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Film listings, 1/18/18 – 1/25/18 

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

It's the summer of 1983 in the north of Italy, and Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old American-Italian, spends his days in his family's 17th century villa transcribing and playing classical music, reading, and flirting with his friend Marzia (Esther Garrel). Elio enjoys a close relationship with his father (Michael Stuhlbarg), an eminent professor specializing in Greco-Roman culture, and his mother, Annella (Amira Casar), a translator, who favor him with the fruits of high culture in a setting that overflows with natural delights. One day, Oliver (Armie Hammer), a charming American scholar working on his doctorate, arrives as the annual summer intern tasked with helping Elio's father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of the setting, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever. (130 min.)

—Sony Pictures Classics

THE COMMUTER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rental

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

It seems like director Jaume Collet-Serra and actor Liam Neeson have a thing going on. First there was Unknown (2011) about a guy whose identity is stolen and he has to thwart an assassination, then there was Non-Stop (2014) about an air marshal thwarting an in-flight extortion scheme, then there was Run All Night (2015) about a mob guy who has to thwart his boss's attempt to murder his son, and now there's The Commuter about a supposedly mild-mannered insurance salesman who has to thwart the assassination of a witness on a train.

Yes, Michael MacCauley (Neeson) has a very particular set of skills, but one of them isn't making The Commuter as good as Taken (2008), which Collet-Serra and Neeson seem to be chasing over and over without success.

Sure, The Commuter is a serviceable action thriller, but it never quite reaches Neeson's best action efforts like Taken or The Grey. It begins by establishing MacCauley as a committed family man who dutifully takes the commuter train in to New York every day to sell insurance out of his office in a big high rise. He's unexpectedly fired and meets an old friend, Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson), for a drink before heading home to face his wife and son. We learn MacCauley and Murphy were police partners. We also meet Captain Hawthorne (San Neill), who's set up as a barely tolerable ballbuster and potential villain.

Safely on the train back to the 'burbs, MacCauley meets Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who tells him he can make $100,000 if he can locate a train passenger "who doesn't belong," carrying a bag she wants him to mark with a GPS device. Incredulous, MacCauley finds—as directed—a $25,000 down payment in the restroom and begins to work his powers of detection, but things turn sinister quickly as Joanna threatens MacCauley's family if he doesn't succeed.

Hey, the film isn't going to win any awards or even stick in your head long after viewing, but if you like action thrillers, it's passable, largely because Neeson delivers a dependable performance. MacCauley's a decent man in a hard spot, and when he discovers the person he's supposed to find is marked for death, he's torn between his family's safety and the safety of the witness to a crime. Can he thread the needle and maintain his honor while saving both his family and the witness?

The train offers an element of claustrophobia, the hand-to-hand combat scenes are well choreographed, and there's an emotional element that raises the film beyond mindless action, but the film requires some serious suspension of disbelief to keep your eyes from rolling in your head. It's pretty ridiculous, but considering the straight-to-video dreck out there, The Commuter isn't terrible, but neither is it inspired. (105 min.)

—Glen Starkey

DARKEST HOUR

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Darkest Hour drops viewers into one of the tensest, grimmest periods of World War II to illustrate how British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Garry Oldman), orated Britain and its people out of surrendering to and into defiantly fighting Nazi Germany.

Essentially a biographical portrait of Churchill, Darkest Hour leans on a phenomenal performance by Oldman to captivate the audience and make us feel the immensity of Europe teetering on the edge of destruction.

Set in May of 1940, British Parliament has just ousted Neville Chamberlain as its Prime Minister as Hitler prepares to invade Belgium and Holland. Churchill is begrudgingly appointed as his successor, but fear and doubt still consumes the nation.

Despite the highest of stakes, Darkest Hour focuses on, at times with humor, on Churchill's blusterous and volatile personality. He's first seen lying in bed the morning of his appointment with a routine breakfast tray, including a tall glass of Scotch. Churchill loses his temper on his new secretary Elizabeth Laydon (an excellent Lily James), shouting her out of the room for not double-spacing his speech. Immediately, we see that Churchill is not a perfect man by any means. But we also see the power of his words.

Churchill assumes the helm with the message to the nation that accepting defeat isn't an option. But he faces resistance from many members of Parliament and even members of his own cabinet, who bicker with him to settle a peace treaty with Hitler, as millions of British soldiers' lives are on the line. It's Churchill's commitment to the principles of his country and disdain for the moral atrocities of Nazism that compel him to push back against the momentum of a surrender. That's what's thrilling about this movie: the emotional battle between the convenience of giving up versus the profound consequences of that concession.

