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Film listings 11/2/17–11/9/17

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AMERICAN MADE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Fair Oaks, Stadium 10

Pick

Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) directs Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a pilot contracted by the CIA to run guns and drugs in the late-'70s and '80s. The screenplay by Gary Spinelli is based on real events. (115 min.)

—Glen Starkey

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS

What's it rated? R

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

A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn't hard enough, they have to do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers. By the end of the journey, our moms will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers. (104 min.)

—STX Films

BLADE RUNNER 2049

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival) takes up the reins of Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner in this sequel set 30 years after the original's year—2019. A new blade runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), discovers a long-buried secret and sets out to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the blade runner from the original film.

The film's quiet dialog in conjunction with its industrial-strength soundtrack may make for difficult home viewing. This is one best seen in the theater. Fans of the original, don't miss it! For the rest of you, if you have even a passing interest, rent the original and get thee to a theater! It's worth it! (163 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE FLORIDA PROJECT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Director Sean Baker (Tangerine, Starlet, Prince of Broadway) helms this film co-written with Chris Bergoch that follows the exploits of Moonee (Brooklyn Prince), a precocious 6-year-old who lives with her unemployable mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), in a low-rent motel located near Disney World.

Set over the course of one summer, we watch Moonee and her friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto) run wild around the touristy Florida strip, where they beg people for ice cream money, score free waffles from Scooty's mom Ashley (Mela Murder), and get themselves in trouble with their childish shenanigans.

This is slice-of-life cinéma vérité filmmaking—think a colorful candy-coated version of Truffaut's The 400 Blows—where the plot is secondary to the film's realism. In fact, the closest the film has to a plot is Halley's ongoing struggle to make the rent—she buys knock-off designer perfumes and up-sells them to tourists, for instance—and to keep Florida's Department of Children and Families (DFC) from taking Moonee away.

Bobby (Willem Dafoe) oversees the motel, called the Magic Castle, and he spends his days keeping its impoverished residents in line. It may be a low-rent motel, but Bobby takes its upkeep seriously. He also takes responsibility for its residents' children, watching over them with a fierce protectiveness, even though they make his job much harder. Bobby has deep sympathy for Moonee and Halley, and though Halley is a hot mess, he knows she cares deeply for her daughter.

Aside from Dafoe and Caleb Landry Jones, who plays Bobby's son, Jack, who sometimes comes and helps at the motel, most of these actors are unknowns or first-timers. That only adds to the realism, and Baker elicits some amazing performances from them. The film simply feels like a glimpse into real life and depicts childhood with an honesty rarely seen in American cinema. It's both joyous and heartbreaking.

This empathetic examination of American poverty doesn't depict characters that feel sorry for themselves. Halley is a defiant survivor, and Moonee is too young to know or care that they're poor. Instead, it humanizes its characters, offering viewers a peek into a segment of the population usually ignored (think Moonlight).

Steel yourself for the conclusion. It'll tear your heart into pieces. (111 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE FOREIGNER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

Jackie Chan vs. Pierce Brosnan! You may not have realized it, but this is the big screen, cross-cultural showdown you've been waiting for.

Setting aside its rather offensive title, The Foreigner, based on a 1992 novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, is an exciting, surprisingly layered British-Chinese action flick that puts Chan's renown talent for combat acting on full blast while delving into the Ireland/England political conflict.

Chan plays Ngoc Minh Quan, a retired Vietnam War special forces fighter who now runs a Chinese restaurant in London while raising his teenage daughter. Years prior, Quan watched his wife and two other daughters get killed in the fog of war. He cherishes his remaining daughter, but then she's suddenly killed in a roadside bombing in London. An Irish group called the "Authentic IRA [Irish Republican Army]" takes credit for the attack. Quan, beside himself with grief and rage, makes it his mission to track down those responsible.

Enter Brosnan as Liam Hennessy—today a top Irish government official, but formerly a prominent leader of the IRA revolution against England. Hennessy, an insulated, pompous politician, is somewhat caught between those two lives, and, following the bombing, soon realizes that the terrorist attack may have been abetted by his own office.

