In the Dark

‘Top Five’

Starring: Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson

Directed by: Chris Rock

Rated: R

 

From a comedian who has tried writing and directing a couple of times before (“Head of State,” “I Think I Love My Wife”), this is Chris Rock’s best effort yet. The keen observations of pop culture that fuel his comedy are used here to craft a wickedly funny movie that has a surprising undercurrent of pathos to it.

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‘Horrible Bosses 2’

Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis

Directed by: Sean Anders

Rated: R

 

The three amigos of mayhem are together again, and it’s a second verse same as the first scenario with the same kind of ribald, adult humor that brought attention to the 2011 opener — and not in a good way.

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‘The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part 1’

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Rated: PG-13

 

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Birdman movie poster

‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’

Starring: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton

Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Rated: R

 

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No living actor plays the curmudgeon better than Bill Murray. He’s become the Walter Matthau of his time. All through this, I could see Murray channeling that “Bad News Bears” grumpiness of Matthau as he plays Vincent Van Nuys in this first feature from writer/director Theodore Melfi, who should get down on his knees and thank Murray for saying “yes” to the role.

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This is not in the same league as “Saving Private Ryan,” but like that World War II film, this one also deals in graphic, visceral realism that gives it more weight than the old “B” war pictures that obviously inspired it. Call it “five guys and a tank” for the quasi family of men trapped inside the metal bucket called a Sherman tank in the final days leading to the end of the war.

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The Equalizer film poster, courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

About the only thing this movie and the old television series have in common is the title. Replacing British actor Edward Woodward, who starred in the show that ran for four seasons beginning in 1985, is Denzel Washington, who teams up again with “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for an updated take on the enigmatic character of Robert McCall.

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This first adaptation of best selling author Lawrence Block’s series signals a possible franchise for star Liam Neeson as off-the-books private eye Matt Scudder.

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Based on the Dennis Lehane short story, “Rescue Animal,” this might as well be a companion piece to other Lehane adaptations such as “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Lehane’s world isn’t pretty, and neither are his characters.

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Another disappointing weekend at the movies only added modest gains to a summer season that has been one of the most dismal in many years. “The November Man,” a James Bond wannabe with Pierce Brosnan, was a yawner, as was the supernatural thriller “As Above, So Below” set in the catacombs of Paris.

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