Music, Arts & Culture » Movies

Film Listings 8/15/19 – 8/22/19

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THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2

What's it rated? PG

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

New

LET THE GAMES BEGIN The feud between the flightless birds and the scheming pigs continues, in The Angry Birds Movie 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
  • LET THE GAMES BEGIN The feud between the flightless birds and the scheming pigs continues, in The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Thurop Van Orman directs this animated adventure comedy based on the mobile puzzle game. In this second installment, the feud between the flightless birds and green pigs escalates. Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Awkwafina, and others provide voice work. (96 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn, Woman in Gold, Goodbye Christopher Robin) directs this screenplay by Mark Bomback based on Garth Stein's novel about a dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), who learns from his aspiring Formula One race car driver/owner Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia) that racetrack techniques can also successfully guide us through life.

Yes, it's overly sentimental. Yes, it's contrived. But it's about the loyalty and companionship of a good dog! Cynics steer clear, but dog lovers, don't miss this one! (109 min.)

—Glen

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

BORN IN THE U.K. Viveik Kalra stars as Javed, a British teen of - Pakistani descent who becomes inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s music, in - Blinded by the Light. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BEND IT FILMS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BEND IT FILMS
  • BORN IN THE U.K. Viveik Kalra stars as Javed, a British teen ofPakistani descent who becomes inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s music, inBlinded by the Light.

Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) directs Viveik Kalra as Javed, a British teen of Pakistani descent living in a working-class town in 1987 during difficult racial and economic times. Javed turns to poetry to make sense of his life, but then a classmate introduces him to Bruce Springsteen's music, which seems to offer parallels to his life and shows Javed another outlet for his pent-up dreams. (96 min.)

—Glen

DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

SAVE THEM! When her parents Elena (Eva Longoria, left) and Cole (Michael Peña, right) disappear, Dora (Isabela Moner, center) leads her friends on a search for them, in Dora and the Lost City of Gold. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PLAYERS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PLAYERS
  • SAVE THEM! When her parents Elena (Eva Longoria, left) and Cole (Michael Peña, right) disappear, Dora (Isabela Moner, center) leads her friends on a search for them, in Dora and the Lost City of Gold.

James Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Muppets Most Wanted, Muppets) directs this film based on Chris Gifford's book series about the titular teenage explorer (Isabela Moner), who leads her friends on a mission to rescue her parents and discover the mystery behind a lost Incan civilization.

Moner is terrific—funny, smart, and tenacious—as the can-do Latina explorer, and the film is faithful to its family-friendly source material. Think of this as a teenage female Indiana Jones-style adventure. The kids and the nerdy tween set will love it! (102 min.)

—Glen

ECHO IN THE CANYON

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

STOP, WHAT'S THAT SOUND? David Crosby and Jakob Dylan discuss the magic of the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene, in the excellent new documentary Echo in the Canyon. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Greenwich Entertainment
  • STOP, WHAT'S THAT SOUND? David Crosby and Jakob Dylan discuss the magic of the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene, in the excellent new documentary Echo in the Canyon.

In his directorial debut, co-writer Andrew Slater (with co-writer Eric Barrett) helms this documentary examining the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene and bands such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas. Through a mix of archival footage and contemporary interviews, we discover how this seminal time in music history has informed contemporary artists such as Fiona Apple, Beck, Norah Jones, and Jakob Dylan.

Both educational and entertaining, this doc is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in this fertile moment in rock history, when folk and rock were melded together.

You'll hear some amazing stories and watch some terrific performances, both archival and contemporary as Dylan leads his cohorts in re-creating songs. Poignant moments, laughs, and even a few come-to-Jesus moments work together to create a perceptive walk down memory lane. (82 min.)

—Glen

THE FAREWELL

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

SAYING GOODBYE Chinese-American Billi (Awkwafina, right) returns to China when her grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, in The Farewell. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BIG BEACH FILMS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BIG BEACH FILMS
  • SAYING GOODBYE Chinese-American Billi (Awkwafina, right) returns to China when her grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, in The Farewell.

Writer-director Lulu Wang (Posthumous) helms this semi-autobiographical dramedy about a Chinese family that discovers its matriarch has a terminal illness, so they decide to withhold her diagnosis and stage a wedding as a way to bring the family together before she dies.

Awkwafina plays Billi, a Chinese American woman who is conflicted about her family's decision to keep her grandmother's fatal medical diagnosis from the older woman.

The story is based on an "actual lie." In fact, it's built on a lie that Wang's family told her grandmother to prevent her from living in fear throughout the remaining days of her life. This story is presented in such a no-nonsense way that it sucks the audience right into the thick of the family's toughest deception.

