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Film Listings, 10/3/19 – 10/10/19 

Editor's note: Listings for Bay Theater—(805) 772-2444—were not available at press time.

ABOMINABLE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rent it

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

click to enlarge EVEREST HERE WE COME After discovering a magical Yeti on a rooftop, a group of three friends work together to return him to Mount Everest, in Abominable. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks Animation
  • EVEREST HERE WE COME After discovering a magical Yeti on a rooftop, a group of three friends work together to return him to Mount Everest, in Abominable.

Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman have had their hands in animated/fantasy films such as Monsters Inc. and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, respectively, in the writers' room or the visual department.

The two have now come together for the first time as a director-duo to create DreamWorks' Abominable where Chloe Bennet is the voice of Yi, a young girl who goes on an epic adventure across China to take a yeti back to its home on Mount Everest.

I've heard that DreamWorks has been called Pixar's redheaded stepsister because its films just don't quite reach the magnitude of Toy Story, Coco, Cars, or Up—you get the idea. I will admit they have had some fan favorites such as Shrek, the Wallace and Gromit franchise, Madagascar, or The Road to El Dorado, but similar to many of the animation movies that come out of DreamWorks, Abominable just falls a little flat.

The film opens up when a playful and very furry yeti breaks out of a laboratory and into a busy city in China. These first few scenes are done from a first-person perspective, so it feels like the audience is breaking out of confinement and running into oncoming traffic—the first and last time the filmmakers use this visual storytelling effect.

The creature takes refuge on an apartment rooftop where he can see a brightly lit billboard with a Mount Everest photo.

The rooftop is also a refuge for Yi, a young teenager who avoids her family and works odd jobs to save up for a trip across China that her late father had planned for them.

The yeti and Yi meet, and after an initial startle, Yi decides she's going to help the creature escape from a doctor and a villainous animal collector from the lab—and return him to his home.

Yi's childhood friends Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor) join the escapees on their journey.

Of course the adventure has it ups and downs, separations, and glimmer of magic. It turns out that the yeti they decided to name Everest can magically communicate with nature, causing a dandelion to grow 10 times its normal size, getting the group out of the villain's grasp.

What this animated film has going for it is the scenery that the creative team has designed from the spectacular fields of blooming flowers to the snowy mountaintops of Everest.

But the story has been done more times than I can count. You know, greedy adults who want to exploit natural habitats for their own benefit and innocent young children who want to preserve them. Not to mention the coming-of-age plot after losing a parent. There are plenty of animated films that have used these plot lines successfully; Abominable didn't really do it justice.

The script wasn't groundbreaking either, as a lot of the jokes were one-liners that didn't even make the kids in my audience erupt in laughter. (97 min.)

—Karen Garcia

AD ASTRA

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant, We Own the Night, The Yards, Little Odessa) directs this sci-fi mystery about astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), who's recruited to venture into space in search of his father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), who 30 years earlier underwent a space mission of his own that was thought to have been doomed. Now bursts of antimatter threaten Earth, which appear to be coming from the senior McBride's Lima Project, last heard from 16-years earlier in orbit around Neptune.

I couldn't help but see the obvious parallels between this story and Apocalypse Now (1979), or if you'd like to go back further, Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella Heart of Darkness. Pitt's Roy McBride is the Capt. Willard/Charles Marlow character sent on a dangerous mission to stop a rogue agent, and Tommy Lee Jones' Clifford McBride is Col./Mr. Kurtz, the former heroic and loyal part of the team who's apparently gone mad. Pitt's narration further recalls Martin Sheen's narration as Willard in Apocalypse Now and his thoughtful analysis of Kurtz and what caused him to drift into insanity.

As for Jones' Clifford, his obsession is with finding intelligent life outside the solar system. From Neptune, the outer-most planet in our solar system, he should be able to send and receive unobstructed signals from deep space. Surely intelligent life is out there.

The film explores humanity's place in the universe and our penchant for self-destruction. The colonized moon is both a fought over mining resource and a tourist destination preyed on by pirates. Roy is a fearless and impossible-to-rattle explorer who's so closed off to his own emotions that he's doomed his marriage to Eve (Liv Tyler).

