(Click on title to view the film’s trailer)
Calvary *** Directed by John Michael McDonagh. Brendan Gleeson. An anonymous man comes to Father James in confession and vows to kill him in one week, simply because the priest is himself a good man. McDonagh (who wrote and directed The Guard and is the brother of Martin In Bruges McDonagh) has crafted a darkly hilarious and deeply ruminative update on the passion play.
Guardians of the Galaxy *** Directed by James Gunn. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro. A group of space criminals must work together to stop the fanatical villain Ronan the Accuser from destroying the galaxy. Though the special effects win the day, Guardians of the Galaxy holds court with a sense of humor that transcends its more familiar ingredients.
Frank *** Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Domnhall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scott McNairy, Michael Fassbinder. An aspiring musician joins a band of eccentrics led by an enigmatic singer — who wears a fake head — and his unstable girlfriend. A film that is always interesting, largely thanks to an entirely committed cast and a writer willing to play with themes like a band improvising until it finds the right tune. There are a few off-key notes but the melody finally comes together.
Dolphin Tale 2 **½ Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Harry Connick Jr., Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson. The team of people who saved Winter’s life reassemble in the wake of her surrogate mother’s passing in order to find her a companion so she can remain at the Clearwater Marine Hospital. Life lessons are learned, children do some growing up, nothing too terribly upsetting happens, and the corniness is, mostly, kept to tolerable levels.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead **½ Directed by Tommy Wirkola. After medical student Martin escapes from Nazi zombies, he finds himself charged with murdering his friends. The film is playful throughout. Unfortunately, the shoddy treatment of the film’s sole LGBT character and a tendency to use people in wheelchairs as punchlines mar this otherwise delightful gruesome confection.
When the Game Stands Tall *½ Directed by Thomas Carter. Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Alexander Ludwig, Laura Dern. The journey of football coach Bob Ladouceur (Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. Hoosiers this ain’t. The redemptive final game has some nice plays and bone-crunching sound effects, but no grit. Ultimately, it’s a ho-hum, bromide-filled production undeserving of a victory dance.