bring their A-games, but ultimately the film’s pieces remain scattered, its puzzle unfinished, its stories half-told. (B.S., June 20) (2:16) R.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” — The nearly three-hour crucible that is “Age of Extinction” stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, a greatly expanded world of Autobots, Decepticons and Dinobots, and all the Michael Bay bombastics we’ve come to expect from the franchise. The filmmaker has actually built a better “Transformers,” one I’m sure fans will adore. It’s still not a great movie, but it is, most definitely, full-metal Bay. (B.S., June 27) In 3-D and Imax. PG-13.

“Very Good Girls” — Best friends home for one last summer in New York make a pact to lose their virginity before leaving for college, but they both fall for the same handsome artist. With Elizabeth Olsen, Dakota Fanning and Boyd Holbrook. Written and directed by Naomi Foner. (1:31) NR.

“Wish I Was Here” feels self-satisfied rather than sincere, defensive rather than open. For a film that purports to be about the process of maturity and growth, it is woefully un-evolved, lacking in understanding and insight. With its greeting card aphorisms and muddled style, Zach Braff’s latest feels like a step back rather than some new destination. There is simply no there to “Wish I Was Here.” (M.O., July 18) (1:50) R.

“Yves Saint Laurent” — The first of two French-made biopics being released this year about the iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is a stylish, serviceable recounting of his life from the late 1950s through the ‘70s. But watchable as it may be, this drama lacks intimacy and urgency. It’s also missing the kind of deep artistic soul that would seem de rigueur for a look back at one of the world’s most influential couturiers. (Gary Goldstein, June 25) In French with English subtitles. (1:46) R.


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