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Film Listings, 10/11/18 - 10/18/18

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BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE

HE'S GOT A SECRET Jon Hamm stars as vacuum cleaner salesman Seymour "Laramie" Sullivan, one of several secret-keeping strangers who converge at a seedy hotel, in Bad Times at the El Royale. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Twentieth Century Fox
  • HE'S GOT A SECRET Jon Hamm stars as vacuum cleaner salesman Seymour "Laramie" Sullivan, one of several secret-keeping strangers who converge at a seedy hotel, in Bad Times at the El Royale.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

New

Writer-director Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) helms this mystery thriller about a group of secret-keeping strangers—fake priest Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), nightclub singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), criminal Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson), vacuum cleaner salesman Seymour "Laramie" Sullivan (Jon Hamm), and cult leader Billy Lee (Chris Hemsworth)—who converge at Lake Tahoe's seedy novelty hotel, the El Royale, hoping for a shot at redemption. Things quickly get weird. (141 min.)

—Glen Starkey

COLETTE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

FIRST FEMINIST? Keira Knightley stars as French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who had to reclaim her literary legacy from her husband, in the biopic Colette. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NUMBER 9 FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Number 9 Films
  • FIRST FEMINIST? Keira Knightley stars as French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who had to reclaim her literary legacy from her husband, in the biopic Colette.

New

Co-writer and director Wash Westmoreland (Still Alice) helms this biopic about gender roles, women's rights, literature, fashion, and sexuality. Keira Knightley stars as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who moves from her country home to Paris, where she marries successful writer Henry "Willy" Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West), who convinces her to ghost write a novel for him. The semi-autobiographical tale about a country girl named Claudine becomes the toast of Paris, but now Colette wants to reclaim her agency and freedom and gain recognition for her work. (111 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FIRST MAN

ONE GIANT LEAP Ryan Gosling (center) stars as Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the Moon, in the historical drama and biopic First Man. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT AND DREAMWORKS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Amblin Entertainment And Dreamworks
  • ONE GIANT LEAP Ryan Gosling (center) stars as Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the Moon, in the historical drama and biopic First Man.

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

New

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) helms this historical drama and biopic about astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), who became the first man to set foot on the Moon in 1969. (141 min.)

—Glen Starkey

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN

TRICK OR TREAT? Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman), Sonny Quinn (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and Sam Carter (Caleel Harris) experience strange events during Halloween, in the kids' horror film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES CORPORATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • TRICK OR TREAT? Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman), Sonny Quinn (Jeremy Ray Taylor), and Sam Carter (Caleel Harris) experience strange events during Halloween, in the kids' horror film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

New

Ari Sandel (The Duff) directs this next installment based on R.L. Stine's best-selling children's horror book series. (90 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10, Sunset Drive-In

Pick

Horror-porn-meister director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel, The Green Inferno) turns off the gore for this family-friendly fantasy based on John Bellair's novel about orphan Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), who's sent to live with his warlock uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black).

After learning the fundamentals of sorcery, and with the help of neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchette), the trio sets about locating and dismantling a clock built by evil warlock Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), which has the power to destroy the world. To further confound matters, Izard's wife Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry) wants to find the clock first.

Delivering a well-balanced dose of laughs and scares, the film also manages to offer an anti-war allegory and inject the entire affair with a Spielberg-esque sense of adolescent wonder. (104 min.)

—Glen Starkey

NIGHT SCHOOL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

Malcolm D. Lee (Undercover Brother, Girls Trip) directs Kevin Hart in this comedy about former high school delinquents, now adults, forced to attend night school in order to get their diplomas.

If you like sophomoric silliness, you might find something here, but this one-note film doesn't give its two gifted comedians—Hart and Tiffany Haddish—much to work with. (111 min.)

—Glen Starkey

PICK OF THE LITTER

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Writer/co-director Dana Nachman and co-director Don Hardy Jr. helm this documentary that follows a litter of puppies from birth, through their two-year training as Guide Dogs for the Blind, and into their careers. Not all of them make the cut, but we meet the people who train them for the ultimate responsibility—to keep the blind safe from harm.

Joyous, filled with heart, and suspenseful, Pick of the Litter will probably require a few tissues to get through as these dogs do their very best to be good enough to make the cut. (81 min.)

