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Film Listings, 1/16/20 – 1/23/20 

All theater listings are as of Friday, Jan. 17

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre on Sunday, Jan. 19 (4 p.m.) and Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m.)

New/Pick

click to enlarge CHANT ET DANSE American ex-pat Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) dances his way through post-World War II Paris, in An American in Paris, screening Jan. 19 and 22, in the Downtown Centre Cinemas. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • CHANT ET DANSE American ex-pat Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly) dances his way through post-World War II Paris, in An American in Paris, screening Jan. 19 and 22, in the Downtown Centre Cinemas.

Vincente Minnelli (Meet Me in St. Louis, Lust for Life, Gigi) directs this 1951 musical romantic drama about Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), an American ex-pat who after World War II stays in Paris to become a painter. He pals around with his neighbor, Adam Cook (Oscar Levant), a struggling pianist, and Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary), a French singer. Wealthy but lonely heiress Milo Roberts (Nina Foch) becomes Mulligan's patron but appears to have romantic designs. Meanwhile, Mulligan falls for his friend Henri's girlfriend, Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron), complicating their relationship.

Great music by George Gershwin and spirited song and dance numbers by the talented cast combine to make this one of the greatest musicals of all time. It garnered eight Oscar nominations, winning six, including Best Picture. (114 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge STILL BAD Detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, left) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) team up one more time to take down a Miami cartel kingpin, in Bad Boys for Life. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • STILL BAD Detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence, left) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) team up one more time to take down a Miami cartel kingpin, in Bad Boys for Life.

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

BLACK CHRISTMAS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Sophia Takal (Green, Always Shine) directs this mystery-horror film about a group of female students stalked over their Christmas break. As they're picked off one by one, they eventually join forces to turn the table on the murderer. The film stars Imogen Poots and Cary Elwes.

Its feminist ideas are laudable, but its stick-it-to-the-man concept feels like a missed opportunity. On the other hand, if you're looking for an over-the-top diversion, watching these gung-ho heroines claim their power is kind of fun. (92 min.)

—Glen

DOLITTLE

What's it rated? PG

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

New

click to enlarge THE GOOD DOCTOR Robert Downey Jr. stars as physician John Dolittle, who discovers he can talk to animals, in Dolittle. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • THE GOOD DOCTOR Robert Downey Jr. stars as physician John Dolittle, who discovers he can talk to animals, in Dolittle.

Co-writer and director Stephen Gaghan helms this new version of the Doctor Dolittle story, about a physician, Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), who discovers he can talk to animals. (106 min.)

—Glen

FROZEN II

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

Pick

Co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Frozen) return to helm this animated sequel about Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven the reindeer as they leave Arendelle and travel to an enchanted forest, where they hope to discover the origins of Elsa's power. This worthy sequel is a charmer filled with eye-popping animation, catchy songs, and a sweet story about how sometimes change is good even though it's scary; friendship and protecting your friends from danger; and the power of love. (103 min.)

—Glen

A HIDDEN LIFE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm (ends Jan. 16)

Pick

click to enlarge LAST CHANCE! August Diehl (left) stars as Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who faces execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis in World War II, in auteur Terrance Malick's A Hidden Life, which leaves the Palm Theatre on Jan. 16. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STUDIO BABELSBERG
  • Photo Courtesy Of Studio Babelsberg
  • LAST CHANCE! August Diehl (left) stars as Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who faces execution for refusing to fight for the Nazis in World War II, in auteur Terrance Malick's A Hidden Life, which leaves the Palm Theatre on Jan. 16.

Auteur Terrance Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line) helms this biographical period drama about an Austrian farmer who faces the threat of execution when he refuses to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

There's nothing that makes me want to run barefoot through a wildflower-blanketed meadow on a cool summer evening quite like a Terrance Malick movie. Much like in The Tree of Life, Malick's main characters in A Hidden Life—Austrian farmers Franz (August Diehl) and his wife, Fani (Valerie Pachner), Jägerstätter—are shown almost constantly in an idealized version of the outdoors, whether it be playing games with their three young daughters in endless fields of uncut grass, tilling the soil on their farm, or harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from their land.

Their days spent laboring in St. Radegund, a rural Austrian village that sits on the boarder of Germany, are filled with intense work but also laughter, love, and a close and uninhibited relationship with the nature that surrounds their farm. They work on the land, they play on the land, and they live off of whatever goods it has to offer.

Trouble first strikes when World War II breaks out, and Franz and his fellow villagers are called up to basic training. There he begins to comprehend the true aims of Hitler and the Nazi party, and he questions whether it's an end he and other Austrians should be fighting for. Franz is sent back home briefly when it looks like the war will end soon, but as it drudges on, other able-bodied residents of his village are called to war. He grapples with what to do, knowing that refusing to fight would likely make outcasts of his family and lead to his arrest and death.

His inner turmoil is illustrated through broken conversations and arguments with Fani, his mother, and his neighbors. Though he faces an impossible decision, he remains outwardly calm. As the movie progresses, he seems to make peace with his choice, his tranquility running parallel to the film's slow-moving pace and acute focus on the freedom nature offers.

It's a beautiful film, there's no denying that. From the grandiose shots of Austria (which are actually apparently shots of South Tyrol in Italy), to the heart-wrenching and often silent closeups between Fani and Franz, it's the perfect example of why showing is better than telling. But it seems like Malick is in desperate need of a good, tough editor. I don't care how jaw-dropping your cinematography is or how gripping a plot you have. Three hours is TOO DAMN LONG.

By hour two, I started to hear the telltale signs of lost interest among the packed audience at The Palm. There was much shifting in seats, many deep and exaggerated sighs, and a number of bathroom breaks. A few minutes later, the guy sitting next to me left and never returned.

Two hours and 45 minutes in, I found myself wishing this farmer would just die already so that I could wipe away my tears and get on with my night. This is why restraint is crucial. If Malick had a fabulous editor like me, he'd know that. (173 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

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

JUST MERCY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

click to enlarge FINDING JUSTICE Just Mercy tells the true story of death row convict Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who in 1987 was sentenced to die for a murder he didn't commit. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ENDEAVOR CONTENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Endeavor Content
  • FINDING JUSTICE Just Mercy tells the true story of death row convict Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), who in 1987 was sentenced to die for a murder he didn't commit.

Destin Cretton (The Glass Castle) directs Michael B. Jordan as civil rights attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson, who works to free death row inmates who are wrongfully convicted based on racial bias. The film is an adaptation of Stevenson's memoir Just Mercy.

While the story and the message behind the film are powerful, the delivery falls somewhat short, as most biopics unfortunately do. I completely understand the director's desire to keep the characters as realistic as possible and leave out the dramatic overkill, but with a cast like Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, and Rob Morgan, surely there could have been more of a punch packed into their scripts.

The film opens up in 1987 Alabama, when logger Walter McMillian (Foxx) is arrested for the murder of a young white woman, despite evidence proving his innocence. At the time of his arrest, McMillian is out in the woods working, and before police stop him—this being one of the most powerful scenes in the film—McMillian looks to the sky, a small freedom he never knew he would be deprived of. It's a memory that McMillian holds onto (and revisits through the film) as he awaits death row.

Scenes like this carry the film, as it would otherwise be just a mundane and straightforward story. Cretton closely follows how the inmates are wrongfully convicted and the attorney Bryan Stevenson who is defending them.

Stevenson received a full scholarship to attend Harvard Law School; during his race and poverty litigation course, he worked for Stephen Bright's Southern Center for Human Rights. The center represented death row inmates throughout the South, and Stevenson found his calling. After earning his degree, he takes on the McMillian case, his first case, and several others amid pushback from the community that can't seem to reckon with the fact that an African American man was wrongfully convicted.

With each appeal that Stevenson files and as McMillian's memories of life outside his lonely prison cell emerge, I just can't seem to get over how one-dimensional the characters are. Larson is also given a small role as Stevenson's co-worker Eva Ansley and (underrated) Rob Morgan is given the role of Herbert Richardson, another inmate awaiting his end and reliving the actions that led to his sentence.

Racial injustice is at the forefront of the film, but it also touches upon a veteran's PTSD that goes unchecked, corrupt law officials, and impoverished people who are victimized by law enforcement.

All of these points are extremely relevant today, and I wish the film had challenged viewers to open their eyes to that. (137 min.)

—Karen Garcia

KNIVES OUT

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) helms this whodunit about Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who's investigating the death of renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer). Did he commit suicide, or was he murdered by one of his eccentric family members? (130 min.)

—Glen

LIKE A BOSS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Don't bother

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

Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, Beatriz at Dinner) directs this comedy about two friends—Mia Carter (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel Paige (Rose Byrne)—who start Mel & Mia's, a cosmetics company, but have very different ideas about how to run it. Things are further complicated when cosmetics mogul Clair Luna (Salma Hayek) obtains a controlling share of Mel & Mia's.

You'd think with the formidable talent amassed on screen, Like a Boss would deliver, but alas, the movie is a real chore to sit through. Its female empowerment message is shoved unconvincingly into a paper-thin plot, and the talented cast can do nothing to enliven the lifeless and unfunny goings-on. (83 min.)

—Glen

LITTLE WOMEN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Greta Gerwig (Ladybird) helms this new version of the classic 1868-69 Louisa May Alcott novel, which follows the lives of the four March sistersMeg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen)as they come of age in 1860s New England, amid the aftermath of the Civil War. Though this is an oft-told tale, with now eight film adaptations, Gerwig's new version is a real standout, turning the story into a poioumenon, a work of art about its own creation.

The best thing about Gerwig's version is how she pays tribute to Alcott, who never married or had any children of her own, and who after the publication of her famed and incredibly popular novel, often complained how her publisher forced her to create the expected happy ending. Gerwig pulls off the neat trick of having it both ways—creating an ending that honors the book and its author. I really loved this film, but grab the tissues—it just may have you ugly-crying. (135 min.)

