Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings 4/12/18 – 4/19/18

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BLACK PANTHER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer/director Ryan Coogler (Creed) helms this story about T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a newly crowned king of the technologically advanced but isolationist country of Wakanda, who finds his new kinghood challenged by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a vengeful victim of T'Challa's father's past actions.

Every comic book hero needs a villain, and the obvious one here is white South African arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who's working with Killmonger to steal vibranium, an alien metal that arrived as a meteorite and is responsible for the Wakandan technology. But that's only looking at the surface. Dig deeper into this Afro-centric and female-centric film and the real villain is colonialism and the African diaspora is caused that fuels competing ideologies within the larger black community.

It's an empowering reimagining of African roots but also—remember—a fantasy. Ultimately, this is a super hero flick that refuses to stay in the genre's rut and that's interested in exploring complicated political and cultural ideas. Sure, other Marvel stories have looked at politics, from Iron Man and the arms trade to Captain America: Winter's Soldier and drones, PTSD, and warfare, but Black Panther goes deeper than any other Marvel storyline. I say, keep it coming. (134 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BLOCKERS

What's it rated? R

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

When three parents stumble upon their daughters' pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Leslie Mann (The Other Woman, This Is 40), Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors, Suicide Squad), and John Cena (Trainwreck, Sisters) star in Blockers, the directorial debut of Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect series). (102 min.)

—Universal Pictures

BLUMHOUSE'S TRUTH OR DARE

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

A harmless game of truth or dare among friends turns deadly when someone, or something, begins to punish those who tell a lie—or refuse the dare. (100 min.)

—Universal Pictures

CHAPPAQUIDDICK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

John Curran (Tracks, Stone, The Painted Veil) directs this historical drama about Ted Kennedy's (Jason Clarke) involvement in the death of campaign strategist Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) in 1969.

I was only 5 when Kopechne died, but I remember the scandal even though I wasn't fully aware of what it all meant at the time. It was just a year after Teddy's brother Bobby had been assassinated. Teddy was the last living Kennedy brother, having also lost his oldest brother, Joe Jr., who was killed in action during World War II in 1944, and his second oldest brother, President John F., to an assassin's bullet in 1963. Ted was family patriarch Joe Kennedy's (Bruce Dern) last hope to see a son serve through a term as president, and then Chappaquiddick happened. A drunken Ted ran his car off a bridge and left his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, to die.

As a staunch liberal, I've always admired Ted Kennedy, the fourth longest serving senator in U.S. history who championed civil, LGBT, and women's rights; education; health care; and introduced the Americans With Disabilities Act, among other achievements. This film has certainly colored my opinion of the oft-called "Lion of the Senate."

Ted Kennedy is painted as a man burdened by the long shadow of his more successful brothers' achievements. He comes off as small, weak willed, and morally compromised. Could he have saved Kopechne? We'll probably never know the truth, but Chappaquiddick suggests his inaction—he waited until his car and Kopechne had been discovered before reporting his involvement and then claimed shock and a concussion for his tardiness—may have led to her death and caused horrible suffering along the way.

The story also involves a Kennedy cousin, Joe Gargan (Ed Helms), who was the family's go-to guy when a mess needed to be cleaned up, as well as Robert McNamara (Clancy Brown), who tried to cover up the scandal by speeding up Kopechne's funeral before an autopsy could be performed, and Ted Sorensen (Taylor Nichols), who was responsible for Ted's famed televised speech, which was designed to protect what was left of Ted's political career.

Do you believe in redemption? Ted Kennedy must have. He no doubt knew what he did was wrong, but his deep-seated need to protect his family's name as well as his heartfelt belief that he could do more good legislating as a senator kept him fighting for liberal causes.

Chappaquiddick's version of events suggests Ted was a deeply flawed man—one who, when faced with doing the morally correct thing or the politically expedient thing, chose the latter. Does that negate the good he did as a senator? Chappaquiddick asks you to decide. (101 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE DEATH OF STALIN

What's it rated?R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Co-writer/director Armando Iannucci (Veep, In the Loop) helms this farce about the power struggle following the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) in 1953. Who will win control? Frightened puppet Georgy Malenkov (Jeffery Tambor), crafty Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), or secret police sadist Lavrenti Beria (Simon Russell Beale)?

Filled with clever zingers and scathing political humor, there's a lot to snicker at here, but I didn't seem to find the film as laugh-out-loud funny as many in the screening we saw. It's basically about the bumbling power struggle created by the power vacuum following a murderous despot's death—small-minded, venal men stepping all over each other in their quest to gain control. Sounds hilarious, right? Right?

Though I find it an imperfect analogy, one can certainly compare the depicted Stalin's administration with Trump's, and it's absolutely an indictment of Russian governmental corruption, so yes, it's a savage satire but not necessarily a funny one.

As you might expect from such as talented cast, the performances all around are solid, with Buscemi and Tambor standing out. Because of how some of the characters are written, a few performances border on cartoonish, such as Jason Isaacs as Field Marshal Zhukov and Stalin's kids Svetlana (Andrea Risenborough) and Vasily (Rupert Friend), who are rather cliché.