—Glen Starkey

A SIMPLE FAVOR

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) directs Jessica Sharzer's (Nerve) screenplay based on Darcey Bell's crime-drama novel about mommy blogger Stephanie's (Anna Kendrick) best friend Emily's (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance.

With lots of delicious twists and turns and strong performances by the two leads, the film delivers what female-centric mystery fans yearn for—an intelligent whodunit that will keep viewers guessing right up until the big reveal. Think of it as a humorous send-up of Gone Girl or Girl on a Train. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

SMALLFOOT

MYTHICAL CREATURE Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is a Yeti who believes the mythical creatures known as "humans" really do exist, in Smallfoot. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros.
  • MYTHICAL CREATURE Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum) is a Yeti who believes the mythical creatures known as "humans" really do exist, in Smallfoot.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10, Sunset Drive-In

Karey Kirkpatrick (Over the Hedge) and Jason Reisig co-direct this animated adventure comedy about Migo (voiced by Channing Tatum), a Yeti who believes the mythical creatures known as "humans" really do exist. When he encounters a human named Percy Patterson (voiced by James Corden), the legend becomes real.

I probably shouldn't review animated films. Most of them seem silly to me, and Smallfoot is no different. Sure, the premise is 'cute,' but there's not much substance here, and what is here seems like a strange message for its targeted PG audience.

The film opens with a sweeping musical number about the happy Yeti village. Migo loves his ice- and rock-filled paradise, and he's training to replace his father, Dorgle (Danny DeVito), as the village gong ringer, a venerated position since the "Light Snail" (aka the Sun) won't cross the sky if the gong doesn't ring. Every morning, Dorgle is launched via a giant slingshot headfirst into the metal gong, then the Light Snail illuminates the Yeti world. It's one of dozens of primitive myths and laws that Yetis must follow.

The maker of the laws is the Stonekeeper (Common), the Yeti leader who settles all disputes by conferring with the stones, upon which hieroglyphs are written. They're the evidence that the Yeti village floats on clouds and that below them is nothingness. The stones also state that Smallfoot doesn't exist, so when Migo overshoots the gong on a practice try and far from the village sees a plane crash and a parachuting Smallfoot survivor, he rushes back to the village to tell everyone that Smallfoot exists and that the stone claiming they don't is—gasp!—wrong!

This is tantamount to heresy, and Migo is banished until he's ready to admit he didn't see a Smallfoot. Essentially, the film's a subtle indictment of religion, which controls the masses, demands ignorance, and condemns critical thinking.

A few of the Yetis are part of a secret Smallfoot-believing faction and soon Migo himself is part of the group headed up by the Stonekeeper's daughter Meechee (Zendaya) who's also Migo's potential love interest.

There's also a side message about how it's wrong to sensationalize and exploit—Percy Patterson is a nature filmmaker with rock-bottom ratings. He's willing to lie about finding a Yeti to generate more viewers. When he "discovers" Migo, he has to learn the hard lesson that it's better to protect than exploit him.

Will your 10-year-old "get" either message? Probably not, but there are a few cloying musical numbers to distract, and a lot of color and action throughout. I may not be the right audience, but your kids probably are, and that's the idea, right?

Eventually, Migo returns to the village with Percy, proving once and for all that Smallfoot exists. However, a lie repeated enough times can become truth, and to save the Yeti village from descending into stone-rejecting chaos, the Stonekeeper decides to show Migo "The Secret," taking him to a cave with wall paintings showing fighting and fear between Smallfoot and the Yetis that existed before the Yetis retreated to the top of the Himalayas. The stones keep the Yetis ignorant but also safe, warning them not to go down to Smallfoot territory.

Migo decides he'll go along with The Secret and goes before the village and claims Percy is a kind of yak and that Smallfoot doesn't exist after all. Meanwhile, Percy is suffering from altitude sickness, and Meechee and her Smallfoot-believing society aren't willing to continue living in ignorance, so she takes Percy below the clouds.

Now both humans and Yetis are forced to confront their coexistence, but that doesn't mean they can actually coexist. Mayhem ensues and fear runs rampant. Will violence return between the two species? Seeing as how this is a PG animated children's film, the answer is obvious.