Billi is your average independent struggling young woman living in New York with a tight family bond. She's always visiting her parents, who live in the same state, and calling her Nai Nai (grandmother) who lives in China.

But Nai Nai's recent doctor visit leads to a diagnosis of terminal cancer, and Nai Nai's sister, Little Nai Nai, simply tells her she's completely fine. It's a lie that is culturally the norm in China; if a family member is nearing death, the family protects them by not telling them.

It's an idea that Billi finds very troubling as she questions whether her family is doing the right thing. In the States, it's against the law to keep medical information from the patient, but those rules don't apply in China.

The entire family stages an impromptu wedding in order to be together to see Nai Nai one last time. Billi is discouraged from attending the event because her family believes she will not be able to hide the truth from Nai Nai, but she makes the trip anyway.

The minute Billi gets off the plane, into a car, and arrives on the doorstep of her grandmother's apartment, the audience grapples with the emotions of saying "goodbye" to Nai Nai without saying it.

It's difficult to watch the sorrowful family keep Nai Nai in the dark, and it's also amusing because the family matriarch is just as witty as ever. The illness she doesn't know about hasn't slowed her down for a second as she orders her grandson's fiancee around, argues with the banquet chef over the ceremony menu, and jokes with Billi.

Wang delicately explores the cultural differences of a family that's coming together after several years of moving away from their home country minus any outlandish clichés. She masterfully walks the line on all sides without judgment or declaration of which viewpoint is right or wrong.

Overall, Wang has given us a heartfelt story about death that's funny and sorrowful at the same time. It even goes as far as leaving the audience questioning what they would do in the same situation.

Aside from Wang's personal attachment to the story, the movie was filmed in her grandmother's neighborhood in China, and she was also able to cast her own great-aunt as Little Nai Nai.

The imminent farewell is difficult but through the laughter and tears, it's worth the watch and will even have you calling your grandmother. (98 min.)

—Karen Garcia

FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) directs this new installment into the Fast & Furious franchise. This time around, genetically enhanced villain, Brixton (Idris Elba), threatens humanity with a super-virus, leading lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to team-up with outcast Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to stop him. When Shaw's sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), is also drawn into the fray, things get personal.

Hobbs & Shaw is loud, obnoxious, over-the-top ... and entertaining and fun! The action is cartoonish, the story ridiculous, but as a summer blockbuster spectacle, it's a blast of male fantasy and fantastic-sarcastic buddy bromance. It largely works as well as it does thanks to Johnson and Statham's charisma and chemistry. Their characters are both "lone wolves," so when they're forced to team-up, the insults fly ... well, fast and furious.

Thankfully, the filmmakers had the good sense to make this film funny. If you're looking for an entertaining—albeit silly—distraction, try a matinee. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was. (145 min.)

—Glen

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED

BAIT Four teenage girls—(left to right) Brianne Tju, Sophie Nélisse, Sistine Stallone, and Corinne Foxx—dive to an underwater city but soon learn they’re not alone, in the shark horror film 47 Meters Down: Uncaged. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FYZZ
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FYZZ
  • BAIT Four teenage girls—(left to right) Brianne Tju, Sophie Nélisse, Sistine Stallone, and Corinne Foxx—dive to an underwater city but soon learn they’re not alone, in the shark horror film 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

In this sequel to their 2017 film 47 Meters Down, co-writer and director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey at Night) helms this horror-drama written with Ernest Riera about four teenage girls—Corinne Foxx, Sistine Stallone, Sophie Nélisse, and Brianne Tju—who scuba dive to an underwater city and encounter deadly sharks in the claustrophobic and labyrinth-like ruins. (89 min.)

—Glen

GOOD BOYS

What's it rated? R

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

New

IN OVER THEIR HEADS Three sixth graders—Lucas (Keith L. - Williams), Thor (Brady Noon), and Max (Jacob Tremblay)—skip school and go on an incredible adventure involving stolen drugs, teenage girls, and the - promise of an epic party, in Good Boys. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • IN OVER THEIR HEADS Three sixth graders—Lucas (Keith L.Williams), Thor (Brady Noon), and Max (Jacob Tremblay)—skip school and go on an incredible adventure involving stolen drugs, teenage girls, and thepromise of an epic party, in Good Boys.

Co-writer and director Gene Stupnitsky helms this adventure comedy written with Lee Eisenberg about three sixth graders—Lucas (Keith L. Williams), Thor (Brady Noon), and Max (Jacob Tremblay)—who skip school and go on an incredible adventure involving stolen drugs, teenage girls, and the promise of an epic party. (89 min.)

—Glen

THE KITCHEN

What's it rated? R

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

See Split Screen.

