Annihilation

Alex Garland has been accused of white-washing the characters in Annihilation

Ratings by the Motion Picture Association of America are: (G) for general audiences; (PG) parental guidance urged because of material possibly unsuitable for children; (PG-13) parents are strongly cautioned to give guidance for attendance of children younger than 13; (R) restricted, younger than 17 admitted only with parent or adult guardian; (NC-17) no one 17 and younger admitted.

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(Critics' Choices capsule reviews are by Kenneth Turan (K.Tu.), Justin Chang (J.C.) and other reviewers. Openings compiled by Kevin Crust.)

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OPENING IN HOLLYWOOD THIS WEEK

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"Annihilation" _ Natalie Portman stars as a biologist on a mission to learn her husband's fate in a mutated coastal sector of the U.S. With Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny. Written and directed by Alex Garland, based on novels by Jeff VanderMeer. R.

"Are We Not Cats" _ Unorthodox drama about a man who loses everything, then meets a woman who shares his fondness for eating hair. With Michael Patrick Nicholson, Chelsea Lopez, Michael Godere. Written and directed by Xander Robin. (1:20) NR.

"Beast of Burden" _ A pilot running drugs between Mexico and the U.S. is torn between his allegiance to the cartel and a deal with the DEA. With Daniel Radcliffe, Pablo Schreiber, Grace Gummer. Written by Adam Hoelzel. Directed by Jesper Ganslandt. R.

"Beuys" _ Documentary on the 20th century German sculptor-performance artist Joseph Beuys. Directed by Andres Veiel. In German and English with English subtitles. (1:47) NR.

"The Boy Downstairs" _ A young woman returns to Brooklyn only to discover her new apartment is directly above that of her ex. With Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Sarah Ramos. Written and directed by Sophie Brooks. (1:30) PG-13.

"Broken Ceiling" _ A woman decides she's been passed over for promotion one too many times. With Karan Kendrick. Written and directed by Adam Davis. (1:30) NR.

"The Chamber" _ A special-ops team and the crew of a commercial vessel are trapped in a submersible at the bottom of the Yellow Sea off the coast of North Korea. With Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Charlotte Salt, James McArdle. Written and directed by Ben Parker. (1:27) NR.

"Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk" _ A teenage boy in the 1980s discovers things of which his conservative family would not approve. With Sasha Feldman. Written by Tony DuShane, based on his book. Directed by Eric Stoltz. (1:35) NR.

"The Cured" _ An antidote to a virus that turned people into cannibals is discovered, but society may be ready to welcome back the survivors. With Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Written and directed by David Freyne. (1:35) R.

"Curvature" _ A phone call from herself results in a scientist traveling back in time to stop a murder. With Lyndsy Fonseca, Glenn Morshower, Linda Hamilton. Written by Brian DeLeeuw. Directed by Diego Hallivis. (1:28) NR.

"Days of Power" _ A Swiss pop star, her band and assistant are held hostage in a puppy mill. With Eric Roberts, Eliza Roberts, Simone Reyes. Written by Michel Grey. Directed by Jason Pagnoni. (1:42) NR.

"Every Day" _ A teenager falls in love with a soul who changes bodies every 24 hours. With Angourie Rice, Maria Bello, Debby Ryan. Written by Jesse Andrews, based on David Levithan's novel. Directed by Michael Sucsy. (1:35) PG-13.

"Game Night" _ A weekly get-together levels up when the couples participate in a murder-mystery party. With Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Kyle Chandler. Written by Mark Perez. Directed by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein. (1:40 ) R.

"Half Magic" _ Three women band together to take control of their careers and sex lives. With Heather Graham, Angela Kinsey, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Lewis. Written and directed by Graham. (1:34) R.

"The Housemaid" _ In Vietnam 1953, a taboo affair between a young woman and the French officer who employs her stirs the angry ghost of the man's dead wife. With Nhung Kate, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan. Written and directed by Derek Nguyen. In Vietnamese and English with English subtitles. (1:44) NR.

"The Lodgers" _ Twins are held hostage by a sinister curse on a rural estate in 1920 Ireland. With Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, David Bradley. Written by David Turpin. Directed by Brian O'Malley. (1:32) NR.

"Mute" _ Unable to speak since childhood, a bartender searches a futuristic Berlin with the help of two impudent American doctors. With Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux. Written by Duncan Jones, Michael Robert Johnson. Directed by Jones. (2:06) NR.

"7 Guardians of the Tomb" _ Scientists search for a colleague in an ancient Chinese underground labyrinth while battling a 2,000-year-old curse. With Kelsey Grammer, Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li. Written by Kimble Rendall, Paul Staheli. Directed by Rendall. (1:30) NR.

"Survivors Guide to Prison" _ Documentary looks at two Californians imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit. Featuring Bruce Lisker, Reggie Cole, Danny Trejo. Narrated by Susan Sarandon. Directed by Matthew Cooke. (1:42) NR.

"The Young Karl Marx" _ The philosopher and economist meets young German Friedrich Engels in 1844 Paris and their ideas revolutionize Europe. With August Diehl, Vicky Krieps, Stefan Konarske. Written by Pascal Bonitzer & Raoul Peck. Directed by Peck. In French, German and English with English subtitles. (1:58) R.

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CRITICS' CHOICES

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"Black Panther" _ Chadwick Boseman stars as the King of Wakanda faces external threats to his peaceful home. With Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman. Written by Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole. Directed by Coogler. (2:14) PG-13.

"Call Me By Your Name" _ Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer give superb performances as two young men falling in love in the northern Italian countryside in this rapturously beautiful collaboration between director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory. (J.C.) R.

"A Fantastic Woman" _ Chilean writer-director Sebastian Lelio's follow-up to "Gloria" is a compassionate and captivating portrait of a young transgender woman (a superb Daniela Vega) dealing with hostility and intolerance in the wake of her lover's death. (J.C.) R.

"Hostiles" _ Written and directed by Scott Cooper and powered by a dynamic trio of interwoven performances by Christian Bale, Wes Studi and Rosamund Pike, this latest example of the Western revival grabs you by the throat and holds on for the duration. (K.Tu.) R.

"Lady Bird" _ As warm as it is smart, and it is very smart, this portrait of a high school senior year marks actor-screenwriter Greta Gerwig's superb debut as a solo director and yet another astonishing performance by star Saoirse Ronan. (K.Tu.) R.

"Paddington 2" _ Everyone's favorite Peruvian-born, London-based bear is back, this time facing off against a nefarious stage actor (Hugh Grant) in this beautifully structured and executed comedy from director/co-writer Paul King. (J.C.) PG.

"The Post" _ Director Steven Spielberg and stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks combine for a thriller cum civics lesson showing the value of newspapers hanging together and holding government accountable for deception. (K.Tu.) PG-13.

"The Shape of Water" _ Magical, thrilling and romantic to the core, a sensual and fantastical "Beauty and the Beast" tale with moral overtones, Guillermo del Toro's film plays by all the rules and none of them, going its own way with fierce abandon. (K.Tu.) R.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" _ Building and improving on "The Force Awakens," writer-director Rian Johnson's grand space opera is the first flat-out terrific "Star Wars" movie since "The Empire Strikes Back," full of dramatic echoes of George Lucas' original trilogy but also rich in surprise and imagination. (J.C.) PG-13.

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" _ Uncommon writer-director Martin McDonagh and a splendid cast top-lined by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell present a savage film, even a dangerous one, the blackest take-no-prisoners farce in quite some time. (K.Tu.) R.

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(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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