Friday movie roundup: Captain America, in charge
This week at the movies, Captain America is back, fighting for what's right — in a world where that's not always so clear.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is by far the most exciting and intriguing of the stand-alone Marvel superhero movies since "The Avengers" mash-up. It's really a conspiracy thriller, as Cap (Chris Evans) discovers something very dark at the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and must go against authority to combat it. With a strong cast, led by veterans Samuel L. Jackson (as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s bad-ass boss Nick Fury) and Robert Redford (as Fury's boss; let that sink in for a moment), this movie blends brains with action.
Another movie worth making time for — especially for kids, but not exclusively — is the animated tale "Ernest & Celestine," a gentle tale of a plucky young mouse who bucks convention and befriends a street-musician bear. The movie is drawn with graceful simplicity, and the characters are charming and cute as a button. The English-language dub features Forest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy voicing the title roles.
Also on the arthouse slate is "The Lunchbox," a sweet little romance from India. In Mumbai, a housewife (Nimrat Kaur) prepares a lunch for her inattentive husband (Nakul Vaid), but the lunch delivery system sends the food instead to a lonely government clerk (Irrfan Khan) nearing retirement. The pen-pal relationship that ensues is touching and emotional.
Danish provocateur director Lars von Trier returns with "Nymphomaniac, Vol. I," the first half of a four-hour epic tale of one woman and the many, many men in her life. The woman, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), recounts her exploits to an older man (Stellan Skarsgard), who listens with bemused fascination. Von Trier is downright clinical about Joe's exploits, which are depicted in explicit sex scenes (with Stacy Martin as the younger Joe). The movie feels incomplete, because it is — as "Vol. II" arrives in Utah in two weeks.
"Enemy" is a creepy mind-trip, with Jake Gyllenhaal as a nervous history teacher who discovers he has an exact lookalike who's a vain actor (also played by Gyllenhaal). Things get dicey when the actor wants to take over the teacher's life, and seduce his girlfriend (Melanie Laurent). The atmosphere is brooding, with some "Eyes Wide Shut"-style fetish weirdness, but it's all to cover the thin plotting.
Lastly, the IMAX documentary "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar" opens at the Clark Planetarium. It's a gorgeously photographed look at the species of lemurs that have evolved without competition on the east African island.