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Film Listings, 2/27/20–3/5/20

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All theater listings are as of Friday, Feb. 28.

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Pick

Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) team up one more time in this third installment of the popular Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action spectacle, this time co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilail Fallah (Black, Gangsta). Confronting career changes and midlife crises, the two old partners join Miami PD's elite AMMO team to take down cartel kingpin Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio). (123 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) directs this comic book action-packed crime adventure featuring Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who joins forces with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save Cass (Ella Jay Basco) from Gotham's arch villain Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and his henchman Zsasz (Chris Messina).

Birds of Prey has been getting great reviews, but don't expect too much. It's fun but forgettable. If you're in the mood for an obnoxious distraction with a few good laughs and some over-the-top action, check it out. (109 min.)

—Glen

BRAHMS: THE BOY II

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Nothing

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

DREADFUL Liza (Katie Holmes) begins to second-guess her decision to let her son keep a lifelike doll he found buried in the woods, in the terrible horror mystery Brahms: The Boy II. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STX ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of STX Entertainment
  • DREADFUL Liza (Katie Holmes) begins to second-guess her decision to let her son keep a lifelike doll he found buried in the woods, in the terrible horror mystery Brahms: The Boy II.

In this sequel to The Boy (2016), a little boy named Jude (Christopher Convery) moves with his family to a guesthouse on the Heelshire Mansion grounds, where he makes friends with a lifelike doll he calls Brahms.

It's never a good sign when you're the only person in the movie theater, but what's worse is when the teenage boy selling tickets laughs when you tell him what movie you'd like to see.

"Yeah," the ticket boy told me when I purchased one for Brahms: The Boy II, "it hasn't been very popular."

Now that's a bad omen.

The first film, The Boy (2016), wasn't great either, and it certainly wasn't good enough to warrant a sequel, so my expectations for The Boy II were already low. But the first, which follows a nanny hired to care for a glass doll named Brahms that seemingly moves around on its own, has a solid plot and funky little twist at the end.

Without spoiling both movies, let's just say the first concludes with Brahms being nothing more than a glass doll.

Instead of building on that or going deeper into some of the background skimmed in the first film, The Boy II completely unties its predecessor's twist. But before this great undermining is carried out, audience members are subjected to every been-there-done-that horror movie cliché that exists.

The upper middle class family of three in this movie is—you guessed it—white. And yes, based on a few cringe-worthy and loving conversations right off the bat, we can tell they are such nice, happy people. But then? Yep, things change for the worse when the mother, Liza (Katie Holmes), gets attacked by burglars. Her son, Jude (Christopher Convery), witnesses it all and goes completely mute amid the trauma.

Golly gee, it sure is unsettling when bad things happen to good people who also just happen to look like and have income levels similar to those of us in the audience.

It's obvious that this family needs a fresh start, and they decide to take some time away in a charming, secluded mansion that was also the site of like, a billion murders throughout history. Where else?

When the kid finds a strangely lifelike doll buried in the forest (again, where else?), his parents tentatively let him keep it. He's been through a lot and he needs a friend, no matter how obviously haunted or inanimate it is.

Things spiral out of control from here on, and for a few minutes the movie plays out like a much less successful Hide and Seek (2005), where the audience is left wondering whether it's the demon doll causing mischief or the traumatized son. That doesn't go on long, though, because soon we see the doll's eyes and head move. Mystery solved!

It turns out the doll really is paranormal like we initially thought in the first movie, until its twisty end proved differently. Or is it? I honestly don't know and I don't really care. What I do know is that whatever happens in The Boy II is pathetically un-scary and painfully unoriginal.

There is one thing scary about this movie, though: the acting. (86 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

THE CALL OF THE WILD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

See Split Screen.

DOWNHILL

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Based on the 2014 European comedy-drama Force Majeure, this English-language version—co-directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants)—examines married couple Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Pete (Will Ferrell), who are forced to re-think their relationship after the very different ways they reacted to an avalanche.

This is a strange Hollywood remake—and not in a good way. While I applaud Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell for stepping out of their comfort zones to play characters that will challenge audiences' preconceived ideas about them, Downhill fails to live up to its quirky potential from the first scene. A movie about how small fissures in relationships can prove existentially threatening under the right circumstances, directors Faxon and Rash just don't do enough for us to truly buy-in to Billie, Pete, and their family's nightmarish vacation in the Austrian Alps.

