Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings, 12/27/2018 – 1/3/2019

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Editor's note: Dec. 27 listings for the Sunset Drive-in and The Palm Theater were unavailable at press time. Listings published for The Palm reflect what was current on its website. Call the theaters for shows and times.

AQUAMAN

DEEP IMPACT Mera (Amber Heard) helps Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) claim his title as heir to Atlantis and save the world, in Aquaman. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DC ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
  • DEEP IMPACT Mera (Amber Heard) helps Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) claim his title as heir to Atlantis and save the world, in Aquaman.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Furious 7) directs the story of Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), who becomes Aquaman when he discovers he's heir to the underwater kingdom, Atlantis. Can he rise to the role, lead his people, and save the world? Is this a comic book movie? Yes and yes! (143 min.)

—Glen Starkey

AT ETERNITY'S GATE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directs this biopic chronicling Vincent Van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) during his tragic last days in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Rupert Friend stars as Vincent's brother, Theo; Oscar Isaac as fellow painter Paul Gauguin; and Mathieu Amalric as Vincent's physician and model, Dr. Paul Gachet.

Schnabel is a singular filmmaker, one who doesn't mind challenging viewers. His take on the final years of Van Gogh's life will definitely divide audiences. Its rottentomatoes.com aggregate is 82 percent favorable by critics but only 52 percent by audience members. In the screening we attended, two women walked out midway through.

The film takes its time and is very interested in Van Gogh's psychology, his feeling of isolation, his aberrant behavior, and his unique way of seeing the world. If only Van Gogh could have seen how revered his work would become, maybe his life wouldn't have been such a tragedy. (110 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BUMBLEBEE

LAZY BOT An old VW bug in a junkyard is discovered to be Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien), a Transformer bot in hiding, in Bumblebee. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALLSPARK PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Allspark Pictures
  • LAZY BOT An old VW bug in a junkyard is discovered to be Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien), a Transformer bot in hiding, in Bumblebee.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) directs this new installment into the Transformers franchise. It's 1987, and a broken and battle-weary Bumblebee (voiced by Dylan O'Brien) is hiding in a junkyard when he's discovered by Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), a teen looking for her first car. Together, they'll team up in this sci-fi action adventure. (113 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE FAVOURITE

ON THE RISE Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to Queen Anne, connives herself into a position of power, in The Favourite. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELEMENT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Element Pictures
  • ON THE RISE Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to Queen Anne, connives herself into a position of power, in The Favourite.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

Yorgos Lanthimos directs this early 18th century period piece about two warring women seeking favor from ailing, prickly Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is the queen's longtime companion who essentially runs the country during a time of war. Newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to the queen, uses her charms to gain power of her own as she attempts to return to her aristocratic roots. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FREE SOLO

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

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 chronicling 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. (100 min.)

—Peter Johnson

GREEN BOOK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks

Pick

Co-writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) directs this biopic about African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver on a music tour of the 1960s American South. Though they're very different people, they develop a warm and enduring friendship. This is one of those classic feel-good movies only a true cynic could reject. Both lead characters come out of the other side of the story improved. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE GRINCH

BITE ME, CHRISTMAS! The grumpy green cynic (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) returns to ruin Whoville's Christmas, in The Grinch. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • BITE ME, CHRISTMAS! The grumpy green cynic (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) returns to ruin Whoville's Christmas, in The Grinch.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Co-directors Yarrow Cheney (The Secret Life of Pets) and Scott Mosier helm this animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story, narrated by Pharrell Williams, about a grumpy curmudgeon, the Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who plans to ruin Whoville's Christmas. Along the way, the Grinch encounters various inhabitants of the town including Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely), her mother, Donna Who (Rashida Jones), and Mr. Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson). (86 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

HOLMES & WATSON

STICKY WICKET Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective character, Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell, right), and his sidekick, Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly), get the comedic treatment, in the spoof Holmes & Watson. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES CORPORATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures Corporation
  • STICKY WICKET Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective character, Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell, right), and his sidekick, Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly), get the comedic treatment, in the spoof Holmes & Watson.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Writer-director Etan Cohen (Get Hard) helms this comedic crime adventure about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective character, Sherlock Holmes (Will Ferrell), and his sidekick, Doctor Watson (John C. Reilly). (132 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARY POPPINS RETURNS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

See Split Screen.

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

Josie Rourke directs this biopic about Scottish Queen Mary Stuart's (Saoirse Ronan) attempt to overthrow her cousin, English Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). (124 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MORTAL ENGINES

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

LONDON CALLING Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) works to stop London, a mobile predator city, from destroying everything in its path, in Mortal Engines. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MEDIA RIGHTS CAPITAL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Media Rights Capital
  • LONDON CALLING Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) works to stop London, a mobile predator city, from destroying everything in its path, in Mortal Engines.

Christian Rivers (Minutes Past Midnight) directs Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, a mysterious woman living on a mobile industrial city seeking revenge for her murdered mother. Co-producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh bring Philip Reeve's young adult novel, Mortal Engines, to life—set in a distant future where mobile cities hunt smaller towns and dismantle those they catch for raw materials.

