Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings 4/19/18 – 4/26/18

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BLACK PANTHER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? 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, 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, Park, Galaxy

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? Park, Bay

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 five 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.

Chappaquiddick's version of events suggests Ted was a deeply flawed man—one who, when faced with doing the morally correct thing and 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

A MOMENT IN TIME James Lord (Armie Hammer, left) sits for a painting by his artist friend Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) in Final Portrait. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Sony Pictures Classics
  • A MOMENT IN TIME James Lord (Armie Hammer, left) sits for a painting by his artist friend Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) in Final Portrait.

FINAL PORTRAIT

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

NewFinal Portrait is the story of the touching and offbeat friendship between American writer and art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) and Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), as seen through Lord's eyes and revealing unique insight into the beauty, frustration, profundity, and sometimes the chaos of the artistic process. Set in 1964, while on a short trip to Paris, Lord is asked by his friend, Giacometti, to sit for a portrait. The process, promises Giacometti, will take only a few days and so Lord agrees, ultimately wondering, "How much longer can it go on like this?" (90 min.)

—Sony Pictures Classics

I CAN ONLY IMAGINE

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Park

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

ALTERED PERSPECTIVE In I Feel Pretty, an accident causes a woman (Amy Schumer, center) to think she's a super model, which leads to her living her life in a more bold and fearless way. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STXFILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Stxfilms
  • ALTERED PERSPECTIVE In I Feel Pretty, an accident causes a woman (Amy Schumer, center) to think she's a super model, which leads to her living her life in a more bold and fearless way.

I FEEL PRETTY

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New
In I Feel Pretty, a woman (Amy Schumer) who struggles with feelings of deep insecurity and low self-esteem that hold her back every day, wakes from a brutal fall in an exercise class believing she is suddenly a supermodel. With this newfound confidence she is empowered to live her life fearlessly and flawlessly, but what will happen when she realizes her appearance never changed? (110 min.)

—STXfilms

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? Bay

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

A QUIET PLACE

What's it rated?PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Director and co-writer John Krasinski (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Promised Land, The Hollars) helms and stars in this horror story, co-written by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, about the Abbott family—father Lee (Krasinski), pregnant mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and kids Beau (Cade Woodward), Marcus (Noah Jupe), and deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds)—who must live in utter silence to protect themselves from deadly creatures that hunt by sound.

While the synopsis may sound like standard-issue sci-fi horror, A Quiet Place is instead throat-clenchingly tense and a thoroughly thoughtful meditation on parenthood, family, and guilt.

The film isn't concerned with where the creatures come from or how they got there. Yes, we see a few newspaper front pages—with headlines suggesting it's a worldwide phenomenon—that are pinned up in Lee's workshop, where he tirelessly toils trying to improve his daughter Regan's hearing aid. A scrawled-on white board asks, "Weaknesses," but the creatures appear to be indestructible—they're all gill-like earflaps and sharp teeth on long-limbed grasshopper-like bodies that can tear a human to pieces.

Because the creatures are blind and don't appear to have a sense of smell, the film ups the terror level since the creatures can be in the very same room but not know someone's there ... provided the person stay absolutely silent.

The few remaining pockets of civilization are in total survival mode, and every night, Lee climbs to the top of an ominous grain silo on their secluded farm and lights a signal fire, waiting as a handful of others light up in the distance. Lee also tinkers with his ham radio, trying to find if anywhere is safe, but to no avail.

The family's day-to-day existence is silently picking crops and doing chores, giving the kids reading and math lessons, preparing a soundproof box with an oxygen supply to deafen the cries of their impending baby, and occasionally venturing to a nearby town to scavenge through abandoned stores; and to a river to collect fish they've caught in baskets.

All they have is each other, and Lee and Evelyn's primary and immediate goal is to keep their children safe. The film is nearly silent, with almost all dialogue mouthed and accompanied by American Sign Language. It's a fresh and remarkable take on the horror genre, with scenes that will have you white-knuckling your arms rests or silently crying to yourself in empathy for the family's plight. It's just brilliant!

If you've read anything about the film, you've no doubt learned that Blunt, who's married to Krasinski, suggested a friend of hers for the role of Evelyn, but after reading the script, she asked her husband to give her the role instead. Well, Blunt is simply incredible as Evelyn. She owns the character, and her birth scene will go down in the history of horror as one of the most gripping sequences ever set to film (well, probably video, but you know what I'm saying).

It's also worth mentioning that deaf Regan is played by a deaf actress, and Krasinski said she was important to give the role authenticity as well as helping the other actors learn sign language.

Most recent horror movies have bored me due to a lack of scares, flat characters, or hackneyed writing and direction. A Quiet Place falls prey to none of that, and it offers a badass but open ending, which I found hopeful though my wife didn't—that's deft filmmaking in my book. (90 min.)

—Glen Starkey

RAMPAGE

What's it rated? PG-13

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

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, 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

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

BACK AT IT In Super Troopers 2, the super troopers must solve an international dispute between the U.S. and Canada. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • BACK AT IT In Super Troopers 2, the super troopers must solve an international dispute between the U.S. and Canada.

SUPER TROOPERS 2

What's it rated?R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

Everyone's favorite law enforcement team is back by popular demand with the long anticipated follow-up to the cult comedy classic, Super Troopers. When an international border dispute arises between the U.S. and Canada, the Super Troopers—Mac (Steve Lemme), Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Foster (Paul Soter), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) and Farva (Kevin Heffernan), are called in to set up a new Highway Patrol station in the disputed area. Unconventional police work follows, and the result is... Super Troopers 2. (100 min.) Δ

—Fox Searchlight Pictures

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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