Dark Waters

Focus

Fact-based drama about poisoned water, similar to 2000’s “Erin Brockovich,” has a single crusading lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) taking on a powerful company – in this case, DuPont – that’s been dumping industrial waste from the manufacture of Teflon around Parkersburg, West Virginia, the loyal company town where the coating is made. The ambitious attorney, who used to represent chemical companies, becomes involved in the situation at the urging of a stubborn local farmer (Bill Camp) who knows his grandmother (Marcia Dangerfield). Director Todd Haynes and screenwriters Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan limn a rural landscape where the sun seems never to shine and the wealthy exploit and poison the poor with seeming impunity. Some rough and profane language, occasional animal gore. A-III; PG-13

Jumanji: The Next Level

Columbia

Playful gender-bending within the context of a video-game alternate universe mingles with an unexpectedly somber message about approaching death in this follow-up to the 2017 original. Director Jake Kasdan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, has made, in spite of the sight gags about physical abilities and regenerated characters, a reflection on adult responsibilities, mortality and self-esteem. Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan are the most prominent of the avatars into whom the core cast of the kickoff (Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain and Madison Iseman), among others, are transformed before embarking on a quest during which they take on the brutal leader (Rory McCann) of a violent empire. An old game, a familiar plot and eternal verities are a potent combination. Intense action sequences, fleeting sexual references, three profanities, occasional crude language. A-III; PG-13

Playmobil: The Movie

STX

Four years after their parents were killed in a car accident, a formerly free-spirited teen girl (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her fun-loving younger brother (Gabriel Bateman) are at odds because of her overprotectiveness. But after they’re magically transported to a world inhabited by the titular line of toys, and he is kidnapped, she embarks on a quest to rescue him. She finds an unlikely ally in the form of a laidback food truck driver (voice of Jim Gaffigan) and is also aided by a James Bond-like spy (voice of Daniel Radcliffe). Mostly animated, but bracketed by live-action sequences, director Lino DiSalvo’s meandering musical adventure, which also features voice work by Adam Lambert as a loony Roman emperor, is too frightening for tots and strays momentarily into some questionable dialogue. Still, themes of teamwork, friendship, family bonds and forgiveness go some way toward compensating for its obvious aesthetic shortcomings. Considerable peril, stylized combat violence, two vaguely crass terms. A-II ; PG

The Two Popes

Netflix

Glossy but highly speculative account of a visit to the Vatican by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the future Pope Francis, shortly before the resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins). Screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Fernando Meirelles ill-advisedly try to extol Francis by trashing Benedict, presenting the latter as doddering and detached from the realities of modern life. They counterbalance this somewhat with an extended sequence of flashbacks showing Jesuit Father Bergoglio’s quasi-collaborationist approach to the brutal military regime that came to power in Argentina following a 1976 coup d’etat, a subject about which they seem to imagine that they have acquired a clarity and certainty that has evaded many others. But when it comes to the two pontificates, their bias is more than apparent. Fine performances by the leads and high production values do not compensate adequately for a fast and loose version of recent church history. Themes requiring mature discernment, scenes of violence, a few sexual references, one mild profanity, a single crass term. A-III; PG-13

Uncut Gems

A24

Relentlessly grating character study of a lowlife jewelry merchant (Adam Sandler) in New York’s Diamond District as he juggles his wife (Idina Menzel), the employee who doubles as his mistress (Julia Fox), the basketball gambling addiction that has left him in debt to his loan shark brother-in-law (Eric Bogosian) and his fraught relationship with hoops star Kevin Garnett (playing himself). Although the abrasive tone is deliberate, the effect is that of a skillfully composed sonata for fingernails on a blackboard. Directors and brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, who co-wrote the script with Ronald Bronstein, also hold out the protagonist’s affair as a potential source of happiness. Gunplay and physical violence, some gore, benignly viewed adultery, strong sexual content including implied lesbian activity, voyeurism and rear nudity, frequent profanities, pervasive rough and crude language, an obscene gesture. O; R

USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classifications:

A-I – General patronage

A-II – Adults and adolescents

A-III – Adults

A-IV – Adults, with reservations

L – Limited adult audience

O – Morally offensive

Motion Picture Association of America ratings:

G – General audiences; all ages admitted

PG – Parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children

PG-13 – Parents are strongly cautioned to give special guidance for attendance of children under 13; some material may be inappropriate for young children

R – Restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian

NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted