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Film Listings, 1/30/20 – 2/6/20 

All theater listings are as of Friday, Jan. 30.

Editor's note: Listings for Paso Robles' Park Cinemas were not available at press time. Visit parkcinemas.com or call (805) 227-2172 for films and show times.

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

click to enlarge RIDE OR DIE? Police partners Mike Lowrey (Will Smith, left) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) find their friendship tested as their lives move in different directions. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photos Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • RIDE OR DIE? Police partners Mike Lowrey (Will Smith, left) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) find their friendship tested as their lives move in different directions.

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 Starkey

CHANGE THE SUBJECT

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Cal Poly's Kennedy Library, Feb. 4, 6 to 8 p.m.; free

New

Change the Subject tells the story of Dartmouth College students who were committed to advancing the rights and dignity of undocumented people by challenging the use of the term "illegal aliens" as a subject heading in the library catalog. The students' advocacy took them from Dartmouth's Baker-Berry Library to Congress, demonstrating how an instance of campus activism entered the national spotlight and how a cataloging term became a flashpoint in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring Óscar Rubén Cornejo Cásares and Estéfani Marín, who are both featured in the film and are members of the Dartmouth College Class of 2017, as well as Jill Baron, the librarian for romance languages and Latin American, Latino & Caribbean Studies at Dartmouth College, who appears in the film and serves as co-director. The panel will be moderated by Adrienne Garcia-Specht, a financial aid counselor, president of the Chicanx Latinx Faculty Staff Association at Cal Poly, and a steering committee member of the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success (CCC-USS).

—Keegan Koberl, Cal Poly SLO

CLEMENCY

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm (ends 1/30)

Pick

click to enlarge HER BURDEN Alfre Woodward stars as death row prison warden Bernadine Williams, who prepares to suffer the emotional toll of executing another inmate, in Clemency, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ACE PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Ace Pictures Entertainment
  • HER BURDEN Alfre Woodward stars as death row prison warden Bernadine Williams, who prepares to suffer the emotional toll of executing another inmate, in Clemency, screening exclusively at The Palm.

Writer-director Chinonye Chukwu (alaskaLand) helms this story about death row prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodward) as she prepares to execute another inmate. She must once again confront the psychological and emotional stress of her job. The film won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Instead of looking at the toll execution takes on the condemned, Chukwu is interested in the toll it takes on the executioners, in particular Warden Williams and her day-to-day grind of working with prisoners soon to be executed, their family members, and the members of victims' families, all while maintaining her professionalism and objectivity.

Woodward portrays Williams as a woman teetering on the edge—despite her poised and self-possessed comportment. She self-medicates with alcohol, but even her husband, Jonathan (Wendell Pierce), can see her shrinking inside of herself as she navigates her 12th execution, this one for convicted cop killer Anthony Woods (Aldis Hodge).

Woodward is amazing here, telling the story through her facial expressions, which subtly but clearly communicate her inner struggle. Hodge is also terrific as Woods, who desperately clings to hope of clemency. His lawyer Marty Lumetta (Richard Schiff) tries to keep that hope alive, but as the date of his execution draws nearer, it's clear that forgiveness is unlikely. The question isn't whether Woods will be executed but whether Williams will be able to hold it together to see it through.

As you can no doubt tell, Clemency isn't the "feel-good film of the year." It's bleak, depressing, and un-redemptive. Even the victims' family members and their desire for closure and retribution seem largely unfulfilled.

I'm not sure the film would change death penalty supporters' minds about the punishment, but it certainly seems like nothing good can come of this ultimate penalty. It's not like Woods is innocent; even though he may not have been the person who pulled the trigger, he was part of the crime that killed a policeman.

Does that mean he should sit in solitary confinement for months and years, having his hopes and dreams of appeals dashed, discovering he's a father though being unable to meet his son, being asked if there's anyone who he wants to witness his execution or a family member who would want to claim his body? Should he be led to a chamber, strapped down, poked to find a vein, offered a chance to utter a final statement, and then killed by the state while a gallery of people watch? Seems pretty barbaric to me. (112 min.)

—Glen

DOLITTLE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

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

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 can talk to animals. When all is said and done, it doesn't matter if something is made for kids or adults or if its rated G or R. What make a movie good is a compelling story told through complex characters, and Dolittle simply didn't have that. (106 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

FORD V FERRARI

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

James Mangold (Logan, 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) directs this biopic about car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), who in 1966 team up to try to beat a car designed by Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) in the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Tracy Letts stars as Henry Ford II and Jon Bernthal stars as Lee Iacocca. The film is nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (152 min.)

—Glen

FROZEN II

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

click to enlarge FRIENDSHIP ALWAYS WINS (Left to right) Elsa (Idena Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Sven work together to help a mist-enshrouded forest regain its life. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
  • Photos Courtesy Of Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • FRIENDSHIP ALWAYS WINS (Left to right) Elsa (Idena Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and Sven work together to help a mist-enshrouded forest regain its life.

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

THE GENTLEMEN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

See Split Screen.