Darkest Hour hits theaters at an appropriate time in history, when similar moral questions and human values are on the line. Churchill's bluster and bombastic oration did remind me of President Donald Trump's. But the push notification that arrived on my phone in the theater reporting Trump's tweet to North Korea of having a "working" nuclear button on his desk enlightened me to the fact that the intelligence, consciousness, and nuance of Churchill's rhetoric has no comparison to the current U.S. president. (125 minutes).

—Peter Johnson

DEN OF THIEVES

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Park

New

click to enlarge BANK JOB In Den of Thieves, an elite unit from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department squares off against a crew of successful thieves who plan a seemingly impossible heist—the city's Federal Reserve Bank. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STX ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of STX Entertainment
  • BANK JOB In Den of Thieves, an elite unit from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department squares off against a crew of successful thieves who plan a seemingly impossible heist—the city's Federal Reserve Bank.

Every day, $120 million in cash is taken out of circulation and destroyed by the Los Angeles Branch of the Federal Reserve—unless a notorious, elite crew of bank robbers can pull off the ultimate heist and get to the money first ... right under the noses of LA's most feared division in law enforcement. (140 min.)

—STX Entertainment

THE DISASTER ARTIST

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

James Franco stars and directs this biopic about filmmaker Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), who in an acting class meets Greg Sestero (Dave Franco). The two form a friendship and head to Hollywood to make a film called The Room. The screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber is based on the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell.

James Franco has paid homage to Wiseau and his terrible movie, and in what can only be described as perverse irony, I bet The Disaster Artist ends up getting some Oscar nods. I'm sure Wiseau will feel like he deserves the credit. (103 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rental

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

First-time director Michael Gracey helms The Greatest Showman, an original, straight-to-screen musical inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum (played here by Hugh Jackman) and the formation of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The film never claims to be wholly factual and only uses the aspects of Barnum's life that fit into its desired rags-to-riches structure.

Overall, The Greatest Showman is a mixed bag full of flawed and fun moments alike. It's hard to tell how serious it takes itself at times, but the best parts are the unashamedly cheesy ones. And I really wish it embraced that cheesiness moreit could have been grater. (139 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park

Adam Robitel helms the fourth entry of the Insidious series, with Insidious: Chapter 3 director Leigh Whannell providing the script, centering around parapsychologist Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) and her continued voyage into the "further." (103 min.)

—Universal Pictures

I, TONYA

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

From director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours) and writer Steven Rogers (P.S. I love You, Friday Night Lights) comes I, Tonya, based on unbelievable, but true events. This film is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). The cast is rounded out with a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as Harding's impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden.

I was pretty young when Tonya's name was plastered all over tabloid papers and TV New

s, so up until seeing I, Tonya my recollection of the scandal associated with the famous Olympic ice skater was quite dim. So here's the gist of it for others who may not remember either: leading up to the 1994 Olympics, Tonya's ex-husband Jeff and his friend Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Houser) conspired to hire another guy to hit Harding's competitor Kerrigan in the back of the knees with a metal pipe. Harding's involvement in or awareness of this plan varies depending on whose story you believe.

Working off a reality that is already pretty out there, I, Tonya presents a dramatic mock-u-mentary retelling of these real life events. The screenplay is closely inspired by interviews done with the real people involved in the saga, including Tonya herself. The result is spellbinding. Gillespie and Rogers succeed in not only giving us a peek into Harding's formative years and mind, they pull the whole dang curtain back on the admittedly messed up world of competitive ice-skating. Robbie brings a fiery intensity to the complex Tonya that will surely land her an Oscar, By the time the credits roll, you may or may not be on Tonya's side, but odds are you'll empathize with the self-proclaimed redneck who really never got a fair shake at much in life.

The tragic thing about Tonya is I think she could have persevered past the personal stuff in her life, but it was the U.S. Figure Skating Association's rejection that really got to her. We see a glimmer of hope when a young Tonya falls in love with Jeff, but a few months in he starts beating her. The two eventually marry when Tonya is just 19, setting the stage for Harding to leave Jeff time and time again, even reuniting with her abuser after divorcing him.