Hoping for a little R & R following a tough few months due to the death of Pete's father, Pete, Billie, and their two kids check in to a fancy European ski resort for a much-needed vacation. Right away, it's clear that Billie and Pete are carrying some (seemingly) garden-variety marital baggage, but it will soon get gravely aggravated. While the family is eating lunch on the patio of the ski lodge, a "controlled" avalanche comes scarily close to burying them, as it barrels right up to the edge of the lodge. Billie's reaction is to hunker down with her children, putting one arm around each boy. Pete's is to simply run away. When the snow dust settles and Pete returns, he's met with feelings of disgust and betrayal from his family. Though he tries to downplay the whole thing, the incident haunts him for the rest of the trip.

Admittedly, I have not seen Force Majeure, the Swedish original that this remake is based on (and that's supposedly excellent), but I can imagine how this story could be brilliantly told. Unfortunately, Downhill does not hit that stellar mark. There are a few glaring issues: One is that Pete and Billie's relationship never truly feels real, which is a big deficiency given that the entire movie depends on us getting absorbed in their dynamic. The vital elements of their marriage are just not well established from the start. Another is that Louis-Dreyfus and Ferrell have made so many comedies by now that it's simply hard to watch their work from a serious point of view. For instance, I kept seeing weird parallels between Ferrell's Pete and his character in Old School, Frank, the tamed, beaten-down husband whose beer-chugging frat boy alter ego ("Frank the Tank") is always a drink away. Pete is a completely different character in a completely different context, but Ferrell's mannerisms and approach gave off similarities that were hard for me to shake.

That said, Downhill isn't a terrible movie. Louis-Dreyfus, especially, gives a compelling performance as Billie, who's trying to come to grips with having a half-vacant husband who will run when danger approaches. The supporting cast delivers good moments as well. Zach Woods (The Office, Silicon Valley) is quite funny as Pete's younger friend who visits them during his and his adventurous girlfriend's (Zoë Chao) own escapade through Europe. The couples are in opposite emotional places, and the juxtaposition makes for some quality awkward comedy. Another positive: The film's breezy less-than-90-minute run time means you won't be in agony for too long. (86 min.)

—Peter Johnson

FANTASY ISLAND

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

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

Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare, Kick-Ass 2, Never Back Down) directs this horror-comedy about a magical island run by Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), who makes his resort guests' dreams come true ... until those dreams turn into nightmares from which his guests must try to escape. (110 min.)

—Glen

HAI TANG HONG

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Wen Yi directs this 1955 Chinese film about the oppression and bullying of opera artists. (136 min.)

—Glen

THE INVISIBLE MAN

What's it rated? R

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

New

NOT CRAZY When her abusive partner commits suicide and leaves her his fortune, Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) suspects his death was a hoax and that he's now tormenting her and her family and friends, in The Invisible Man. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blumhouse Productions
  • NOT CRAZY When her abusive partner commits suicide and leaves her his fortune, Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss) suspects his death was a hoax and that he's now tormenting her and her family and friends, in The Invisible Man.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell (Insidious 3, Upgrade) helms this new iteration of the H.G. Wells 1897 horror novel about a brilliant but disturbed scientist who develops a technique to render himself invisible. In Whannell's version, the brilliant scientist is Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), abusive partner to Cecilia Kass (Elizabeth Moss). Cecilia—with the help of her sister, Alice (Harriet Dyer); their childhood friend, James Lanier (Aldis Hodge); and his teenage daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid)—escapes Adrian in the dead of night. Later, Adrian purportedly commits suicide and and leaves Cecilia much of his fortune, but she begins to suspect his death was a hoax as strange events happen and lethal accidents befall those she loves most. Is she going insane, or is she being tormented by an invisible entity? (124 min.)

—Glen

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park

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 Wiseblood

THE LODGE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

New

BUMPS IN THE NIGHT Trapped in a snowed-in lodge with two children, Grace (Riley Keough) experiences weird stuff that threatens to conjure psychological demons from her past, in The Lodge. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HAMMER FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Hammer Films
  • BUMPS IN THE NIGHT Trapped in a snowed-in lodge with two children, Grace (Riley Keough) experiences weird stuff that threatens to conjure psychological demons from her past, in The Lodge.

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz co-direct this horror thriller about Grace (Riley Keough), a woman snowed in at a remote lodge with her fiancé's two children—Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh). As the at-first-uncomfortable trio finally begin to connect, weird stuff threatens to conjure psychological demons from Grace's religious upbringing. (108 min.)

—Glen

MY HERO ACADEMIA: HEROES RISING

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

RISE HEROES In the animated sequel My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, a group of kids aspires to become superheroes. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BONES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Bones
  • RISE HEROES In the animated sequel My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising, a group of kids aspires to become superheroes.

