Captain America: The Winter Soldier (PG-13) Chris Evans stars in his superhero’s latest adventure, as he further adjusts to the modern world and battles an old Soviet nemesis (Sebastian Stan). Also with Scarlett Johansson, Emily VanCamp, Cobie Smulders, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Toby Jones, Callan Mulvey, Hayley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert Redford. (Opens Friday)
Frankie & Alice (R) Halle Berry stars in this drama as a 1970s stripper battling multiple personality disorder. Also with Stellan Skarsgård, Chandra Wilson, Matt Frewer, Katharine Isabelle, and Phylicia Rashad. (Opens Friday)
In the Blood (R) Gina Carano stars in this action film as a woman who goes after the responsible parties when her husband (Cam Gigandet) goes missing in the Caribbean. Also with Danny Trejo, Luis Guzmán, Stephen Lang, Amaury Nolasco, and Treat Williams. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Jinn (PG-13) Dominic Rains stars in this supernatural thriller as an ordinary man caught up in a cosmic struggle between good and evil. Also with Ray Park, Serinda Swan, Faran Tahir, and William Atherton. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Le Week-End (PG-13) Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in this drama as a British couple who find their decades-long marriage coming to a head as they go to Paris to revisit the locale of their honeymoon. Also with Jeff Goldblum. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 (NR) The first half of Lars von Trier’s highly explicit drama stars Charlotte Gainsbourg as a woman telling the story of her sexual exploits. Also with Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Jesper Christensen, Udo Kier, Connie Nielsen, and uncredited cameos by Jamie Bell and Willem Dafoe. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
The Unknown Known (PG-13) The latest documentary by Errol Morris (The Fog of War) is a profile of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his role in the invasion of Iraq. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
About Last Night (R) This remake of the similarly titled 1986 comedy rings surprisingly little improvement on the mediocre original. While one couple (Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant) recovering from painful previous relationships try to work out their newfound attraction to each other, their respective best friends (Kevin Hart and Regina Hall) engage in a weird, dysfunctional romance of their own. The lead couple is blandly written and played, and the entire movie would be downright dreary if it weren’t for Hart, who strikes all manner of comic sparks off both Ealy and Hall and once again squeezes laughs out of unpromising material. Somebody get Hart a vehicle worthy of his talents. Also with Christopher McDonald, Adam Rodriguez, Joe Lo Truglio, Bryan Callen, and Paula Patton.
American Hustle (R) David O. Russell’s chaotic, marvelously entertaining caper film lurches and veers out of control and features some of the best acting you’ll see all year. Christian Bale and Amy Adams portray 1970s con artists who are busted by a smarmy, fast-talking FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) and forced to help him catch other crooks. Cooper slips easily into his character’s growing megalomania, and Jennifer Lawrence is a comic whirlwind as Bale’s volatile, angry wife, but Adams comes off the best here, lighting up the movie with her sexuality. Russell captures the desperation of these people struggling to get ahead or get out of trouble, and underneath the luscious surfaces and ridiculously awesome costumes, he gives the movie an edge of fear and paranoia. Also with Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea Whigham, Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Röhm, Paul Herman, Saïd Taghmaoui, and an uncredited Robert De Niro.
Bad Words (R) Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut and stars in this foul-mouthed comedy as a 40-year-old man who takes advantage of a loophole in the rules to compete against middle-school children in a national spelling bee. The character is a real bastard, too, and the movie comes up with the perfect instrument to torture him in a 10-year-old boy (Rohan Chand) who keeps popping up in his way and never loses his good cheer no matter how many times the guy curses him out or insults him racially. The plotting is carried out reasonably well. The main problem with this is that it didn’t make me laugh once. Bateman needs to get hold of better material for his second effort. Also with Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, Ben Falcone, Steve Witting, Beth Grant, and Philip Baker Hall.
Cesar Chavez (PG-13) Diego Luna makes his directing debut with this biography starring Michael Peña as the civil rights activist and labor leader. Also with Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Jacob Vargas, Gabriel Mann, Kevin Dunn, and John Malkovich.
