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Maureen, a young American living in Paris, fits nowhere since the death of her twin brother. She spends evenings trying to connect with him in the afterlife. They both claimed the spiritual skills of a medium to examine the beyond, and promised that the first to pass would reach out to the survivor with some message. During the day she is the fashion assistant to a wealthy "high-profile media personality who doesn't have the time to worry about practical things." Understandably, Maureen is skittish 24 hours a day. Even more so when an occult figure makes a milky, ectoplasmic appearance before her eyes. And further still when anonymous messages from a possible stalker flood her iPhone.
The randy action-comedy "CHIPS" is pitched right to that 18-24 demographic, but that audience is probably wondering what this whole California Highway Patrol movie is about. Two words, teens: Erik Estrada. He was the ultimate late '70s small-screen sex symbol and people were really into his hair - at least according to what we've been able to glean from the "CHiPS" detritus that always seems to be in the pop cultural ether.
Daniel Clowes is one of the great graphic novelists and jaundiced wits of our time, creator of fantastically bitter characters whose litanies of complaint and twisted avenues of philosophical inquiry would be tragic, or merely pathetic, if they weren't also really funny. Clowes is like Anton Chekhov's wiseacre American cousin. And, near-miraculously, director Terry Zwigoff's film versions of Clowes' graphic novels "Ghost World" (2001, featuring Thora Birch and a pre-stardom Scarlett Johansson) and "Art School Confidential" (2006) stayed true to the tone, rhythm and sneaky pathos of the Clowes books.
Would you pay $50 to see a big mainstream movie at home, a month after it hits theaters?
"Dig Two Graves" is a low-budget, medium-wattage indie thriller, stronger on the acting than on the thrilling. It was filmed in southern Illinois in 2013, and the co-writer-director Hunter Adams exploits the bluffs, ravines and caves of the area known as Little Egypt with a shrewd eye for clammy atmosphere. If only atmosphere were everything!
Movies have been preoccupied recently with time and aging - Richard Linklater with his "Sunrise" trilogy and "Boyhood," even "Logan" with its superhero-in-winter premise.
Hey, "Life." 1979 called. It wants its alien-invasion movie back.
That guy you met on Match.com who announces straight off that you're not his heart's desire, but goes rattling on about his own relationship issues? The dude who sits next to you in an empty bus, asks your religion and explains why that's not the best choice? The odd duck who takes the urinal beside yours in a deserted restroom because he has inquiries about fatherhood you might be able to answer?
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. 3 stars. Live-action version of the 1991 animated classic, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles. Competently staged by Bill Condon, but does not improve on the 2D Disney original. With Luke Evans and Josh Gad. 2 hrs. 9 PG (action violence, peril) - Gary Thompson
What is it, exactly, that's alive in "Life," a grim and fairly effective cross between "The Martian" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"?
There's a feeling of emotional detachment in so many of Terrence Malick's films that they seem more like metaphysical photograph albums. The historic scope of his Pocahontas epic "The New World" and galaxy-encompassing cosmology of "The Tree of Life" are not experiences most viewers feel are connected to recognizable feelings.
PHILADELPHIA "CHIPS" star (and writer and director) Dax Shepard said his love of the old TV show was tied to his lifelong love of anything with wheels and motors.
A character, even when he's played by Woody Harrelson, is not a movie. "Wilson," based on a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, is the story of a grumpy, lonely middle-aged man; the sort who plunks down next to you on an otherwise empty bus and starts asking questions about what you're reading. Needing a jolt, he gets one upon reconnecting with his ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern), and discovering that the two of them have a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara), placed for adoption as an infant.
A better showman than David Copperfield and David Blaine combined, British director Danny Boyle makes almost every sort of entertainment except the easy, conformist ones. Whether he's creating film, theater or spectacle, he delivers work that is mainstream and rebellious, silly and intense, but always unpredictable.
Muddled, rudderless, yet graphically impressive and effectively packed with dismay, "Life" is the science fiction shocker that will do until a better one comes along. Is it great? No. Intense? Definitely.
LOS ANGELES The '90s TV show "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" has been adapted into a big screen version. This time the "Power Rangers" are more serious and the special effects a lot bigger and bolder.
The feisty Shirley MacLaine has lived her life and spoken her mind on her own terms. That makes her the perfect casting to play Harriet Lauler, a retired take-charge businesswoman in "The Last Word." This is one of those occasions where fact and fiction blur into a thing of creative beauty.
Back in the '90s, you probably knew them as "Mighty Morphin," and these days they take the pre-fix "Saban's," but we all know them best as simply the "Power Rangers." Executive producer Haim Saban discovered the "Super Sentai" series on Japanese television in the '80s, and brought the concept of teens in colorful costumes fighting monsters to American audiences in the form of the somewhat silly, but much beloved, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" series. Now, of course, we have the big screen reboot, for better or for worse.