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Film Listings, 7/19/18 – 7/26/18

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ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

HERO/LIFE BALANCE In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott (Paul Rudd, pictured right) struggles with being a father and a super hero. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • HERO/LIFE BALANCE In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott (Paul Rudd, pictured right) struggles with being a father and a super hero.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it rated? Matinee

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

Pick

Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man, Ant-Man) directs this next entry into the Marvel universe set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang and his superhero alter ego Ant-Man. As Scott struggles to balance his crime fighting and home life, he's once again called-on by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to join forces with Scott's one-time love interest (and Pym's daughter) Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) to deal with a new threat, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

Chalk this film up as another serviceable action comedy with enough derring-do and laughs to make a trip to the theater worthwhile. As a character, Ant-Man is certainly a lot more fun than dour Batman or goody-two-shoes Superman—he's fallible, irreverent, and generally loveable, in part because he's trying so hard to be a good dad to Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).

The running gag is Scott is under house arrest for two years because he joined Captain America to save the world in Germany, breaking international accords. Superheroes may save the day, but they leave a wake of destruction too, and Scott must remain housebound with an ankle bracelet, under the watchful eye of FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park, at his deadpan funniest).

Woo is always one step behind Scott, and his bits are even funnier than the three hapless thieves-turned-security experts—Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian)—who tried to rob Dr. Pym in the first Ant-Man film and now run a security company.

In addition to dealing with Ghost, Scott and company have to watch out for Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who like Ghost is desperate to steal Pym's technology. Meanwhile, Pym now believes his wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who's been lost in the "quantum realm" for 30 years, is alive, and that it may be possible to rescue her.

Rudd is particularly suited to the character. He's sort of a hangdog everyman, but he's also funny, charming, and good looking enough to be a credible love interest to Hope. Yes, he seems to screw things up over and over again, but his heart is in the right place. Lilly as Hope is much more competent than Scott, and a strong female character in a superhero movie is always a welcome respite from the boys' club.

There's some nifty age-reducing CGI for the backstory about Pym and his wife Janet—both are made to look young again. It certainly adds to the realism of the pre-story, in which Pym and Janet as Ant-Man and The Wasp disarm a Soviet nuclear missile heading to the U.S. The whole quantum realm thing, however, feels like a lot of nonsense. There's no mention of how Janet survived for 30 years shrunken to subatomic size, what she ate, what continued to power her superhero suit, etc.

This is definitely the sort of story you don't want to think too hard about because it's silly and absurd. But when the fists are flying or the cars are racing, moving from super small size to super big, it's best to disappear into the moment and go with it. (118 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE CATCHER WAS A SPY

JACK OF ALL TRADES In The Catcher Was a Spy, Paul Rudd plays Moe Berg, a major league baseball player turned spy who is also a closeted gay man during World War II. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IFC FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of IFC Films
  • JACK OF ALL TRADES In The Catcher Was a Spy, Paul Rudd plays Moe Berg, a major league baseball player turned spy who is also a closeted gay man during World War II.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

In the midst of World War II, major league catcher Moe Berg (Paul Rudd) is drafted to join a new team: the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA). No ordinary ballplayer, the erudite, Jewish Ivy League graduate speaks nine languages and is a regular guest on a popular TV quiz show. Despite his celebrity, Berg is an enigma—a closeted gay man with a knack for keeping secrets. The novice spy is quickly trained and sent into the field to stop German scientist Werner Heisenberg before he can build an atomic bomb for the Nazis. (98 min.)

—IFC Films

THE EQUALIZER 2

JUSTICE Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed in The Equalizer 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • JUSTICE Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed in The Equalizer 2.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Denzel Washington returns to one of his signature roles in the first sequel of his career. Robert McCall (Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed — but how far will he go when that is someone he loves? (129 min.)

—Columbia Pictures

THE FIRST PURGE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Park

Behind every tradition lies a revolution. Next Independence Day, witness the rise of our country's 12 hours of annual lawlessness. Welcome to the movement that began as a simple experiment: The First Purge. To push the crime rate below 1 percent for the rest of the year, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) test a sociological theory that vents aggression for one night in one isolated community. But when the violence of oppressors meets the rage of the marginalized, the contagion will explode from the trial-city borders and spread across the nation. (112 min.)