Frozen (PG) The best Disney musical in quite some time. Kristen Bell provides the voice of Anna, the orphaned younger daughter of the rulers of a fictitious Nordic kingdom who goes into the wilderness to persuade her older sister (voiced by Idina Menzel) to save their land from a curse of eternal winter. The songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez bring freshness and wit to the songs, and Bell not only finds the comedy in the socially awkward heroine but also unleashes her glorious soprano on “The First Time in Forever.” The animators put the Ice Age movies to shame by doing endlessly inventive things with the ice and snow in the setting, and the script manages to create a heroine who’s interested in more than just finding a handsome prince. Additional voices by Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Livvy Stubenrauch, Alan Tudyk, and Ciarán Hinds.
God’s Not Dead (PG) Shane Harper stars in this Christian drama as a college student who’s challenged to prove God’s existence by an atheist professor (Kevin Sorbo). Also with David A.R. White, Marco Khan, Lisa Arnold, Jim Gleason, Willie Robertson, and Dean Cain.
Gravity (PG-13) The greatest 3D movie ever made. Alfonso Cuarón’s unremittingly intense space thriller stars Sandra Bullock as a novice astronaut who is caught outside the shuttle in a high-velocity storm of space debris and stranded in the blackness of space. The film is essentially a series of long takes, and Cuarón’s shooting of them in a simulated zero-gravity environment is an astounding technical feat. Yet the long takes also give us no chance to catch our breath; they turn this brief 90-minute film into a singularly harrowing experience, with our heroine narrowly escaping death from completely unforeseen yet logical dangers. Bullock rides over the script’s infelicities and gives this film a human center, helping to turn this movie into an exhilarating and emotionally draining ride. Also with George Clooney.
Her (R) Spike Jonze’s greatest film yet stars Joaquin Phoenix as a near-future divorced guy who falls in love with his smartphone’s operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), who’s equipped with an artificial intelligence personality that evolves from her experiences. What could have been a glib satire on our dependence on technology instead becomes a surpassingly beautiful and serious-minded (though still quite funny) disquisition on the transformative powers of love and how people change during the course of a relationship. It’s anchored by tremendous performances by Phoenix, bringing sweetness and humor that we haven’t seen from him, and Johansson, who makes the OS’s insecurities palpable despite not appearing on the screen. The movie’s DIY feel gives this vision of the near future great texture, and its loneliness make it haunting. Also with Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Chris Pratt, Portia Doubleday, and Matt Letscher. Additional voices by Spike Jonze, Brian Cox, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig.
The Lego Movie (PG) The funniest movie so far this year is this animated spectacular about a Lego construction worker (voiced by Chris Pratt) who becomes the only figure capable of stopping a tyrant (voiced by Will Ferrell) from supergluing the universe into place. The movie isn’t short of action sequences, but filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street) prefer to generate their frenetic pace with the sheer number of exquisitely timed gags that they throw at us. With its subversive wit taking shots at consumer culture, this movie is almost avant-garde. The climactic live-action sequence goes on too long, but the enviable voice cast more than makes up for it. Listen for Tegan & Sara’s earworm of a techno jam “Everything Is Awesome.” Additional voices by Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, Jake Johnson, Will Forte, Dave Franco, Billy Dee Williams, Cobie Smulders, Shaquille O’Neal, Channing Tatum, and Jonah Hill.
Lone Survivor (R) This movie tries to celebrate the heroism of Navy SEALs but winds up as a glorified recruitment commercial instead. This film is based on the real-life story of Marcus Luttrell (played by Mark Wahlberg), who was on a reconaissance mission in Afghanistan in 2005 with a small team of other SEALs when it went bad. Writer-director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, but then again, Battleship) does well by the sweaty dread as the SEALs wait to engage the Taliban and by the bone-crunching impact when the soldiers hurl themselves down the mountainside to escape death. Yet Berg doesn’t apply much critical thinking to the material, and we get little sense of the soldiers as people. The patriotic sentiments in his movies have gotten so woolly that Berg has turned into a more respectable version of Michael Bay. Also with Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Ali Suliman, Rohan Chand, Yousuf Azmi, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara, and Eric Bana.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (PG) In adapting Jay Ward’s series of cartoon shorts, the filmmakers turn the erudite, hyperintelligent, time-traveling dog (voiced by Ty Burrell) into a befuddled, emotionally distant, somewhat overwhelmed adoptive dad to Sherman (voiced by Max Charles). It works surprisingly well until the last 20 minutes or so. The script features surprisingly literate references amid the ear-meltingly bad puns that Peabody is given to. Additional points for a nifty 300 parody and some child-rearing advice from Leonardo da Vinci (voiced by Stanley Tucci): “But Peabody, a child is not a machine! I should know. I tried to build one once. Oh boy, it was-a creepy.” Additional voices by Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Dennis Haysbert, Stephen Tobolowsky, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, and Mel Brooks.
The Monuments Men (PG-13) A well-intentioned exercise in overreach. George Clooney stars in his own war film as the leader of a real-life group of artists, historians, and curators who went into a combat zone to preserve masterpieces of Western art during World War II. At 118 minutes, the movie feels inexpertly hacked down from something longer — we’re not properly introduced to the characters before they’re split up and flung to corners of the western front. Clooney’s trying to make a larky war movie with undercurrents of seriousness and danger, but the comic moments aren’t funny despite the ample talent in the cast, and the reverent speeches about the importance of art come off as sanctimonious. It’s frustrating, because you can easily imagine the better film Clooney was trying to make. Also with Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Dimitri Leonidas, and Bill Murray.
Need for Speed (PG-13) Based on the best-selling series of video games, this car chase movie just barely manages to be a viable piece of entertainment. Aaron Paul portrays a guy who’s out to avenge his brother’s death at the hands of a rival racer (Dominic Cooper) by beating him in an illegal road race in California. The script is terrible (Michael Keaton has a part that I still can’t figure out), but then, who’s going to this movie for the script? Paul has decent chemistry with Imogen Poots as a British car expert, and the racing sequences includes one with a silver Mustang tearing through gas stations and strip-mall parking lots at top speed. It’ll tide you over adequately until the next Fast & Furious installment. Also with Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, and Dakota Johnson.
Noah (PG-13) Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic stars Russell Crowe as the man who builds an ark to prepare for a giant flood. Also with Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Douglas Booth, Mark Margolis, Kevin Durand, Nick Nolte, and Anthony Hopkins.
Non-Stop (PG-13) Slightly less implausible than Snakes on a Plane, though better made. Liam Neeson plays an alcoholic air marshal who tries to thwart a plot to kill the passengers on his transatlantic flight one by one. This thriller is smoothly directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, and it plays like one of those 1970s Airport movies without the big stars, which is both a good and a bad thing. It might have gone over better if Neeson hadn’t turned into Mr. Crappy Action Thriller during the last few years, but he’s gone to this well once too often. It’s good enough to kill 100 minutes on a long flight. Also with Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Scoot McNairy, Omar Metwally, Linus Roache, Shea Whigham, Anson Mount, and Lupita Nyong’o.
Philomena (PG-13) Based on a real-life story, this dramedy stars Judi Dench with an unsteady Irish accent as a woman who teams up with a down-on-his-luck English journalist (Steve Coogan) to travel to America to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption decades ago. Coogan’s a well-known comedian in the U.K. who does well acting in a more serious piece. He also wrote the script, and while he and director Stephen Frears make an effort to balance the humor with the more serious parts, it doesn’t always come off. Still, the thing opens a window onto an ugly part of Irish history, and does it with skill and a minimum amount of weepiness. Also with Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford, Anna Maxwell Martin, and Michelle Fairley.
Pompeii (PG-13) The love story is so boring that you can’t wait for the volcano to erupt, and when the thing does erupt, it’s so badly done that you wind up feeling cheated by the whole thing. Paul W.S. Anderson directs this terrible-looking historical epic about a gladiator (Kit Harington) who falls in love with a rich man’s daughter (Emily Browning) just before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The acting is wretched, especially from Kiefer Sutherland as a lecherous Roman senator, and the CGI-generated eruption doesn’t even look as real as your kid’s science project. This is disaster porn, and it’s not even any fun. Also with Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Lucas, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Jared Harris.
Ride Along (PG-13) Kevin Hart is the only sign of life in this listless comic thriller as an Atlanta police academy trainee who tries to impress his fiancée’s cop brother (Ice Cube) by spending a day on the job with him. The comic chemistry between the two leads is nonexistent, and the detective story that they get plunged into is uninteresting in the extreme. Hart always works hard to squeeze laughs out of his material no matter how bad it is, but here he’s fighting a losing battle. Also with Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bryan Callen, Bruce McGill, Dragos Bucur, Jay Pharoah, and Laurence Fishburne.
