'The Climb'

Michael Angelo Covino and Kyle Marvin in “The Climb.”

The new movie “The Climb” debuts in theaters this week, and “Come Away” will be available both in theaters and online. “Hillbilly Elegy” and “The Life Ahead” will be on Netflix.

THE CLIMB

(in theaters)

 The edgy buddy movie consists of a series of stunning vignettes punctuated with touching, hilarious or bizarre inserts between chapters. One insert shows a pair of synchronized snow skiers. Another presents a violinist, accordionist and a guitarist performing while standing on the ice near an ice fishing shack.

The film’s blend of drama and comedy begins with childhood friends Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) peddling through France a few days before Kyle’s upcoming wedding to Ava (Judith Goodreche).

But the cycling holiday ends badly when Mike tells Kyle about previous romantic encounters with Ava, and an enraged motorist jumps out of his Citroen and beats up Mike.  

Actors Marvin and Covino cowrote the terrific script, and Covino directed this examination of the oddly enduring friendship of two guys who have a love/hate bromance.

  Despite his family’s total acceptance of Mike as a extended family member during a Thanksgiving get-together, Kyle refuses to forgive his duplicitous former buddy and does not trust Mike with new fiance Marissa (Gayle Rankin).

  “The Climb” cleverly weaves its way between tragedy and comedy in an entertaining and sometimes even profound way.   

  Rated R

 3 and 1/2 Stars

COME AWAY

(in theaters and online)

 The fantasy drama imagines that Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan are somehow siblings. Alice Littleton (Keira Chansa and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Peter Littleton (Jordan Nash) are trying to help their parents, Rosa (Angelina Jolie) and Jack Littleton (David Oyelowo), recover from their sorrow over the death of their older son David (Reece Yates). The new fairy tale follows the adventures of Alice and Peter as they travel to London to sell a heirloom and eventually enter their own signature worlds--Alice into a rabbit hole and Peter into Neverland.

Directed by Brenda Chapman, “Come Away” includes Anna Chancellor as Eleanor Morrow and the familiar characters of Hatter (Clarke Peters), Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (James Pavey and Rob Pavey), Mr. Darling (Daniel Swain) and Michael Darling (Carter Thomas).

HILLBILLY ELEGY

(Netflix)

J.D. Vance’s bestselling “The Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis” has been adapted into a feature film directed by Ron Howard.

The story concerns three generations of an poverty-stricken family. Gabriel Basso portrays J.D. Vance, a Yale law student, who returns to his family’s original Appalachian home in Eastern Kentucky. Owen Asztalos is the young J.D. Amy Adams is J.D.’s hot-tempered mother Bev Vance, and the almost unrecognizable Glenn Close plays the very tough grandmother, Mamaw. Bo Hopkins portrays Papaw.

THE LIFE AHEAD

(Netflix)

Sophia Loren returns to the screen at age 86 to critical raves in an Italian drama directed by her son Edoardo Ponti. Loren portrays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who runs a daycare business for the children of prostitutes in Bari, a seaside Italian town.  When a 12-year-old Sengalese street kid named Momo (Ibrahima Gueye) is put in her care, Rosa cannot control the angry child who tends to turn violent.

Based on “The Life Before Us” by novelist Romain Gary, “The Life Ahead” gives viewers the chance to witness the acting skills of the still marvelous Loren in a film that remains relevant and timely.

Alice Reese is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Film Critics Association. She reviews movies, arts and  entertainment for the Herald-Banner and for KETR.

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