Capsule reviews for Dec. 15

The Ballad of Lefty Brown

A clever casting choice, Bill Pullman shines in this character-driven Western that puts the sidekick in the spotlight. He stars in the title role as a simple-minded cowboy whose longtime partner (Peter Fonda) is killed on the range, prompting the grieving widow (Kathy Baker) to blame Lefty for the death. He becomes ostracized and determined to prove his innocence with reluctant assistance from the local sheriff (Tommy Flanagan) and a stranded teenager (Diego Josef). The stylish if deliberately paced adventure covers familiar territory as it explores the harshness of frontier justice. Yet the film, like Lefty, has more depth and complexity than it first appears. (Rated R, 111 minutes).


Beyond Skyline

There’s not much sense to be made of this cartoonish science-fiction saga, which allegedly is a sequel to an obscure and equally silly 2010 alien-invasion thriller. This one starts with everyone in Los Angeles having been kidnapped during a massive extraterrestrial attack, causing a detective (Frank Grillo) to endeavor to rescue his son (Jonny Weston) from the alien spaceship and save the human race. He winds up teaming with a rebel militia in Southeast Asia specializing in martial arts. Despite a lively pace and some amusing cut-rate effects, the screenplay by director Liam O’Donnell is neither funny nor compelling, and offers minimal incentive for emotional investment. (Rated R, 105 minutes).



Take an open mind and a full stomach to this documentary, which provides nourishment for both the appetite and the brain. It chronicles the efforts of a group of women in a refugee camp in Lebanon to start their own catering business, and specifically to begin operating a food truck. Their primary goal is to earn money for their struggling families, but they’re also terrific cooks who bring together culinary ideas from their native cultures. What sounds like a no-brainer, however, is met with sociopolitical resistance and bureaucratic red tape. The uneven but mildly provocative film capably captures their hope and heartbreak without turning heavy-handed. (Not rated, 73 minutes).