Movie Meter: The Theory of Everything Is Ready for Award Season, Dumb and Dumber To Is Ready for the Trash

What to see (and skip) in local movie theaters this weekend.

SEE IT

The Theory of Everything: This biopic concerning the brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking, stricken to a wheelchair from ALS as a young man, sagely avoids many of the common melodramatic liberties that so often plague the genre. James Marsh’s film — which stars the phenomenal Eddie Redmayne as Hawking, and the luminescent Felicity Jones as his long-suffering wife — is a shoo-in for Oscar-nom glory. Expect nominations for its two young stars and likely for the film itself, which is a good deal more honest in its warts-and-all depiction of its subject than you might expect. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Hiroshima Mon Amour:  A new digital restoration of this film is now playing at the Ritz at the Bourse. My parents have argued about this Alain Resnais film over the course of the 55 years since its original release, back in 1959. Written by novelist Marguerite Duras, the story is about a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva), working in Japan on an anti-war film, who has an elongated affair with a Japanese architect (Elji Okada). The two delve deeply into their personal philosophies regarding the war and its aftermath. Was it a long, turgid bore (my mother), or a brilliant, conceptual piece on the nature of the inherent distance between lovers (my father)? On this one, I lean more towards my late father, but feel free to make your own choice. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-NsI8lZ5Lw

Beyond the Lights: Call me skeptical about this star-crossed lovers story from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Most of the early critical acclaim, however, suggests the power of the two leads (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker) more than transcends the occasional lapses into stock storytelling. The film concerns a young music superstar (Mbatha-Raw), who falls madly for one of the cops in her security detail (Parker). The two secure their relationship and consummate their respective talents in the face of all the naysayers around them. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

WAIT FOR DVD

Rosewater: Comedian and Daily Show host Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with a dramatic account of an all-too-real story. Tehran-born journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal) was arrested in 2009 shortly after sending footage of voter outrage in Iran to the BBC. He was held in confinement and tortured for the next 118 days, only to be released after a worldwide groundswell of support largely stirred up by his indefatigable wife (Claire Foy). Despite the film’s political chops and dark humor, more than a few critics have decried its relative artlessness, and questioned its relevancy so many years after the events depicted. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Low Down: Jeff Preis’ drama is about a young woman (Elle Fanning) and her relationship to her junkie father (John Hawkes), a brilliant jazz pianist whose drug addiction causes an inevitable spiral in ’70s-era L.A. Despite a strong cast, including the great Hawkes, Fanning, Peter Dinklage, and Glenn Close, the film is, by some critics’ estimations, pretty steadfastly surface, even if that surface is rough-hewn and covered with graffiti. Could be well worth seeing for Hawkes alone, but only if you’re ready for a downer. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%

SKIP IT

Dumb and Dumber To: If it makes me a highbrow elitist to sneer at this achingly awful-looking sequel to the 1994 moronic comedy hit, 20 years later, then so be it. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad and embarrassing if it weren’t so obvious that the Farrelly Brothers and star Jim Carrey were so desperate for a hit that they willingly hit the bottom of the butter-churn and scraped up what little remained of their talent and dignity. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%