—Universal Pictures

HEARTS BEAT LOUD

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

From writer/director Brett Haley (And Then I Go, The New Year) and Writer Marc Basch (I'll See You In My Dreams) comes Hearts Beat Loud, a film about widower and aging Brooklyn hipster Frank (Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation, The Hero) starting a band with his teenage daughter Sam (Kiersey Clemmons, Dope) just before she leaves home to attend college in California. When a song of theirs finds success online, it complicates Frank's attempts to let go of his dreams of stardom and allow his daughter to find her own path in life.

This heart-warming indie flick is exactly what you need this summer. Seriously, go to the theater now. I'll wait. Wasn't that lovely? From the acting of the star-studded cast Offerman, Blythe Danner (Husbands and Wives), Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine), and Ted Danson (The Good Place, Body Heat), to the musical performances (and references and soundtrack), and the use of imagery and subtle moments to tell a story, Hearts Beat Loud is a nuanced coming of age story—for both father and daughter.

After owning a record shop for 17 years, Frank, who is about to become an empty nester with his daughter Sam leaving for UCLA to study to become a doctor in the fall, feels that it's time for a change, but he's not sure what to do exactly. He also can't let go of the dream of making it big in music, back from the days when he and his late wife had a band together. So naturally when he and Sam produce a song that is pretty bitchin', he races to put it on Spotify without telling her. When their song does unexpectedly well, it puts Sam in a place of feeling like she has to choose between music and creativity and medicine and stability.

Offerman as Frank is simultaneously burnt out on the hardships of his life—losing his wife young, raising his daughter alone, caring for his senile mother, and trying to sell records for a living in the age of iTunes—and also unbelievably sweet as a loving, goofy father to Sam.

While Sam gets ready to leave the only home she's ever known, she also ends up falling in love with a girl, Rose (American Honey), a young artist she meets at a gallery. The beautiful thing is that the movie (and the other characters in it) doesn't make a big deal about Sam being a lesbian. Instead, it's presented simply as a young person falling in love for the first time, weeks before she has to move to the other side of the country. And Sam and Rose are both black, which the movie doesn't dwell on. Nor is it a thing that Frank is a white dad raising his black daughter, solo. It just is.

We also get standout performances from Danner as Frank's mom who is starting to forget who and where she is and shoplifts on the regular because of it; Collette as Frank's attractive, business savvy land lady; and Danson as his wise, yet high/tipsy bartender best friend.

Hearts Beat Loud is little pick me up that explores what it's like to be at a crossroads in life, no mater what age you are. (97 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

HOTEL TRANSLYVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION

What's it rated? PG

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

Join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac (voice of Adam Sandler) can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka (voice of Kathryn Hahn), who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind. (97 min.)

—Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation

INCREDIBLES 2

SUPER BABY As baby Jack-Jack's powers begin to emerge, it's clear he's on the gifted end of the super spectrum, possessing multiple powers and abilities. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY/PIXAR
  • Photo Courtesy Of Disney/pixar
  • SUPER BABY As baby Jack-Jack's powers begin to emerge, it's clear he's on the gifted end of the super spectrum, possessing multiple powers and abilities.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

From writer/director Brad Bird (Ratatouille) comes the sequel Incredibles 2, 14 years after the original film premiered. Everyone's favorite family of superheroes is back in Incredibles 2—but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of normal life. It's a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack's emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again.

It's been more than a decade since the Incredibles first burst onto the scene and delighted audiences with its unique nostalgia drenched take on what was then just an emerging powerhouse genre in contemporary cinema And while the film may be a shade darker than the first iteration, this new installment delivers on just about everything it promises and should leave families entertained until the next chapter arrives in theaters (which hopefully comes sooner than a decade and a half).

I also wanted to take a minute to commend Bird's choice to leave cell phones out of the picture, allowing his film to flex its muscles without pocket-sized distractions. It truly speaks to the traditionalist bent of the series, which seems to draw from 1950s era super hero shows and comics, as much as even earlier, "Golden Age" science fiction classics. Bird gives audiences a glimpse of how his generation and those before him viewed the future, and while those dreams may be dated, they still come across as new, exciting, and utterly unique, and that's pretty incredible. (118 min.)

—Spencer Cole

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls) directs this follow-up to Jurassic World (2015), which was about an island dinosaur park and a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur that goes on a killing spree and brings down the park. Three years later, the island has been abandoned and left to the dinosaurs, but then the island's dormant volcano rumbles to life, threatening to kill all the dinosaurs. Claire Dearing (Bruce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) mount a rescue mission, but do the powers that be have an ulterior motive to funding their attempt?