RoboCop (PG-13) It doesn’t suck. This remake of the 1987 thriller stars Joel Kinnaman as the future Detroit cop who’s turned into a crime-fighting cyborg after an attempt on his life leaves him crippled. The parts involving the cop’s home life and his attempts to unravel a criminal conspiracy are riddled with cliches, but director José Padilha (Elite Squad: The Enemy Within) does well with the future tech and the action sequences, and Kinnaman does terrific work as a man struggling to piece himself back together. Watch the satirical original, and it seems to foretell this remake coming to pass. Also with Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jennifer Ehle, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia, Douglas Urbanski, John Paul Ruttan,a nd Samuel L. Jackson. — Cole Williams
Sabotage (R) Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in this thriller directed by David Ayer (End of Watch) about an elite DEA squad whose members get killed one by one after they confiscate millions from a drug cartel. Also with Terrence Howard, Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Josh Holloway, Max Martini, Mireille Enos, Olivia Williams, Harold Perrineau, and Martin Donovan.
The Single Moms Club (PG-13) Tyler Perry’s latest film cuts out the cheap jokes and the judgmental attitude from many of his other movies. That’s great! Sadly, what’s left is a lot of boring speeches and weepy melodrama. That sucks! Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Zulay Henao, and Cocoa Brown play the women who form a support group/coffee klatsch for single mothers. The dilemmas they face play out exactly as you’d expect, and the men in their lives are either infinitely patient saints or evil abusers. Skip this meeting. Also with Tyler Perry, Eddie Cibrian, Terry Crews, Ryan Eggold, and William Levy.
Son of God (PG-13) This two-hour biography of Jesus was cut down from a 10-hour TV miniseries, which is probably why it plays like Jesus Christ’s Greatest Hits. Diogo Morgado stars here, and he has the prophet’s gentleness and magnanimity without his ferocity or his gravitas. Director Christopher Spencer looks hamstrung by his budget when it comes to evoking the wondrousness of Jesus’ miracles. This is strictly for those who already believe. Also with Sebastian Knapp, David Rintoul, Gary Oliver, William Houston, Nonso Anozie, Langley Kirkwood, Darwin Shaw, and Amber Rose Revah.
That Awkward Moment (R) That awful movie. Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, and Miles Teller star in this fatally sensitive and unfunny romantic comedy as three pals who find themselves at a crossroads with their relationships with women. The cast is stellar. I thought Efron would be outclassed by the other two actors, but he’s actually rather good. Their efforts, though, are all for naught. The filmmaker throws in a few sequences built around nudity and penises to convince us that this is a raunchy comedy. That doesn’t work either. Also with Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas, Addison Timlin, and Josh Pais.
3 Days to Kill (PG-13) This misconceived thriller stars Kevin Costner as a dying CIA agent who’s offered a life-saving drug in exchange for performing a hit in Paris on a shadowy international terrorist. Working with a relatively subdued color palette, director McG loses control of the tone of this piece as he tries to balance the thrills with soapy comedy about the agent trying to reconnect with his estranged, troubled daughter (Hailee Steinfeld, giving the movie’s only semi-palatable performance). The result is disjointed in the extreme and more than a bit of a snooze. Also with Amber Heard, Tómas Lemarquis, Marc Andréoni, Richard Sammel, Jonas Bloquet, Bruno Ricci, and Connie Nielsen.
300: Rise of an Empire (R) This sequel never escapes the haunting shadow of Zack Snyder’s 2007 original. Taking in events both before and after the Battle of Thermopylae, this one stars Sullivan Stapleton as the Athenian general Themistocles, who tries to rally his fellow Greeks against an impending invasion by the Persians. Director Noam Murro follows too closely in Snyder’s footsteps, imitating the original’s look and feel without the flair for action, and the script is once again filled with bloviating about the warrior ideal. In a cast made up mostly of anonymous Australian guys, Eva Green easily steals this movie, bringing tons of badassery and her usual fierce sexuality to the role of the Persian naval commander Artemisia. The filmmakers should have had the sense to keep this character around for the sequel. Also with Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Jack O’Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Ashraf Barhom, and Lena Headey.
