Movies now in theaters

Time Out goes to the movies to bring you film reviews from the latest showings in theaters and our top critics' picks

Photograph: Courtesy Laemmle
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Recommended movies in theaters

Red Army

The Soviet Union produced magnificent hockey players, even as its citizens starved and the Cold War wobbled toward a welcome if uncertain fizzle-out. Gabe Polsky’s Red Army does an energizing, often hilarious job of foregrounding the symbolism of these clean-cut men, shining examples of a superiority that, on the ice, was no mere bluff. Via bizarre footage and masculine choral music, we watch youngsters tumbling through arduous regimes, learning from a poetic and inspired coach (the legendary Anatoli Tarasov) and participating in the mythic showdown at Lake Placid’s 1980 Winter Games, at which the superhuman Russian squad fell, embarrassingly, to an upstart U.S. team that eventually claimed gold. Red Army, though, transcends a typical sports doc when it takes on the schism of heroism at home versus a natural gravitation toward Western freedoms. Defections, along with the elaborate style of Russian play, weren’t met warmly by North American hockey fans. (“They’re not here for the Bolshoi ballet,” one announcer snipes.) Yet these athletes find a way, despite moments of wounded national pride, to push through to dignity, climaxing with the surreal sight of an arena of Detroit Red Wings fans cheering on their all-Soviet A-team. Polsky is sometimes awkward in his questioning, but he spurs his interviewees to serious reflection and even nostalgia. Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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The Epic of Everest

It is stunningly rare to be offered a quiet adventure these days—sure, there’s a time and place for digital enhancement and furious editing, but for a change, here’s a taste of something dangerous, wild and raw that hasn’t been sensationalized at all. Those seeking a break from the thrills ’n’ spills of such outdoor-adventure movies as 127 Hours or Alive would do well to investigate this 90-year-old treasure, a restoration of Captain John Noel’s 1924 documentary of a British team’s attempt to climb Everest. The expedition famously resulted in the deaths of two now-legendary climbers, George Mallory and Andrew Irving, and there remains controversy as to whether the men ever reached the summit. But while there is some tantalizing footage here of a cliffside rescue, the film’s mood is dreamlike, to say the least. Black-and-white footage of the Himalayan landscape is accompanied here by a beautiful new score from Simon Fisher Turner, featuring understated chamber orchestrations and authentic Tibetan clanging; watching the film is a quietly mesmerizing experience, along the lines of the Popol Vuh soundscapes in Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The Epic of Everest was a box-office draw in its time, offering a chance to see the mountains but also peek at the lives of Tibetan peasants, portrayed here as filthy and culturally unsophisticated. That upset the Tibetan aristocracy in Lhasa to such an extent that British-Tibetan relations were partially severed, which in turn mea

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Le Jour Se Lève

Originally heavily censored and then banned in its entirety for being “too demoralizing,” Marcel Carné’s classic work of poetic realism has been released in a glorious 4K restoration that invigorates the original. It also restores several cuts demanded by the Vichy regime in Nazi-occupied France, including a glimpse of a naked Arletty emerging from her bathtub. More importantly, the credits of Jewish crew members are reinstated, including that of Curt Courant, whose extraordinary cinematography, replete with chiaroscuro lighting and vertiginous shooting angles, prefigures American film noir. The film tracks the inevitable unraveling of factory worker François (Jean Gabin) after he kills the absurd vaudeville entertainer Valentin (Jules Berry), his romantic rival for the affections of Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent) and Clara (Arletty). A series of three flashbacks illuminate the events that precede Valentin’s death, as the police slowly close in on François, cornered and chain-smoking. Following on the heels of the recent restoration of Carné’s epic Children of Paradise, the final result is masterful, leaving only a couple of scenes lingering in slightly fuzzy focus.

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The Theory of Everything

At its best (which is often), director James Marsh’s affecting biopic of the cosmos-rattling astrophysicist Stephen Hawking plays deftly against schmaltz. Hawking, a great wit, has always seen the dark humor in his bodily predicament, the ALS-like disease that began robbing the intellectual explorer of his muscular function as early as his university years. The Theory of Everything embraces that irony: This is a Hawking profile in which you’ll see the wheelchair-bound, speech-impaired scientist happily rolling around his living room dressed up like a Dalek from Doctor Who, his children squealing. More substantially, it’s a movie that delivers science in an approachable Neil deGrasse Tyson–like way, one that might turn young people onto big theoretical ideas—as well as turn them onto the enjoyment of problem solving with the right partner. An early scene has a thoughtful professor introducing ruffled Cambridge student Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) to a lab where all the action happens; it’s a lovely moment of quiet inspiration. The film is filled with snazzy visual metaphors: A swirling cup of coffee becomes a symbol for dark and light matter. A formal dance, where Stephen twirls with the future love of his life, Jane (Felicity Jones), twinkles with glowing lights and a hint of the universe falling into place. The film is their story (the script is largely based on the second of Jane Hawking’s two memoirs), and even though it smooths out some of their domestic unease and eventual d