—Glen

THE LION KING

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rent it

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

LIONAGE Musafa (left, voiced by James Earl Jones) tries to instill his code of honor to his young son Simba (voiced by JD McCrary), in the photorealistic-animated remake of The Lion King. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • LIONAGE Musafa (left, voiced by James Earl Jones) tries to instill his code of honor to his young son Simba (voiced by JD McCrary), in the photorealistic-animated remake of The Lion King.

Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens, Chef, The Jungle Book (2016)) helms this photorealistic-animated remake of Disney's 1994 animated classic of the same name about lion prince Simba (voiced by JD McCrary as a cub and Donald Glover as an adult), who's driven from his kingdom as a cub after his king father, Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones), is murdered by his jealous brother, Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

I can't quite put my finger on what got lost in translation, but somehow this highly anticipated remake—almost a shot-for-shot remake I might add—just didn't do it for me. It's both a faithful adaptation of the original and a visually astounding spectacle in its own right—so what else could I have possibly asked for? Maybe my hopes were just too high. I went in ready to love it but left the theater feeling meh. Most of the original's charm just didn't carry over for me. (118 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

MAIDEN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Alex Holmes (Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story) directs the true story of Tracy Edwards, a young cook on a boat who formed the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

This documentary stands out from the rest as Holmes puts you in the thick of sailing at sea alongside these women rather than just telling you their already compelling story. With every challenge in the water and objection of being told "girls" can't win, let alone make it through the first stretch of the race, the audience is with the women in their triumph.

While this is about the females that made the Maiden (their boat) famous and their successes and losses in the water, it also highlighted the blatant misogyny they faced daily. It was maddening but not surprising that the men on other teams doubted the Maiden crew, with the journalists even taking digs at them. It's funny how the newscasters forgot how to do their job and basically asked the Maiden women different and dumbed-down questions.

Overall, it was amazing to ride the waves with these kick-ass women as they challenged the status quo. (97 min.)

—Karen Garcia

MIKE WALLACE IS HERE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

REAL NEWS The life and career of 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace is explored in Mike Wallace Is Here, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DELIRIO FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Delirio Films
  • REAL NEWS The life and career of 60 Minutes newsman Mike Wallace is explored in Mike Wallace Is Here, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre.

Using a trove of archival CBS footage, director Avi Belkin delivers an intimate, arresting, and thought-provoking look at the life and career of late 60 Minutes broadcaster Mike Wallace.

The renowned TV journalist, who died in 2012 at 93, lived through the birth and evolution of the medium. In Wallace's up-and-down path to becoming a household name, he established a reputation for asking tough questions to powerful people. The documentary, which aired at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, weaves on-air and behind-the-scenes clips from interviews with political and cultural icons, from Martin Luther King Jr., to Vladimir Putin, to Barbara Streisand, to Donald Trump.

Belkin's film, as a result, is not just a journey through Wallace's life, but through TV news and world history. Through Wallace, we're shown how TV evolved to become integral to the American media landscape and shape world events. And we're shown how that evolution came in many ways on Wallace's shoulders. Whether it was the Vietnam War, the Iran hostage crisis, or the reckoning of the cigarette/tobacco industry, Wallace was right in the thick of it, posing blunt questions to important people for all to witness.

Wallace and his legacy certainly aren't without flaws and problematic aspects—and Belkin doesn't shy away from those. The film explores Wallace's struggles with self-esteem, depression, fatherhood, and journalistic ethics. It opens with an interview with abrasive former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who chillingly responds to Wallace's questioning if he's a real journalist by saying: "I'm your son! You're the driving force behind my career."

The moment sets a tone from the start that the documentary must be viewed as a reflection on the state of journalism—where we are, where we came from, and how we got here—as much as a profile of one iconic broadcaster. (90 min.)

—Peter Johnson

ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight) helms this story set in 1969 Hollywood about fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they struggle to remain relevant in the changing entertainment industry. Tarantino's ninth film features an ensemble cast and multiple storylines.

Tarantino takes us on an entertaining albeit meandering ride through 1969 Hollywood, where he's mixed real life characters like Charlie Manson (Damon Herriman) and his "family," rising starlet Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her director husband Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucher), martial arts star Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), and actor Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), with fictional ones like our protagonists Rick and Cliff.

Some of the facts of the film are true, for instance that the Manson family lived on George Spahn's (Bruce Dern) Spahn Movie Ranch, but like Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino's got some historical revisions in mind.

Knowing the real history behind the Manson murders sets up viewers for the twists and turns to come, and even at two hours and 41 minutes, the film doesn't feel slow; however, it also doesn't seem like it's in much of a rush to reach its conclusion. Instead, this is a film to be savored for its attention to detail and remarkable performances.