Living at the whim of a violent dictator seems less than fun, so while I appreciated the film's biting satire, I also found its world more than a bit depressing. Maybe due to the current White House occupant, I've grown tired of politics. (107 min.)

—Glen Starkey

GOD'S NOT DEAD: A LIGHT IN DARKNESS

What's it rated?PG

Where's it showing? Fair Oaks

After a deadly fire rips through St. James Church, Hadleigh University leaders use the tragedy to push the congregation off campus, forcing the church to defend its rights and bringing together estranged brothers for a reunion that opens old wounds and forces them to address the issues that pulled them apart. (120 min.)

—Pure Flix Entertainment

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

What's it rated? PG

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

The inspiring and unknown true story behind MercyMe's beloved, chart-topping song that brings ultimate hope to so many is a gripping reminder of the power of true forgiveness. (110 min.)

—Lionsgate

SEE SPOTS? After an epidemic leads to the banishment of dogs, a boy goes in search of his beloved canine, Spots, in Isle of Dogs. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • SEE SPOTS? After an epidemic leads to the banishment of dogs, a boy goes in search of his beloved canine, Spots, in Isle of Dogs.

ISLE OF DOGS

What's it rated? PG

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

New

In this stop-motion-animated film from writer/director Wes Anderson, an outbreak of canine flu in Japan leads all dogs to be quarantined on an island. A boy (voice of Koyu Rankin) journeys there to rescue his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber), and gets help from a pack of misfit canines that have also been exiled. His quest inspires a group of dog lovers to expose a government conspiracy. The voice cast also includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, and Yoko Ono. (101 min.)

—Fox Searchlight Pictures

LEANING INTO THE WIND: ANDY GOLDSWORTHY

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? The Palm

Leaning Into The Wind: Andy Goldsworthy is a vibrant journey through the diverse layers of artist Andy Goldsworthy's world. From urban Edinburgh and London to the South of France and New England, each environment he encounters becomes a fresh kaleidoscopic canvas for his art. A lushly visualized travelogue, Goldsworthy's work and Thomas Riedelsheimer's exquisite cinematography redefine landscape and inextricably tie human life to the natural world. (93 min.)

—Magnolia Pictures

THE LEISURE SEEKER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Streaming

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Fair Oaks

Writer-director Paolo Virzì (The First Beautiful Thing, Human Capital, Like Crazy) directs Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland as an elderly couple who unbeknownst to their family take off on a misguided final adventure in their trusty old RV they call The Leisure Seeker. Based on Michael Zadoorian's novel, the story centers on John Spencer, a former literature teacher with Alzheimer's, and his devoted wife, Ella.

Two great actors, revered source material, and a director known for deftly crafted human stories—what could go wrong? In The Leisure Seeker, surprisingly a lot. Like a lot of effective novels, Zadoorian's story doesn't translate with the same nuance and depth to the big screen. John and Ella are a little too cookie cutter. He's in turns charming and erudite, albeit overly didactic and a little boring; she's exasperated one minute and desperately in love with John the next. He wakes up and thinks it's a different decade—that he's a young professor off to teach, or he's paranoid about some long lost boyfriend from Ella's youth. She's a doting wife one second and ready to leave him on the side of the road the next. All these pivots are too much even for Mirren and Sutherland to manage without an element of broad cartoonishness.

To its credit, the film has a couple beefy third act twists that can't be discussed without revealing too much of the plot, but suffice it to say, they bring a big bump in John and Ella's long relationship before finding a way to resolve the story that feels both inevitable and surprising ... if you haven't read the novel. (112 min.)

—Glen Starkey

LOVE, SIMON

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Greg Berlanti (Life as We Know It) directs this coming of age story about Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay teenager who must face his sexual identity.

At first, Love, Simon came across as boilerplate coming of age story with the slight twist of Simon being a closeted gay. It set up warm relationships with his friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), and Abby (Alexandra Shipp); parents Emily (Jennifer Garner) and Jack (Josh Duhamel); and sister Nora (Talitha Bateman). He's just a regular guy with a big secret who likes to gaze out his window at the hunky gardener next door and dream of being accepted for who he is. The only out gay boy at his high school is Ethan (Clark Moore), who unlike Simon is exaggeratedly effete but sharp-witted enough to rebuff his peers who dare mock him.

It's 2018, so of course part of the story must play out online with a school gossip and online confession site, on which Simon begins an email correspondence with another gay young man named "Blue." Simon takes on his own pseudonym, "Jacques," and the two get to know each other, though neither knows the other's true identity. Throughout the story, Simon wonders which of his classmates it is: Bram (Keiynan Lonsdale), the soccer player; Cal (Miles Heizer), the brooding loner; or Lyle (Joey Pollari), the hunky wallflower.