Determined to get revenge for his daughter's death and not taking "no" as an answer, Quan bullishly advances up the political ladder to finally reach Hennessy. The film becomes an exciting duel between Quan's combat prowess and Hennessy's political savvy, as Irish officials try to hunt down Quan while another IRA terrorist attack is in the works.

Both Chan and Brosnan play great characters, and there are some solid supporting cast performances as well. I especially enjoyed Brosnan in this movie, who really acted his ass off as this angry, charismatic, psychologically troubled former revolutionary figure. Chan also managed to delve into deeper, more intense energy than the showoff-y roles of his younger years.

On its face, The Foreigner appears pretty far-fetched and silly. But director Martin Campbell (Legend of Zorro, Casino Royale) does a good job of making this thriller feel real, or at least very entertaining. (113 min.)

—Peter Johnson

GEOSTORM

What's it rated? PG-13

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

After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world's leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong: the system built to protect Earth is attacking it, and it becomes a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone along with it. (110 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

HUNDRED ACRE WOOD Author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) finds inspiration to write Winnie the Pooh thanks to his son, Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), in Goodbye Christopher Robin. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • HUNDRED ACRE WOOD Author A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) finds inspiration to write Winnie the Pooh thanks to his son, Christopher Robin (Will Tilston), in Goodbye Christopher Robin.

What's it rated? 13

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

A rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children's author A. A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and his son, Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother, Daphne (Margot Robbie), and his nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?

—Fox Searchlight Pictures

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

Outlaw American pilot Peter Quill, er, I mean "Star-Lord" (Chris Pratt), creates an uneasy alliance with a collection of intergalactic misfits (Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper) after they steal an orb on which Ronan (Lee Pace) wants to get his villainous hands.

Imagine a sci-fi movie where every character is as awesome as Han Solo and you'll begin to understand why Guardians of the Galaxy is the most space fun you'll have since Star Wars parts IV through VI ... or at least since the Firefly series.

Hollywood has finally figured out how to make use of co-writer and director James Gunn (Slither, Super) and his special brand of irreverent filmmaking. He fleshes-out five great characters: our hero Peter Quill with his tragic back story, with which the film opens; space buddies Rocket and Groot (voiced by Cooper and Diesel respectively), a genetically modified raccoon with a chip on his shoulder and a regenerative tree-like creature whose language skills start and end with the sentence "I am Groot" (did they really need Vin Diesel for this?); Gamora (Saldana), a beautiful green assassin; and Drax (Bautista), a hulking literalist devoid of humor. Can this band of misfits keep Ronan from acquiring the orb with the power to destroy worlds? And more importantly, can they do it to a soundtrack of incredible classic pop hits like Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" and "O-O-H Child" by The Five Stairsteps?

Hells yes!

I'll say this about the film: Kids will definitely love it, but with its soundtrack and "retro-future" style, it really feels like a film made for people who grew up in the late-'70s and '80s. Its messages—that all different sorts of people can be friends, that being different is OK, and that by working together we can accomplish amazing things—are great messages for people of any age.

Sure, it's pretty silly. I mean, come on, a tree and a raccoon? But Rocket and Groot, the two CGI characters, have a lot humanity despite the fact that there're composed of 1s and 0s. For Groot, it's more about his actions, but Rocket is an amazing character thanks to Cooper's quick talking voice work. He's really funny, as is Pratt as Peter.

This is simply a good-natured film, full of warmth and wonder. Watching it conjured the same feelings I got watching Star Wars IV, or The Princess Bride, or Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time. Like those films, this is one that will stick with me, and perhaps the best thing I can say about it is this: I'm ready to go watch it again right now! Ooga-Chaka ooga ooga I can't stop this feeling, deep inside of me! (121 min.)

—Glen Starkey

JIGSAW

What's it rated? R

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

After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement find themselves chasing the ghost of a man dead for more than a decade and embroiled in a new game that's only just begun. Is John Kramer (Tobin Bell) back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own? (91 min.)

—Lionsgate

LBJ

BECOMING PRESIDENT Thanks to an assassin's bullet, Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson) became president and pushed through the Civil Rights Act, in LBJ. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Castle Rock Entertainment
  • BECOMING PRESIDENT Thanks to an assassin's bullet, Lyndon Baines Johnson (Woody Harrelson) became president and pushed through the Civil Rights Act, in LBJ.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy

New

Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men) directs Woody Harrelson as President Lyndon Baines Johnson in this biopic that starts with his young days in West Texas through his time in the White House, where he pushed through the Civil Rights Act. (98 min.)

