Starting this week
“Begin Again” ★★★ 1/2 – A tale of music’s transformative power certainly has appeal, but you may end up wanting to enjoy it more than its qualities will allow. Written and directed by John Carney (“Once”). Starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. Rated R. 104 min.
“El Topo” ★★★ – A bizarre, ultra-violent, allegorical 1970 Western set in two halves that have widely been compared to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Written and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. 120 min. Unrated.
“Fire Season” ★★★ – Set during a summer of forest fires in a small Montana town, this is a short dramatic film details a young girl’s first love with a charismatic boy who hides a dark secret. Directed by Courtney Saunders. Starring Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Nicole Halverson, Ella Steinberg and Derrick Mychaylo. Unrated. 17 min.
“Faraway, So Close!” ★★★ – In German director Wim Wenders’ 1993 sequel to “Wings of Desire,” angels enviously observe the lives of humans in the city. Written and directed by Wenders. With Nastassja Kinski, Willem Dafoe and Heinz Rühmann. 140 min. PG-13. German with English subtitles.
“Obvious Child” ★★ 1/2 – An aspiring stand-up comic’s emotional journey from romance, to break-up, to one-night stand, to unexpected pregnancy, to romance, to abortion – much of which is mined for laughs in her confessional-style late-night routines. This might not sound like a laughing matter, but writer-director Gillian Robespierre knows how to tease the comedy out of the human condition. As the film stumbles its way to the final punch line, it echoes Donna’s onstage musings – funny, but rough around the edges. (LAT). With Jenny Slate, David Cross, Gaby Hoffman. Written and directed by Gillian Robespierre. Rated R. 83 min.
“The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” (not yet reviewed) – A documentary portrait of the volatile and brilliant Kevin Barnes, front man for the band Of Montreal. Directed by Jason Miller. Unrated. 77 min.
“Persecuted” (not yet reviewed) – When a senator frames evangelist John Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. Luther’s mission brings him face-to-face with a storm of persecution that threatens the entire Christian community. With James Remar, Fred Dalton Thompson, Gretchen Carlson, Dean Stockwell. Directed by Daniel Lusko, Gray Frederickson. PG-13, 93 min.
“Planes: Fire and Rescue” ★★ – In this animated movie set in a world of anthropomorphic aircraft, a famous air racer learns that his engine is damaged and shifts gears into the world of aerial firefighting. With the voices of Dane Cook and Julie Bowen. Written by Bobs Gannaway and Jeffrey M. Howard. Directed by Gannaway. Rated PG. 83 min.
“The Purge: Anarchy” ★★ – A new group of individuals fights to survive the annual night on which all crime is legal for 12 hours in this sequel to the 2013 film “The Purge.” With Frank Grillo, Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez. Written and directed by James DeMonaco. Rated R. 103 min.
“Sex Tape” (bomb) – To spice up their love life, a couple of 10 years make a marathon sex tape and then scramble to erase it from existence after they accidentally send it to friends and family members. With Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper. Written by Segel, Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller. Directed by Jake Kasdan. Rated R. 95 min.
“22 Jump Street” ★★★★ – Having conducted a successful narcotics operation posing as high school students, two undercover cops try to crack a new case at the local college. With Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Peter Stormare. Written by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Rated R. 111 min.
“America” (bomb) – A documentary contemplating what today’s world would look like had the United States never existed. Directed by Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan. Rated PG-13. 103 min.
“Belle” ★★★ – Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer and an African slave, raised – alongside her white cousin – in the world of 18th-century English aristocracy. Rooted in history, and also in the traditions of Jane Austen, this handsome period piece combines heady romance and pointed issues about race. Directed by Amma Asante. With Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sam Reid. 105 min. PG.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” ★★★★ – A growing nation of genetically evolved apes is threatened by a band of human survivors of a devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier in this sequel to the 2011 film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” With Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman and Keri Russell. Written by Mark Bomback, Rich Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Directed by Matt Reeves. In 3-D. Rated PG-13. 120 min.
“Deliver Us from Evil” ★ 1/2 – New York police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city. With Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn. Written by Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman. Directed by Scott Derrickson. Rated R. 118 min.
“Earth to Echo” ★★ 1/2 – After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. With Teo Halm, Reese Hartwig. Written by Henry Gayden. Directed by Dave Green. Rated PG. 91 min.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” ★★★★ – At a European hotel between the wars, a concierge and a lobby boy get mixed up in the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune. With Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Edward Norton and Saoirse Ronan. Written and directed by Wes Anderson. Rated R. 100 min.
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” ★★★★ – A young viking and his faithful dragon must protect both their kind from a power-hungry conqueror in this sequel to the 2010 animated film. With the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington and Cate Blanchett. Written and directed by Dean DeBlois. In 3-D. Rated PG. 105 min.
“Maleficent” ★★ 1/2 – A retelling of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” tale from the perspective of the villainess Maleficent, who suffered a betrayal that turned her once-pure heart to stone. With Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning and Sam Riley. Written by Linda Woolverton. Directed by Robert Stromberg. Rated PG. 97 min.
“Snowpiercer” ★★★★ – In a world where a failed global-warming experiment has killed off most life on the planet and the final survivors reside aboard a train that travels around the frozen globe, the oppressed passengers in the rear section of the train revolt against the elites upfront. With Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton. Written by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson. Directed by Bong. Rated R. 126 min.
“Tammy” ★ 1/2 – After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother. With Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd. Written by Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Ben Falcone. Rated R. 96 min.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” ★★ – Three years after an epic battle has forced the shape-shifting robots known as Transformers into hiding, a garage inventor makes a startling discovery and gets caught up in a battle for the fate of Earth. With Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Sophia Miles. Written by Ehren Kruger. Directed by Michael Bay. In 3-D. Rated PG-13.
Compiled by the Missoulian from the Los Angeles Times and wire services.