The story's antagonist is star thespian and royal douche bag Martin (Logan Miller), who by accident is able to screenshot some of Simon and Blue's emails and thus extort Simon into setting Martin up with Simon's gorgeous friend Abby, who naturally Simon's other friend Nick is already in love with.

Like John Hughes films such as Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, 16 Candles, and The Breakfast Club, Love, Simon gets right to the heart of what it means to be an awkward adolescent trying to find your place in the world. The screenplay by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, which is based on the YA novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, delivers a big-hearted story that celebrates a changing culture that's trying to shake off its homophobic history. It's definitely worth a trip to the theater. (109 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE MIRACLE SEASON

What's it rated?PG

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Based on the inspiring true story of West High School girls' volleyball team. After the loss of the school's star player in an accident, the remaining team players must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hope of winning the state championship. (90 min.)

—LD Entertainment

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST

What's it rated?PG-13

Where's it showing? Park

Paul, Apostle of Christ is the story of two men. Luke (Jim Caviezel), as a friend and physician, risks his life every time he ventures into the city of Rome to visit Paul (James Faulkner), who is held captive in the emperor's darkest, bleakest prison cell. Before Paul's death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of "The Way" and the birth of what will come to be known as the church. But the emperor is determined to rid Rome of Christians and does not flinch from executing them in the grisliest ways possible. Two men struggle against a determined emperor and the frailties of the human spirit in order to bequeath the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. (108 min.)

—Affirm Films

MUTANTS In Rampage, a genetic experiment gone awry leads to a gorilla turning into raging creature of enormous size. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros. Pictures
  • MUTANTS In Rampage, a genetic experiment gone awry leads to a gorilla turning into raging creature of enormous size.

RAMPAGE

What's it rated?PG-13

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

New

Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson), a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it's soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield. (115 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

READY PLAYER ONE

What's it rated?PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Steven Spielberg directs this futuristic part live-action, part CGI story about James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the on-the-autism-spectrum creator of a virtual reality called OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), who dies and challenges all users to play "Anorak's Quest" and find his hidden "keys" that will reveal his Easter Egg, with the winner getting control over OASIS.

Set in a dystopian 2044, life sucks for most people, so they spend their time in OASIS where they can live out their fantasies. Those playing the game and searching for the egg are called Gunters (egg hunters), but Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the power-mad CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) that manufactures the equipment to access the virtual world, also wants control of the OASIS, so he's enlisted a cadre of indentured players called Sixers (due to their six-digit identifications), to win the quest and hand over control to IOI.

Our hero is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenage Gunter. Can he figure out the game and win control? Seeing as this is a Spielberg film, you already know the answer, but that doesn't stop the ride from being a lot of fun.

Teamwork and friendship is also important theme in this film. Wade and Helen have never met in real life, but they're best friends in OASIS. They have to learn to work with and trust Samantha and her avatar, and Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) eventually join them to form a team of five. To raise the stakes, we learn that Samantha's father died as an indentured player for Sorrento and IOI, so yes, there are real-world ramifications to the "game," and it's pure Spielberg for a bunch of kids to take on corrupt grownup powers and win. Go geeks! (140 min.)

—Glen Starkey

SHERLOCK GNOMES

What's it rated?PG

Where's it showing? Park, Galaxy

When Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) first arrive in the city with their friends and family, their biggest concern is getting their new garden ready for spring. However, they soon discover that someone is kidnapping garden gnomes all over London. When Gnomeo and Juliet return home to find that everyone in their garden is missing there's only one gnome to call—Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp). (86 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

A WRINKLE IN TIME

What's it rated?PG

What's it worth?Rental

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

From Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) and screenwriter Jennifer Lee (Frozen, Zootopia), comes the film adaptation of the novel A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Meg Murry (Storm Reid, 12 Years a Slave) is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who is desperate to fit in. As the daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg's younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe, Stephanie), but she has yet to realize it for herself. Making matters even worse is the baffling disappearance of Mr. Murry (Chris Pine, Wonder Woman), which torments Meg and has left her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beauty and the Beast) heartbroken. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin (Levi Miller, Pan) to three celestial guides—Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon, Wild) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Show)—who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they set off on their formidable quest.

The book is fantastical, but definitely doesn't lend itself to an easy film adaptation. And diverse casting like this should be the norm in movies, I scratched my head a bit when it was revealed that Kaling's character was the Mrs. Who that could only quote others to get her message across, leaving Witherspoon with the most dialogue out of the trio, since Winfrey was in less scenes. Having a diverse cast is progress, but why did Witherspoon, the only white actress of the trio, get the most lines? I did, however, enjoy the standout performance of Reid as a struggling, angst-filled teen dealing with the unexplained absence of her dad. In one particularly moving scene, her younger brother Charles Wallace has been taken over by an evil force and she declares, "You should love me because I deserve to be loved!" It's a message that more young girls need to hear. While I wouldn't recommend forking over the cash to see it on the big screen, renting A Wrinkle in Time on a rainy day and curling up inside at home would make for a pleasant enough afternoon. (120 min.) Δ

—Ryah Cooley

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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