A group of kids aspires to become superheroes in this animated adventure directed by Kenji Nagasaki. All the elements you love from the series are here, and the animation and action are both incredible! (104 min.)

—Glen

1917

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead, Spectre) helms this World War I epic about two young British soldiers—Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay)—who are tasked with the impossibly dangerous mission of crossing German lines to warn the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment that their planned impending attack against the Germans will be charging into a deadly ambush, and to make the perilous mission even more urgent, Blake's brother is among the 1,600 endangered soldiers in the regiment.

1917 won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Mixing. This film is a must-see on the big screen. Don't miss it! (119 min.)

—Glen

NORTH BY NORTHWEST

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy on March 1

New/Pick

MISTAKEN IDENTITY Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) scramble around Mount Rushmore as they evade foreign agents, in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic, North by Northwest, screening at Galaxy on March 1. - PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • MISTAKEN IDENTITY Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) scramble around Mount Rushmore as they evade foreign agents, in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic, North by Northwest, screening at Galaxy on March 1.

Alfred Hitchcock's thrilling 1959 masterpiece comes to Galaxy Cinemas on March 1 (1 and 6 p.m.). NYC advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) finds himself on the run after he's mistaken as a government agent by a group of foreign spies. The scenes on Mount Rushmore are incredible! The film also stars Eva Marie Saint and James Mason at his most diabolical. (136 min.)

—Glen

ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Galaxy

New

BAND OF BROTHERS The new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band chronicles Robbie Robertson's early career with The Band, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IMAGINE DOCUMENTARIES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Imagine Documentaries
  • BAND OF BROTHERS The new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band chronicles Robbie Robertson's early career with The Band, screening exclusively at The Palm.

Writer-director Daniel Roher helms this documentary about Robbie Robertson and The Band, one of the most enduring musical groups in rock history. With archival footage and interviews with Martin Scosese, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and others, this period of rock history is revealed as a confessional cautionary tale. (100 min.)

—Glen

PARASITE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

In this four-Oscar winner, 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. (132 min.)

—Kasey

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Tomboy) directs Noémie Merlant as Marianne, an artist who is secretly hired to paint a woman's portrait that will be sent off to her suitor in Milan. With each longing glance meant to keep Héloïse's (Adèle Haenel) face in her memory to paint on a canvas later, Marianna finds love in a hopeless place.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire is more than a story about illicit love between two women in a closed-minded 18th century society, it's also about the creative process of capturing pain and joy in a work of art. The beautiful magnetism of the women is done in a few sensual scenes in the privacy of a lonely cliffside home in Brittany, but goosebumps come on hot and heavy when the two lock eyes, longing for one another and caressing each other's skin.

In the wake of Héloïse's sister's death (she took her own life rather than marry some man she's never met), her mother (Valeria Golino) has brought Héloïse back home from the convent to marry her off to a suitor from Milan—a man she doesn't know.

In order to seal the deal, a portrait of Héloïse must be given to the suitor, but no portraitist has been able to get Héloïse still long enough to capture her face. Héloïse's mother has brought in Marianne, whose father is famous for his paintings and portraits, to secretly capture her daughter on canvas.

The catch? Héloïse is made to believe Marianne was hired to go on walks with her on the beach—Héloïse's mother is afraid she'll follow her sister's fate—so the painting is done in secret.

Marianne believes she is the only one making observations of her subject; however, Héloïse is looking right back at her, noting her mannerisms when she's troubled, happy, or curious.

When Héloïse's mother goes off on a trip leaving her daughter and Marianne behind, the two affirm their affection for one another and explore it.

Woven into Sciamma's hypnotizing storytelling of a delicate secret is another story about being seen. While Héloïse is supposed to be a mere muse, meant to sit still and then be sent off into the arms of a man, she makes Marianne see her for the person she is, hear her thoughts on an arranged marriage, and understand how her rights are lost. Marianne is also a subject who is not seen as a professional artist—she submits her painting under her father's name so it can be hung in a gallery.

The film also boldly shares its perspective on the Greek myth of Orpheaus and Eurydice. In the myth, Eurydice is dead and Orpheaus travels to the underworld to bring her back, but can only do so if he walks to the upper world without looking back at her. Orpheaus looks back. Like the Greek myth, Portrait toys with the burden of preserving memories and art's role in it. The film was nominated for Best Motion Picture—Foreign Language at the 2020 Golden Globes. (122 min.)