The film's mise-en-scène is incredible. Tarantino had vintage Hollywood marquees and landmarks restored to their 1969 glory or made use of landmarks that have changed little, such as Musso & Frank Grill and the Playboy Mansion and its famed grotto. The costumes are also amazing; from the Manson family's hippy garb to Rick's swank mock turtlenecks to unctuous Hollywood mover and shaker Marvin Schwarzs' (Al Pacino) double-breasted power suit. Some enterprising entrepreneur should start silk screening Champion Spark Plug T-shirts like the one Cliff's wearing. They'll make a mint! And the cars! Holy moly! You'll feel transported to the era.

As for the acting, Pitt's fantastic here, taking on a speech pattern that's as memorable as the one he used as Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds. Cliff is the character most comfortable in his own skin. The laconic stuntman is perfectly happy being Rick's gopher, and he's the biggest badass in Hollywood, though he keeps it low key.

DiCaprio has a more complex job to do playing an actor who we see acting. That's some meta-level work. Rick's confidence is waning, and his interactions with Schwarzs and a child actor (not "actress," which she finds demeaning) named Trudi (a truly remarkable Julia Butters) are highlights of a highlights-filled film. Trudi's character also offers Tarantino a chance to comment on Method Acting. She's so much more together and mature than Rick, and that's hilarious. Tarantino lets his actors shine bright.

There's so much more I could discuss here, like Tarantino's obvious foot fetish, how he characterizes Sharon Tate and whether he's guilty of using her as mere window dressing, how he simultaneously romanticizes and tears down his heroes like Bruce Lee.

Tarantino has repeatedly said he wants to make the kinds of films he wants to watch. Choosing to examine the societal disruption caused by the rise of the counterculture manifested in the extreme as Manson's family, using Spaghetti Westerns and B-movies as a backdrop, exploring masculinity and misogyny through Rick and Cliff's friendship—it's all very ambitious, and the film bears repeated viewings. It's classic excessive Tarantino, so if you like his filmmaking, you'll love this. I did. (161 min.)

—Glen

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

BOO! A group of teens discover a book written by a young girl with horrible secrets, and the book unleashes the terrors within, in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 1212 ENTERTAINMENT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF 1212 ENTERTAINMENT
  • BOO! A group of teens discover a book written by a young girl with horrible secrets, and the book unleashes the terrors within, in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Pick

André Øvredal (Trollhunter, The Autopsy of Jane Doe) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water) join forces to bring everyone's favorite trilogy of haunting children's books to the big screen for a new generation.

Everyone knows the basic rules of avoiding an unfortunate fate with the supernatural: Don't go into the abandoned house where a long-dead family supposedly held their daughter hostage in a dark dungeon. Nope. Don't steal that book that's allegedly written in children's blood by said daughter who was kept in said dungeon. Do not, for the love of God, split up to search for the medical records of said dungeon daughter in the clearly haunted insane asylum she was forced into so many years ago.

Everyone knows the rules, and yet time after time, curious teens in horror movies mock the rules and then break them, and then face the inevitable consequences.

That's pretty much the extent of what you need to know about the overarching plot of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark—there's a haunted house, an old urban legend, and a group of dangerously curious teens (one kid is funny, of course) who don't really believe in the power of old Sarah Bellows (Kathleen Pollard) and her passion to kill children from beyond the grave. What more could you possibly need?

On the surface, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a fairly boring and formulaic teen horror movie. A group of high schoolers decide to explore the centuries old Bellows mansion on Halloween, where the family kept their daughter, Sarah, locked in a dark room because she was "off." There, the teens stumble upon Sarah's infamous book of scary stories, which according to legend, were written in the blood of the many children she killed using black magic. The teens take the book (big mistake) and soon find that the scary stories written about them will force them to face their biggest and most secret fears. Like, in real life.

Not real thought-provoking. And yet, I had a blast watching.

It was creepy and crawly. The monsters—all based closely on the genuinely disturbing illustrations from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books—were well crafted and chilling. There were some big adrenaline-pumping scares, which I always love, and I have to admit I'm a sucker for a good discovering-the-truth-behind-the-old-scary-legend-to-stop-the-ghost sequence.

There's something to be said for the mediocre, purely entertaining horror movies that act as a gateway for young and budding horror lovers to the really good movies. They're fun to watch, and they bring more people over to the dark side. And that's really what the original books aimed to do, too. (111 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

ME TIME Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox, who after years of motherhood decides to reconnect with her creative passions, in Where’d You Go, Bernadette. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • ME TIME Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox, who after years of motherhood decides to reconnect with her creative passions, in Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Writer and director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, School of Rock, Boyhood) adapts Maria Semple's novel to the big screen. Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox, who after years concentrating on being a good mother decides to reconnect with her creative passions, leading to an adventure that reinvents her life. (89 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

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