Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings, 1/2/20 – 1/9/20

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All theater listings are as of Friday, Jan. 3.

Editor's note: Due to the holiday and early deadlines, many theaters have incomplete or missing listings as of press time. Call the following theaters or visit their websites to confirm what films are playing: Fair Oaks Theater ((805) 489-2364 or facebook.com/fairoakstheatre); Galaxy Theatres ((805) 460-0123 or galaxytheatres.com); Park Cinemas ((805) 227-2172 or parkcinemas.com); Regal Stadium 10 ((844) 462-7342 or regmovies.com/theatres/regal-arroyo-grande); Sunset Drive-In ((805) 544-4475 or facebook.com/sunsetdrivein).

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) directs this biopic drama that's based on the real-life friendship between beloved children's television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod, renamed Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) in the film.

—Anna Starkey

ABOMINABLE

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Friday, Jan. 3, in the Fremont (Free tickets at Boo Boo's and fremontslo.com)

HEADING HOME A Yeti named Everest is helped home by three teens, in Abominable, screening for free at the Fremont Theater on Jan. 3. Free tickets available at Boo Boo Records and fremontslo.com. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks Animation
  • HEADING HOME A Yeti named Everest is helped home by three teens, in Abominable, screening for free at the Fremont Theater on Jan. 3. Free tickets available at Boo Boo Records and fremontslo.com.

Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman have had their hands in animated/fantasy films such as Monsters Inc. and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, respectively, in the writers' room or the visual department. The two have now come together for the first time as a director-duo to create DreamWorks' Abominable, where Chloe Bennet is the voice of Yi, a young girl who goes on an epic adventure across China to take a yeti back to its home on Mt. Everest. (97 min.)

—Karen Garcia

BOMBSHELL

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

BRINGING DOWN AN EMPIRE Bombshell tells the true story of Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), who set out to expose Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LIONSGATE AND HILLARY B. GAYLE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Lionsgate And Hillary B. Gayle
  • BRINGING DOWN AN EMPIRE Bombshell tells the true story of Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), who set out to expose Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.

Co-producer and director Jay Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Meet the Parents) helms this drama based on the true story of several women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. The cast includes Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, and Allison Janney. (108 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

CATS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rental (for first-timers); Matinee (for Webber buffs, aka Webheads)

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

HEY JUDI Judi Dench stars as Old Deuteronomy, in director Tom Hooper's adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • HEY JUDI Judi Dench stars as Old Deuteronomy, in director Tom Hooper's adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats.

Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Miserables, The Danish Girl) directs this adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the poetry collection, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Elliot. Over the course of a single night, a tribe of cats called the Jellicles make what is known as "the Jellicle choice" and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and gain a new life.

I can't predict what my reaction to Cats would have been had I not been a longtime fan of the original musical. The current consensus on the adaptation seems to be that critics absolutely despise it (at least according to its score of 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), while audiences' reactions are lukewarm at best (with an audience score of 62 percent). I was actually hoping to fit in with the former crowd, but alas, I'm obliged to take a contrarian stance as there was hardly a moment where I was not smiling during my screening. I'm not kiddingor should I say, kitty-ing. Admittedly, there were a fair amount of instances where I was laughing at Cats, rather than with it. Still, that's genuine joy nonetheless.

Again, full disclosure: I went in to Cats already loving the songs. I wouldn't recommend the film as an introduction to the musical; I think first-timers are prone to become distracted by most of the laughably unsettling CGI. But if you are a Cats fan, or a musical lover in general, I can't stop myself from recommending seeing this on the big screen. Even if you end up hating the gaudy production design, the most positive thing you'll be able to claim leaving the theater is you've never seen a film quite like Cats. It's a flamboyant mess at times, but the moving performances (especially from Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellan) and bizarrely beautiful dance sequences made this cinematic adaptation worthwhile for me. Even its most criticized absurdities work in its favor. Don't buy in to the hate. Cats is far from purr-fect, but it ain't kitty litter either. (120 min.)

