Freeze Frame: “Scream” (R), “Drive My Car” (Unrated), “Belle” (PG), “The 355” (R), “The Tender Bar” (R)

The fifth installment of the “Scream” movie franchise, simply titled “Scream,” supplies more of the same. And that’s just what many fans expect. This self-referential, tongue-in-cheek slasher movie ups the ante on bashing horror movie cliches while simultaneously embracing them. Expect clueless teens, plenty of blood and plenty of snark.


“Drive My Car” is an acclaimed arthouse movie from Japan about the emotional difficulties a theater director faces while trying to direct a production of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” following the death of his wife. “Drive My Car” is an empathetic character study that requires real effort to watch, but patient viewers will be rewarded.


“Belle” is a visually arresting Japanese anime revision of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale filtered through a story about a virtual reality game. It’s available to be screened in either the dubbed or subtitled format. Fans of anime may be intrigued by this sentimental tale, but others may well consider “Belle” an example of sensory overkill.


When they announced that Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz and Diane Kruger would be starring in the backside-kicking action flick “The 355,” I said, “I’m all in!” But why is it being released in the January cinematic graveyard? Now I know. “The 355,” a feminist spin on James Bond movies, is undone by plot holes, a herky-jerky pace and inconsistent tone, sinking the efforts of its attractive and capable cast. That’s the 4-1-1 on “The 355.”


Director George Clooney’s adaptation of J.R. Moehringer’s coming-of-age memoir “The Tender Bar” is well meaning, competently made and has solid performances from its cast, including Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan and Lily Rabe. Unfortunately, “The Tender Bar” commits a cardinal cinematic sin. It’s dull.

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