What this film lacks in intertwining storylines it makes up for in action-packed and in-your-face sequences. Don't let the Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and King Kong) name across the top of the movie poster fool you—this film lacks his magic touch and the fluid storytelling that we see in his previous work.

As most futuristic stories begin, a narrator recounts the story of the earth and how "the ancients" destroyed it in only 60 minutes with destructive technology. In case you were wondering, the ancients are the present population—yeah, you heard me, you reading this review are part of the ancients' population.

Anyway, in order to survive with whatever resources are left, cities and towns have been built on top of engines so they can freely roam the muddy terrain in constant search. Cities that are obviously inhabited by the upper class prey on smaller towns and literally swallow them up and search them for scrap technology to continue leading their somewhat successful lives. It's very Hunger Games-esque, as the screen closes in on London's population, cheering and applauding as their city swallows up a town.

The town they're rummaging through for goods contains Hester Shaw, a runaway seeking bloody revenge on the city's lead engineer, Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), who murdered her mother. Seeking the opportunity, she stabs Thaddeus once but is stopped by one of the city's historians, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan). Tom was a huge believer in Thaddeus and his work until he started to question whether Thaddeus had harmed Hester's mother, so Thaddeus pushes Tom down the city's garbage shoot and out into the deserted world.

Tom's left in the mud to fend for himself and to make sense of who Thaddeus really is and what he's done to others in order to get to the top. He's left with the company of Hester, whose no-nonsense, lone-wolf vibe isn't so easy to deal with.

Turns out Hester is so angsty because of her troubled upbringing. After her mother's death, a robot with superpowers raised her, but that's a whole psychological can of worms.

There are a couple more side stories within this film that I think take away from the issue at hand. Thaddeus is building something powered by old, dangerous pieces of technology that could eliminate other people. I guess he wants to be a dictator of sorts. So there's that, mixed with a rebellion population (very Star Wars) that lives in a city in the sky, a love story with Hester, a sanctuary village, and a crazy robot who once was a human.

It's a lot of little stories meshed into one, and it's not done very well. It feels like we're just getting to know one character ... and then wait a second, here's a clumsy plot twist. It's just kind of a corny movie with all the bells and whistles of a Jackson film. The action scenes are epic, like when the deranged robot chases Hester and Tom, or an airplane fighting scene, with explosions and all that good stuff.

Also, thumbs up for having a diverse and almost entirely unknown cast except for Weaving and an unrecognizable Stephen Lang—he's the crazy robot guy. I have to say a lot of strong roles in the film were played by women, which is something I'm all for. This is Hilmar's first leading role, but you might recognize her from The Romanoffs or Anna Karenina.

Overall the film is fun to see in theaters but don't expect much in terms of storyline. (129 min.)

—Karen Garcia

THE MULE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino) directs this crime thriller screenplay by Sam Dolnick, based on the New York Times Magazine article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule" by Nick Schenk. Eastwood takes on the role of Earl Stone, a horticulturist and World War II vet who's caught in Michigan running $3 million worth of Mexican cartel cocaine.

After a quick read of the New York Times Magazine article upon which this film is based, it's pretty clear that instead of focusing—as the article does—on whether or not Earl Stone was a crafty insider or a doddering old man taken advantage of by the cartel, this film is more interested in inventing Earl's estrangement from his family. Earl wants to be the center of attention, and he's seen as a star of the daylily growers association and well liked at the local VFW hall, rather than feeling like a failure as a husband and father at home. He misses anniversaries, birthdays, weddings—you name it—and his ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and daughter Iris (real life daughter Alison Eastwood) hate him for it.

About the only family member who's not yet fed up with his selfishness is soon-to-be-married granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga). His horticulture operation, having fallen on hard times thanks to the internet, is out of business, so when he's recruited to drive a route for the cartel, he accepts, thinking it'll be a one-time easy money scheme that will help him pay for his granddaughter's wedding. It is easy money ... too easy, and the one-time trip turns into another and another, with increasingly larger loads and fatter paydays.

Earl's a charming, selfish prick, and the film explores—maybe a little too easily and conveniently—how he comes to realize what's really important in life. It's not nearly as good as Gran Torino (2008), a similarly themed film, but it certainly washes the bad taste of his last failure—The 15:17 to Paris (2018)—out of my mouth.

So, yes, Eastwood has pulled it off again, but it's a little repetitive of his past work. Like Gran Torino's cranky, racist, veteran Walt Kowalski, Earl Stone is mostly blind to his own shortcomings. Hispanics are "beaners," blacks are "negroes," and women are gleefully objectified. Earl gets away with it all because he's old, but also because he's not malignant or malicious about it. He just doesn't seem to know any better.