Upon confronting a judge about her skating scores, Harding is told that she just doesn't have the wholesome family image the association is looking for. In the smallest, saddest voice, Harding responds with, "Why can't it just be about the skating?" I want to take a moment to remind everyone that Tonya was the first woman in the U.S. and the second in the world, to land a triple axel. Girl had skills. But what audiences came for is the sheer madness that unfolds in the second half of the film. After a threat is called into the ice skating rink where Tonya is set to compete, Jeff has the bright idea to send anonymous, threatening letters to Nancy to throw her off her game. Jeff's BFF/Tonya's bodyguard Shaun somehow gets involved and takes over, hiring two of his guys. Shaun insisted in the film and real life that he was an overseas counter terrorism expert, in spite of various media outlets disproving this. A bad idea turns into an even worse idea, and things spin wildly out of control, but the most unbelievable aspect of this tabloid tale is just how much the story's villains accomplished, in spite of crippling stupidity.

I, Tonya takes someone from popular culture we thought we had the measure of, and throws all of our ideas out the window. Tonya is by no means perfectly innocent in all this, but nor does the blame rest squarely on her shoulders. (119 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Director Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher and Sex Tape) is calling the shots with this video game interpretation of the original Jumanji (1995) and of course putting his own comedic twist on the film.

With Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, we see an old game through new lenses. In present day, we have a group of four archetypal teenagers. You know, similar to The Breakfast Club you've got the nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff), his former best-friend-turned-jock Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), a self-absorbed popular Bethany (Madison Iseman), and smart girl Martha (Morgan Turner) who's a little salty about her peers. The crew gets detention in an abandoned classroom filled with old-school memorabilia. That's where the unlikely group finds Jumanji (this time in video game form). Once the game is plugged in and rebooting, the kids are sucked into the console, entering the Jumanji world. But there's a catch: They have assumed the bodies of their avatars.

This is where the fun really starts. Spencer turns into Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). His weakness: He has none. Fridge turns into Franklin "Mouse" Finbar (Kevin Hart). You can only guess where the nickname comes from. Notorious hottie Bethany turns into the nerdy, male Professor "Shelly" Oberon (Jack Black), a cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist, and paleontologist. Shy Martha turns into Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). She's a martial artist and dance fighter. With their new personas, the group must learn to work together to return the jewel known as the Jaguar's Eye to the jaguar statue.

This film does what many remakes fail to do, which is successfully entertain its audience. These actors did a hilarious job delivering as prepubescent teenagers in way over their heads. Johnson and Hart bounce off each other perfectly—no I'm not tired of the height difference jokes; it worked out well here. Outlandish Black can hold his own in a scene, and newcomer Gillian hilariously portrays a geeky teenager. I was laughing nonstop throughout the film. (112 min.)

—Karen Garcia

LADY BIRD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Writer-director Greta Gerwig helms this coming of age story about high schooler Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) over the 2002-03 school year in Sacramento, exploring her difficult relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) and others in her life. (93 min.)

—Glen Starkey

PHANTOM THREAD

click to enlarge COMING UNDONE In Phantom Thread, women come in and out of renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock's (Daniel Day-Lewis, background) life, until Alma (Vicky Krieps, foreground) comes along to fill the role of lover and muse. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOCUS FEATURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Focus Features
  • COMING UNDONE In Phantom Thread, women come in and out of renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock's (Daniel Day-Lewis, background) life, until Alma (Vicky Krieps, foreground) comes along to fill the role of lover and muse.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants, and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock's life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. (130 min.)

—Focus Features

PITCH PERFECT 3

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy

After the highs of winning the World Championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren't job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this group of awesome nerds will come together to make some music, and some questionable decisions, one last time. (94 min.)

—Universal Pictures

PADDINGTON 2

What's it rated? PG

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

While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy's (Imelda Staunton) hundredth birthday, Paddington (Ben Whishaw) spots a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber's (Jim Broadbent) antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it's up to Paddington and the Brown family to unmask the thief. (105 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

THE POST

What's it rated? PG-13

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

See Split Screen.

PROUD MARY

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Park

Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes bad. (89 min.)

—Screen Gems

THE SHAPE OF WATER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a lonely mute who works as a janitor in a high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. For 10 years she's walked and cleaned the halls of the facility with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer), with Zelda doing all of the talking about her hardworking, yet lazy, husband. Men, am I right?

Every day Elisa sticks to her routine: take a shower, polish her shoes, make lunch as well as a meal for her neighbor and friend Giles (Richard Jenkins), and then catch the bus to work. While she can't say anything, her actions make up for the silence—she also communicates using sign language—and she's a thoughtful individual. She often spends her time scanning the TV Guide with Giles, a closeted gay man, and watching old films with elaborate tales of love, something both are yearning for.