12 Years a Slave (R) Even more significant than Schindler’s List. Steve McQueen’s epic tells the story of Solomon Northup, a real-life free black New Yorker who was abducted in 1841 and forced to work as a slave on a Louisiana plantation. McQueen directs this with his typical austerity and rigor and pulls off an extraordinarily powerful long take in which Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is strung up from a tree branch and suspended on his tiptoes while the other slaves go about their work, afraid to offer help. Screenwriter John Ridley draws a vivid, panoramic view of all the twisted human specimens that the slave economy produces, and McQueen and his actors flesh them out beautifully, with a terrifying Michael Fassbender as a sadistic slavemaster and Ejiofor giving the performance of his career. This wrenching film is crucial to understanding America’s heritage. Also with Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam, Adepero Oduye, Garret Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt, and Quvenzhané Wallis.
Veronica Mars (PG-13) Delirious joy for the show’s fans, a terrific little thriller for newcomers. This Kickstarter-funded big-screen version of the cult TV drama stars Kristen Bell as the former teenage private eye who returns to her California hometown to clear her ex-boyfriend (Jason Dohring) of a murder charge. Director and show creator Rob Thomas brings back the show’s best things: Veronica’s relationship with her beloved dad (Enrico Colantoni), her eviscerating one-liners, her chipper determination in the face of evil, and her navigation of a community polarized between rich and poor. Oh, what we’d give to see Veronica’s further adventures! Actually, we may get the chance. Also with Krysten Ritter, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Ryan Hansen, Francis Capra III, Chris Lowell, Ken Marino, Amanda Noret, Daran Norris, Martin Starr, Gaby Hoffmann, Max Greenfield, Jerry O’Connell, Dax Shepard, Jamie Lee Curtis, and uncredited cameos by Justin Long and James Franco.
The Wind Rises (PG-13) This wondrous Oscar-nominated animated film will make you glad that Hayao Miyazaki hasn’t really retired. Based on the early life of Japanese aviation pioneer Jiro Horikoshi, it features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the voice of Jiro, who designs airplanes for a Japanese government that’s gearing up to conquer the Pacific in the 1930s. Miyazaki has never been afraid of ethically complicated places, and he heads straight for the thicket that greets Jiro, who’s well insulated from the death and destruction that his planes will cause. Miyazaki puts warning signs all around his hero, but nevertheless glories in his craftsmanship and depicts his dreams of flight as beautiful, soaring things. This is a work of transcendent grace wedded to an appreciation of a man with infinite ability to take pains. Additional voices by Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, and William H. Macy.
The Wolf of Wall Street (R) Not Martin Scorsese’s best film, but definitely his funniest. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, the real-life fraudster whose firm made more than $1 billion in the 1990s manipulating penny stocks. The movie is structured too much like Goodfellas, with its high-living band of outlaws wielding phones instead of guns. Still, after playing a string of intense, tormented heroes, DiCaprio is revelatory in his first out-and-out comic performance, blending well with a cast full of experienced comedians (including Jonah Hill as his nebbishy right-hand man) and executing a great piece of slapstick involving Quaaludes and a car. Scorsese may be repeating himself, but his story hasn’t lost much in the re-telling. Also with Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Shea Whigham, Katarina Cas, P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski, Ethan Suplee, Jean Dujardin, Matthew McConaughey, and an uncredited Spike Jonze.
Bethlehem (NR) Yuval Adler’s thriller stars Tsahi Halevi as an Israeli Secret Service officer who forms a conflicted relationship with a teenage Palestinian informant (Shadi Mar’i). Also with Hitham Omari, Michal Shtamler, Tarik Kopty, George Iskandar, and Hisham Sulimani.
Big Men (NR) This documentary by Rachel Boynton (Our Brand Is Crisis) spends four years inside Dallas’ Kosmos Energy as the company discovers and tries to develop the first-ever oilfield in Ghana.
A Birder’s Guide to Everything (PG-13) Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In) stars in this comedy as a 15-year-old boy who skips out on his dad’s remarriage to find a rare bird. Also with Ben Kingsley, James Le Gros, Alex Wolff, Michael Chen, Daniela Lavender, and Katie Chang.
Breathe In (R) The latest dramedy by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) stars Felicity Jones as a foreign exchange student who moves in with a family in upstate New York. Also with Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, Mackenzie Davis, Matthew Daddario, Ben Shenkman, and Alexandra Wentworth.
Enemy (R) Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal reunite for this adaptation of José Saramago’s novel about a man who’s pulled into a violent spiral after spotting an actor who looks exactly like him in a movie. Also with Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini.