—Caleb

DARK WATERS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, I'm Not There) directs this historical legal thriller about corporate defense attorney Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), who takes on an environmental lawsuit against DuPont, which he links to a number of deaths and illnesses caused by its pollution and practices. If you're short on corporate outrage, this is the film for you. It's a stark reminder of how toothless the Environmental Protection Agency is, how corporations essentially own the government, and how corporations are not people! They might be run by people, but they're soulless money-generating entities devoid of morality. This is a gripping film and also a sad indictment of the government institutions that are supposed to protect us but too often don't. (126 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FROZEN II

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Frozen, 2013) return to helm this animated sequel about Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven the reindeer as they leave Arendelle and travel to an enchanted forest, where they hope to discover the origins of Elsa's power. This worthy sequel is a charmer filled with eye-popping animation, catchy songs, and a sweet story about how sometimes change is good even though it's scary; friendship and protecting your friends from danger; and the power of love. (103 min.)

—Glen

THE GRUDGE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

New

THE GHOST OF MOVIES PAST The Grudge reboots the series that started in 2002 with the Japanese film Ju-on, about a vengeful spirit that dooms those it encounters, such as Faith Matheson (Lin Shaye). - PHOTO COURTESY OF SCREEN GEMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Screen Gems
  • THE GHOST OF MOVIES PAST The Grudge reboots the series that started in 2002 with the Japanese film Ju-on, about a vengeful spirit that dooms those it encounters, such as Faith Matheson (Lin Shaye).

Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother, Piercing) directs this new installment in The Grudge horror franchise that started in 2002 with the Japanese film Ju-on, followed by Ju-on 2 (2003), the American versions The Grudge (2004), The Grudge 2 (2006), and The Grudge 3 (2009), Ju-on: White Ghost (2009), and Ju-on: Black Ghost (2009). Basically, a house is cursed by a vengeful spirit, and when it encounters people, they soon meet a gruesome end. This one stars Tara Westwood as Fiona Landers and Junko Bailey as Kayako Ghost. (93 min.)

—Glen

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks, Sunset Drive-In

Pick

Jake Kasdan (Orange County, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) directs this next installment in the Jumanji franchise, with returning stars Karen Gillan as Ruby Roundhouse, Dwayne Johnson as Dr. Smolder Bravestone, Jack Black as Professor Sheldon "Shelly" Oberon, and Kevin Hart as Franklin "Mouse" Finbar. This time the gang returns to the world of Jumanji to rescue one of their own and must brave an arid desert and snowy mountain as they attempt to survive the deadly video game. (123 min.)

—Caleb

KNIVES OUT

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) helms this whodunit about Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who's investigating the death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). Did he commit suicide, or was he murdered by one of his eccentric family members? (130 min.)

—Glen

LITTLE WOMEN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

ENDURING SISTERHOOD Little Women follows the lives of four sisters—(left to right) Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen)—as they come of age in 1860s New England. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • ENDURING SISTERHOOD Little Women follows the lives of four sisters—(left to right) Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen)as they come of age in 1860s New England.

Greta Gerwig (Ladybird) helms this new version of the classic 1868-69 Louisa May Alcott novel, which follows the lives of the four March sistersMeg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen)as they come of age in 1860s New England, amid the aftermath of the Civil War. Though this is an oft-told tale, with now eight film adaptations, Gerwig's new version is a real standout, turning the story into a poioumenon, a work of art about its own creation.

Though all four March sisters are given some screen time, the main character is Jo, the tomboyish writer who's ostensibly a stand-in for Alcott herself in this semi-autobiographical tale that was based on the author and her sisters' lives. Gerwig's film version deviates from Alcott's two-volume novel in various ways, perhaps most significantly by traveling back and forth between the two volumes, the first being the girls' younger years and the second being their early adulthood. Gerwig breaks chronology by moving back and forth through time, showing how earlier events informed the sisters' present circumstances.

