'Before Midnight,' good; 'The Hangover' a rehash

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“Before Midnight”

The final scene of 2004’s “Before Sunset” was so romantic it drove moviegoers crazy — happily crazy — especially because it was so tantalizingly ambiguous.

Jesse and Celine, that appealing (and extremely talkative) couple played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who had fallen in love in the 1995 “Before Sunrise,” had reunited at last. In the gorgeous afternoon light of Paris, no less. But we didn’t know what would happen next. Nine years later, we have our answer, and it was sure worth the wait. “Before Midnight,” the third movie in the Richard Linklater series, is not only as good as the first two, it’s arguably better, tackling weightier, trickier issues with wit, humor and breathtaking directness. The setting is still gorgeous — it’s a summer vacation in Greece. (Will these two ever venture to an ugly locale?) But the rest is different. Delpy gives Celine a new hardness here, an edge that we saw only a bit in the previous film. And Hawke is extremely effective as a man who adores his partner but is increasingly frustrated with her. It all comes to a head in a humdinger of a fight — just Jesse and Celine in a hotel room, plus a bottle of wine that doesn’t get drunk. It gets poured, though, and you’ll be so frazzled, you’ll want to reach through the screen and chug it down yourself. Rated R for sexual content/nudity and language. 109 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

— Jocelyn Noveck, AP National Writer

“The Hangover Part III”

Daring isn’t a word you would use very much to describe 2011’s “The Hangover Part II,” the disappointingly lazy, beat-for-beat rehash of the wild and wildly successful original “Hangover” from 2009.

And yet, here we are with part three, which runs a different sort of risk by going to darker and more dangerous places than its predecessors. It dares to alienate the very audience that made “The Hangover” the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time because, well, it isn’t exactly a comedy. Sure, there are some outrageous lines and sight gags, mostly courtesy of Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong, who function as central figures this time when, previously, a little bit of them went a long way. But director and co-writer Todd Phillips signals early and often that he’s much more interested than ever before in exploring matters of real consequence rather than simply mining them for brash laughs. This time, Galifianakis’ insufferable, inappropriate man-child Alan has gone off his meds and is out of control. His family and friends — including fellow “Wolfpack” members Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) — stage an intervention and offer to drive him to a treatment center in Arizona. Clearly, this won’t be an innocuous trek through the desert. R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity. 100 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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