‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ ‘Nebraska’ and other new movies, reviewed

November 22, 2013

In this week's new releases, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) return to find their home in turmoil after the 74th Hunger Games in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." Director Alexander Payne explores family dynamics in a film set in his home state in "Nebraska;" it receives four stars thanks in part to a standout performance by Bruce Dern.


Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson, left), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, center), Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, front) in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." (Murray Close)

1/2 “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (PG-13) “Everyone hits their marks with gusto and believability in 'Catching Fire' — even Liam Hemsworth, who has next to nothing to do as Katniss’s hometown squeeze, Gale. But the engine of the entire operation is Jennifer Lawrence, who in Katniss has found a character that chimes perfectly with her own persona as an earthy, blunt-speaking ingenue suddenly thrust into a world of celebrity and media-fueled idol worship.” – Ann Hornaday

Nebraska” (R) “In many ways, 'Nebraska' hews to the classic buddy road-picture, with the mismatched Woody and Dave setting forth on a journey of mishaps, chance encounters, hilarious high jinks and — of course — filial bonding. But thanks to Bob Nelson’s lean, tone-perfect script and Payne’s tender execution, “Nebraska” never feels patronizing or facile.” – Ann Hornaday

1/2 “Delivery Man” (PG-13) “For Scott, motherhood seems to be a less critical component of parenting than fatherhood, at least from a narrative standpoint. I get it. Turnabout is fair play. So many movies treat fathers as invisible, expendable or irrelevant. It’s only to be expected for a movie to come along, every now and again, that does the same thing with mothers. Yet all this does is to place 'Delivery Man,' despite its roots in a true story, squarely in the realm of male fantasy. ” – Michael O’Sullivan

1/2 “The Armstrong Lie” (R) “There’s a palpable sense of sadness, more than outrage or betrayal, to the film. That’s not because it’s so hard to understand why Armstrong did what he did. Gibney makes a compelling case for the almost universal prevalence of doping at the highest level of professional cycling. Maybe it’s time to forgive, he seems to be saying.” – Michael O’Sullivan

The Christmas Candle” (PG) “'The Christmas Candle' makes it clear that David’s good deeds aren’t enough. Because he doesn’t believe in the magical story, he turns out to be the one lacking. Meanwhile, his (hardly radical) attempts to modernize the church end up being preposterously catastrophic. All this might resonate with a Christian filmgoer who believes that faith is more important than humanistic actions and that tradition trumps an ever-changing society. But for others — even believers who have a more progressive outlook — 'The Christmas Candle' might feel more like alienation than anything heaven-sent.” – Stephanie Merry

1/2 “All the Boys Love Mindy Lane” (R) “…the film works — or doesn’t, depending on your point of view — because Levine hasn’t figured out that he’s directing a genre film, despite the boatload of cliches handed to him by Forman’s script. What ultimately made the movie click for me is that it doesn’t pander, avoiding as many stereotypes as it indulges. Thoughtful viewers may detect thematic whiffs of Columbine, blended with “Carrie,” that darken and complicate the film’s aroma of stale blood.” – Michael O’Sullivan

Camille Claudel” (Unrated) “despite its austere beauty, elegant triptych-like structure and faultlessly disciplined performances, 'Camille Claudel 1915' still raises more questions than it answers — about how the title character ended up in such misbegotten circumstances (Paul makes an oblique reference to Claudel’s abortion) and about artistic responsibility.” – Ann Hornaday

A Touch of Sin” (Unrated) “When that scooter-riding thief fights off three men trying to ambush him with hand axes, he chases the last one down with his hands on his cycle and his gun clenched between his teeth. The gesture is fierce enough for an action flick. But in a world where more than a “touch of sin” seems required to survive, it’s also strangely practical.” – John DeFore

(Not Rated)Jerusalem” “For a movie with a message of peace and harmony, however, 'Jerusalem' ends on a somewhat down note. Maybe some day everyone in Jerusalem will get along, one of the young women comments, as the camera shows the three women passing each other in the street, “but not yet.”” – Michael O’Sullivan

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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Fritz Hahn | November 22, 2013