Essentially, Ad Astra is an existentialist quandary. Are we alone in the universe? Can we really make a true connection with anyone or anything? If these questions interest you and if you can settle in to this mesmerizing but often slow and contemplative film, you just might love it. On the other hand, if you're expecting Star Wars or Star Trek, you'll be sorely disappointed. Ad Astra is a meditation on loneliness. (124 min.)

—Glen Starkey

ANNABELLE COMES HOME

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

To keep a possessed doll from wreaking havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) lock Annabelle in their artifacts room at home. But unspeakable horror awaits the family when Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on Judy, the Warrens' 10-year-old daughter, and her friends.

You'd think this far along in the Conjuring franchise the idea fountain would run dry, but for horror fans, there are still some surprises here, though perhaps not as scary and effective as in those that came before. Add in some great performances, some deeper messages about guilt, and an unnerving atmosphere, and you have the makings of an effective, albeit highly commercialized, horror flick. (100 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre (ends on Oct. 6)

Pick

click to enlarge SEE BRITTANY RUN Motivated to lose weight, a hard-partying woman (Jillian Bell) sets out to compete in the New York City Marathon, in the drama-comedy, Brittany Runs a Marathon. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MATERIAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Material Pictures
  • SEE BRITTANY RUN Motivated to lose weight, a hard-partying woman (Jillian Bell) sets out to compete in the New York City Marathon, in the drama-comedy, Brittany Runs a Marathon.

Hard-partying Brittany (Jillian Bell, Workaholics) receives a startling wake-up call when a visit to the doctor reveals how unhealthy she is. Determined to lose weight, Brittany takes up running to help her prepare for a new goal: to compete in the New York City Marathon. First-time writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo helms this drama-comedy.

Both earnest and hilarious, this film works in large part because Bell is willing to take her character to raw and uncomfortable places. She really carries the film through its unexpected twists and turns. Don't be surprised if you leave the theater inspired. (103 min.)

—Caleb

DOWNTON ABBEY

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

The beloved TV series about the ultra rich Crawley family and their servants comes to the big screen under director Michael Engler (Sex and the City, Six Feet Under).

If you're a fan of the show, you're already sold on revisiting these characters. If you're like me and have never seen a single episode, you can jump into the fray and follow along well enough with its breezy brand of fun.

A period piece and mannered drama, it features a great cast and an interesting albeit lightweight story. (122 min.)

—Glen

5POINT FILM FESTIVAL

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Friday, Oct. 4, in the Fremont Theater

New

click to enlarge EXPERIENCE COMMUNITY The 5Point Film Festival screens on Oct. 4, in the Fremont Theater, with its mission to "ignite personal and communal adventure of all kinds through the experience of sharing meaningful stories." - PHOTO COURTESY OF 5POINT FILM FESTIVAL
  • Photo Courtesy Of 5point Film Festival
  • EXPERIENCE COMMUNITY The 5Point Film Festival screens on Oct. 4, in the Fremont Theater, with its mission to "ignite personal and communal adventure of all kinds through the experience of sharing meaningful stories."

The 5Point Film Festival screens on Friday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m., in the Fremont Theater (all ages; $12 at Boo Boo Records or fremontslo.com).

"We believe that communities are made better when their people pursue adventure and intentionally live their own best story," according to the festival. "And so, our mission is to ignite personal and communal adventure of all kinds through the experience of sharing meaningful stories. We envision a national network of educated, engaged, and multi-generational communities inspired by story to take action in their individual and collective lives."

Find more info at 5pointfilm.org.

—Glen

GHOSTBUSTERS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre on Oct. 6 (4 p.m.) and Oct. 10 (7 p.m.)

Pick

click to enlarge WHO YOU GONNA CALL? On its 35th anniversary, classic 1984 comedy Ghostbusters—starring (left to right) Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Ackroyd—plays Downtown Center Cinemas on Oct. 6 and 10. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • WHO YOU GONNA CALL? On its 35th anniversary, classic 1984 comedy Ghostbusters—starring (left to right) Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Ackroyd—plays Downtown Center Cinemas on Oct. 6 and 10.

