★★★½ (out of four) “West Side Story” (PG-13; 156 minutes): If you know the original pretty well, watching this one is fascinating, like getting reacquainted with an old friend who now looks quite different. Director Steven Spielberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner and choreographer Justin Peck have created a dazzling version entirely their own. The music and songs remain the same, but the screenplay is thoughtful and interesting and Peck’s choreography retains the spirit of Jerome Robbins’ creativity while finding new, fresh movement. Full review here. Multiple theaters. — Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times movie critic
★★★ “Being the Ricardos” (R; 125 minutes): So, with Aaron Sorkin’s new film — set during a one-week period in the mid-1950s as an episode of “I Love Lucy” is being made — let’s just start with the obvious: Nicole Kidman is a strange choice to play comedy icon Lucille Ball. But sometimes, miscasting can be very interesting, in the hands of an actor who knows what she’s doing — and Kidman is definitely that. Full review here. Multiple theaters; begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video Dec. 21. — Moira Macdonald
★★★ “The Hand of God” (R; 130 minutes; subtitled): Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical film, Italy’s Oscar submission, is based on his 1980s childhood. Our protagonist, standing in for the director, is the teenage Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti). He’s mostly an observer to the family circus around him — until a tragedy jolts him and the film into a different realm. Full review here. Crest; on Netflix starting Dec. 15. — Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
“National Champions” (R; 116 minutes): It’s thoughtful, involving, as current as can be — and oddly named. The college football national championship likely hangs in the balance, but the film is barely about that. Rather, it’s about a superstar player’s threat to sit out the title game in an attempt to force the NCAA to pay its student athletes. The film examines the issues as everyone tries to get what they want. Stephan James and J.K. Simmons star. No star rating provided. Full review here. Multiple theaters. — Michael Ordona, Los Angeles Times
“Don’t Look Up” (R; 145 minutes): Adam McKay’s satirical sci-fi flick follows two low-level astronomers (Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio) as they go on a media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth. The star-studded cast also includes Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry and Timothée Chalamet. Multiple theaters; on Netflix starting Dec. 24.
“The Lady of Heaven” (R; 141 minutes): This film presents two stories separated by 1,400 years. After losing his mother, an Iraqi child, in the midst of a war-torn country, finds himself in a new home, where he learns the importance and power of patience by discovering the historical story of Lady Fatima and her suffering. Pacific Place.
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