Movie Guide

Film critic Peter Rainer weighs in on a starry romance that brings together Claire Danes, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and Vanessa Redgrave.

New in theaters Evening (PG-13)

Director: Lajos Koltai. With Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep. (109 min.)

"Evening" has an absolutely standout cast, which includes Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Eileen Atkins, Natasha Richardson, Glenn Close, and Meryl Streep. It even has Streep's lookalike daughter, Mamie Gummer, in a major role. So you were maybe expecting a masterpiece? Alas, "Evening," loosely based on Susan Minot's novel, is a dreary mood romance that flashes back and forth between present day and 50 years ago. The director, Lajos Koltai, made a remarkable feature debut with "Fateless" but loses his moorings here. The performances, especially by Hugh Dancy as a sexually confused rich kid, are overwrought, and the script, which Michael Cunningham ("The Hours") wrote in collaboration with Minot, is slack. Grade: C
– Peter Rainer

Strike (Not Rated)

Director: Volker Schlondorff. With Katharina Thalbach, Andrzej Chyra, Dominique Horwitz. (104 min.)

The German director Volker Schlondorff has made a few notable films in his career, including "The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum" and "The Tin Drum." His new, reality-based movie lacks the crackle of his best work. It's about Agnieszka (Katharina Thalbach), a pint-sized Polish crane operator – a fervent catholic and communist, single mother, illiterate – who instigated the strike in the Gdansk shipyard in 1980 that ultimately contributed to the downfall of the Soviets. It's all a lot closer to melodrama than drama, but Thalbach is a dynamo. Grade: B–
– P.R.

Still in theaters Surf's Up (PG)

Directors: Ash Brannon, Chris Buck. With the voices of Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges. (85 min.)

Penguin Cody Maverick (LaBeouf) longs to compete in the world surfing contest. With help from a surfboard guru (Bridges) and a lifeguard (Zooey Deschanel), he could reach his goal. You may be thinking, enough with the penguins already, but this modest film gains freshness by parodying surfing documentaries (we hear its actual codirectors behind the imaginary camera interviewing surfers and even a disgruntled sea urchin). Its message: Work hard to pursue your dream. Grade: B+
– M.K. Terrell

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