This is a big, fun, entertaining, summer popcorn movie that audiences will like but critics will condemn thanks to the law of diminishing returns. You can only throw the same thing at the screen so many times before it becomes surprise-free, and I'd say we're just about there, but if you're interested, see it on the big screen for full effect. (128 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MAMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN

HOW CAN I RESIST YOU? In Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, center) finds out more about her mother's past, while she is pregnant herself. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • HOW CAN I RESIST YOU? In Mama Mia! Here We Go Again, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried, center) finds out more about her mother's past, while she is pregnant herself.

What's it rated? R

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

New

As the film goes back and forth in time to show how relationships forged in the past resonate in the present, Lily James (Baby Driver) will play the role of young Donna. Filling the roles of young Rosie and young Tanya are Alexa Davies (A Brilliant Young Mind) and Jessica Keenan Wynn (Broadway's Beautiful). Young Sam will be played by Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), while young Bill is Josh Dylan (Allied) and young Harry is Hugh Skinner (Kill Your Friends). (114 min.)

—Universal Pictures

OCEANS 8

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Upon her release from prison, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), the estranged sister of legendary conman Danny Ocean, puts together a team of unstoppable crooks to pull off the heist of the century. Their goal is New York City's annual Met Gala and a necklace worth more than $150 million. (110 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

RBG

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

RBG is a must-see documentary chronicling Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's improbable life and career, superbly highlighting her heroic litigation in the 1970s to overturn laws that discriminated by gender, her tenure on the Supreme Court that's been defined by her scathing dissents, and the ways in which she's inspired a new generation of women, becoming a cultural phenomenon at the ripe age of 85.

Beyond those highlights, RBG offers a poignant portrayal of Ginsburg as a person, her reserved and steely yet sweet temperament, and her genuinely beautiful marriage. Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen really capture Ginsburg's humanity through interviews with her, her friends, and family members, which add a valuable layer of depth to the documentary.

RBG begins and ends with exploring her legacy, particularly among the newest generation of Americans. As the Supreme Court turned more and more conservative in the early 2000s, Ginsburg's dissenting opinions became her signature and drew attention from young progressives. At 85 years old today, her spunk and sharp intellect are widely adored. T-shirts labeled "Notorious RBG" have become a hit, and goofy web images with her face imprinted on various superheroes have gone viral on the Internet. You'd be hard pressed to find a more important living American icon than RBG, and this documentary proves it. (97 min.)

—Peter Johnson

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO

HOSTAGE In Sicario: Day of the Soldado, a kingpin's daughter becomes a bargaining chip in the midst of the drug war. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • HOSTAGE In Sicario: Day of the Soldado, a kingpin's daughter becomes a bargaining chip in the midst of the drug war.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rental

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Galaxy

In this sequel to Sicario (2015), CIA operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) reteams with Central American vigilante Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro) to take on the Mexican drug cartels when it becomes clear they're trafficking terrorists across the U.S. border. The pair kidnaps Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner), a drug lord's 16-year-old daughter, hoping to incite war between rival cartels, but things go wrong, pitting Graver against Gillick. Italian director Stefano Sollima (A.C.A.B., Suburra) helms this screenplay by actor-writer-director-producer Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River).

Maybe I've been so wowed by Sheridan that my expectations are too high or maybe Sicario: Day of the Soldado is suffering from sequel slump, but this is a film that can wait for home viewing. (122 min.)

—Glen Starkey

SKYSCRAPER

ON FIRE In Skyscraper, Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson) is framed for arson and must clear his name and rescue his family. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • ON FIRE In Skyscraper, Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson) is framed for arson and must clear his name and rescue his family.

What's it rated? PG-14

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

Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Skyscraper as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he's been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name, and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building ... above the fire line. (103 min.)

—Universal Pictures

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

A newcomer to big productions, Boots Riley directs Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta) as Cassius Green, a black man who picks up a telemarketing job while trying to make ends meet in an alternative present-day Oakland. Green promptly learns that he can make exponentially more sales by using his "white voice" over the phone, which quickly helps him rise up in the company and discover harrowing truths about big business.

Green is a relatable character—tired with his life of perceived mediocrity, he struggles to find meaning and desires to move up in the world. In the beginning of his telemarketing career, he befriends a protest-hungry coworker Squeeze (Steven Yeun), who rallies the whole office together in an attempt to unionize. However, once Green shows promise and is promoted to power caller, the telemarketing A-team that is almost stuff of legend, he stops fighting the power and starts to become it.

Once a power caller, Green's life radically shifts. Moving out of his uncle's garage-turned-bedroom, he and his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), upgrade to a stylish apartment in a nice part of the city. Unfortunately, Green's new job tests his moral compass and causes a rift in his relationship with the much more radical Detroit. Toward the end of the film, a shocking twist reveals just how unethical Green's line of business is—the absolute absurdity of it rendering the rest of the film's oddities completely tame.

While some jokes and scenes fall flat, there are plenty of memorable moments throughout the film. A lot of the scenes have an almost SNL-skit quality to them but are executed in a more mature way. From Detroit's performance art that involves being pelted by clunky phones and balloons of sheep blood, to an uncomfortable party where Green is forced to rap for an oblivious crowd, the entire film is purposefully and smartly unsettling.

Most notably (and contrary to the title), Sorry to Bother You is an aggressively unapologetic take on race and capitalism in America. Boots' satirical writing is oftentimes more thought-provoking than traditionally humorous, resulting in a movie that conjures up more knowing smirks than actual laughs.

This isn't a film for casual moviegoers who are just looking for a way to pass the time before dinner. It's conceptual, whacky, and challenges the viewers' perceptions of the world both inside and outside the screen. However, if you're hungry for original satire and don't mind sticking with a film through some disturbing turns, Sorry to Bother You is a worthy choice. (105 min.)

—Ashley Ladin

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Park

New

When a 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop, he and his friends are unwittingly thrust into the depths of the dark web. They soon discover someone has been watching their every move and will go to unimaginable lengths to protect the dark web. (88 min.)

—BH Tilt

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

PUPPET PERSONALITIES Fred Rogers used puppets, such as King Friday XIII, to personify different personality types to better communicate with children. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TREMOLO PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tremolo Productions
  • PUPPET PERSONALITIES Fred Rogers used puppets, such as King Friday XIII, to personify different personality types to better communicate with children.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) helms this documentary biopic about beloved cardigan-clad children's TV host Fred Rogers.

It's easy to dismiss Fred Rogers as "just" a children's TV host, and a sappy, low-budget one at that, but this documentary reveals just how deeply he cared about children; how hard he worked at helping children through topical issues such as Robert Kennedy's assassination, divorce, and war; and how seriously he took his role as host of positive children's programming as foil to what he saw as bad role modeling and encouragement of humanity's baser instincts in other kids' programs.

This documentary mixes archival footage of his show both off screen and on; interviews with those who knew him and were part of his show such as his wife Joanne Rogers, and members of his cast such as Betty Aberlin (Lady Aberlin) and François Scarborough Clemmons; and particularly memorable guests such as Yo-Yo Ma and Koko the sign language gorilla. There's even some animation to help illustrate some of the narration about his life.

Though I watched Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood as a kid, I really don't remember much of it, perhaps because Rogers was never heavy-handed or didactic. His main message was love and acceptance. He wanted each child to know he or she was loved and capable of loving. He also wanted kids to know that whoever they are, that's good enough. It's about as close to Jesus's message as you can get, but ironically it was a message that led to backlash by—get this!—conservatives who argued Rogers created a generation of entitled brats. The "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church considered Rogers—an ordained minister, by the way—an enemy too. They actually protested Rogers' memorial service. As far as I'm concerned, that's a ringing endorsement! He's rankling the right hides, but it's hard to believe such a gentle, sweet, loving person could be so polarizing.

Maybe it was simple nostalgia or being warmed by his message, but this documentary had me choked up throughout. Seeing Mr. Rogers gaze with love into a learning disabled child's eyes, watching him invite African-American cast member François to soak his feet with him in a child's wading pool during a time when whites and blacks didn't swim together, or seeing Rogers channel the empathic tiger sock puppet Daniel just got me.

It's not like Rogers was without fault. When he learned that François was gay, that was something that needed hiding for fear it would undermine his program, but Rogers was right on race and right on inclusion of disabled children during a time before such kids were mainstreamed in public schools.

It's also amazing to see Rogers go before congress and argue for the worth of public television. It's now decades later, and our current president seems bent on dividing our country by race and stripping federal funding from the arts, NPR, and PBS. This documentary is a reminder that there was a tireless champion of tolerance and inclusivity. We could certainly use that again.

What makes the film even more poignant is its depiction of Rogers at his lowest. Looking at our culture today, it's clear his message didn't prevail. Still, his message was a worthy one and remains so today. Won't You Be My Neighbor? is a wonderful celebration of a wonderful man who touched countless lives and exemplified a life well lived. (94 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

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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