Capsule reviews of feature filmsDecember 7, 2017 9:46am

Dec. 06-- COCO. 3 stars. In Mexico a fatherless boy crosses into the colorful land of the dead to learn more about his family, and to pursue his forbidden dream of being a musician. Steeped in the customs and rituals of the Day of the Dead celebration, which provide Pixar animators an opportunity to work with a new range of colors and visual ideas. The music is first-rate as well, even if the story sometimes sputters. Not in a class with Pixar's best animation, but way better than Cars 3. Featuring the voice of Benjamin Bratt. 1 hr. 40 PG-G.T.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT. 3 stars. Engaging slice-of-life look at residents of an Orlando motel, the adults living paycheck-to-paycheck, their free-range kids having an improbably wonderful time on the ragged fringe of the Magic Kingdom. Written and directed by Sean Baker. With Willem Dafoe, Brooklyn Prince. 1 hr. 45. R (language)-Gary Thompson

JUSTICE LEAGUE. 2 stars. This dour, downbeat corner of the DC Universe finds Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gail Gadot) recruiting superheroes Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to combat an invading alien army and an interstellar bad guy (Ciaran Hinds). Directed with a heavy hand by Zack Snyder. With Amy Adams, Diane Lane. 1 hr. 59 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. 2 stars. Yorgos Lanthimos provocation about a prosperous surgeon (Colin Farrell) with a young fan who turns out to be a stalker and a sociopath, forcing the physician into a sick game of gruesome choices. The movie's icy affections and snarky asides get in the way of whatever humanity it's intended to have. With Nicole Kidman. 1 hr. 59 R (violence)-Gary Thompson

LADY BIRD. 4 stars. Funny, touching coming-of-age story about a Sacramento high school senior (Saoirse Ronan) who quarrels with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) about her determination to leave California for a more sophisticated life at an Eastern college. Written and directed with great affection, wisdom and skill by Greta Gerwig. With Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. 1 hr. 33 R (language, sexuality)-Gary Thompson

LAST FLAG FLYING. 2.5 stars. Three Vietnam war buddies (Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston) reunite to bury one man's son, killed in the line of duty in Iraq. The performances of the leads are uneven, but supporting players, including Cicely Tyson, help the movie build to a strong conclusion. Directed by Richard Linklater. 2 hrs. 5 R (language)-Gary Thompson

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. 2.5 stars. Fictionalized account of Charles Dickens writing his famous story "A Christmas Carol," framed here as a desperate race against time. Fanciful elements have Dickens (a manic Dan Stevens) borrowing heavily and spending lavishly to self-finance his big gamble book. Characters (including Mr. Scrooge, played by Christopher Plummer, appearing before him as he works out the story). Not an emotionally powerful story, but it builds to a suitably sentimental conclusion. With Simon Callow. 1 hr. 44 PG-Gary Thompson

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. 3 stars. Kenneth Branagh's appropriately hammy adaptation of the classic 1930s Agatha Christie mystery about a murder aboard a snowbound train in Yugoslavia, under the nose of master detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) who finds himself inundated with likely suspects-the all-star cast includes Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Pfeiffer. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ. 2.5 stars. Denzel Washington delivers a typically fine performance as an on-the-spectrum attorney who's sheltered life as a legal researcher changes when his managing partner dies and he's thrust uncomfortably into a more public role (working for slick attorney Colin Farrell). Washington excels as a neurodiverse man, somehow balancing limited emotional range with expressiveness. With Carmen Ejogo, written and directed by Dan Gilroy. 2 hrs. 9 R (language)-Gary Thompson

THOR: RAGNAROK. 3 stars. Mercifully funny diversion into a quirky corner of the Marvel universe, with Cate Blanchett has the vengeful and power mad sister of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) ascending the throne, banishing her brother to a prison planet, where he recruits the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to his cause. With Jeff Goldblum, Tom Hiddleston. 2 hrs. 10 PG-13 (violence)-Gary Thompson

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI. 3.5 stars. From writer-director Martin McDonagh, a timely if scabrous story about a small-town woman (Frances McDormand) taunting the cops (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) who have failed to solve her daughter's murder. Contains the brutal violence, savage humor and surprising moments of warmth that comprise McDonagh's unique voice, and good performances as well-from McDormand and Rockwell in difficult and complex roles, playing difficult and complex people. With Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges and John Hawkes. 1 hr. 55 R (violence, language)-Gary Thompson

WONDER. 2.5 stars. Sturdy if sometimes sappy adaptation of the R.J. Palacio YA novel about a boy (Jacom Tremblay) with facial deformities enduring his first days at middle school. Cast includes Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Mandy Patinkin. 1 hr. 43 PG-Gary Thompson


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