—Karen Garcia

REEL ROCK 14

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Fremont Theater on Friday, Feb. 28

New

THE FASTEST? In The Nose Speed Record, one of three films screening during Reel Rock 14 on Feb. 28 in the Fremont Theater, Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold compete to climb Yosemite the fastest. - PHOTO COURTESY OF REEL ROCK 14
  • Photo Courtesy Of Reel Rock 14
  • THE FASTEST? In The Nose Speed Record, one of three films screening during Reel Rock 14 on Feb. 28 in the Fremont Theater, Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold compete to climb Yosemite the fastest.

The Reel Rock Film Tour, one of climbing's greatest celebrations, returns this fall with a new collection of world premiere films. In The High Road, the powerful and bold Nina Williams tests herself on some of the highest, most difficult boulder problems ever climbed. In United States of Joe's, climbers collide with a conservative coal mining community in rural Utah, to surprising results. And in The Nose Speed Record, legends Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold battle Yosemite dirt bags Jim Reynolds and Brad Gobright in a high-stakes race for greatness. The screening beneficiary is the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo. The doors open at 6 p.m. for this all-ages event. Films start at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10.88 at Boo Boo's and fremontslo.com.

—Fremont Theater

SEBERG

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

New

SOLIDARITY In Seberg, the life and death of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart, center) and her involvement with the Black Panther Party is explored, questioning whether the FBI drove her to suicide. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PHREAKER FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Phreaker Films
  • SOLIDARITY In Seberg, the life and death of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart, center) and her involvement with the Black Panther Party is explored, questioning whether the FBI drove her to suicide.

Benedict Andrews (A Streetcar Named Desire, Una, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) directs this biopic about French New Wave icon and actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart), who in the late-'60s was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and his COINTELPRO program for her support of the Black Panther Party and her relationship with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie). The FBI's disinformation campaign, and in particular its planted lie that she became impregnated by Jamal with a child that died in 1970, eventually led to her suicide, for which her husband, Romain Gary (Yvan Attal), laid squarely at the feet of Hoover and the FBI. (102 min.)

—Glen

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Jeff Fowler directs this action adventure based on the Sega video game franchise about a super fast blue hedgehog from outer space. Settling into his life on Earth, our titular character (voiced by Ben Schwartz) must evade an evil genius, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik (Jim Carrey), a government-hired baddie who wants to experiment on Sonic and steal his powers.

Growing up with Nintendo consoles, my brief encounters with Sega's tent pole creation were always either over at a friend's or neighbor's house or in the lobby of my dentist's office—nothing like a little platforming before plaque reforming, am I right? Still, I felt a bit nostalgic watching Sonic the Hedgehog, not so much toward the games but 1990s video gaming in general. What the film has in common with its source material is a sense of careless fun. The cartoonish plot might feel like an extended Tom and Jerry episode, but it knows what it is, and doesn't pretend not to be anything deeper than that. It's a game of cat-and-mouse, with Robotnik hunting down Sonic across the country—did I mention it's technically a road trip comedy too?

The adventure begins in Green Hills, Montana, where Sonic has been living in seclusion for the last 10 years (trained on his home planet to hide his powers). But he just can't help himself, and a Big Foot-esque myth spreads among the locals who catch tiny glimpses of him speeding around town: The Blue Blur, they call him. One evening, Sonic's super speed reaches an unprecedented level and causes an electromagnetic pulse that blacks out the entire Pacific Northwest. This of course attracts the government's attention, and Robotnik is brought in as a bounty hunter of sorts.

Using drones and other gadgets, the mad scientist is able to track down the source of the blackout (or should I say "blue-out?"). Usually, in situations like this, Sonic would be able to use his "rings," which can open portals to other planets, to escape. Unfortunately his bag of McGuffins—I mean, rings—becomes misplaced after the local sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), mistakes Sonic for the notorious raccoon raiding his garbage and shoots him with a bear tranquilizer—courtesy of his veterinarian wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter).

Thus begins Sonic's journey, joined by Tom, who he's convinced to help him to recover the rings, all while evading Robotnik, who he nicknames "Eggman" based on his egg-shaped drones. And speaking of which, Carrey is absolutely egg-cellent in the role, and is sure to please fans of his more manic characters earlier in his career, like Ace Ventura and The Mask. Just hit me with another dose of '90s nostalgia why don't ya? (99 min.)

—Caleb

THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy on Feb. 29 and March 2

New/Pick

Writer-director Isao Takahata helms this story, first released in 2013, about a tiny girl found by an old bamboo cutter and his wife in a shining stalk of bamboo. She quickly grows into a beautiful young lady, a princess who enthralls all she encounters, though she ultimately must confront her fate: a punishment for her crime. (137 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

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