Her life takes a turn when she and Zelda are called into a room to clean up a bloody mess created by "the asset" (Doug Jones), at least that's what the scientists and government officials are calling it. The asset is a scaled creature from South Africa that now resides in a water tank against its will. Elisa is drawn to the creature, maybe because she too is an outsider in the world that she lives in. She forms a bond with the creature that feels more like love than friendship. But her days of sharing hard-boiled eggs for lunch and listening to her vinyl record player are numbered; the very fate of the creature is on the line.

The film also has Del Toro's signature, uniquely horrifying creatures, hence the asset with his scaly body and fish-like eyes. But while he's a bit scary to look at, he has the emotions and thoughts that any human would. That's what Elisa is drawn to, especially since they both can't talk. Elisa takes comfort in this creature because he can't see that she's different from other humans. It's a beautifully told film of finding some sort of compassion in an otherwise mundane world.

The movie also touches upon race and gender equality—or the disgusting lack of it, really, but then again this is the '60s.

What I loved about The Shape of Water is that it's very whimsical. It reminds me of Amelie, a simple individual living an extraordinary life without her knowledge. Hawkins does an amazing job of portraying this shy woman fierce enough to overstep boundaries for a noble cause. Don't get me wrong, this isn't just a love story, guys; there's also plenty of action and drama to keep you on your toes. I'll leave you with this: The end was a splashing twist that I wasn't predicting at all. (123 min.)

—Karen Garcia

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) continues the Skywalker saga as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force.

What's interesting about the latest chapter in the saga is the connection that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is building with the force. While it's thought that Luke (Mark Hamil) is the last Jedi needed to save the Rebellion, let's be real: There are great forces of power within Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Rey seeks Luke not only for his help with the fight against the First Order, the next generation of the Empire, but also for his teachings. There is a strong sense of the Force within her, she just doesn't know how to harness or understand it. That connection has brought a different kind of communication between her and Kylo Ren. Wherever the two are, they are able to communicate with one another and even see the other's surroundings.

As much as I loved this film it could have gotten to the point a lot faster. But the film explodes with the best light saber battle I've seen in a while. The whole film just pops with harsh colors of red and black, filling the audience with the perils of being in the grasp of the New Order. With that said, I always feel a rush of giddiness with the opening credits running from bottom to top, in the familiar yellow font, and the theme song on full blast.

Let's also take another moment to remember the late Carrie Fisher, the forever princess of the galaxy. There were many powerful scenes with Fisher that not only made me tear up, but I also felt that they alluded to her death. Leia was always the stronger natured character in the Star Wars franchise and she held onto that to the very end. The Rebel Alliance is nothing without its leader, but, alas, other characters will take the reins. (152 min.)

—Karen Garcia

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one shape-shifter of a movie. Is it a comedy, tragedy, or quest for vengeance, redemption, and catharsis? Director/writer Martin McDonagh (The Guard) manages to convince you it's all of the above.

We're dropped late into the aftermath of mother Mildred Hayes' (Frances McDormand, Hail, Caesar!, Moonrise Kingdom) grief and pain. Months have gone by since her daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) was viciously raped and murdered while walking home one night in their small town. Still, local law enforcement has made no arrests and doesn't even have any suspects. While driving down a forgotten road just outside Ebbing, Mildred gets and idea and proceeds to march into town and pay for three billboards in a row painted red with big black letters that say "Raped while dying," "And still no arrests?" and "How come, Chief Willoughby?"

The writing is impeccably sharp, with searing lines thrown in at the most emotionally potent moments, and yet, there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, too, in this film that deals rather heavily in anger and sorrow. The acting is superb, particularly performances from McDormand, who plays Mildred as hardened and determined to find justice, and Harrelson as the seemingly hick police chief creates so much nuance and depth for his character. And yet, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri requires being OK with swallowing a hefty dose of imaginative realism. (115 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

12 STRONG

click to enlarge ALL IN In the aftermath of 9/11, Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leads a U.S. Special Forces team into Afghanistan on a dangerous mission in 12 Strong. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros. Pictures
  • ALL IN In the aftermath of 9/11, Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leads a U.S. Special Forces team into Afghanistan on a dangerous mission in 12 Strong.

What's it rated? PG

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

New

In the wake of Sept. 11, Capt. Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leads a U.S. Special Forces team into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. Once there, the soldiers develop an uneasy partnership with the Northern Alliance to take down the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies. Outgunned and outnumbered, Nelson andhis forces face overwhelming odds in a fight against a ruthless enemy that takes no prisoners. (130 min.) Δ

—Warner Bros. 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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