directed by Stephen Chbosky
(PG, 1 hour, 53 minutes)
Kids learn early that it doesn’t serve them to stand out, to be different. Auggie Pullman can’t help it. He has a severe facial deformity that has prevented him from attending school. Now, however, he’s taking the leap into the mainstream entering a traditional school for the start of his fifth-grade year.
This is the emotionally charged story of Wonder. Based on The New York Times 2012 best-seller, it stars a terrifically well-cast Jacob Tremblay as the spirited, positive boy in the center of a drama that — although sometimes playing to the lowest common denominator in terms of heart-tugging concerns — brings new meaning to the definition of bullies and reveals the subtle differences between meanness, teasing, and simply not knowing what to do or how to react.
With Julia Roberts as Auggie’s protective mother Isabel, Owen Wilson as his dad Nate, and Mandy Patinkin as school principal Mr. Tushman.
Blade of the Immortal (R, 2 hours, 20 minutes) A violent, beautifully choreographed, and not very original sword-thrasher in which skilled samurai Manji has been given the curse of immortality, which he devotes to avenging those who have been murdered. With Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki; directed by Takashi Miike.
Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You! (PG, 1 hour, 38 minutes) A so-so continuation (the 20th) of the Pokemon anime franchise features good looks and a can’t-quite-believe-it story concerning Ash Ketchum who, when he turns 10 years old, becomes a Pokemon Trainer. Off he goes, with his pal Pikachu, on a series of life adventures.With Unsho Ishizuka, Rica Matsumoto; directed by Kunihiko Yuyama. Subtitled.
Roman J Israel, Esq. (PG-13, 2 hours, 2 minutes) Not the best film Denzel Washington has ever made, but a decent if confusing criminal court procedural set in Los Angeles. He plays an overweight (thanks, fat suit) Afro-wearing idealistic defense attorney whose basic decency and devotion to activism on behalf of his often difficult clients is challenged by a series of career-inhibiting events. So he moves to a high-profile firm, where the promise of a better life conflicts with his conscience. With Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo; directed by Dan Gilroy.
The Ballad of Lefty Brown
(R, 1 hour, 51 minutes) Once you get over the cliches in the dialogue, this turns out to be a decent and good-looking old-style Western in which Lefty Brown (Bill Pullman), a mutton-chopped old-timer of a cowboy in violent, barren 1889 Montana, breaks out of his rambling no-account sidekick ways to avenge the murder of his longtime friend, Sen. Edward Johnson (Peter Fonda). For help, he turns to young gunslinger Jeremiah (Diego Josef), and another old pal, ever-imbibing U.S. marshal Tom Harrah (Tommy Flanagan). Vigilante justice ensues. With Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel; directed by Jared Moshe.
Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (TV-PG, 1 hour, 21 minutes) An endearing if implausible sequel to insipid 2002’s Hey, Arnold: The Movie (heartily disliked by fans of the 1990s animated series on Nickelodeon) in which Arnold, living with his rather odd grandparents, is still trying to find his ever-traveling explorer parents. Are they still alive? The value of friends and family is emphasized, along with lots of action and kid-size humor. Animated with the voices of Mason Vale Cotton, Anndi McAfee, Francesca Marie Smith, Dan Castellaneta; directed by Raymie Muzquiz and Stu Livingston.