The film's pat happy ending is that truth is good, that Yetis and people can be friends, and Percy learns his lesson and saves the day. If you've got young kids, maybe they'll be entertained for a couple hours. I was pretty bored, and the film still feels like it's pointing out the gullibility that organized religion requires and the judgmentalism it breeds. (96 min.)

—Glen Starkey

A STAR IS BORN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Bay, Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

See Split Screen.

TEA WITH THE DAMES

NOTHING LIKE A DAME A quartet of famous actresses and Dames—(left to right) Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins, and Judi Dench—recalls their humble theatrical beginnings and long and eventful careers, in the documentary Tea with the Dames. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FIELD DAY FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Field Day Films
  • NOTHING LIKE A DAME A quartet of famous actresses and Dames—(left to right) Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins, and Judi Dench—recalls their humble theatrical beginnings and long and eventful careers, in the documentary Tea with the Dames.

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

Roger Mitchell helms this documentary about the more than half-century-long friendship between actresses and Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith. The quartet of acting greats recalls their humble theatrical beginnings and long and eventful careers. (84 min.)

—Glen Starkey

VENOM

BESTIES! When a journalist (Tom Hardy) bonds with an alien symbiote, they discover they're stronger together, in the Marvel anti-hero flick Venom. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURE CORP.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Picture Corp.
  • BESTIES! When a journalist (Tom Hardy) bonds with an alien symbiote, they discover they're stronger together, in the Marvel anti-hero flick Venom.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

Pick

Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) directs Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a former investigative journalist whose TV show is dedicated to taking down evil corporations and, later, becomes the host for an alien symbiote named Venom. The film is an adaptation of the Marvel Comics series featuring the anti-hero Venom.

The character and its origin story are a small step in the Marvel Universe but it's not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—superhero films independently produced by Marvel Studios. The film is also just a chip in what could be a greater origin story for Venom, the amorphous, liquid-like creature that requires a host, usually a human, to bond with for its survival. Oddly, Venom isn't tied to Spiderman ... yet.

Brock is an investigative journalist who rides his motorcycle around busy San Francisco to report on malicious corporations and expose them on his TV show. He's assigned a puff piece on Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the founder of The Life Foundation, a research facility that engages in unethical experimentation with aspirations for world domination. Brock's boss basically tells him he can't expose Drake but, being the reporter he is, he tries to do the opposite of that.

Brock's fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), is a lawyer whose firm represents The Life Foundation, so obviously Brock snoops through her files to dig up some dirt on Drake and his foundation. When it's time for the interview, Brock tries to expose Drake, which leads the reporter to lose his job, his apartment, and fiancée.

He's basically blacklisted from journalism throughout the city and is reduced to looking for dishwasher gigs. He's about to swear off reporting when whistleblower Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) explains Drake is trying to mix humans with a number of alien forms called symbiotes. Skirth sneaks Brock into the facility and he becomes infected with the symbiote. Unlike many of Drake's trial runs, Brock's merge with the symbiote is successful as the alien-like parasite introduces himself as Venom.

The two decide to work together to stop Drake—who also gets infected by a symbiote—from bringing more of these creatures to Earth with the intention to end the human race.

While we've seen Hardy really get into the role of his characters like Max Rockatamsky (Mad Max), Bane (The Dark Knight Rises), or Eames (Inception), he just isn't that convincing as washed-up-loser Eddie Brock. Maybe it's the weird accent or the match-up with Michelle Williams, which I wasn't buying either.

Despite that, the action scenes were full of intense in-your-face punches, cars smashing into each other, and people being flung into the air. While it doesn't reach a level of gory intensity as Deadpool does, people getting their heads bit off and eaten is pretty up there. There's also an incredible scene where Venom is fighting another symbiote and as the two duke it out, you see the faces of the humans underneath the parasites' skin—wait, don't call Venom a parasite; he gets very offended.

The overall connection between Venom and Brock is interesting as Venom takes over Brock's body and the two realize the extent of their superpower. They have their humorous moments when Brock tries to fight the transformation. It feels similar to that of Jim Carry's struggle in The Mask, but the two find a deeper understanding in each other, as both are losers on their respected planets.

The film lacks a cohesive and strong storyline for the first introduction of the Marvel character, but I will admit I'll be watching for the sequel as the clip at the end of the movie lays the groundwork for someone all too familiar to Venom. (112 min.) Δ

—Karen Garcia

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and others. You can contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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