His law enforcement counterpart is new Chicago bureau DEA Special Agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper), who with his DEA partner (Michael Peña) is zeroing in on the cartel operation because they flipped low-level cartel worker Luis Rocha (Eugene Cordero), who tells them all about this successful new mule, Tata, who's now driving a new black pickup truck. Yet, even when Tata—aka Earl Stone—is right under the DEA's noses, his age and amiable nature rules him out as a suspect.

Overall, this is an ambling film that occasionally delivers moments of emotional resonance. Eastwood is 88 years old, and the former hunky lead is comfortable in his skin, gifted behind and in front of the camera, and still capable of crafting an entertaining story.

The Mule will be remembered as an effective late-career effort from a masterful filmmaker who's given us classics such as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Mystic River, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, and American Sniper. For me, his amazing oeuvre is enough to erase his 2012 RNC speech to an empty chair. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2

WRECK-IT Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly, right) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a Wi-Fi router in their arcade to a new adventure, in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • WRECK-IT Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly, right) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a Wi-Fi router in their arcade to a new adventure, in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-directors Phil Johnson and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia) helm this animated sequel in which Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a Wi-Fi router in their home arcade, Litwak's Family Fun Center, to explore a strange new world: the internet.

Six years have passed since the events of Wreck-It Ralph, and Ralph and Vanellope are still best friends—close as "peanut butter and bacon," Ralph says at one point. When Vanellope's game, Sugar Rush, is in danger of being unplugged and scrapped for parts after its steering wheel breaks, the pair seek help in the world of the internet, a realm completely unknown to the duo and the other pixelated inhabitants of Litwak's arcade. Ralph and Vanellope start at eBay (or "eBoy" as Ralph continuously calls it), where a Sugar Rush steering wheel is up for auction. The wheel would save Vanellope's candy kingdom home from destruction, but will the pair be able to raise enough money to bid for the item in time? (112 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman co-direct this animated action adventure co-written by Phil Lord and co-produced by Christopher Miller (the duo best known for directing The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street). Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) becomes the Spider-Man of his version of reality, then crosses into a parallel universe where he teams with other realities' Spider-Men and a Spider-Woman to stop a an evil that threatens all realities.

Superhero team-ups are most satisfying when the juggling of characters is completely undetectable. The audience shouldn't be thinking about which character's turn it is in the spotlight, rather why the characters work so well together. For example, what is it that makes Nicolas Cage's Spider-Noir (a gritty, 1940s private investigator version of Spider-Man) and John Mulaney's Spider-Ham (an anthropomorphic pig whose secret identity is Peter Porker) such a perfect pair?

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse pulls this off but also picks the right point-of-view to watch the story unfold through: Miles Morales, a teenager who gets spidey powers after being bit by a genetically altered spider while tagging an abandoned subway station. Morales returns to the station later to investigate, only to uncover a plot concocted by crime lord Wilson Fisk—aka Kingpin (voiced by Liev Schreiber)—to collide dimensions in order to access parallel universes, but at a deadly cost.

What a time it is to be alive for superhero fans. Live action comic book adaptations have been inarguably dominating the box office for the last decade, so where can we go from there? Animated adaptations of costumed crime fighters aren't new, in home video and television at least. But the big screen treatment for these "cartoons" (a term that Peter Porker considers derogatory) was a rarity ... until this year, if the trend catches on.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse does for Marvel what Teen Titans Go! To The Movies did for DC earlier this year: It takes these characters places that live action couldn't possibly allow (I could be eating these words in a year or so). Despite the comparison to a quite sillier film, Spider-Verse is surprisingly just as earnest as it is humorous. No matter how many one-liners, knee-slappers, and instances of breaking the fourth wall there are, the stakes feel real. Morales is a full-fledged character we root for and sympathize with all the way through. I'm starting to understand why Spider-Ham found the term "cartoon" so demeaning. (117 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

SECOND ACT

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Peter Segal (Tommy Boy, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, Get Smart) directs Jennifer Lopez as big box store worker Maya, who keeps getting passed over for promotion. With the help of a computer-smart kid, she reinvents herself online and parlays her new identity into a posh new job on Madison Avenue, proving that street smarts can outsmart book smarts. (103 min.)

—Glen Starkey

VICE

VICE IS RIGHT Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) uses his power to reshape the U.S. and its foreign policy, in Vice. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Annapurna Pictures
  • VICE IS RIGHT Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) uses his power to reshape the U.S. and its foreign policy, in Vice.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Writer-director Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers) helms this biopic dramedy about Washington D.C. bureaucratic insider Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who became George W. Bush's (Sam Rockwell) vice president, using his power to reshape the U.S. and its foreign policy. (132 min.)

—Glen Starkey

WELCOME TO MARWEN

TOY SOLDIERS Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) creates a miniature town and fantasy friends to aid in his recovery after surviving a severe beating, in Welcome To Marwen. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks And Universal Pictures
  • TOY SOLDIERS Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) creates a miniature town and fantasy friends to aid in his recovery after surviving a severe beating, in Welcome To Marwen.

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park

Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump) directs this inspirational true story about Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who survives a severe beating and creates a miniature town and fantasy friends to aid in his recovery. (116 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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