Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings, 11/1/18 – 11/8/18

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Editor's note: Listings for Regal Arroyo Grande Stadium 10 were incomplete at press time. Call (844) 462-7342 for a complete listings of their films.

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE? The life and times of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and the band Queen are chronicled in Bohemian Rhapsody. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW REGENCY PISTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of New Regency Pistures
  • IS THIS THE REAL LIFE? The life and times of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and the band Queen are chronicled in Bohemian Rhapsody.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, Superman Returns) directs this biopic about Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen, chronicling the band's rise to super stardom, Mercury's solo career and AIDS diagnosis, and their triumphant reunion and spellbinding performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert. (134 min.)

—Glen Starkey

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

From director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, Stranger Than Fiction, The Kite Runner) comes this live-action adaptation of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh characters that poses this question: What happens to Christopher Robin after he grows up? After decades of separation, everyone's favorite Pooh bear makes a trek from the mythical Hundred Acre Wood into the real world to find out what's become of his old, lost friend.

In a nutshell, it's Winnie-the-Pooh meets Hook. In fact, the two films' protagonists and their arcs are virtually identical. The adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge!, Big Fish) is an overworked father who alienates himself from his wife (Hayley Atwell, Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) by spending too much time at the office. In the same way Hook's adult Peter Pan had to return to Neverland to rediscover his long-lost inner child, so must Christopher to the Hundred Acre Wood. (120 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

FIRST MAN

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

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. Exploring both the space race and Armstrong's life on the ground with his wife, Janet (Clair Foy), the film is a reminder of the danger and daring of a trip into space during the analog era.

The film opens in the cockpit with Armstrong in an experimental plane designed to pierce Earth's atmosphere, reach zero gravity in near space, and then descend back to the ground. It's noisy, shaky, and chaotic, and it gives you a sense of both the wonder and sheer terror of early space travel. The space race between the Soviets and the U.S. had an existentialist undercurrent—the Cold War was in full force—and the Russians were beating us at every step. It was essential that we reach the moon first.

Back on the ground, Armstrong was wrestling with his own demons. With the death of his young daughter Karen (Lucy Stafford) to cancer, Armstrong harbored a secret fatalism. He knew the danger of space travel was real. He had lost colleagues, but stoicism was paramount. Gosling manages to convey all these complications within a man of few words. His Armstrong is intensely focused, and the loss of his daughter drives him deeper into his work.

Armstrong's wife, Janet, is a big part of the story, and Foy is amazing in the role. Janet, too, has to be stoic—she knows her husband might not come back. There's an amazing scene in which she forces her husband to sit down with their two boys and explain to them the very real dangers. It really is miraculous that the mission was successful.

Even though viewers should know the outcome, there's plenty of tension throughout the film. The spacecraft are rickety, the technology antiquated, but the heroics are timeless. At the end of the film, the three returning astronauts are quarantined. It's fascinating to think that three men spent eight days in space, that two of them walked on the moon, and that when they returned they were locked in a glass box with very pedestrian-looking hotel furnishings. What a dichotomy! Of course, there was nothing glamorous about early space travel. (141 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FREE SOLO

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

I don't think I've ever sweated so much in a movie theater in my life. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin helm this raw and gripping National Geographic documentary, Free Solo, which chronicles 33-year-old rock climber Alex Honnold's incredible 2017 ascent up the face of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-tall rock formation in Yosemite, without protective gear—the first in human history to accomplish the feat.

Honnold is already a renowned free solo climber, conqueror of some of the world's gnarliest climbs (think Yosemite's Half Dome), before he decides to tackle El Capitan, the mother of all faces. The documentary drops into Honnold's life as he sets his sights on the climb. We learn about him as a person, what draws him to free solo climbing, and the issues he's grappling with (like trying to maintain a romantic relationship despite his climbing obsession).

The doc is as much about Honnold and his psyche as it is about the miraculous climb at the end. What makes someone so intent on doing something so risky? It's a question that Honnold must grapple with and answer for his girlfriend, Sanni McCandless, as he prepares to face certain death with one tiny slip of the hand, foot, or mind. It's not just the sheer height of El Capitan's face that's terrifying; it's the technicalities of the climb, which the film crew does an incredible job of demonstrating and explaining as Honnold practices on the various sections of the face beforehand.

My favorite aspect of this film is just how raw and authentic it is. There's no need to overproduce or dramatize this story, and Chin, who seems to lead the cinematography, does a tremendous job at letting the tale tell itself. It's a very, very real and transparent chronicle of a man driven to do the impossible, but also struggling with the potential consequences. For example, during his first attempt at the climb, Honnold gets cold feet, and the next thing we see is Honnold buying a house with Sanni in Las Vegas. Is he actually going to do it? The story seesaws with Honnold as he takes a nonlinear path to the climb.