To mark its 34th anniversary, director Ivan Reitman's (Meatballs, Stripes, Kindergarten Cop) 1984 blockbuster comedy returns to the big screen for a limited run. A trio of former parapsychology professors—Drs. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond Stantz (Dan Ackroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis)—open a ghost removal service in an old fire station just as New York City is inundated by all manner of ghosts.

The film is a riot—a perfect blend of special effects, mock seriousness, and brilliantly deadpan performances by the three leads. Murray is especially engaging as the chronically inappropriate Venkman, who hits on one of his clients, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), whose refrigerator has become possessed. It's simply a joy to watch!

—Glen

HUSTLERS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

click to enlarge DO THE HUSTLER Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), an exotic dancer at a club frequented by greedy Wall Street types, milks her clients dry and almost gets away with it, in Hustlers. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Annapurna Pictures
  • DO THE HUSTLER Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), an exotic dancer at a club frequented by greedy Wall Street types, milks her clients dry and almost gets away with it, in Hustlers.

Writer-director Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddler) helms this crime dramedy based on New York magazine reporter Jessica Pressler's articles about a group of strip club performers led by Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who through craftiness exploit their Wall Street clients and extract their riches.

Initially working at a strip club just to make ends meet, Dorothy (Constance Wu)—or Destiny, as her clients call her—starts to embrace the profession as a long-term career after meeting Ramona (Lopez), the club's top money earner. After a friendly encounter, Ramona quickly takes Destiny under her wing, instructing her on the ins and outs of attracting wealthy, eager-to-spend-a-shit-ton customers.

The opening to this section of the film reminded me of the clique listing scene in Mean Girls, as Ramona labels the different types of men Destiny should aim for—insecure guys who can be strung along for months, regulars that visit the club frequently, and the head honchos (CEOs and bankers ready to spend thousands during the course of one night).

With Ramona's help, Destiny has a Goodfellas-esque rise to the top of the club alongside her, joined by some of their stripper peers, including Diamond (Cardi B) and Liz (Lizzo). If I could even muster a single complaint, it would be that those two don't get enough screen time. Other than that small nitpick, I was consistently engrossed by Hustlers all the way up to its conclusion—which echoes Goodfellas again with an inevitable fall from grace for its characters, once drugs and theft enter the picture.

Hustlers is definitely a film to take seriously, but it's also simultaneously one of the funniest films of the year. The humor comes from genuine interactions and character quirks rather than forced one-liners. One stripper, Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) involuntarily vomits when under stress—which you can probably predict is quite often. I don't recall ever finding throw-up particularly funny, but Hustlers earned the church a convert—consider me a born-again barf fan. But in all seriousness, the real stars of the film are Wu and Lopez, who deliver equally top-notch performances as two friends during a dangerously deteriorating relationship. (110 min.)

—Caleb

IT: CHAPTER 2

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Andy Muscietti (Mama, It) directs this two-part film based on Stephen King's 1986 horror novel about an evil subterranean-dwelling clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) who preys on the children of Derry, Maine, by exploiting their fears and phobias.

In the first part (2017), we're introduced to The Losers Club, a group of seven adolescent misfits who band together for protection from the town's bullies, but more importantly from Pennywise, who abducts and murders children. The kids apparently defeat Pennywise in the first part, but in Chapter 2, 27 years after the first episode, Pennywise returns, and Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) begins to call the other members of The Losers Club to remind them of their blood pact to return to Derry and band together to defeat Pennywise if he ever returns.

Soon, Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone), and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) are drawn back to the Pennywise mystery, and through flashback we revisit their younger selves (Chosen Jacobs as Mike; Jaeden Martell as Bill; Sophia Lillis as Beverly; Finn Wolfhard as Richie; Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben; Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie; and Wyatt Oleff as Stanley).

Oh man, this film is fun! It's the sort of nostalgic, over-the-top horror of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), with crazy special effects, jump scares, and laughs. Ultimately, the story is about the enduring bonds of friendship, teamwork, and trust. (102 min.)

—Glen

JOKER

What's it rated? R

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

New

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 archnemesis. (121 min.)

