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New movie reviews: Critics' picks

Check out the best new movies, as reviewed by Time Out's critics, then find showtimes and buy movie tickets.

New movies we love

Inside Out

It’s all in the mind in Pixar’s latest, a delightful, frenetic, near-experimental animated film from the makers of Up and Toy Story. Pixar fans will be in seventh heaven with the film’s bold thinking—and kids will be straining to listen to imaginary voices in their heads—after diving into the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl whose tiny world is turned upside down when she moves from Minnesota to San Francisco with her mom and dad. It’s a simple story, featuring a new school and nervous parents. But the real drama goes on in Riley’s head, where we meet Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), each of them sharing a physicality to match their temperament. Disgust gives great sneer, while Anger is red, squat and prone to shooting fire out of his head. We watch each of them fight for control over Riley’s life, and when Joy and Sadness go AWOL from their psychological HQ, we take a tour of some crazy mental byways, including the Abstract Thinking Department, where Joy and Sadness briefly become 2-D characters and then, momentarily, one-color squiggles. There’s too much to sponge up in one viewing. Blink and you’ll miss a character saying, “These facts and opinions look so similar,” when passing boxes marked FACTS and OPINIONS. We leave the subconscious (“where they take all the troublemakers”) too quickly, and then it’s on to the Dream Department, where we see the day’s memories being adapted into drama. At

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Dope

You’ve seen L.A.’s menacing Inglewood before—a hood of bouncing low-riders and uneasy staredowns—but not, we’re guessing, in an indie comedy that totally reinvents the teens-on-a-wacky-misadventure movie. Dope presents a trio of lovable dorks: Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons). What do they like doing? Getting good grades, listening to classic ’90s hip-hop, BMX biking and playing in their punk band, Oreo (zing). You know, Malcolm says: “white stuff.”  Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa never quite sends his nerdlings to the slaughterhouse, even as they accidentally get involved in a drug deal and the Molly underworld. Instead, he doubles down on an applying-to-Harvard satire that both upends demographic expectations while insisting (at times a bit strenuously) that we all aim a little higher. Dope has thrilling moments and flies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but its caustic intelligence glints fast and furious. Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Love & Mercy

Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson loved being nestled in the recording studio, especially, as Love & Mercy suggests, when the other guys were off chasing Barbara Anns in every port. To watch the delicate Paul Dano (a magically right choice with a beautiful voice) steer his ace session band through what would become Pet Sounds is to have a piece of essential rock history recreated right before your eyes. Bobby pins rattle charmingly on piano wires, bicycle bells chime, and “even the happy songs sound sad” (per pissed-off bandmate Mike Love). Wilson, a pop savant, was chasing some kind of dragon, and as the movie toggles years forward to the scared, overmedicated Wilson of the 1980s (John Cusack, absorbingly strange in the tougher part), you sense that the dragon bit back. Half the film moves toward mental breakdown, the other half toward emancipation. Best seen as an L.A. psychodrama that sometimes plays like Boogie Nights or Safe, sometimes like its own beast, Love & Mercy does an exquisite job with the interior spaces: cozy vocal booths, locked-off bedrooms, air-conditioned safety zones. (Not for nothing is a two-minute Wilson masterpiece called “In My Room.”) The script is by Oren Moverman, who performed a kind of jujitsu on Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There—his Wilson story is a lot more traditional, but more moving as well. There are some too-obvious metaphors (i.e., Brian struggling in the deep end of a swimming pool), but you forgive them.  As stunning as the two l

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The Citizen Kane of teen cancer tearjerkers, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s funny and bruising Sundance sensation is like The Fault in Our Stars remade for Criterion Collection fetishists. Ostensibly spun from the same cloth as most YA dramas, the film latches on to a generic high-school kid named Greg (Thomas Mann) who spends all of his time making parody versions of classic films (i.e. Eyes Wide Butts, The 400 Bros) with his “coworker” Earl (excellent newcomer RJ Cyler). The videos are a great expression of Greg’s cinephilia, but what’s the use in making so many movies if none of them are truly your own? Conveniently for Greg, a local girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has just been diagnosed with leukemia, and there’s no greater catalyst for a pubescent male movie character to come into his own than that. Despite an occasionally stilted pace and a few cartoonish touches (Molly Shannon plays Rachel’s mom with a broad sexual frustration that clashes with the rest of the material), Earl develops a rare emotional heft, particularly when Greg is pressured to make Rachel an original film. The project forces Greg to eclipse his influences and risk doing something that puts himself on the line, and Earl follows suit. Thanks to a restless visual dexterity and a brilliantly deployed soundtrack of Brian Eno tunes (Gomez-Rejon used to work for Scorsese, and it shows), this spirited but safely familiar pastiche of John Hughes and Wes Anderson is eventually compelled to become its own thing, embr

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Post-apocalyptic visionary George Miller returns to the series that made his name, and the results are spectacular: jaw-droppingly violent, surreal and worth the 30-year wait

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Pitch Perfect 2

Singing sass and song in equal measure, those a cappella Bellas roll on in a sequel that improves on the original

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Slow West

For those of you who can't even remember what the last decent Western was, here's a witty, dirt-caked indie to take your mind off the question

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Far From the Madding Crowd

Burning with understated passion and a fine central performance from Carey Mulligan, Thomas Hardy’s romantic classic comes to life in an adaptation that’s far from stodgy.

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Welcome to Me

Long a comic treasure, Kristen Wiig branches out in this complex portrait of an obsesssive-compulsive lottery winner who buys her way onto a TV show.

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