02-19-2017  8:44 am      •     


Happy Feet Two (PG for rude humor and mild scenes of peril) Animated 3-D sequel revolving around Mumbles' (Elijah Wood) uncoordinated son (Elizabeth Daily) who runs away from home only to be befriended by a mighty flying penguin (Hank Azaria). Voice cast includes Robin Williams, Common, Pink, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Hugo Weaving.   

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (PG-13 for violence, sexuality, disturbing images, mature themes and partial nudity) 4th installment in the fantasy franchise finds Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) marrying and anticipating the birth of a mixed-species baby which poses a threat both to the vampire coven and rival Jacob's (Taylor Lautner) wolf pack. With Billy Burke, Nikki Reed and Kellan Lutz.


Another Happy Day (R for pervasive profanity, sexual references, brief graphic nudity and teen drug and alcohol abuse) Dysfunctional family drama chronicling the trials and tribulations of a distraught divorcee (Ellen Barkin) when she ventures to her parents' (George Kennedy and Ellen Burstyn) estate in Annapolis for the marriage of her estranged son (Michael Nardelli). With Kate Bosworth, Demi Moore and Thomas Haden Church.

Buried Prayers (Unrated) Holocaust documentary recounting the horrors of Maidanek, a concentration camp where ill-fated internees began burying their gold and other valuables prior to extermination to hide them from the Nazis. (In Polish and English with subtitles)

The Descendants (R for profanity and sexual references) Screen adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings' bittersweet novel of the same name about a Hawaii land baron (George Clooney) forced to take custody of his daughters (Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley) after his estranged wife (Patricia Hastie) is left in a vegetative state by a tragic boating accident. Supporting cast includes Beau Bridges, Robert Forster and Judy Greer.

Eames: The Architect & the Painter (Unrated) James Franco narrates this benevolent biopic chronicling the life and times of Charles (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1988), the husband-and-wife team who were among America's most influential industrial designers.  

The Greater Good (Unrated) Vaccines are the subject of this incendiary documentary examining the hype and fear surrounding the polarizing question of whether childhood inoculations are safe.

In Heaven, Underground (Unrated) Holocaust documentary about the recent restoration of Berlin's Weissensee Jewish Cemetery, created in 1880, which fell into disrepair in the wake of World War II. (In German, Hebrew, English and Russian with subtitles)

King of Devil's Island (Unrated) Historical drama, set on a fjord near Oslo in the early 20th Century, recounting the real-life ordeal of incarcerated juvenile delinquents who plotted a violent revolt against the sadistic warden (Stellan Skarsgard) responsible for their inhumane living conditions. With Trond Nilssen, Daniel Berg and Benjamin Helstad. (In Norwegian with subtitles)

The Lie (R for profanity and drug use) Diminished dreams drama about an aspiring musician (Joshua Leonard) who reluctantly takes a 9-5 job to support the family after the birth of an unplanned baby (Violet Long) while his wife (Jess Weixler) is in law school. With Kelli Garner, Alia Shawkat and Jane Adams.

Rid of Me (Unrated) Katie O'Grady stars in this dark comedy charting the emotional breakdown and rebirth of a woman on the road to self-discovery. With John Keyser, Storm Large and Betty Moyer.  

Tomboy (Unrated) Genderbending drama about a 10-year old girl (Zoe Heran) who decides to pass herself off as male to a new friend (Jeanne Disson) when her family moves to suburban Paris. With Malonn Levana, Sophie Cattani and Mathieu Demy. (In French with subtitles)

Tyrannosaur (Unrated) Redemption drama about an unemployed, alcoholic widower (Peter Mullan) with a short temper who attempts to turn his life around with the help of a devout Christian (Olivia Colman) with her own checkered past. With Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell and Julia Mallam.  

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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