Wild Tales *** Directed by Damián Szifrón. Six short stories involving distressed people. This infectious dark comedy argues that payback is more satisfying when it’s doled out in fiery, bloody and outrageous doses.
Welcome to Me *** Directed by Shira Piven. Starring Kristen Wiig, Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Loretta Devine, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Thomas Mann, James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Allan Dudyk. When Alice Klieg (Wiig) wins the Mega-Millions lottery, she immediately quits her psychiatric meds and buys her own talk show. This spiky, pushy, sometimes upsetting comedy finds Wiig creating something whole and alive out of her apparent contradictions.
The Wrecking Crew **½ Directed by Danny Tedesco. A celebration of the musical work of a group of session musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew," a band that provided back-up instrumentals to such recording artists as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Bing Crosby. There are a thousand stories to be told in the studios where these session players cut some of the greatest records of all time, which makes it disappointing that there isn’t more to be found in this documentary.
Run All Night **½ Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Though hard-drinking Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) left behind his career as a mob enforcer years ago, he’s forced to revive his lethal skills to protect his family when his son (Joel Kinnamon) runs afoul of Jimmy’s former boss, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Neeson gives us more of the same, although with Collet-Serra’s assistance, it’s dressed up in a more interesting package.
Time Lapse ** Directed by Bradley King. After finding their scientist neighbor dead in a storage room, friends Callie (Danielle Panabaker), Finn (Matt O’Leary) and Jasper (George Finn) come across a strange machine in the man’s apartment and soon discover that the device can produce pictures of events 24 hours before they happen. Provokes thought, but mostly in spite of itself.
Chappie *½ Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Chappie, an advanced humanoid robot, is kidnapped shortly after his creation and ends up incorporated into an already offbeat family. It never winds up with anything particularly interesting or effective to say about life, intelligence, religion, the nature of consciousness, or any of the other big themes it deliberately evokes. It does, however, blow up a lot of stuff.
Bravetown *½ Directed by Daniel Duran. After his accidental drug overdose, a court orders New York City DJ and party animal Josh Harvest (Lucas Till) to live with his estranged father in a tiny North Dakota town. There is nothing brave about Bravetown, a film so paint-by-the-numbers bland that its efforts to piggyback the sacrifice of American servicemen and women for emotional depth is downright craven.
Beyond the Reach * Directed by Jean-Baptiste Léonetti. After hiring Ben (Jeremy Irvine) as a hunting guide, a wealthy tycoon (Michael Douglas) looking to bag a bighorn sheep in the Mojave Desert accidentally shoots a prospector. When Ben refuses to help cover up the crime, he becomes the hunter’s prey. A grueling, unsatisfying thriller that fails the logic test in spectacular ways.
Unfinished Business * Directed by Ken Scott. Starring Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco. To close the biggest deal of their lives, an industrious small-business owner and his two colleagues fly to Europe. But what starts as a routine trip soon turns into a fiasco. A sluggishly paced collection of go-nowhere sight gags, flat-footed set pieces and incoherent business chatter that offers few laughs and little real payoff.
Old Fashioned * Directed by Rik Swartzwelder. A former frat boy and a free-spirited woman together attempt an "old-fashioned" courtship in contemporary America. The line between priggishness and creepiness is repeatedly smudged by Swartzwelder in this faith-based drama that looks as lovely as an expensive greeting card, but moves as slowly as a somnolent turtle.
Playing It Cool * Directed by Justin Reardon. Under pressure to produce a romantic comedy rather than action tales, a young screenwriter (Chris Evans) is hindered by his disdain for the very concept of love until he meets a woman (Michelle Monaghan) who’s engaged and unavailable. A strained romantic comedy that seems to exist only to show how many talented, successful actors — first and foremost Captain America star Evans — can be featured in one unworthy movie.