Jayne Mansfield’s Car, directed by Billy Bob Thornton (R, 121 minutes)
This look at three generations of fathers and sons in the South during the 1960s includes the usual assortment of resentments, secrets, memories, life, death and loss. “The truly superb cast of Jayne Mansfield’s Car sputters in this confused melodrama that is more preoccupied with explicitly saying everything rather than genuinely saying something,” says critic Simon Brookfield. With Kevin Bacon, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Billy Bob Thornton, Ray Stevenson.
Touchy Feely (R, 90 minutes) Filmed in Seattle, this comedy examines a family undergoing psychic dysfunction when popular massage therapist Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) becomes averse to bodily contact and her not-too-successful dentist brother Paul (Josh Pais) develops a miraculous healing touch. “[Director Lynn] Shelton is more observant than she is deep, and her filmmaking can be undisciplined, but the movie’s rambling, episodic rhythms do seem in tune with the nebulous stasis that infects everyone in Abby’s orbit,” says critic Ella Taylor on NPR. With Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston.
Adore (R, 111 minutes) Set in a sunny Australian seaside town, Adore concerns two lifelong friends, Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright), who find happiness in unconventional relationships - with each others’ college-age sons. “Somewhere in here is a message about the importance of remaining sexy and vital in your 40s - about asserting your own identity once more after decades of being defined as someone’s wife and someone’s mother,” says critic Christy Lemire. “Still, it’s rare to see such stories of mature women’s needs told on screen with such intimacy and tenderness.” With Xavier Samuel, James Frecheville, Ben Mendelsohn; directed by Anne Fontaine.
The Ultimate Life (PG, 105 minutes) The sequel (and prequel) to faith-based The Ultimate Gift follows the unraveling of the world of Jason Stevens (Logan Bartholomew) thanks to the pressure of running his grandfather Red Stevens’ foundation, being sued by greedy family members and losing his beloved Alexia to a lengthy mission trip to Haiti. Finding his grandfather’s Depression-era rags-to-riches journal may help him find his way back. “The Ultimate Life is thinly drawn,but director Michael Landon Jr. keeps it moving and doesn’t let things get bogged down in too much sentiment, keeping the message simple and spare,” says critic Chris Foran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. With Peter Fonda, Bill Cobbs, Drew Waters.
Salinger (PG-13, 120 minutes) This speculative, intriguing documentary, which features interviews with 150 subjects along with film footage and seldom-seen photography, seeks to reveal the well-hidden life of enigmatic author J.D. Salinger. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Gore Vidal, Danny DeVito; directed by Shane Salerno.
Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13, 130 minutes) Ah, the smell of burning rubber … Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (the late Paul Walker) and the rest of the crew find themselves on the wrong side of the law yet again as they try to pull off an insanely action-loaded heist on the streets of hapless cities in Europe (hey, nice scenery!) with federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in hot pursuit. “Ludicrous, but undeniably fun and surprisingly affectionate, this is really all you could ask of a car crash movie, and more,” says CNN.com critic Tom Charity. With Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Gina Carano; directed by Justin Lin.
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 12/13/2013
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