If you're familiar with the tale, the main events are all there: the family giving their Christmas breakfast to a poor neighboring family, Beth contracting scarlet fever, Amy falling through the ice, Meg attending a debutantes' ball, and Jo selling her short stories. Likewise, most of the characters appear, like their handsome neighbor, Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (Timothée Chalamet), and his wealthy grandfather, Mr. Laurence (Chris Cooper); Laurie's tutor and Meg's future love interest, John Brooke (James Norton); and of course the sisters' amazing mother, Marmee (Laura Dern) and their housekeeper Hannah (Jayne Houdyshell); and of course the sisters' Aunt March (a typically wonderful Meryl Streep). There's also the Jo's love interest, the German professor Friedrich Bhaer (Louis Garrel, an actor much more handsome than how his character is described in Alcott's novel).

The best thing about Gerwig's version is how she pays tribute to Alcott, who never married or had any children of her own, and who after the publication of her famed and incredibly popular novel, often complained how her publisher forced her to create the expected happy ending. Gerwig pulls off the neat trick of having it both ways—creating an ending that honors the book and its author. I really loved this film, but grab the tissues—it just may have you ugly-crying. (135 min.)

—Glen

PARASITE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho plays with genre and societal commentary in this dark comedy thriller about a penniless family's unsavory but satisfying infiltration into a wealthy family's household. We're all capable of being both the heroes and antagonists of our own stories from time to time—able to make healthy and rational decisions in some situations while at the same time perfectly adept at self-destruction in others. And in one way or another, we're all parasites too. That's the running theme in Parasite, the most recent foreign-language film brought to us by director Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host), which centers on Ki-taek Kim (Song Kang Ho) and his destitute family's scrappy struggle for easy money. (132 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

THE SLO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Jan. 2, 4, and 5, at The Palm Theatre

New

Each January, the first cultural event of the year is the San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary. For a decade, the festival has played host to a variety of narrative, documentary, and shorts films from around the world celebrating Jewish culture. Hosted at the Palm Theatre, the festival kicks off Tuesday night, at 7 p.m. with a pre-festival screening of the award-winning feature documentary Fiddler on the Roof: Miracle of Miracles. Fiddler is the first in-depth documentary film that chronicles the life and themes of this iconic musical. Opening in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof held the record for the longest running musical for almost 10 years, won nine Tony Awards, and spawned five Broadway revivals. The screening will include live music and a costume contest featuring the iconic characters from the film.

Saturday, January 4, at 5 p.m., the weekend festival begins with a welcoming reception at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art on Broad Street, where filmmakers and audience members can meet one another while tasting local wines and locally sourced food before heading over to the Palm Theatre for an evening celebration of Jewish contributions to the Motion Picture Industry. The evening will include the powerful documentary Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream, which features how Jewish producers helped transform the Hollywood movie industry. Profiles of studio founder Louis B. Mayer and others are explored as well as a look at the films created in its golden age.

Sunday morning is just the start to an exciting day-long slate of inspiring films. The 9:30 a.m. morning presentation includes two documentaries, Cuba's Forgotten Jewels: A Haven in Havana, which explores the little known story of the Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and found a safe haven on the Caribbean island ofCuba, and Operation Wedding, the harrowing tale of an escape attempt from the Soviet Union, by a group of young Soviet Jews who were denied exit visas. The Q-and-A following the screening will be a discussion about the history of Soviet Jewry in the U.S.

In the afternoon, the festival presents the student short film, The Lightening Man, by Jonathan Goetzman from Chapman University, followed by The Samuel Project, a marvelous narrative film featuring Hal Linden about a young boy who seeks to turn his grandpa's history from the war into art.