—Glen

click to enlarge END OF THE RAINBOW Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) arrives in 1968 London to perform a five-week sold-out series of concerts amid battling alcoholism, substance abuse, and depression, in Judy. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BBC FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of BBC Films
  • END OF THE RAINBOW Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) arrives in 1968 London to perform a five-week sold-out series of concerts amid battling alcoholism, substance abuse, and depression, in Judy.

JUDY

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Rupert Gold (True Story) directs this biopic about Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger), who in 1968 arrived in London to perform a five-week sold-out series of concerts amid battling alcoholism, substance abuse, and depression. (118 min.)

—Glen

LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

Pick

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman direct this documentary about singer Linda Ronstadt, who in her 20s burst into the '60s folk scene and went on to be one of the biggest music stars of the 20th century. The film, features interviews with Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Maria Muldaur, and many more.

Whether you're a longtime fan or one of the uninitiated, you'll find a lot to love here, from Ronstadt's amazing voice to her inspirational life. Deeply moving, the film will have you clamoring for more of her music. (95 min.)

—Glen

THE MANHATTAN SHORT FILM FESTIVAL

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? SLO County Libraries, through Oct. 5

New

SLO Libraries will be among more than 400 venues worldwide participating in the 22nd annual Manhattan Short Film Festival, through Oct. 6. Attendees of this free event will view 10 short films and then have the chance to vote for Best Film and Best Actor. The winners will be announced on Oct. 7.

The festival received 1,250 entries from 70 countries before selecting the 10 finalists. The featured filmmakers hail from seven countries: Iran, Canada, Germany, Finland, the USA, and the United Kingdom. All final 10 short films will become Oscar-qualified, meaning they will become automatically eligible for an Academy Award nomination. The Manhattan Short Film Festival will take place at the following branches: Morro Bay Library, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m.; and Nipomo Library, Oct. 5, at 1:30 p.m.

—Rebecca Juretic

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF COOL

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? The Palm

See Split Screen.

ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

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. (161 min.)

—Glen

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

Writers-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz helm this adventure dramedy about Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. With the help of small-time outlaw Tyler (Shia LeBeouf), and kind nursing home employee, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), the trio embarks on a Mark Twain-like odyssey.

This sweet crowd pleaser hits all the right notes and is enriched by a stellar cast. It opens with 22-year-old Zak, a ward of the state, stuck in a nursing home because the state "has no where else to put him." The nursing home residents love him because he's a sweet young man, but he doesn't belong there. He's roommate is Carl (an excellent Bruce Dern), who's exceedingly tired of watching Zak's old wrestling tapes of his favorite pro wrestler The Salt Water Redneck, aka Clint (an equally excellent Thomas Haden Church), who runs a small wrestling school. Long story short, Zak eventually slips out of the home and is on the road.

This is a small film with a big heart. I loved it. (97 min.)

—Glen

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

click to enlarge GRUMPY FACE Sylvester Stallone returns for the fifth time as traumatized Vietnam vet John Rambo, who kills a bunch of bad guys in gory fashion, in Rambo: Last Blood. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BALBOA PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Balboa Productions
  • GRUMPY FACE Sylvester Stallone returns for the fifth time as traumatized Vietnam vet John Rambo, who kills a bunch of bad guys in gory fashion, in Rambo: Last Blood.

Adrian Grunberg (Get the Gringo) directs this fifth installment in the Rambo franchise that started in 1982 with Rambo: First Blood, about traumatized Vietnam vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), who's drawn into combat with local police after being unfairly arrested. Over the series, which includes Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988), and Rambo (2008), Rambo has fought corrupt police, enemy troops, and drug cartels. This time around, Rambo travels to Mexico to save his kidnapped niece from a drug gang.

The previous Rambo film really upped the ante on the gory violence, and this new installment does the same, offering up an array of stomach-churning carnage. If that's all you want in a film, enjoy! However, this film—and the previous three—are devoid of the complexity of the rather excellent original. Instead, we're treated to more of Rambo's menacing platitudes and creative ways to dispatch the seemingly endless supply of bad guys in his sights.

"Last" blood? One can hope. (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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