GRETEL AND HANSEL

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

New

click to enlarge USELESS CHILD In this retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm tale, 16-year-old Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her little brother into the woods, where they're kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch, in Gretel and Hansel. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ORION PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Orion Pictures
  • USELESS CHILD In this retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm tale, 16-year-old Gretel (Sophia Lillis) leads her little brother into the woods, where they're kidnapped by a cannibalistic witch, in Gretel and Hansel.

Oz Perkins (I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) directs Rob Hayes' retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale about two young children kidnapped by an cannibalistic witch. Sophia Lillis stars as Gretel, a 16-year-old who leads her 8-year-old brother Hansel (Sam Leakey) into the woods in search of food and work, only to stumble upon Holda (Alice Kride), a powerful and evil witch. (87 min.)

—Glen

JOJO RABBIT

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

Writer-director Tailka Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) helms this adaptation of Christine Leunens' satirical novel about a young boy (Roman Griffin Davis) in Hitler's (Waititi) army who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. The film is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Johansson. (108 min.)

—Glen

JOKER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

click to enlarge BECOMING JOKER After being rejected by society, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes Joker, Batman's future archnemesis, in the origin story Joker. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BRON STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Bron Studios
  • BECOMING JOKER After being rejected by society, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes Joker, Batman's future archnemesis, in the origin story Joker.

Co-writer Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover, War Dogs) directs this character study and origin story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), who after being rejected by society becomes Joker, Batman's future arch-nemesis.

Like a mirror on contemporary society, Joker reflects our problems back to us—the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, paternalistic politician-"saviors" who believe they know best for the "misguided" underclass, and the dismantling of the social safety net by a government that abandons its marginalized. It's a dark and depressing film, and it reminds me of the old saying, "Society gets the criminal it deserves."

The film has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, who already won the Best Actor Golden Globe. (121 min.)

—Glen

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, 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

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

THE LAST FULL MEASURE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

click to enlarge JUSTICE DELAYED The Last Full Measure chronicles the true story of the effort to get U.S. Air Force Pararescueman William H. "Pits" Pitsenbarger Jr. (Jeremy Irvine) recognition for his extraordinary valor in Vietnam. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FORESIGHT UNLIMITED
  • Photo Courtesy Of Foresight Unlimited
  • JUSTICE DELAYED The Last Full Measure chronicles the true story of the effort to get U.S. Air Force Pararescueman William H. "Pits" Pitsenbarger Jr. (Jeremy Irvine) recognition for his extraordinary valor in Vietnam.

Writer-director Todd Robinson (Angel Fire, Lonely Hearts, Phantom) helms this based-on-a-true-story war drama about U.S. Air Force Pararescueman William H. "Pits" Pitsenbarger Jr. (Jeremy Irvine), who 34 years after his death is awarded a Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, for personally saving more than 60 men during a rescue mission in Vietnam on April 11, 1966.

Switching between the present and the past, the film chronicles how Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman (Sebastian Stan) works—on the request of Pits' fellow airman Tulley (William Hurt) and Pits' parents Frank (Christopher Plummer) and Alice (Diane Ladd)—to interview those who witnessed Pits' extraordinary valor: Takoda (Samuel L. Jackson), Burr (Peter Fonda), and Mott (Ed Harris). Huffman's investigation leads to a conspiracy behind the long denial of the medal, leading him to endanger his own career as he seeks justice for Pits.

Terrific performances and an amazing true story help elevate this powerfully moving story beyond is melodramatic trappings, and better still, it avoids the expected jingoism. (110 min.)

—Glen

LITTLE WOMEN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, The Palm, 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.

Gerwig's version cleverly 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. (135 min.)

—Glen

LES MISÉRABLES

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge MAUVAIS MENTORS New cop on the block Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard, left) is mentored by Chris (Alexia Manenti, center) and Gwada (Djibril Zonga, right), who may be corrupt, in the French-language film Les Misérables, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SRAB FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Srab Films
  • MAUVAIS MENTORS New cop on the block Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard, left) is mentored by Chris (Alexia Manenti, center) and Gwada (Djibril Zonga, right), who may be corrupt, in the French-language film Les Misérables, screening exclusively at The Palm.

Writer-director Ladj Ly (The Pitiful) helms this French-language film about Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz (Damien Bonnard), a policeman who transfers from the provinces to Paris, where he joins the Anti-Crime Brigade of the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, in the 93th District, where Victor Hugo wrote his 1962 novel, Les Misérables. Ruiz quickly discovers his assigned colleagues, Chris (Alexia Manenti) and Gwada (Djibril Zonga) and his new department have a very different way of policing. The film is nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 2020 Academy Awards. (104 min.)

—Glen

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m.

New/Pick

click to enlarge VOTE FOR (AND SEE) PEDRO See Napoleon Dynamite followed by a cast Q-and-A on Feb. 4, in Harold Miossi Hall of the Performing Arts Center, with both Pedro (Efren Ramirez, left) and Napoleon (Jon Heder, right) in attendance. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • VOTE FOR (AND SEE) PEDRO See Napoleon Dynamite followed by a cast Q-and-A on Feb. 4, in Harold Miossi Hall of the Performing Arts Center, with both Pedro (Efren Ramirez, left) and Napoleon (Jon Heder, right) in attendance.

