This heavily theatrical take on the old Russian classic is only a half-success. Directed by Joe Wright, it’s mostly staged inside a lavishly constructed playhouse, except when it’s not. And we watch the drama unfold between Anna (Keira Knightley), her pill of a husband (Jude Law) and her cavalry officer lover (Aaron Johnson). Its well-written script leaps between high comedy and piercing drama, and the film has its moments, but it’s a bit too frantic at times. R (some sexuality and violence)
This thriller from director/star Ben Affleck just plain works. Based on unclassified documents, the story is set in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries. Six U.S. State officials escape and hide at the Canadian ambassador’s home. CIA operative Antonio Mendez (Affleck) concocts a plan: fly into Iran, pose as a film crew scouting locations, fly out again with the six Americans playing the roles of crew members. With a sharp script and deft direction, the movie is tense and entertaining. Oscar buzz is justified. R (language and some violent images).
BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST
A pair of misfit hipsters hit the road in this likably goofy, lo-fi indie propelled by the syncopations of a cheesy keyboard — and the cheesy dreams of its hapless heroes. Ryan O’Nan wrote, directs and stars, joined on a cross-country concert tour by the nutty Michael Weston. Catchy songs, too. 1 hr. 38 No MPAA rating (profanity, adult themes)
CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg co-star in this offbeat comedy about events that either will drive a wedge between a separated couple or further reinforce their bond. 1 hr. 31 R (drug use, profanity, sexual candor)
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s lyrical live-action adaptation of Satrapi’s 2004 graphic novel set in 1950s Iran begins with a crescendo and can’t sustain its lyricism. 1 hr. 33 PG-13 (smoking, drugs, mature themes)