Wish I Was Here ****
A struggling actor (Zach Braff) faces financial woes and emotional turmoil in the face of the imminent death of his cancer-stricken father (Mandy Patinkin). Starring Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Donald Faison, Ashley Greene, Jim Parsons, Michael Weston, Alexander Chaplin, Allan Rich, Cody Sullivan, Silvia Curiel, Nichole Galicia. Warm tender wonderful four tissue film. R 113 minutes. Four stars.
Venus in Fur (at FAU Living Room Theatres and Movies of Delray and Lake Worth) ***1/2
Director Roman Polanski adapts Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel about an actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) who attempts to convince a director (Mathieu Amalric) how she’s perfect for a role in his upcoming production. This version moves the action from New York to Paris. Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of auditioning actresses for his new play, writer-director Thomas (Amalric) complains that no actress he's seen has what it takes to play the lead female character: a woman who enters into an agreement with her male counterpart to dominate him as her slave. Thomas is about to leave the theater when actress Vanda (Seigner) bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic - and, it turns out, erotic - energy. At first she seems to embody everything Thomas has been lamenting. She is pushy, foul-mouthed, desperate and ill-prepared - or so it seems. When Thomas finally, reluctantly, agrees to let her try out for the part, he is stunned and captivated by her transformation. Not only is Vanda a perfect fit (even sharing the character's name), but she apparently has researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart and even bought her own props. The likeness proves to be much more than skin-deep. As the extended "audition" builds momentum, Thomas moves from attraction to obsession until, with Vanda taking an ever more dominant role, the balance of power shifts completely. NR 96 minutes NR 96 minutes. Three and a half stars.
Gabrielle (at FAU Living Room Theatres) ***
The musically gifted but developmentally challenged Gabrielle lives in a group home with four other adults who have similar disabilities. Like all young women, Gabrielle wants her independence, but of course her situation is exceptional. When she falls in love with a similarly challenged young man in her choir, she discovers that both the families and the social workers are alarmed; can these two handle an adult relationship? Then Gabrielle’s beloved and supportive sister confesses that she is going to move to India, and Gabrielle’s world is truly in danger of falling apart. With stubborn courage and a real zest for life, Gabrielle prevails against all odds to win her freedom. Tender special needs love story. R 103 minutes. Three stars.
Planes: Fire & Rescue **
When Dusty (Dane Cook), the famous racing airplane, learns that his engine is damaged, he must shift gears and find a new career. He joins an elite corps of firefighting aircraft devoted to protecting historic Piston Peak National Park. When a massive wildfire threatens the park, Dusty -- with the help of his fearless colleagues Blade Ranger, Dipper (Julie Bowen), Windlifter, Cabbie and the Smokejumpers -- learns what it takes to become a real hero. Starring Dane Cook, Julie Bowen. PG 75 minutes. Two stars.
Sex Tape * 1/2
When Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) first met, they had an instant and intense romantic connection. However, 10 years and two children later, the flames of passion have dimmed to dull embers. To bring the sparks back to their relationship, Annie and Jay decide to make a video of themselves trying out every position in "The Joy of Sex." It seemed like a great idea -- until they discover that their private video is just one click away from going public. Starring Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, R 90 minutes. One and a half stars.
The Purge: Anarchy *
The New Founders of America invite you to celebrate your annual right to Purge. The Purge: Anarchy, the sequel to summer 2013's sleeper hit that opened to No. 1 at the box-office, sees the return of writer/director James DeMonaco to craft the next terrifying chapter of dutiful citizens preparing for their country's yearly 12 hours of anarchy. Starring Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams. R 103 minutes. One star.
Barry Epstein is president of Barry R. Epstein Associates, (www.publicrelations.nu) a full service public relations, marketing and political consulting firm based in Boca Raton, Fl. and the president of the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club (www.golddcoasttigerbayclub), Luxury Chamber (www.luxurychamber.com) the founder and former president of the West Boca Chamber of Commerce and president of the West Boca Leaders. (www.westbocaleaders.com). He also hosts a weekly internet television show on www.wrpbitv.com, also seen on www.vimeo.com, www.publicrelations.nu and other sites; and writes a weekly column/blog on the www.bocatribune.com website and on the front page of the Sun-Sentinel/Jewish Journal website (http://www.barrys-journal.blogspot.com) For more information, visit www.publicrelations.nu or call 561.852.0000.