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A FORCE TO RECKON WITH

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

Yes, it’s “Star Wars” weekend as “The Force Awakens” finally arrives, sending movie fans all over the world into a delirious tizzy. And as a result, the only major-studio competition comes from a family-friendly blend of live action and animation, and an R-rated raunchy comedy.

There are also a couple of art-house films opening that have already played in a few major markets, for those desiring a “Star Wars” alternative.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (PG-13). Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess (now General) Leia are reunited for this first in a trilogy of sequels to the original “Star Wars” trilogy. The plot is set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi,” with the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire again going into battle, this time with new names and new soldiers. Newcomers include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Max von Sydow.

 

“Sisters” (R). After they learn their parents are selling their childhood home, sisters Kate (Tina Fey) and Maura (Amy Poehler) decide to throw one last party in the house. Raunchy comedy co-stars include Maya Rudolph, Dianne Wiest, James Brolin, John Cena and John Leguizamo.

“Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” (PG). Live-action/animation sequel, the fourth in this franchise about chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and their human companion David Seville, played by Jason Lee. This time the chipmunks plot a road trip to Miami so they can stop Dave from proposing to his girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), believing he intends to dump them afterward. Voice cast includes Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Anna Faris and Kaley Cuoco.

“Heart of a Dog” (Not Rated). This sort-of documentary is an artsy meditation by musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson on death but not in a morose way. She ruminates on the journey of life and reflects on memories built with her late husband, the musician Lou Reed, as well as her little rat terrier Archie, which also passed recently.

“Rocco and His Brothers” (1960, b/w, in Italian with English subtitles). Lovingly restored poetic melodrama, beautifully photographed in black and white on vivid Italian locations by director Luchino Visconti. Alain Delon and Annie Giradot head the cast of this masterpiece about innocence lost as a saintly young man falls in love with a prostitute, not realizing that one of his four brothers loves her too, which leads to tragic consequences. (Exclusively at the Broadway Center Cinemas.)