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Film Listings, 11/22/18 – 11/29/18 

Editor's note: Listings for Regal Arroyo Grande Stadium 10 were incomplete at press time. Also, most other theaters' films are subject to change on Monday, Nov. 26. Call the theaters for shows and times.

BOY ERASED

click to enlarge CONFUSION Growing up in rural Arkansas with religious parents, Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges, right), a young gay boy, is faced with an ultimatum to change or be exiled from his family and faith, in Boy Erased, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOCUS FEATURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Focus Features
  • CONFUSION Growing up in rural Arkansas with religious parents, Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges, right), a young gay boy, is faced with an ultimatum to change or be exiled from his family and faith, in Boy Erased, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Director Joel Edgerton (The Gift) adapts Garrard Conley's memoir, A Boy Erased: A Memoir, about a Baptist preacher's son, Jared (Lucas Hedges), who's forced into a gay conversion program after he's outed to his parents, Marshall (Russell Crowe) and Nancy (Nicole Kidman).

At 19 years old, Jared is met with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program to make him straight or be permanently exiled from his family, his father's business, and faith. Instead of just telling the story of one boy's struggle with faith and sexuality, it tells the greater story of the challenges the LGBTQ community faces when coming out within a religious upbringing.

The film opens with old home videos of a little boy stating his favorite colors and what he wants to be when he grows up. All of his answers are what a "normal boy" would say, whatever "normal boy" means. The next scene cuts to Jared in the car with his mother, Nancy, traveling to a facility that almost looks like a juvenile detention center.

As he journeys to the facility, we get generous flashbacks of the events that led to his parents registering him for the program. We learn that Jared had a girlfriend in high school that he was never really attracted to, and once he leaves for college they part ways. In college, Jared is sexually assaulted by a friend, who confesses to raping another student. Jared returns home as the assault has left him depressed. Fearing that Jared might tell on him, the boy outs Jared to his parents.

The conversion therapy program is led by self-appointed therapist Victor Sykes (Joel Edgerton). The program holds the boys and girls under surveillance from 9 to 5, holding onto their phones, any personal belongings, and instating the rule that attendees may not speak about the therapy to their parents.

The lessons call for how to stand like a man, angrily express why they hate their fathers, and state that if they change, God will love them again. Jared grapples with the frustration of how the individuals are being mistreated. He gets advice from fellow program member Gary (Troy Sivan) that Jared should tell Skyes what he wants to hear—"Fake it 'til you make it"—so he can safely leave the program. If Skyes feels that Jared hasn't changed, a couple of weeks could become a yearlong program.

The film has a lot of gut-wrenching scenes as it masterfully narrates the hardships that the LGBTQ community faces when they are forced to question not only their sexuality, but their individuality and spirituality. For a lot of the film I was filled with rage and horror that young people can be subjected to torment because of their sexual identity.

This is another film that I can't say has a happily-ever-after ending. Not only does Jared have to navigate the world after his time at the program, but his next hurdle is figuring out whether he will have a relationship with his devout parents who put him there. (114 min.)

—Karen Garcia

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Bay, Fair Oaks, Galaxy, Park

Pick

Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, Superman Returns) directs this biopic about Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen, chronicling the band's rise to super stardom, Mercury's solo career and AIDS diagnosis, and their triumphant reunion and spellbinding performance at the 1985 Live Aid concert.

The criticisms you've heard are all true: The film's chronology is inaccurate, it skips over or condenses much of Queen's history, its PG-13 rating sanitizes the story, and star Rami Malek's prosthetic overbite teeth are distracting. But none of that stops Bohemian Rhapsody from being an engaging, joyous, and highly entertaining film.

Set aside your picked nits and sit back and soak up this uplifting ride. Yes, the film is flawed. So was Freddie Mercury, but that didn't make him any less of a legendary rock star! (134 min.)

—Glen Starkey

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) directs Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, an author in a career limbo who commits literary forgery in order to make ends meet. The film is an adaptation of Lee Israel's confessional autobiography, Can You Forgive Me?, released in 2008.