Then it's time to take a break, toast a glass of wine, and talk about movies at the lively kibitz hour at Luna Red before savoring a fabulous dinner with the filmmakers. With a belly fully of great food, return to the Palm Theatre once again for an evening of laughter with Latter Day Jew. H. Alan Scott is a gay man who is a former Mormon, converted Jew, cancer survivor, and writer-comedian who finds his spiritual path and prepares for his bar mitzvah. Mr. Scott will be on hand to regale us with his humor and charm.

Screenings always sell out, so you're encouraged to buy your tickets early. Sponsorship packages that include tickets to the all the events are still available. For tickets and more information, visit jccslo.com. Start your year off right and experience the crown jewel in the Jewish Community Calendar this January 2, 4, and 5, at the San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival

—Lauren Bandari (JCC executive director)

SPIES IN DISGUISE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? ???

Pick

PIGEON POWER Super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) is transformed into a pigeon in order to complete an elaborate mission, in the animated action-comedy, Spies in Disguise. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUE SKY STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blue Sky Studios
  • PIGEON POWER Super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) is transformed into a pigeon in order to complete an elaborate mission, in the animated action-comedy, Spies in Disguise.

This animated family action-comedy, adapted from Pigeon: Impossible by Lucas Martell, follows suave super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) and socially awkward gadgets inventor Walter Beckett (voiced by Tom Holland), who team up to save the world from peril. It delivers fast-paced fun that will appeal to kids and even keep adults interested, with messages about teamwork and avoiding violence. Yes, it's all a bit too treacly, but it's a kids' movie! (102 min.)

—Glen

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Bay, Downtown Centre

Pick

J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek Into Darkness, Super 8) haphazardly directs the last chapter in the third and final trilogy in the Star Wars saga, in which Rey (Daisy Ridley) must channel her inner strength as a Jedi to lead the Resistance in the fight against the Sith.

Without giving away (too many) spoilers, I think The Rise of Skywalker definitely feels like the end of an era for this saga (although give it a few years, and I'm sure we'll get spin-offs similar to Solo and Rogue One). It only makes sense, it being the finale and all, that director J.J. Abrams feels the need to throw every card he has into this film—a little too much nostalgia and new characters all at once for me.

This isn't his first go at the franchise; he directed the first film of the trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which he reintroduced old heroes like Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Lando (Billy Dee Williams). This time around, at the start of the film, we find our young resistance leaders Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Issac) on separate missions in the galaxy. Simultaneously, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) continues on his war path to eliminate anyone who threatens his power, which ultimately leads him to an underground Sith leader.

What bothered me the most were the strange, seemingly deleted scenes of the late Carrie Fisher that were pieced together in the film to continue the story of her character. It just felt so weird to me—who gave someone permission to do that? My other issue was the one-word dialogue that came from Kylo Ren throughout the entire movie. I felt that his character could have been much stronger—not saying he wasn't strong because he did use his powers to choke one of his followers—if only he had a better script to work with. Overall the film had the right fixings of a Star Wars movie: narrow escapes from the bad guys, lightsaber battles, and witty banter. But Abrams' delivery was just all wrong. I almost wish I could have jumped into the Millennium Falcon and traveled through hyperspace in certain parts of the film; it lacked the dialogue and storyline that makes this franchise stand out. (142 min.)

—Karen

TOY STORY 4

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Saturday, Jan. 4, in the Fremont; free tickets at Boo Boo's and fremontslo.com

Pick

Josh Cooley directs this fourth feature in the Toy Story franchise. This time around, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) must convince his toy pals to welcome a new addition, Forky (Tony Hale), into their fold, even though Forky is just a spork made into a toy in arts and crafts class by their child, Bonnie. When Bonnie's family goes on a road trip, Forky takes off, so Woody and a few other toys go in search of him. (100 min.)

—Caleb

UNCUT GEMS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm, Park, Stadium 10.

See Split Screen. Δ

New Times movie reviews are complied by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey. Contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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