The film crew appears as shaken as anybody by what they're doing. They wrestle with the ethical question of whether they're participating in, or even encouraging, someone's suicide. Doubts are had and tears are shed as they prepare for the worst-case scenario while trying not to rattle Honnold.

It's a journey you don't want to miss. The climb itself is some of the most riveting and horrifying, yet inspiring, footage you'll ever see. And yes, it helps that you know the outcome beforehand. (100 min.)

—Peter Johnson

GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park

Ari Sandel (The Duff) directs this next installment based on R.L. Stine's best-selling children's horror book series. If you're a young kid, you'll find some fun scares here, but your parents are going to be very annoyed having to sit through this. It definitely doesn't live up to its 2015 progenitor. (90 min.)

—Glen Starkey

HALLOWEEN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

David Gordon Green (Snow Angels, Pineapple Express, Joe) co-writes and directs this sequel to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978). Completely erasing the continuity of the original film's seven sequels, serial killer Michael Myers has been locked up for 40 years. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the sole survivor of the Haddonfield Halloween murders, has been preparing for the day he should ever escape and inevitably come after her.

And whadda ya know, he does escape, and just in time for Halloween, too. Just a day before the 40th anniversary of the murders, Myers is set to be transferred to a different prison (what a terrible coincidence). There's a bus crash and yada yada yada he's out! Laurie convinces her daughter's family to join her Halloween night at her house, where she's devised a bomb shelter of sorts. To withstand the apocalypse? Nope, just Michael. It's all for Michael.

"He's waited for this night, and I've waited for him," Laurie says at one point. This is where the overthinking on my part begins. I just don't buy this theme at all. Where did this obsession come from? As far as the first film is concerned, the murders were completely random. The original never implies that Myers chose Laurie, only that she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was Halloween II that made Myers' choice to pursue Laurie deliberate (the big reveal that they are biological siblings). Imagine a direct sequel to A New Hope that doesn't acknowledge the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Would they really expect us to simply forget that Vader is Luke's father?

Yet, Curtis's livid performance suggests a symbiotic relationship between Strode and Myers of Harry Potter/Voldemort proportions. If we're only given the events of the first film to fall back on, this notion makes absolutely zero sense. It's as if Green and co-writers Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride couldn't help but write Strode as the product of the franchise as a whole. Oops!

Sloppy writing and inconsistent retconning aside, Halloween is worth watching for the things it does right. The performances, score, and overall atmosphere are on par with the original, making it a worthy homage. But the best homages still leave room for originality. This one leaves a tiny bit. It's obvious how much Green and company love the material, but they cross the line between reverence and flat-out plagiarism too often. Still, the predator-becomes-the-prey motif pays off quite well and Curtis wielding a shotgun hunting down Myers is worth the price of admission alone. (106 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

IRONIC DETACHMENT On his deathbed, Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) recalls his unusual life, in The Happy Prince. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAZE PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Maze Pictures
  • IRONIC DETACHMENT On his deathbed, Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett) recalls his unusual life, in The Happy Prince.

THE HAPPY PRINCE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

New

Writer-director Rupert Everett stars as Oscar Wilde in this biopic that recalls the writer's unusual life, with Colin Firth starring as Wilde's friend Reggie Turner, Emily Watson as his long-suffering wife Constance, and Colin Morgan as his lover Lord Alfred Bosie Douglas. (105 min.)

—Glen Starkey

HUNTER KILLER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

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

MURKY WATERS Gerard Butler plays Capt. Joe Glass, a Navy SEAL manning his submarine crew to save the U.S. from starting an international war, in Hunter Killer. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Summit Entertainment
  • MURKY WATERS Gerard Butler plays Capt. Joe Glass, a Navy SEAL manning his submarine crew to save the U.S. from starting an international war, in Hunter Killer.

Donovan Marsh (Spud, Spud 2: The Madness Continues, Avenged) directs Gerard Butler as Capt. Joe Glass, a Navy lifer who dives into the depths of Russian waters to stop a rogue Russian military man from starting World War III.

The film is less concerned with originality as it feels similar to Olympus Has Fallen. It has the same producers, so what do you know? The United States seems to be in some kind of peril and in comes Butler to save the day in an action-packed drama. But there are so many oddities about this film that it's hard to stay engaged for two hours while Navy SEALs fight to protect America in a submarine.

