Critic's Choice

'King of Kings,' 'Johnny Guitar' and 'The Asphalt Jungle' playing in L.A.

Sunday, March 27, is Easter, and moviegoers who enjoy the past will have screening opportunities both sacred and profane to tempt them.

On the sacred side is a 55th-anniversary screening of 1961's "King of Kings," a remake of the 1927 silent classic about the life of Jesus Christ with Jeffrey Hunter in the title role and auteur favorite Nicholas Ray in the director's chair. Screening at 1 p.m. at the Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts in Beverly Hills.

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Those with more profane tastes will enjoy a fine double bill that concludes the American Cinematheque's tribute to the actor Sterling Hayden at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Screening at 7:30 is another Ray film, the wacky western "Johnny Guitar," starring Joan Crawford, followed by John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle," as fine a caper film as has ever been made.

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Movie recommendations from Turan and other reviewers.

The Big Short

Adam McKay, with the help of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, has made a very funny film about a very serious situation, 2008's global financial collapse. (Kenneth Turan) R.

Brooklyn

Impeccably directed by John Crowley, feelingly adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín's fine novel and blessed with heart-stopping work from star Saoirse Ronan and the rest of the cast, "Brooklyn" is about love and heartache, loneliness and intimacy, what home means and how we achieve it. (Kenneth Turan) PG-13.

Embrace of the Serpent

This Oscar-nominated Colombia film is a strikingly photographed black-and-white epic that intertwines a passionate attack on the depredations of invasive capitalism with a potent adventure story. (Kenneth Turan) NR.

Hail, Caesar!

A droll Coen brothers tribute to and spoof of Hollywood past that amuses from beginning to end with its site specific re-creation of the studio system and the movies that made it famous. (Kenneth Turan) PG-13.

Krisha

Artfully claustrophobic and anchored by a commanding breakout performance from its 64-year-old female lead, Krisha Fairchild (the director’s aunt), this astonishing debut feature from Trey Edward Shults offers a simultaneously dread-filled and empathetic picture of a damaged soul. (Robert Abele) R.

The Lady in the Van

Maggie Smith stars in this sharp British comedy — written by Alan Bennett, based on his play and directed by Nicholas Hytner. A delicately written, boisterously performed movie about the difficult people who dare us to care about them. (Rebecca Keegan) PG-13.

Midnight Special

A Michael Shannon-starring drama that announces the arrival of Jeff Nichols as a filmmaker in total control of his technique as well as our emotions. A bravura science fiction thriller that explores emotional areas like parenthood and the nature of belief, it's a riveting genre exercise as well as something more. (Kenneth Turan) PG-13.

My Golden Days

Arnaud Desplechin's Cannes sensation contains an intoxicatingly realistic portrayal of the intense emotionality, the intertwined joy and pain, of first love. (Kenneth Turan) R.

Spotlight

The saga of how the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for uncovering sexual abuse by Catholic priests, the film is mightily impressive not only because of the importance of the story it tells but also because of how much effort and skill went into bringing it to the screen. (Kenneth Turan) R.

The Wave

Nothing profound here, just a crackling disaster movie, Norwegian-style, that adds effective acting to gangbusters special effects, resulting in a white-knuckle experience a bit higher on the plausibility scale than what we're used to from Hollywood. (Kenneth Turan) R.

The Witch

Robert Eggers' impressive debut feature sows suspicion into nearly every frame, so intent on a darkening mood that the stillness of trees at the edge of a wood, or a child's face in demonic thrall, even an ambling goat, carries the same capacity to unnerve. (Robert Abele, Feb. 19) (1:30) R.

Zootopia

Bursting with a rich blend of timely themes, superb voice work, wonderful visuals and laugh-out-loud wit, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ latest is quite simply a great time at the movies. (Gary Goldstein) PG.

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A version of this article appeared in print on March 25, 2016, in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "The sacred and the profane" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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