Robert De Niro, left, and Leslie Mann in a scene from "The Comedian."Alison Cohen Rosa/Sony Pictures Classics
Movies playing in town for Feb. 10
C- THE COMEDIAN
R; contains crude sexual references and language. 119 minutes.
On paper, "The Comedian" seems to have everything going for it. The premise - an aging insult comic, down on his luck, looks against all odds to jump-star his career - is appealing. The cast is crazy good, and the director is Taylor Hackford ("Officer and a Gentleman"). One problem, Robert De Niro can't "act" being funny. Being a world-class stand-up comedian is a rare and ephemeral art. It it were easy, everyone would do it. - Michael Heaton
A A DOG'S PURPOSE
PG. 100 minutes.
Based on the best-selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron. Comedic actor Josh Gag gives a human voice (that only the audience can hear) to Bailey, the dog that morphs into three other canines over the course of the film. In this universe, dogs return as other dogs after death. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom; with Dennis Quaid, Peggy Lipton and Bryce Gheisar. - Michael Heaton
PG-13; for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references. 133 minutes.
A Pulitzer and Tony-winning work by August Wilson who finished the screenplay before he died in 2005. Directed by and starring Denzel Washington who plays a former Negro League baseball player, ex-convict and current 1950s-era garbage man. He's a loud-mouthed narcissist and a bully who is bitter about the hand life has dealt him. With Viola Davis. - Michael Heaton
A- HIDDEN FIGURES
PG; for thematic elements and some language. 126 minutes.
At the start of the Space Race in the 1950s, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, a precursor to NASA, needed "human computers" with the ability to do advanced calculations in their minds. A number of black math teachers made significant contributions to the Mercury missions. "Hidden Figures" focuses on three of these women, played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, each with her own challenges and goals. - Julie E. Washington
R; for violence and language. 100 minutes.
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was public: A nation, and the world, observed it in shock and sorrow, and mourned. But the grief following his death was also private, and it is this grief that "Jackie" invites us to observe, in tight close-up. It's a tough role, to be sure, requiring Natalie Portman to peel back layers upon layers of the protective armor Jackie wore to get to the elusive, real woman. -Joanna Connors
R; for some sexuality/nudity. 96 minutes.
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is famous for his smart and sometimes outrageous takes on contemporary women. Too bad Almodovar's 20th feature film is such a stinker. "Julieta" is a tedious melodrama taken from three short stories by Alice Munro about a middle-age Spanish woman living in Madrid and her painful past. - Michael Heaton
A LA LA LAND
PG-13; for some language. 128 minutes.
Writer-director Damien Chazelle is unapologetic about having his actors suddenly break into song and movements to express their thoughts. He also cast two of Hollywood's hottest young stars, sexy-girl-next door Emma Stone and brooding Ryan Gosling, who both have music and dance credentials. Stone is an aspiring actress who is enduring audition hell, Gosling is a jazz musician who dreams of opening a jazz club for serious musicians and jazz aficionados. - Julie E. Washington
PG-13; for thematic material and some sensuality. 121 minutes.
"Lion" tells the story (based on true events) of 5-year-old Saroo, who lives in poverty in India in the mid-1980s. One night, he falls asleep on a train and winds up in an orphanage and is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Flash-forward 25 years and life seems good for Saroo until he begins obsessing about finding his biological family in India. - Michael Heaton
A MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
R; for language and some sexual content. 135 minutes.
A beautiful film that is tragic and moving. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, a working-class man (Casey Affleck) is forced to care for his dead brother's son (Lucas Hedges) in a New England fishing town. - Laura DeMarco
C+ MONSTER TRUCK
PG; for action, peril, brief scary images and some rude humor. 104 minutes.
Aimed at the under-10 set, "Monster Truck" has several good things going for it, including a couple of big-name actors, exciting car chases and a handful of laughts. Flawless special effects allow the computer-generated squid-thing to interact realistically with humans and trucks. On the other side of the scales, mediocre acting and writing kept the film in the so-so zone. -Julie E. Washington
R; for violence, depictions of drug use and sexual content. 111 minutes.
A coming-of-age story like no other, is already being called one of the year's best movies. It unfolds in three distinct sections that illuminate stages in Chiron's growth living in Miami. Writer-director Barry Jenkins cast three mostly unknown actors - Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes - to portray Chiron over two decades. Throughout the film, he still longs for meaningful connections, identity and acceptance. - Julie Washington
R; for language. 118 minutes.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch, Paterson (Adam Driver) wakes up every morning and checks the time on his watch. He pours a bowl of Cheerios and heads out to work with his lunch pail, with sandwiches made by his wife. All day long he drives a city bus, in Paterson, New Jersey. In the evening, he takes the dog for a walk, stops for a beer and chat at the corner bar. Paterson is a man out of his time, but his quest is timeless. - Laura DeMarco
A ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
PG; for mild action/peril and some rude humor. 133 minutes.
"Rogue One's" fast-moving, action-filled story line strikes the right balance between familiar touchstones and new worlds, characters, weapons and spaceships. Set before the events of 1977's "Star Wars: Episode IV - a New Hope" is heavy on action and moves at a breathless pace. Jyn (Felicity Jones) is valuable to both the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. She is the daughter of a reluctant genius who was forced by the Empire to develop the planet-eating Death Star. She has been on her own when Imperial troops killed her mother and took her father prisoner. - Julie
PG; for some rude humor and mild peril. 108 minutes.
Directed by Garth Hennings, Illumination Entertainment branches out into the world of all talking, dancing, singing creatures great and small, mashing that up with the wildly popular phenomenon of singing-competition reality show. The result, an amusing riff on genres, a "Zootopio Idol." With voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and John C. Reilly. - Tribute News Service
B- THE SPACE BETWEEN US
PG-13; for brief sensuality and language. 121 minutes.
The movie suffers from sluggish action at times, but its plot twists and appealing young actors elevate the proceedings into an enjoyable blend of romance, science fiction and adventure. Soon after blastoff, astronaut Sarah discovers she is pregnant. She dies in childbirth on Mars, but Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) lives and his birth was kept secret from people on Earth. Elliot has started an email relationship with a tough and resourceful teenager (Britt Robertson) and finds her when he visit Earth for a limited time. - Julie E. Washington
PG-13; for disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some language. 117 minutes.
The performance of James McAvoy, as a psychologically damaged man who contains 24 different personalities, is worth seeing. He is malevolently magnificent in the role of a severely mentally ill man who kidnaps and confines three teenage girls in an underground lair. Written and directed by M. Night Shayaalan; with Betty Buckley, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessica Sula and Haley Lu Richardson. - Michael Heaton
C 20th CENTURY WOMEN
R; for sexual material, language, some nudity and brief drug use. 118 minutes.
Writer/director Mike Mills's tribute to his divorced mother who raised him with the help of a couple other women. Annette Bening plays Dorothea Fields, a quirky, 50-something, chain-smoking single mom struggling to raise her adolescent son. The characters renting rooms in Fields' large dilapidated house aren't bad or deplorable in any moral sense. Their intentions are good, but they haven't the slightest idea how to implement them. Simply put, they are not very interesting people. - Michael Heaton
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