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Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic, Interstellar, makes Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where Gravity was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, Interstellar is long, grand, strange and demanding—not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful adventure story with a touch of the surreal and dreamlike, yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality. It’s hard to talk about the story without ruining its slow drip of surprises. So let’s be vague: Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives with his family—his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young kids—in a not-too-distant future where living off huge fields of corn is the only business around. Dust storms brew, and there’s an apocalyptic vibe, as if the Depression of the 1930s has been transplanted to a dying Earth. Cooper has a strong bond with his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy), but when the former pilot is given a chance to head a mission into space, he grabs it. It’s all very messianic. This rough-and-ready everyman’s destiny is to join a secret project to save the Earth, directed by the aging professor Brand (Michael Caine). He blasts into orbit in the company of Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists. This is no bus hop to the Moon: Their aim is to slip through a wormhole near S

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National Gallery

Critics' pick

For his latest institutional exploration, the great documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his inquisitive lens on the employees, patrons and paintings in London’s National Gallery. Time-wise, it’s a midrange production: three hours, longer than cut-to-the-quick features like High School (1968) and Boxing Gym (2010) but shorter than such epic-sprawl tapestries as four-hour-plus Belfast, Maine (1999) and At Berkeley (2013). Stylistically, it keeps with Wiseman’s preference for showing, not telling: no explanatory titles, no talking-head interviews. Just in-the-moment action, observing as the viewing public wanders the galleries and the museum staff—restorers, tour guides, executives—goes about its business. Thematically, however, this is among Wiseman’s densest and best works—one that, after a profoundly emotional start, becomes a much stranger, slippery beast. (Its greatness is cumulative.) The film begins with several heady and moving odes to the viewing public: A museum guide explains to an attentive crowd how a Middle Ages church mural might have seemed alive to its spectators in the dimness of candlelight. (The parallel to cinema is wholly intentional.) A curator discusses with gallery director Nicholas Penny the need to make the various exhibitions—beyond a sure thing like Leonardo da Vinci—more accessible and inviting to the general public. In the most poignant scene (one that a lesser movie would make its tear-jerking finale), a group of legally blind people study Camil

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Nightcrawler

It's no news to anyone who watches TV—especially local crime coverage—that the beat has devolved into a cesspool of gore, jittery witnesses and "hot content." What was once prophetic in movies like Network and Broadcast News is now commonplace. Writer-director Dan Gilroy's supercharged Nightcrawler, a viciously funny film, starts from that premise and wisely avoids making the same points. Instead, it twins the frenetic, sleazy hunt for shocking footage with the career ambitions of a closet psycho who, naturally, rises to the top. Closer in spirit to the media-amplified perversity of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, Nightcrawler feels like a major portrait of a sick, insatiable appetite. The hungry wolf at the center is Louis, impressively played by a wire-thin Jake Gyllenhaal, who right off the bat doesn't feel like your everyday L.A. loner. Bug-eyed, upbeat and frustrated by his nighttime excursions fencing stolen goods, he strolls up to a burning car on the highway, the rescue in progress. As he watches the swarming cameramen (freelancers who provide smut to stations for quick payouts), a light bulb goes off over Louis' head. Soon enough, he's out there with his own camcorder, getting closer than anyone—he nearly runs over a victim with his car—and sneaking through bullet-strewn homes without permission Initially, Nightcrawler plays like a darkly comic how-I-made-it story. Louis marshals an impressive (if slightly cracked) discipline to his new passion.

