THE HATEFUL EIGHT “Awoooooooo! The Hateful Eeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiight!”

recommended The Big Short
See review this issue. Various Theaters.

recommended Carol
See review this issue. Various Theaters.

Spike Lee's ambitious new film tackles inner-city Chicago violence through the power of the pussy (I wish I were exaggerating). IJEOMA OLUO Cinema 21.

A drama about forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), who the NFL tried to shut up once he started publicizing his research about how NFL players suffer major brain damage, leading to dementia and suicide. Fitting, then, that even Concussion felt the wrath of the NFL, as the New York Times reported in September: "In dozens of studio emails unearthed by hackers, Sony executives; the director, Peter Landesman; and representatives of Mr. Smith discussed how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league." Various Theaters.

Daddy's Home
Will Ferrell. Mark Wahlberg. Fighting over the love of a household. What do you need, a roadmap? With regular collaborator Adam McKay busy doing The Big Short, this partial The Other Guys reunion feels even more erratically hangdog than normal, wobbling uncertainly between lengthy improv digressions and musty family comedy conventions, sometimes in the very same scene. Still, the chemistry of the leads is undeniable, especially when bouncing off of folks like Linda Cardellini and Hannibal Buress. (Thomas Haden Church, assuming the role that Gary Cole usually plays in these things, is an absolute hoot.) It'll do until the next one. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.

The Danish Girl
The Danish Girl takes place in the Expanded Universe of Oscar Bait, where the light is diffuse, all prostitutes are beautiful, everyone speaks vaguely accented English, and the only litter in the world is that plastic bag from American Beauty. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.

recommended The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino's nasty new western isn't an epic. Sure, it's three hours long and shot in 70mm, but The Hateful Eight is a deceptively simple chess game that has more in common with Reservoir Dogs than Tarantino's last two films. Even the title is misleading: I counted nine, possibly 10 characters that could be considered "hateful." Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is bringing wanted murderer Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the Wyoming town of Red Rock to be hanged. Along a snowy mountain pass he encounters another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), along with Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), supposedly Red Rock's new sheriff. The group seeks shelter at Minnie's Haberdashery, where other mysterious men are waiting out a blizzard. At least one standoff is inevitable. Despite the roadshow rollout, this isn't so much a grand-scale epic as much as an Agatha Christie-style chamber piece. (In other words, you'll be fine if you see it at the multiplex.) Sure, the photography is rich and pictorial—we see icicles dripping from the horses, and the deep focus works wonderfully for the lengthy interior sequences. But the characters and their shifting alliances drive Tarantino's wicked stagecoach. The very slow first half pays off in the grisly second half, and the performances are spectacular (particularly Leigh and Goggins). Tarantino's suspenseful puzzle box requires patience—and rewards it. NED LANNAMANN See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Hitchcock/Truffaut
"Hitchcock had freed Truffaut as an artist, and Truffaut wanted to reciprocate by freeing Hitchcock from his reputation as a light entertainer," Bob Balaban narrates in Kent Jones' documentary. Heavy on the Hitchcock and light on the Truffaut, Hitchcock/Truffaut is pieced together from the audio tapes recorded when Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock for his 1966 book—but also boasts interviews with contemporary directors who fanboy out over Hitchcock's work, including David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Olivier Assayas, Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Linklater, and Wes Anderson. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.

Janis: Little Girl Blue
Amy Berg's documentary about the rock legend, taken from letters she wrote during her long, strange trip into stardom. Narrated by Cat Power. Cinema 21.

recommended Joy
See review this issue. Various Theaters.

See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.

recommended The Night Before
Perhaps the only Christmas movie that offers both a whole lot of dick pics and the sad, lonely sense of desperation that defines the holidays. It also features Seth Rogen throwing up all over a midnight mass. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.

recommended Orson Welles at 100
The NW Film Center's retrospective brings together a wide array of movies that reflect our current understanding of Welles' work as director and actor. See "From Genius to Pitchman: Orson Welles at 100," Dec 9. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.

Point Break
See review this issue. Various Theaters.

recommended POWMonthly
POWFest's film series, featuring films "made by women that address issues of gender equality and the varied nature of women's lived experiences." This month: Young Lakota, directed by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt. Clinton Street Theater.

recommended Sisters
At the screening I attended, a man beside me, horrified, kept shouting, "Oh my GOD!" whenever Amy Poehler or Tina Fey said anything remotely crude. If that's not a resounding endorsement, I don't know what is. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.

recommended Spotlight
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James play the Boston Globe's "spotlight" team of investigative journalists who were tasked with looking into child molestation charges leveled at Boston's beloved Catholic Archdiocese. Translating a highly detailed true story to film could sound like a staged reading of a Wikipedia page, or worse, trivialize the victims' experiences—but Spotlight manages to pull it off. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens starts like Star Wars, has a middle like Empire Strikes Back, and ends like Return of the Jedi. It's a best-of Star Wars mixtape. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.

recommended MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, December 25-Thursday, December 31, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.