—Castle Rock Entertainment

LOVING VINCENT

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Writers-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman helm this story about impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk), exploring his complicated life and mysterious death. Shot with live actors, the film was then transformed into animation. A team of 115 painters working in Van Gogh's style painted each of the film's 65,000 individual frames. The results are a spectacular and mesmerizing achievement! This film is a glory to behold, with paintings coming to life before your eyes.

The story—written by the co-directors and Jacek Dehnel—takes place a couple years after Van Gogh's death. When an undelivered letter is discovered from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, Vincent's friend and frequent subject Postman Roulin (Chris O'Dowd) enlists his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to carry the letter to Paris and search for Theo, since the forwarded letter had already been returned "undeliverable." Armand sets out on the train, and soon his task turns into a mystery story as he tries to find Theo, and barring him, his widow or someone else who should appropriately receive what was perhaps Van Gogh's last epistle.

The film is certainly not the definitive version or Van Gogh's death—it raises questions but doesn't offer certain answers, just more conjecture—but it's entertaining, poignant, and visually arresting. See this one in the theater! (94 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Fair Oaks

Pick

The Mountain Between Us is a wonderful romantic-adventure film based on the novel by Charles Martin. Beautifully directed by Hany Abu-Assad, the entire plot is based on a growing romance. Alex Martin (Kate Winslet), a travelling photojournalist, unexpectedly meets Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) at an airport after both of their flights get cancelled. The pair wind up together under tragic circumstances after their attempt to fly, regardless of weather advisories, lands them in a terrible plane crash that leaves them stranded deep in the snow-stormed wilderness.

The story begins in wintery late December, with Alex desperately trying to get a flight to New York to make it back in time for her wedding. The terrible weather in Idaho leaves her with no other option but to locate a private hangar in the hopes that a pilot will be willing to fly her anywhere closer to home. During her time at the airport, she notices a friendly stranger, Ben, who is also in the same predicament and must get back to Baltimore for a very important surgery he has to perform.

Alex meets a friendly pilot named Walter (Beau Bridges), who offers to help charter them to Denver for $800, but must hurry in order to get them there before the storm hits so they can catch their connecting flights home. Ben decides to join Alex on the plane with Beau, and the three take off alongside Walter's furry companion, a yellow lab that remains nameless throughout the film, but ends up being everyone's favorite character. Once they take off, flying over snow-capped mountains, Walter begins to stutter while speaking and eventually is unable to speak at all. Ben quickly realizes that Walter is having a stroke.

The plane goes down violently and Ben is the first to wake up after the crash. The only survivors are Ben, Alex, and the dog. Ben buries Walter and wraps Alex's wounded leg while she is still unconscious. A few days go by and Alex finally wakes up, only to find out that they are all stranded on a mountainside with little food and quickly realizes that no one actually knows that they are missing—Walter never filed a flight plan before takeoff.

A stubborn Ben insists that they stay inside the plane wreckage for shelter and wait for rescuers to come, but Alex firmly believes that they must travel for help or they will never make it. After a few more days go by, things intensify between Alex and Ben. The strangers begin to realize that they need one another in order to survive, but can't seem to agree on much. Once they break into their first fight, a frustrated and fed-up Alex storms off with the dog, leaving Ben behind. He eventually goes after her, but because of Alex's leg injury there is no turning back. The two have no choice but to keep moving forward. Alex finally comes to know that she really does need Ben's help and cannot make it alone.

Weeks go by and while the two are figuring out how to survive, they stumble upon an abandoned cabin as they are running out of food and Alex's leg injury isn't getting any better. As Alex and Ben grow fonder of one another, they must figure out if they're going to make it out alive and whether they truly do love one another. (103 min).