—Glen

1917

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

See Split Screen.

PAIN AND GLORY

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

click to enlarge CONTENDER Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory returns to the Palm Theatre in the wake of its two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for Antonio Banderas and Best International Feature. - PHOTO COURTESY OF EL DESEO
  • Photo Courtesy Of El Deseo
  • CONTENDER Pedro Almodóvar's Pain and Glory returns to the Palm Theatre in the wake of its two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for Antonio Banderas and Best International Feature.

Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (Volver, Julieta, I'm So Excited!) once again directs Antonio Banderas; this time as Salvador Mallo, a director who feels he's past his prime, but learns that his past experiences can mold his future artistic creations.

Coincidentally, or possibly not, Almodóvar has created a visually stunning film that parallels his life. The characters are loosely based on the people he's encountered throughout his existence. The technique isn't new for Almodóvar, but it's different. This time around, we're not shown the glimpses of his life through past memory, but from his perspective as a protagonist.

As Mallo is reconciling with his past experiences and loss, it feels as though Almodóvar is doing the same. For some audience members who are familiar with this director's work, the scenes and the dialogue resonate and feel familiar.

We're first introduced to Mallo sitting at the bottom of his pool looking for some relief to his back pain. He's at a crossroads in his life; he feels that his medical issues don't allow him to direct. It's also a time in his life for him to reflect on the past: his mother's death, a lost lover, artist's block, his humbling childhood, and ailing health.

Salvador really contemplates his life when he's approached to attend a screening and Q-and-A of one his successful films. It's an opportunity for him to reach out to his leading actor, who he had a falling out with, and ask him to join him.

The meeting with drug addict Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) turns into the first time that Salvador tries heroin. As if on cue, Salvador becomes addicted to the drug that seems to relieve not only his physical pain but the haunting memories of his past.

As he deals with the reality of aging and the stunting of his creativity, Salvador experiences flashbacks of his childhood with his basically single mother Jacinta (Penélope Cruz). Through these memories, he recounts the first time he remembers being attracted to a man, the hardships his mother faced, and the absence of his father.

What would this pivotal time in life for Salvador be without some visits from his past?

Again, if you're familiar with Almodóvar's work then you'll be more than familiar with his casting choices. Maybe it's these familiar faces or their long-term relationship with the director that's displayed on film and makes the entire story feel more intimate.

Pain and Glory is in Spanish, and I'm not sure if it's because of the language being spoken, but every scene is more passionately done and the emotions aren't just on the surface. It's another side of Banderas' acting career that we don't normally get to appreciate. (113 min.)

—Karen

PARASITE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

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. We're all capable of being both the heroes and antagonists of our own stories from time to time—able to make healthy and rational decisions in some situations while at the same time perfectly adept at self-destruction in others. And in one way or another, we're all parasites too. That's the running theme in Parasite, the most recent foreign-language film brought to us by director Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host), which centers on Ki-taek Kim (Song Kang Ho) and his destitute family's scrappy struggle for easy money. (132 min.)

—Kasey

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek Into Darkness, Super 8) haphazardly directs the last chapter in the third and final trilogy in the Star Wars saga, in which Rey (Daisy Ridley) must channel her inner strength as a Jedi to lead the Resistance in the fight against the Sith. Without giving away (too many) spoilers, I think The Rise of Skywalker definitely feels like the end of an era for this saga (although give it a few years, and I'm sure we'll get spin-offs similar to Solo and Rogue One). It only makes sense, it being the finale and all, that director J.J. Abrams feels the need to throw every card he has into this film—a little too much nostalgia and new characters all at once for me. (142 min.)

—Karen

UNCUT GEMS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Co-directors Josh and Benny Safdie (Good Time) helm this crime-dramedy that follows charismatic jeweler Howard "Howie" Ratner (Adam Sandler), who finds himself balancing family, business, and increasingly threatening adversaries after making a high-stakes bet.

This film might make you feel uncomfortable watching it, but there's no denying its powerful energy. It's among 2019's best! I should mention, however, that the film has been praised by critics but not so much by audiences: The Rotten Tomatoes score is 93 percent critics to 54 percent audiences. I'm guessing a lot of attendees didn't like the way it made them feel, or they simply didn't connect with Ratner's humanity. Even though he's a horrible person, I couldn't help but root for him to win, perhaps because he's a classic underdog. It's a draining but brilliant piece of cinema. (135 min.)

—Glen

UNDERWATER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

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

William Eubank (Love, The Signal) directs this sci-fi horror drama about a aquatic research crew—including Norah Price (Kristen Stewart), Captain (Vincent Cassel), Paul (T.J. Miller), and others—trying to escape the ramifications of an earthquake on their subterranean laboratory.

Stylish direction and good acting helps, but this claustrophobic story is so derivative that you'll feel like you've seen it all before. Of course, if you don't mind the familiarity, you might think this lean bit of sci-fi horror is worth a matinee. (95 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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