The other big studio movie this weekend is "Get On Up," a biopic on the life of Soul Brother No. 1, James Brown (played by "42" star Chadwick Boseman). It's being well-received by critics elsewhere around the country, but the studio unfortunately didn't screen it for critics in Utah.
This week's art-house line-up is freakishly good. Topping the list is "Boyhood," director Richard Linklater's bold experiment in time-lapse drama, in which he traces the growth of a boy (played by Ellar Coltrane) over 12 years. Shooting a few days every year, Linklater chronicles the boy's life from age 5 to age 18, capturing the small moments of maturity as well as the family dynamics of his divorced parents (played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). The results are touching and beautiful. (Read The Cricket's interview with Linklater.)
"I Origins" is a dreamy exploration of the line between science and spirituality. Director Mike Cahill ("Another Earth") tells the story of a molecular biologist (Michael Pitt), whose fascination with the human eye leads to meeting a supernatural-minded young woman (Astrid Bergés-Frisbey). Romance happens, but is tragically cut short. Then, the scientist makes a discovery that upends everything we know about life on Earth. The themes are played out thoughtfully, and the images are gorgeous.
Lastly, there's director Joe Swanberg's semi-improvised comedy "Happy Christmas," which has a married Chicago couple, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) and Jeff (played by Swanberg), with a new baby welcoming Jeff's irresponsible sister Jenny (Anna Kendrick) for a Yuletide visit. The movie has some sharply observed moments, particularly when Kelly and Jenny, along with Jenny's best friend Carson ("Girls" creator Lena Dunham), sit around talking about stuff. The dialogue is loose-limbed, funny and thought-provoking.