—Rachelle Ramirez

ONLY THE BRAVE

BROTHERHOOD Though at first at odds with one another, new crewmember Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller, left) bonds with veteran Christopher MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch, right), in the wildfire drama Only the Brave. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF BLACK LABEL MEDIA
  • Photos Courtesy Of Black Label Media
  • BROTHERHOOD Though at first at odds with one another, new crewmember Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller, left) bonds with veteran Christopher MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch, right), in the wildfire drama Only the Brave.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy, Oblivion, the upcoming sequel Top Gun: Maverick) directs this true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, elite firefighters who risk everything to save their community from the raging Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013.

Talk about putting viewers through an emotional ringer! Only the Brave plays more like a war film, where the unbreakable bonds of brotherhood—bonds forged through impossibly difficult and dangerous work—are tested through hardship, the strain of personal lives, and a deep need to succeed.

When we first meet the Granite Mountain crew stationed outside Prescott, Arizona, they're working a fire but designated as second tier firefighters. They stay in the back, dig fire lines, and clean up after the "Hotshots," firefighters at the highest certification level who are allowed to engage the fire directly. Hotshots are often helicopter into the danger. They're considered the best of the best.

The Granite Mountain crew is headed by Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin), a veteran firefighter who desperately wants his crew to reach Hotshot certification, but they would be the first municipal crew in the nation to receive that elite status, which traditionally goes to state or federal firefighting units. Part of the film's tension is the crew's deep commitment to becoming Hotshots, aided in part by Duane Steinbrink (Jeff Bridges), the fire chief pushing to secure the crew an evaluation.

There's also tension between their long and dangerous work hours and their significant others. The film especially delves into Marsh and his horse trainer wife Amanda's (Jennifer Connelly) relationship; their deeply held personal secrets are slowly revealed.

Add in a new member of the Granite Mountain crew, a druggy burnout named Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller), who recently discovered he fathered a little girl and is looking for redemption, and it's easy to see why the film is so rife with emotionally explosive moments. Some of the guys on the crew, especially Christopher MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch), are afraid McDonough will endanger the group.

After this set-up, the film moves first to their evaluation and then to dramatic peak, as they join the fight against the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The film is aided by excellent performances, especially Connelly and Brolin. Both of their characters are survivors who have turned their lives around, and while they both were committed to being childless, as Amanda has gotten older, she wants to revisit that while Eric is still uncertain. It makes for some incendiary moments, and it doesn't help that Eric's emotions are often on edge. In fact, the acting all around is terrific, with Teller—who I don't always like—offering a raw performance as the drug addict who's finally got something to live for.

From what I know of wildfire crews, this film offers a realistic look at the training, the camaraderie, and the firefighting techniques used, and my hat's off to director Kosinski for amassing a technical team to create some really believable wildfire special effects. There are some amazing moments, such as a helicopter shot of a running elk streaking away from the fire.

Considering what's happened in Northern California, this film is hitting close to home. It takes a certain kind of person to commit their lives to such dangerous work. Whether law enforcement, military, or fire protection, these people are heroes. They're also real, imperfect people, but as this film shows, you don't have to be perfect to be brave. (133 min.)

—Glen Starkey

POKÉMON THE MOVIE: I CHOOSE YOU!

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre on Nov. 5, 6

New

Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town turns 10 and dreams of becoming a Pokémon trainer.

—OLM

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the inspiring true story of international art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), who befriends a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) in hopes of saving his struggling marriage to Debbie (Renée Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. (119 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

What's it rated? R

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

Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they've left the battlefield. (108 min.)

—Universal Studios

THOR: RAGNAROK

GOD OF THUNDER! After Thor (Chris Hemsworth) loses his hammer and is imprisoned on the other side of the universe, he must fight his way back to Asgard and stop its destruction, in Thor: Ragnarok. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel Entertainment
  • GOD OF THUNDER! After Thor (Chris Hemsworth) loses his hammer and is imprisoned on the other side of the universe, he must fight his way back to Asgard and stop its destruction, in Thor: Ragnarok.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)! (130 min.)

—Walt Disney Pictures

TYLER PERRY'S B00 2! A MADEA HALLOWEEN

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Madea and the gang are back for this hilarious sequel. Madea (Tyler Perry), Bam (Cassi Davis), and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the bogeyman are unleashed. Δ

—Lionsgate

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Arts Editor Ryah Cooley and others. You can contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.


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