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Citizenfour

In June 2013, after several months of coded messages back and forth, U.S. security worker Edward Snowden summoned three people to a hotel room in Hong Kong to reveal who he was and what he wanted. Two of the three were journalists: freelancer Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill. The third was documentary maker Laura Poitras (The Oath), who has now turned 
the behind-the-scenes story of Snowden’s revelations into this movie. Her film’s quiet, matter-
of-fact sobriety is as chilling as 
the information Snowden revealed—that the U.S. and U.K. governments were spying on their citizens to an extent beyond most paranoiacs’ wildest nightmares. Even if you know Snowden’s story, it’s doubly striking when heard here, straight from the horse’s mouth and shared for 
the first time. Partly, Citizenfour 
serves as a concise refresher of 
a complicated story that has 
been developing for over a year. 
Poitras offers helpful background, 
opening her film with the testimony of other whistle-blowers and repeated high-up denials of
their allegations. But Citizenfour is at its most eye-opening—and essential—simply as a portrait of the then-29-year-old at a point of absolute no return as he spends almost a week hiding out before disappearing into an entirely new existence. He talks about his motivations, about leaving his girlfriend a note in their Hawaii home saying that he had gone on a long work trip, about cutting all ties with friends and family, about the near-inevitability th

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All movies in theaters now

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1

This is the film where it’s all supposed to go horribly wrong for The Hunger Games: With the trilogy’s final book chopped into two, this second-to-last film should be more drag than drama—the cash machine that everyone knows is just a teaser for next year’s epic send-off. But while it definitely takes its foot off the action, Mockingjay—Part 1 goes deeper and darker than prior installments. Any darker and they’d have to give out Prozac with the popcorn. The story picks up in rebellious District 13, whose commanders rescued Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) from the violent Quarter Quell at the end of the last film, Catching Fire. Rioting has broken out in several districts, and 13’s icy leader, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore with a terrifying side-part), wants Katniss to be the poster girl of the revolution. With no death match in this chapter and just a handful of not-so-stunning set pieces, Jennifer Lawrence’s bow and arrow take a backseat to her acting—not a bad turn of events: Her soulful, storm-raging performance is the best thing about the series. Mockingjay becomes Katniss’s coming-of-age film as she wrestles with her role in the armed struggle against the totalitarian Capitol. She may be with the good guys, but Katniss is suspicious of Alma Coin and her slippery spin doctor, Plutarch Heavensbee (played by the mighty, late Philip Seymour Hoffman). Katniss understands the need for PR: As she heads onto the battlefield, someone asks her, “What if you die?” She snaps back, “Make sur

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Now Showing

Nightcrawler

It's no news to anyone who watches TV—especially local crime coverage—that the beat has devolved into a cesspool of gore, jittery witnesses and "hot content." What was once prophetic in movies like Network and Broadcast News is now commonplace. Writer-director Dan Gilroy's supercharged Nightcrawler, a viciously funny film, starts from that premise and wisely avoids making the same points. Instead, it twins the frenetic, sleazy hunt for shocking footage with the career ambitions of a closet psycho who, naturally, rises to the top. Closer in spirit to the media-amplified perversity of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, Nightcrawler feels like a major portrait of a sick, insatiable appetite. The hungry wolf at the center is Louis, impressively played by a wire-thin Jake Gyllenhaal, who right off the bat doesn't feel like your everyday L.A. loner. Bug-eyed, upbeat and frustrated by his nighttime excursions fencing stolen goods, he strolls up to a burning car on the highway, the rescue in progress. As he watches the swarming cameramen (freelancers who provide smut to stations for quick payouts), a light bulb goes off over Louis' head. Soon enough, he's out there with his own camcorder, getting closer than anyone—he nearly runs over a victim with his car—and sneaking through bullet-strewn homes without permission Initially, Nightcrawler plays like a darkly comic how-I-made-it story. Louis marshals an impressive (if slightly cracked) discipline to his new passion.

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Dumb and Dumber To

Exactly two decades after Dumb and Dumber first introduced Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne (Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, respectively), cinema’s most improbably tolerable pair of morons is back for a proper sequel that looks like a cash grab but works like a time machine. The Farrelly brothers’ latest is an earnest throwback that plays to the strengths of a filmmaking duo whose sense of humor has always been pitched between classical and outdated. Dumb and Dumber To may not be quite as funny as the first one, but it’s the funniest thing the Farrellys have made since. The kind of movie that features 50-year-old men hot-boxing the back of a hearse with their own farts, Dumb and Dumber To is a refreshingly straightforward rejoinder to a time when the average studio comedy was more self-reflexive than a Kiarostami film. The plot might knowingly mimic the original, but it does so more out of fidelity than laziness: Harry, in dire need of a new kidney, learns that he fathered a daughter in 1991. The mother (Kathleen Turner, whose impressively thick skin is as much a magnet for jokes as it is a shield against them) reveals that the baby was adopted by one of the country’s most brilliant men. Faster than you can make the most annoying sound in the world, Harry and Lloyd are road-tripping to meet the girl at a science conference in El Paso, leaving all sorts of carnage in their wake.  Between Harry forcibly removing Lloyd’s colostomy bag (it’s a long story), a bizarre string of Barbar

