‘A Most Wanted Man,’ ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ and other new movies, reviewed

In this week’s new releases, one of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last films, “A Most Wanted Man,”  is a four-star hit. Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in the romantic-comedy “Magic in the Moonlight.”


In one of his final roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as Günther Bachmann, a German spy trying to crack a terror case. (Roadside Attractions)

 “A Most Wanted Man” (R) “Although the cast is uniformly fine, Hoffman shines in a role that demands not showmanship, but a kind of complexity and contradiction that can be rendered only through the kind of dull character details that he excelled in, accumulating them from the inside out.” – Michael O’Sullivan

½ “Magic in the Moonlight” (PG-13) “Emma Stone and Colin Firth are two actors who bring an amusing vitality to a movie, especially when they’re engaged in quick-witted sparring. So seeing them try to outmaneuver each other in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ — Woody Allen’s latest period romantic comedy — is delightful.” – Stephanie Merry

½ “Lucy” (R) “The theme of ‘Lucy’ may be the potential of the human mind, but the less time any human spends thinking about its largely nonsensical plot, the better. The slickly executed bullet-riddler about brainpower can only be enjoyed by cutting off all attempts at logic and rational thought.” – Jen Chaney

½ “Hercules” (PG-13) “Frat-boyish filmmaker Brett Ratner has the distinction of having made the worst ‘X-Men’ film (‘X-Men: The Last Stand’), the dumbest Hannibal Lecter tale (‘Red Dragon’), and the most boring ‘Rush Hour’ sequel. That’s unfair: Having cranked out all three ‘Rush Hour’ films, Ratner also made the least boring one. But if future film scholars ever chronicle the Great Hercules Boom of 2014, they are likely to credit him with the best of the bunch.” – John DeFore

½ “The Fluffy Movie” (PG-13) “‘The Fluffy Movie’s' principal weakness is that it’s not much of a movie. There’s no particular reason to watch this in a theater rather than on television. Indeed, (Gabriel) Iglesias’s amiable style and smile-inducing commentary are probably better suited to the small screen. He can charm an arena crowd, but he can’t rock it the way Poison used to do.” – Mark Jenkins

½ “I, Origins” (R) “The thesis of Mike Cahill’s new film ‘I Origins’ — that reincarnated souls can be identified through iris biometrics, or high-tech eye scans — is certainly no more outlandish than the premise of ‘Another Earth,’ Cahill’s 2011 entry into the world of sci-fi philosophizing. The filmmaker’s narrative-film debut, which he wrote with fellow Georgetown University graduate Brit Marling, postulated the existence of a parallel world just a short rocket trip away, and was as notable for its physical impossibility as for its intriguing existential implications.” – Michael O’Sullivan

½ “And So It Goes” (PG-13) “‘And So It Goes’ lives up to its title. It’s the derivative, too-familiar cinematic version of a shrug and a sigh. Oh, well.” – Ann Hornaday

 “Le Chef” (PG-13) “The more seasoned of the two skillet wizards who become friends and co-workers in ‘Le Chef’ is known for meals that are well-crafted but old-fashioned. That also describes this predictable French comedy, which is amiable but far from piquant.” – Mark Jenkins

 “Alive Inside” (Unrated) “Music isn’t a cure for anything. But it does seem to be a key to unlocking long-closed doors and establishing connections with people who have become, through age or infirmity, imprisoned inside themselves.” – Michael O’Sullivan

 “Closed Curtain” (Unrated) “The film was written and co-directed by Jafar Panahi, a celebrated Iranian filmmaker who was targeted by his government for making rebellious propaganda. He spent time in prison, and he’s forbidden to leave the country except under rare circumstances, nor is he supposed to make any movies for 20 years. But since that 2010 sentence, he has made two: the cheekily titled “This Is Not a Film” and this, a drama that may come across as inscrutable but is nevertheless a powerful form of defiance.” – Stephanie Merry

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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Maura Judkis · July 24, 2014

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