In this week’s new releases, audiences get a chance to catch up with Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs), Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut) and friends as they reunite for the holidays in director Malcolm D. Lee's sequel "The Best Man Holiday." Meanwhile, "The Book Thief" features a talented cast including Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Sophie Nelisse, but it's crammed with too many subplots.
★★1/2 “The Best Man Holiday” (R) “…you don’t go to ‘The Best Man Holiday’ to deconstruct its flaws. You go for its myriad, adamantly un-cerebral pleasures. You go to see Chestnut take that shirt off. You go to giggle at Howard, then come up short during a frank and unexpectedly moving encounter when he talks about money with one of his friends. And you go to take in the quietly regal Calhoun, whose subdued performance sneaks up and grabs you while you thought you were laughing at something else. – Ann Hornaday
★★1/2 “The Book Thief” (PG-13) “‘The Book Thief’ has its pleasures. Along with a memorable performance from Nélisse, Rush and Watson prove their impressive range. Despite the film’s dark themes, there are a number of scenes of gentle comedy, and those come mostly thanks to Rush’s and Watson’s facial expressions and delivery. Ben Schnetzer, who plays Max, hasn’t acted in many films, but his performance is indelible as an older brother figure trying to protect his young friend from the sad realities of the day.” – Stephanie Merry
★★★ “The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Unrated) “While film editing is often an unsung profession, Nico Leunen deserves special praise for bridging the temporal divide of various vignettes, sometimes in exceptionally clever ways. When Maybelle, face-painted to look like a tiger, unleashes a roar, it melds with the low growl of the couple’s truck as the movie cuts to a scene from the past. With its exquisite depictions of suffering, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” is not always easy to watch. But, as in life, sometimes there’s beauty to be found in the pain.” – Stephanie Merry
★★ “Concussion” (R) “Despite a talented ensemble cast and assured direction by Passon — a protege of filmmaker Rose Troche (‘Go Fish,’ ‘The L Word’), who produced the film — ‘Concussion’ suffers from a chilly detachment that feels all too clinical, when all we want ... is connection.” – Michael O’Sullivan