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Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic, Interstellar, makes Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where Gravity was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, Interstellar is long, grand, strange and demanding—not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful adventure story with a touch of the surreal and dreamlike, yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality. It’s hard to talk about the story without ruining its slow drip of surprises. So let’s be vague: Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives with his family—his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young kids—in a not-too-distant future where living off huge fields of corn is the only business around. Dust storms brew, and there’s an apocalyptic vibe, as if the Depression of the 1930s has been transplanted to a dying Earth. Cooper has a strong bond with his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy), but when the former pilot is given a chance to head a mission into space, he grabs it. It’s all very messianic. This rough-and-ready everyman’s destiny is to join a secret project to save the Earth, directed by the aging professor Brand (Michael Caine). He blasts into orbit in the company of Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists. This is no bus hop to the Moon: Their aim is to slip through a wormhole near S

Read more
Now Showing

Gone Girl

Transformed into the kind of wickedly confident Hollywood thriller you pray to see once in a decade, Gillian Flynn's absorbing missing-wife novel emerges—via a faithful script by the author herself—as the stealthiest comedy since American Psycho. It's a hypnotically perverse film, one that redeems your faith in studio smarts (but not, alas, in local law enforcement, tabloid crime reporting or, indeed, marriage). No secrets will be revealed here, apart from an obvious one: Director David Fincher, also the maker of Seven, Zodiac and The Social Network, is more than just your everyday stylish cynic. Five years of matrimony haven't been kind to the Dunnes, a pair of formerly dazzling NYC writers rocked by layoffs, family illness and a resentful move to a Missouri dead zone. We learn this early on, after the disaster that kicks off the movie: Nick (Ben Affleck, never better) stops home after a neighbor phones him about his cat that's slipped out the front door. Inside, he finds shattered glass everywhere but no Amy (Rosamund Pike, delivering a ghostly yet dominant turn that's the year's biggest surprise). Has she been snatched? Cops gather, along with news trucks, Amy's snobby Manhattan parents and a dawning sense of media frenzy in need of a culprit. Nick, who's a touch too aloof, comes in handy in this regard. Toggling between the developing investigation and flashbacks to the couple's happier days in a Brooklyn brownstone (as did Flynn's original structure), Fincher brews an om

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Foxcatcher

Arrestingly made yet oppressive, Bennett Miller’s feeble-brained sports movie focuses, like the director’s Capote (2005), on a true-life crime story. Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is a world-champion wrestler forever living in the shadow of his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), also a gold medalist in the sport. Theirs is a complicated relationship in which issues aren’t talked out but physicalized during tough-and-tender training sessions. (A terrific early scene captures their daily gym routine, a tussle that moves from filial intimacy to violence and back again.) Perhaps this explains why Mark feels so drawn to mysterious John du Pont (Steve Carell, transformed into creepiness), an eccentric multimillionaire who showers him with praise and invites him to train at the new facility he’s built on his sprawling estate near Valley Forge. Carell’s gun-loving one-percenter, whom the actor plays as a heavy-lidded burlesque of unbridled affluence, sees wrestling as a way to not only make his mark but to restore a sense of glory to the American empire. (It’s no coincidence that Mark’s new home is located within walking distance of a key site in the Revolutionary War.) Miller sees parallels between Du Pont’s failed, ultimately murderous campaign and the current state of the U.S., with its pronounced economic divides. Screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman even set the events, which actually took place over the course of the 1990s, during the right-leaning 1980s to better drive home

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National Gallery

Critics' pick

For his latest institutional exploration, the great documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his inquisitive lens on the employees, patrons and paintings in London’s National Gallery. Time-wise, it’s a midrange production: three hours, longer than cut-to-the-quick features like High School (1968) and Boxing Gym (2010) but shorter than such epic-sprawl tapestries as four-hour-plus Belfast, Maine (1999) and At Berkeley (2013). Stylistically, it keeps with Wiseman’s preference for showing, not telling: no explanatory titles, no talking-head interviews. Just in-the-moment action, observing as the viewing public wanders the galleries and the museum staff—restorers, tour guides, executives—goes about its business. Thematically, however, this is among Wiseman’s densest and best works—one that, after a profoundly emotional start, becomes a much stranger, slippery beast. (Its greatness is cumulative.) The film begins with several heady and moving odes to the viewing public: A museum guide explains to an attentive crowd how a Middle Ages church mural might have seemed alive to its spectators in the dimness of candlelight. (The parallel to cinema is wholly intentional.) A curator discusses with gallery director Nicholas Penny the need to make the various exhibitions—beyond a sure thing like Leonardo da Vinci—more accessible and inviting to the general public. In the most poignant scene (one that a lesser movie would make its tear-jerking finale), a group of legally blind people study Camil