The film follows the USS Arkansas, a sub captained by Glass to investigate the sinking of another ship by Russians. Instead, Glass finds himself in the middle of an international crisis. Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) is overthrown by his own Defense Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy), and the sub's investigation turns into a rescue mission, where any wrong move could be misinterpreted and inadvertently start another world war. Halfway into the movie we're introduced to a group of four Marines that are sent to Russia to figure out what's going on with the Russian president.

The scenes are very busy as it jumps from the Pentagon, where Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Gary Oldman) argue about how to proceed with the mission, to the Barents Sea inside a submarine with Glass and his crew, to on the ground with a group of Marines fighting to save the Russian president. Are you still following?

Not to mention there isn't any character building for Glass (or any of the characters for that matter). He continuously makes it known that he's just one of the crewmembers, not some hotshot from the Naval Academy. He doesn't do much other than bark orders, furrow his brow, and not bat an eye while commanding his ship.

To top it all off, during the investigation of the unaccounted for submarine, Glass learns that Russians attacked the sub. His crew also finds another Russian sub that's been compromised but is still holding survivors. So being the all-American that Glass is, he risks the lives of his crew to save those of the "enemy." After rescuing the Russian captain and a few remaining crewmembers, he and Glass put their differences aside to work together to save the Russian president.

Hunter Killer puts you in a delightful alternate reality where people can actually act like humans with dignity and professionalism to help one another in desperate times of need. But that's something that military movies usually do: hone in on this fantasy of the good in people, and then good triumphs evil—something I guess we all need to believe in but that doesn't exist.

It's also such a murky concept to release a movie that embraces collaboration with the Russians. (123 min.)

—Karen Garcia

INDIVISIBLE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Co-writer/director David G. Evans (The Grace Card) helms this Christian-themed film based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) and his wife Heather (Sarah Drew), who must overcome the trauma of war to wage their own battle to save their marriage.

This type of faith-based filmmaking is eternally appealing to its targeted Christian audiences, but many viewers will find its message ham-fisted and its production values and acting beneath the standards of most mainstream films. That said, its exploration of PTSD will resonate even with non-Christians. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Park

David Kerr directs William Davies' (Johnny English, Johnny English Reborn) spy spoof screenplay—the third installment in the Johnny English franchise. After a cyber attack releases the names of all Britain's operating secret agents, Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is forced to come out of retirement to save the day.

If you like silly pratfalls or are a fan of Atkinson's particular brand of preening comedy, by all means, go. Otherwise, skip this unremarkable and immediately forgettable end (hopefully!) to this James Bond-esque parody. (88 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MID90S

ROLE MODELS? Skateboarders Ray (Na-Kel Smith, left) and Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt) become competing role models for a troubled 13-year-old, in Mid90s. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo Courtesy Of A24
  • ROLE MODELS? Skateboarders Ray (Na-Kel Smith, left) and Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt) become competing role models for a troubled 13-year-old, in Mid90s.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

In his feature-length debut, actor Jonah Hill (Knocked Up, Superbad, Get Him to the Greek) gets behind the camera as writer-director in this film about Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a 13-year-old navigating mid-'90s LA as he moves between his troubled home life and new friends he meets at a skate shop. It's a well-observed coming-of-age story told with an unexpected tenderness.

The intimate film plays cinéma vérité style—it feels more raw, real, and less artificial than most Hollywood stories. It helps, no doubt, that Hill employs some first-time actors and real-life skaters in the pivotal roles of Ray (Na-Kel Smith) and Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), who, to compare this film to Oliver Stone's Platoon (1986), are basically the good and evil Sergeants Elias (Willem Dafoe) and Barnes (Tom Beranger) to Stevie's Chris (Charlie Sheen). Who's influence will Stevie follow?

Ray works at the Motor Avenue skate shop, where his crew Fuckshit, Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), and Ruben (Gio Galicio) hang out. Escaping his abusive older brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges), Stevie starts hanging at the shop, first befriended by the youngest crewmember Ruben but later accepted Ray and Fuckshit, who seem to be competing for Stevie's soul. Ray wants to make something of himself while Fuckshit is just looking for the next party. Fourth Grade chronicles the crew's hijinks on a camcorder while Ruben grows jealous of all the attention Ray and Fuckshit give Stevie.

Like Kids (1995) and Thirteen (2003), Mid90s is filled with cringe-worthy moments of youthful stupidity—drinking, smoking, drug use, promiscuous sex, and foolhardy recklessness. Stevie looks up to Ray and Fuckshit in equal measure, but as he leans more and more toward Fuckshit's self-destructiveness, I couldn't help but worry about his safety. He wants so badly to be accepted that he's willing to risk everything.

