This week’s movie releases

Oscar-nominee Bruce Dern hits the road to collect his winnings in Alexander Payne's Nebraska Batman, Superman, Shakespeare, Morgan Freeman and some pirates team up in The Lego Movie

Bruce Dern (left) and Will Forte in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.
Bruce Dern (left) and Will Forte in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.

Comedy and bittersweet drama sit in expertly controlled sync in the movies of Alexander Payne, from the pinot noir-powered pathos of Sideways to the mournful mirth of The Descendants. His latest, Nebraska, a stripped-back road movie shot in muted black-and-white, finds him dabbing on the dramatic brakes a little more than stepping on the comedic gas. An Oscar-nominated Bruce Dern stars as Woody, an alcoholic, no-longer-quite-all-there septuagenarian trying to walk from his Montana hometown to Lincoln, Nebraska, to collect the million-dollar check he’s convinced he’s won courtesy of a junk mail prize draw. Aware of his mistake but taking pity on his ailing dad, son Will Forte elects to drive him to pick up his winnings, stopping off on Woody’s hometown en route.

Lego recreations of film classics, from Monty Python’s Knights of the Round Table skit to The Blues Brothers shopping mall chase, have been a YouTube staple for years. Now Denmark’s finest purveyor of small plastic bricks has given the green-light for writer-director team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) to create The Lego Movie, infused with all the wit, irony and fun that helped make all those amateur internet videos such a draw. It’s the story of a lowly Lego figure called Emmet, who’s recruited to fight an evil tyrant after being mistaken for a savior. Pirates, unicorns, Batman, Superman and William Shakespeare all put in appearances, while Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman provide the voices.

Director Ramin Bahrani’s previous features have been championed by, among others, the late critic Roger Ebert, and they won numerous prizes at international festivals. His fourth, At Any Price, stars Dennis Quaid as a farming magnate who wants his son Dean (Zac Efron) to help him expand his business. However, the rebellious Dean has his sights set on becoming a racing driver. With Heather Graham and Kim Dickens.

Heist society

Action drama Setup sees rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson team up with Detroit mob boss Bruce Willis to recover the stolen spoils of a diamond heist. Ryan Phillippe stars as the friend and accomplice who betrays him while Jenna Dewan, Randy Couture and James Remar provide support.

Directed by Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin, UK-Russian documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer charts the court cases that enveloped the Russian activist band after they staged their impromptu anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral.

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