Read more
Now Showing

The Theory of Everything

At its best (which is often), director James Marsh’s affecting biopic of the cosmos-rattling astrophysicist Stephen Hawking plays deftly against schmaltz. Hawking, a great wit, has always seen the dark humor in his bodily predicament, the ALS-like disease that began robbing the intellectual explorer of his muscular function as early as his university years. The Theory of Everything embraces that irony: This is a Hawking profile in which you’ll see the wheelchair-bound, speech-impaired scientist happily rolling around his living room dressed up like a Dalek from Doctor Who, his children squealing. More substantially, it’s a movie that delivers science in an approachable Neil deGrasse Tyson–like way, one that might turn young people onto big theoretical ideas—as well as turn them onto the enjoyment of problem solving with the right partner. An early scene has a thoughtful professor introducing ruffled Cambridge student Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) to a lab where all the action happens; it’s a lovely moment of quiet inspiration. The film is filled with snazzy visual metaphors: A swirling cup of coffee becomes a symbol for dark and light matter. A formal dance, where Stephen twirls with the future love of his life, Jane (Felicity Jones), twinkles with glowing lights and a hint of the universe falling into place. The film is their story (the script is largely based on the second of Jane Hawking’s two memoirs), and even though it smooths out some of their domestic unease and eventual d

Read more
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John Wick

An especially cute floppy-eared beagle is killed within the first 20 minutes of this action throwback and, for all the body blows still to come, nothing hurts us as much. Maybe that's as it should be: No one in this movie is as innocent as that pooch, certainly not its owner. John Wick (Keanu Reeves, channeling the euphoric whoa of yore) is a recent widower and secret assassin whose final gift from his cancer-stricken wife is snuffed out with a sad little yelp during a brutal home invasion by Russian thugs. Wick recovers in record time, then out come the guns, the rifles, the mysterious gold coins, as Game of Thrones' hapless Alfie Allen (forever destined to be a picked-upon target) finds himself pursued by a ruthless, legendary killing machine that every other character seems wise enough to fear. Let's not go overboard: John Wick feels like action manna for its cleanly designed gun-fu sequences—ones you can actually follow—and brutal takedowns. But the revenge plotting is deeply dopey and we shouldn't have to choose one or the other. The film's codirectors, veteran stunt experts, have designed the movie within an eye for impact, and there's an elegant sparseness here that's thrilling. Reeves takes residence in some kind of swanky boutique hotel that caters to criminals—it's the only bit of wit in Derek Kolstad's generic script. John Wick will do for an escape watch with a rabid crowd; don't go in expecting poetry. Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Happy Valley

The Penn State scandal was a perfect storm of American anxieties: hometown pride under siege, the spectacular fall of a revered football coach, and a terrible chain of crimes involving the very young. There might be no full recovery from the 2012 conviction of Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child sex abuse over 15 years, nor from the dawning implications of chief coach Joe Paterno’s culpability in saying too little, too late. (His private remorse seemed to bring on the precipitous decline in health that quickly took him down.) But it can be definitely said that director Amir Bar-Lev (My Kid Could Paint That), a skilled chronicler of tricky dynamics, has done an expert job of brewing the controversy to its full potency. In deliberate, well-considered steps, Happy Valley sets the scene, starting with the bucolic town of State College, Pennsylvania, one that goes crazy with gridiron passion every season. We see footage of Sandusky being perp-walked out of the courthouse, hear interviews from the now-grown defendants (including, tragically, the disgraced coach’s own adopted son) and sit with Paterno’s bitter wife, who feels her late spouse was treated shoddily by an alarmed collegiate authority that imposed severe penalties to restore order. The troubling tale is well told, unpacked with a clarity and a minimum of ominous mood music. But the elements that stay with you longest are stealthy ones you almost wish were foregrounded: Tourists and locals squabble next to a Paterno stat

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Comments

Linda R
Linda R

What kind of movie list is this? I want to see an alphabetical list of reviews for movies currently in theaters. This is just a mishmash