Stevie's brother, Ian, has his own set of problems, and both brothers feel the pain of a missing-in-action father and an ill-equipped mother, Dabney (Katherine Waterson). They're a dysfunctional family filled with dysfunctional people. It all adds up to a downer of a film, but it's so much more. Will Stevie be all right? That remains an unsettled question, but what the film ultimately proves is that he's more loved than he knows. It may be a small film, but it's a potent one. (84 min.)

—Glen Starkey

NOBODY'S FOOL

FAMILY Matriarch Lola (Whoopi Goldberg, center) must deal with her daughters after Tanya (Tiffany Haddish, right) is released from prison and butts heads with Danica (Tika Sumpter, left), in Nobody's Fool. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TYLER PERRY STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tyler Perry Studios
  • FAMILY Matriarch Lola (Whoopi Goldberg, center) must deal with her daughters after Tanya (Tiffany Haddish, right) is released from prison and butts heads with Danica (Tika Sumpter, left), in Nobody's Fool.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

New

Writer-director Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea) directs this comedy-drama about Tanya (Tiffany Haddish), newly released from prison, who reunites with her sister Danica (Tika Sumpter), upending her life. The sisters' mother, Lola (Whoopi Goldberg), does little to help alleviate the craziness. (110 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE NUTCRACKERS AND THE FOUR REALMS

JUST A GIRL Young Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is transported to a magical world built by her mother, where she must work to save it from destruction, in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • JUST A GIRL Young Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is transported to a magical world built by her mother, where she must work to save it from destruction, in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

What's it rated? PG

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

New

Lasse Hallström (What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, A Dog's Purpose) and Joe Johnston (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Jumanji, Captain America: The First Avenger) co-direct this family adventure fantasy about a young girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who's transported to a magical world built by her mother. (109 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE SISTERS BROTHERS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

See Split Screen.

A STAR IS BORN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer, director, and co-star Bradley Cooper helms this remake of A Star Is Born (first released in 1937, and later remade in 1954 and 1976). In this iteration, Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a famous musician whose star is waning as he discovers talented but insecure singer Ally (Lady Gaga). As Jack battles alcoholism and his own decline, he helps Ally find the strength to let her talent shine.

You'd think on the fourth retelling things would be getting stale, but Bradley Cooper takes a sweeping look at the rise and fall of stardom, the shallowness of the entertainment industry, creativity, substance abuse, family dynamics, and romance.

It's a stunning achievement, and I was most surprised by Lady Gaga, whose acting chops were impressive. I've never been a big fan of her music, but her voice is undeniably stunning. Almost every time she sang, the tears welled up. To see the fashion icon with her natural hair color and little to no makeup made her more vulnerable and sympathetic.

It's been driven into Ally that despite her talent, she doesn't have the looks for stardom. There's an amazing scene where she overhears her father (a terrific Andrew Dice Clay) explaining to his friends that her looks prevent her from success. When Jack wanders into a bar after a gig looking for a much-needed drink, he happens upon Ally singing "La Vie En Rose" and is immediately smitten by her looks and talent. Later that night, she surprises him by making up a song about him on the spot. Jack gives her the confidence to believe in herself, to feel love, to feel good enough.

His most important lesson to Ally is to be authentic, so when he sees her manager Rez (Rafi Gavron) changing her appearance, adding dancers and choreography to her show, he's artistically offended, though Ally perceives it as jealousy. They're disconnecting just when they need each other most.

Like all substance abusers, Jack's behavior is unforgivable—he says terrible things to Ally and embarrasses her with his loutish actions. Their love, however, is real, and she struggles between being supportive and enabling.

There's so much going on in this film, and the fact that Cooper is able to weave all of these emotionally potent threads into such a heartrendingly beautiful tapestry is a triumph. I predict some Oscar nods for this one. See it in the theater; bring your own tissues—this one's a tearjerker. (135 min.)

—Glen Starkey

VENOM

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy

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 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 that 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.)

—Karen Garcia

WHAT THEY HAD

LETTING GO Bridget (Hilary Swank, right) must convince her father to place her Alzheimer's-suffering mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner), in a nursing home, in What They Had. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOOK TO THE SKY FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Look To The Sky Films
  • LETTING GO Bridget (Hilary Swank, right) must convince her father to place her Alzheimer's-suffering mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner), in a nursing home, in What They Had.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

First-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko helms this story about siblings Bridget (Hilary Swank) and Nick (Michael Shannon), who try to convince their father, Burt (Robert Forster), to place their Alzheimer's-suffering mother, Ruth (Blythe Danner), in a nursing home. (101 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

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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