Ernest & Celestine (PG) Nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Film, this Belgian film tells the story of a bear (voiced by Forest Whitaker) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a mouse (voiced by Mackenzie Foy). Additional voices by Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Wright, and Lauren Bacall.
The Lunchbox (PG) A runaway critical and commercial hit in India, Ritesh Batra’s drama stars Irrfan Khan as a Mumbai widower who starts to correspond with a young housewife (Nimrat Kaur) after someone else’s lunchbox is accidentally delivered to him. Also with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dubey, Nakul Vaid, Bharati Achrekar, Yashvi Puneet Nagar, and Denzil Smith.
Mistaken for Strangers (R) Tom Berninger stars in his own docudrama that’s both a concert film of indie-rock performances by The National and a drama about a filmmaker struggling to compete with his more successful older brother.
Omar (NR) Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Hany Abu-Assad’s thriller stars Adam Bakri as a Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist who agrees to work as an informant for the Israelis. Also with Waleed Zuaiter, Eyad Hourani, Samer Bisharat, Essam Abu Abed, and Leem Lubany.
Road to the Open (PG) Cole Claasen’s comedy stars Troy McKay as a widower trying to find his way out of a rut with the help of his tennis partner (Phillip DeVona). Also with Michelle Gunn, Kasee McDonald, John Schneider, Judd Nelson, and Eric Roberts.
Stranger by the Lake (NR) Alain Guiraudie’s French thriller stars Pierre Deladonchamps as a gay cruiser who’s drawn into a torrid affair with a man (Christophe Paou) who might be a killer. Also with Patrick d’Assumçao, Jérôme Chappatte, Mathieu Vervisch, and Emmanuel Daumas.
Librarians and Hollywood types don’t tend to intermingle. One group focuses on details and research, and the other exists primarily to stretch the truth, even in movies based on real people or events. But these two worlds meshed for a while a couple of years ago, when the folks behind the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club contacted the University of North Texas library system, which had recently acquired the archives of Ron Woodruff.
Woodruff was the Dallas resident who, after contracting HIV in the 1980s, created the Dallas Buyers’ Club, which helped get successful, non-FDA-approved AIDS-fighting drugs to people who were HIV-positive, mostly gay men, through the early 1990s. Newsletters from the club, newspaper articles on Woodruff, personal letters from him, and even vials of the non-FDA-approved drugs he used, ended up in UNT’s archives thanks to a donation from Resource Center Dallas, a LGBT and HIV/AIDS service organization.
“It’s an interesting story,” said Dreanna Belden, the assistant dean for external relations at UNT Libraries. “Dr. Mark Vosvick, the associate professor of psychology, does a lot of studies on human sexuality and works a lot with Resource Center Dallas.”
Resource Center had amassed a sizable amount of donated material over the years, filling 500-plus boxes covering 60 years of gay rights work in North Texas, and Vosvick was looking to give the material a permanent home. Talks among the resource center, Belden, and Sue Parks, the assistant dean for special collections, began several years ago, and UNT took over the archives in 2012.
It wasn’t long before it was put to major use. During production of the movie, set designer Robert Covelman contacted Belden, who pointed them to Morgan Gieringer, head of special collections. (Belden was rewarded with a “special thanks” mention in the credits. “I swear, I don’t know how it happened!” she said, laughing.)
The filmmakers, Gieringer said, were looking for background information “on what the Dallas gay community was like back then, who [Woodruff] was, and anything we had on Dallas Buyers’ Club, people, places, and anything that the movie was trying to replicate.”
The filmmakers, in the throes of shooting, were unable to view the collection personally, “so three students –– Marissa Posada, Zachary Richardson, and Bijan Zadeh –– spent hours past their normal shifts to do research,” Gieringer said.
In the evenings, the students would scan hundreds of images and send them to Covelman. “Then he would load them onto his iPad and walk through the set to make it authentic,” Gieringer said.
Aside from loving the movie, Gieringer also hopes it will bring attention to the archive. “It’s sometimes difficult for us to get the word out on important archives, since most of the work is geared toward research,” she said.
She also added that she’s happy the movie “was able to reach so many people, and people who enjoyed it who want to learn more will look at the things we’ve digitized, and I also hope people who knew [Woodruff] will volunteer time or donate to the archive.”