Akiva Goldsman won an Oscar as the screenwriter of the complex and mysterious Best Picture of 2001, "A Beautiful Mind." He wrote and directed his current release, "Winter's Tale," based on Mark Helprin's 1983 fantasy romance novel of the same name.

The result is another strange and multifaceted story for the screen. But this one is overwhelmed by the impossibly romantic schmaltz that permeates the otherwise intricate tale.

Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay have definite chemistry as star-crossed lovers. Their connection begins in a mythical New York City at the beginning of the 20th century.

The streets are gritty, but the atmosphere is full of hidden angels and demons waging a war for the souls of those who truly love. Magical events interplay with mundane aspects of life to create a mixed bag of harsh reality and heavenly hope.

The production values, set design and special effects are first-rate. But this predictable tearjerker will ultimately appeal only to the incurable romantics who believe that love conquers all in this world and the next.

—John Depko

*

A 'Night' to repeat

Once in a while, a movie remake actually improves on the original.

Not that "About Last Night...," starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, was a classic that couldn't be tampered with. That 1986 version and the 2014 remake are both based on David Mamet's play "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," which was pretty brazen for its time.

The bedroom antics in the new version, now set in Los Angeles and without the ellipses in the title, have been definitely ramped up thanks to Kevin Hart and Regina Hall. They play Bernie and Joan, whose unabashedly sexy hookup is retold in all its drunken glory through some clever "he said, she said" editing.

Bernie and Joan set their best friends up for a double date, and it's clear that the handsome, conservative Danny (Michael Ealy) and beautiful Debbie (Joy Bryant) are a good match. They spark, but in more typical romantic-comedy fashion.

As a relationship develops between Danny and Debbie, their friends are resentful and hell-bent on being the flies in the ointment. Yet, when push comes to shove, Bernie and Joan offer true comfort for a brokenhearted friend.

Hart, who seems to be everywhere at the moment, gives his most hilarious and fully rounded performance yet. His rapid-fire, profane delivery reminds me of a young Eddie Murphy, but his quieter moments prove a delightful surprise.

Hall is more than able to hold her own against him, and together they are bawdy, gaudy comic gold.

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.