Movies: April 11, 2014
R, 1 Hr., 30 Mins.
Steve Coogan’s hilariously acidic creation, the buffoonish radio host Alan Partridge, is finally back. And like so many reunions, this one starts off all smiles and quickly grows tiresome. Coogan’s alter ego is as deliciously petty as ever. But the plot swirling around him — a fired co-worker (Colm Meaney) takes the station hostage — is unimaginative and endless. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B- —Chris Nashawaty
Not Rated, 1 Hr., 17 Mins.
Freida Mock’s documentary about Anita Hill is an important reminder of a shameful chapter in American politics — when blame-the-victim sexism turned the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas into a national disgrace. The film itself feels a bit padded and clunky. But Hill, now a professor at Brandeis, looks back on the events of 1991 with courage and grace. B —Chris Nashawaty
PG-13, 2 Hrs., 20 Mins.
The heroine, Tris, learns to leap and toss knives like a badass. She’s a market-tested YA role model — but, as played by Shailene Woodley, a highly relatable character. B+ —Owen Gleiberman
Frankie & Alice
R, 1 Hr., 41 Mins.
A hokey old-school drama of multiple personality disorder based on a real case study. Halle Berry plays Frankie, a wised-up stripper on the 1970s L.A. scene whose blackouts and violent personality shifts while bumping and grinding lead her to Dr. Oz (Stellan Skarsgård). Something awful happened to her back in 1950s Georgia to make her so broken. C+ —Lisa Schwarzbaum
The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
Not Rated, 2 Hrs.
Imagine Robinson Crusoe penned by Agatha Christie and you’ll get a sense of the true-crime mystery in this fascinating doc reenacted with the voice of Cate Blanchett, among others. In 1929, an eccentric German couple moved to a remote Pacific island only to be followed by other Eden seekers (including a pistol-packing Viennese baroness with two lovers) and a death toll. A stranger-than-fiction gem. B+ —Chris Nashawaty
The Grand Budapest Hotel
R, 1 Hr., 40 Mins.
Wes Anderson’s thrilling wartime chase movie, with Ralph Fiennes as a florid scoundrel. A- —Owen Gleiberman
Muppets Most Wanted
PG, 1 Hr., 47 Mins.
Our felt heroes get conned by a villainous manager (Ricky Gervais), and Kermit is replaced by an evil look-alike. B —Chris Nashawaty
PG-13, 2 Hrs., 18 Mins.
Darren Aronofsky’s Old Testament epic is a Bible movie for people weaned on the Lord of the Rings films. While Russell Crowe is excellent as the brooding, ark-building hero, the cast is dwarfed by an excess of trippy F/X, including fantastical creatures called Watchers who look like silly monsters made out of half-lit charcoal briquettes. They’re ridiculous. C+ —Chris Nashawaty
Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Not Rated, 2 Hrs., 3 Mins.
A notch more watchable than Volume I, if only because Joe, the self-destructive heroine, is now played front and center by the magnetically dyspeptic Charlotte Gainsbourg instead of the vacuous model Stacy Martin. Even so, there’s little to Lars von Trier’s overblown faux scandal of a movie beyond its grim, slipshod exhibitionism. This time Joe’s sudden inability to achieve an orgasm sends her into a graphic tailspin of sadomasochism. She loses her family and even turns gun-toting criminal. Yet that’s just evidence of what has become von Trier’s own darkest compulsion: to drive a movie forward without rhyme or reason. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) B- —Owen Gleiberman
The Raid 2
R, 2 Hrs., 28 Mins.
A brutal, balletic symphony of martial-arts mayhem starring Iko Uwais as a mole infiltrating the Indonesian Mob. B+ —Chris Nashawaty
R, 1 Hr., 50 Mins.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in full Ah-nuld mode, leads a group of rogue DEA agents — they drink! they fight! they wear cornrows! — who start showing up dead after $10 million goes missing from a raid. The casually sadistic violence and sexuality make Grand Theft Auto feel Smurfy, but the movie still has moments of dumb, lizard-brain fun. C+ —Leah Greenblatt