Writer-director Jared Hess (Nacho Libre, Bob Verdean, Masterminds) helms this 2004 comedy about Napoleon (Jon Heder), a listless high school outcast who decides to help his new friend, Pedro (Efren Ramirez), win the class presidency of their small high school, while also navigating his bizarre home life, including his brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) and Uncle Rico (Jon Gries).

ASI Events and Cal Poly Arts will screen the film followed by a conversation with stars Heder, Ramirez, and Gries. Cal Poly students are admitted free with their ID. The general admission is $24 for non-students, for $50 VIP with meet-and-greet. (96 min.)

—Glen

1917

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead, Spectre) helms this World War I epic about two young British soldiers—Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay)—who are tasked with the impossibly dangerous mission of crossing German lines to warn the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment that their planned impending attack against the Germans will be charging into a deadly ambush, and to make the perilous mission even more urgent, Blake's brother is among the 1,600 endangered soldiers in the regiment. (119 min.)

—Glen

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

New

See the contenders for the Academy Awards short films in the Live Action, Animated, and Documentary categories.

—Glen

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

THE RHYTHM SECTION

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

New

click to enlarge LEARNING TO KILL After her family is murdered, ordinary woman Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) hunts down the killers, in The Rhythm Section. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
  • LEARNING TO KILL After her family is murdered, ordinary woman Stephanie Patrick (Blake Lively) hunts down the killers, in The Rhythm Section.

Reed Morano (Meadowland, I Think We're Alone Now) directs Mark Burnell's script about a revenge-seeking woman (Blake Lively) out to kill those who orchestrated a plane crash that killed her family. With the help of a mysterious operative (Jude Law), she assumes the identity of an assassin and tracks down those responsible. (109 min.)

—Glen

THE SONG OF NAMES

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy (ends 1/30)

Pick

François Girard (Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, The Red Violin) directs Jeffrey Caine's screenplay of Norman Lebrect's novel about Martin (Tim Roth), a 56-year-old music teacher in search of his childhood friend who went missing on the eve of his first solo violin concert.

The film is split between two timelines: Martin's childhood leading up to the disappearance of his friend, Polish refugee and musical prodigy Dovidl at 21-years-old (Jonah Hauer-King); and the second is his adulthood spent searching for Dovidl.

The story is deeply moving and the mystery is what keeps me guessing throughout the film, but at the same time I can't help but yawn at how incredibly dragged out the story feels. Get to the point! (I mean this is coming from a millennial, so do what you will with that information)

It's 1951, and London's classical music scene is about to be rocked to its core by a young violinist, 21-year-old David Eli Rapoport. David is known to make the old and young folk alike swoon with every strike of his bow to his violin strings. But with every tick of the clock, it gets closer to the time of his career-making performance, and David is nowhere to be found. His childhood friend, who is also basically brother, Martin (Gerran Howell plays 21-year-old Martin) assures the crowd that he is on his way—why would he miss this opportunity?

The prodigy is a no-show for the stage and somehow slips away from the world all together.

It's a mystery that Martin will reckon with for the rest of his life. But we must cut back in time to when Martin's family took in David, born in Poland as Dovidl and a recent refugee. The family swore to respect his Judaism and do whatever they could to nurture his talent. David was an arrogant brat that ruffled Martin's feathers, but the two eventually became very close.

Jump back to adulthood, and Martin becomes intrigued with a student who knows how to strike his bow on his violin in a very peculiar and familiar way. It's David's very musical mannerisms. Could David somehow have taught the student his skills. But how? That cannot be; he's been missing for more than a decade. The small glimmer of hope that somewhere out there David is alive sends Martin in an obsessive wild goose chase to find his "brother."

I'll say again that the story is intriguing, but it lacks emotion. The story is a complex look at survivor's guilt—remembering the fate of David's family after the war weighs on him. But the actors in this film feel restrained. Roth's demonstration of continual agony over the puzzle that his brother leaves behind is reason enough to see the movie, but the film spends way too much time laying down the groundwork of Martin and David's childhood. Not to mention the elongated scenes of Martin's adulthood agony. (113 min.)

—Karen Garcia

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

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. (142 min.)

—Karen

THE TURNING

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Nothing

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

click to enlarge SCREWED The Turning, an unnecessary update of Henry James' horror novella The Turn of the Screw, stars Mackenzie Davis as governess Kate. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • SCREWED The Turning, an unnecessary update of Henry James' horror novella The Turn of the Screw, stars Mackenzie Davis as governess Kate.

Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways) directs this supernatural mystery about Kate (Mackenzie Davis), a young governess charged with overseeing two disturbed orphans, Miles (Finn Wolfhard) and Flora (Brooklynn Prince). Based on Henry James' classic novella, The Turn of the Screw, the story is updated by writers Carey and Chad Hayes.

While the film earns points for style, the muddled retelling of James' classic horror tale feels misguided and unnecessary. It strives for the James' own unresolved ending, but the only screw getting turned is the audience's. (94 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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