The film is centered on the true story of Israel, an author who experienced a peak in her career writing celebrity biographies but now finds herself in a slump. She hasn't had a writing gig in a while, and her agent, Marjorie (Jane Curtin), won't return her phone calls. To make matters worse, her beloved cat has fallen ill, she can't make payments on her dreary apartment, and her former partner, Elaine (Anna Deavere Smith), doesn't feel like picking her up anymore when she's down.

The movie trailer shows Israel trying to sell used books at a local bookstore, only to be given a couple of measly bucks and told that one of her authored books is on clearance. It's the perfect example of one of her lowest points in the film.

Part of her downfall is that she doesn't care about making appearances or mingling at parties to get her name out there. In the process of figuring out her next venture, an idea literally falls on her lap. While doing research, a letter written by jack-of-all-trades Fanny Brice (she was a comedian, actress, and singer) falls out of a book. Israel figures she could make a pretty penny on her find, but the local bookstore only hands over $75, saying it would be worth more if it were juicer. She finds that there is a lucrative market for this kind of memorabilia in bookstores, but the more interesting the letter, the more it's worth. Naturally, Israel uses her talent to embellish more than 400 letters from prominent figures.

She believes she's on a new literary streak, a talent in her eyes, until it captures the FBI's attention. To avoid being caught for fraud, she enlists her only friend, Jack Hock (Richard Grant), who's couch surfing and ready to do anything.

The film really captures the essence of the rise and fall of Israel and the destruction of a friendship. This is Heller's second go at directing a film and it's riveting from start to finish as the audience is immediately engaged with the grumpy alcoholic that is Israel. Instead of giving us a character to love or connect with, we're given someone who is at their wit's end, and who we eventually feel some sort of compassion for.

I was definitely surprised with McCarthy's performance as Israel, as she delivered a character I didn't know she could. I'm so used to McCarthy playing the same forgettable role—Life of the Party, The Happytime Murders, Ghostbusters, The Boss, and the list could go on— that I didn't know she could play a serious dramatic character. Israel is a no-nonsense defensive individual with a gloomy outlook on life, who really only shows some sort of emotion for her sick cat. That vulnerability is a perfect marriage of McCarthy's performance and Heller's directing guidance.

I can't say the end is happy or sad. It feels like the limbo that the film started with, and it's left me wanting to learn more about Israel and what happened after her fabrication escapades. (106 min.)

—Karen Garcia

CREED II

click to enlarge FIGHT NIGHT Sylvester Stallone stars as Ricky Balboa, now a fight trainer working with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), who plans to fight Viktor Drago, the son of Rocky's nemesis Ivan Drago, in Creed II. - PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Metro-goldwyn-mayer Studios
  • FIGHT NIGHT Sylvester Stallone stars as Ricky Balboa, now a fight trainer working with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), who plans to fight Viktor Drago, the son of Rocky's nemesis Ivan Drago, in Creed II.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Steven Caple Jr. (The Land) directs this sequel about boxer Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), who, under trainer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), takes on the son of Rocky's nemesis, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

What's it rated? PG-13

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

See Split Screen.

FREE SOLO

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

I don't think I've ever sweated so much in a movie theater in my life. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin helm this raw and gripping National Geographic documentary, which chronicles 33-year-old rock climber Alex Honnold's incredible 2017 ascent up the face of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot-tall rock formation in Yosemite, without protective gear—the first in human history to accomplish the feat. (100 min.)

—Peter Johnson

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB: A NEW DRAGON TATTOO STORY

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Park

Co-writer and director Fede Alvarez (Don't Breathe) helms this new installation into the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise, this time around with Claire Foy taking on the role of feminist hacker Lisbeth Salander and Sverrir Gudnason as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. As they sort through spies, cybercriminals, and corrupt government officials, their investigation takes them back to where Lisbeth began with her own sister, Camilla Salander (Sylvia Hoeks).

This is a decidedly grim affair shot in variations of gray. Repressive and relentless, the story begins with a set piece of Lisbeth exacting revenge on a serial woman beater. After stringing him up by his feet, she shows she means business by using a stun gun on his genitals. She drains his bank accounts (she's a master hacker remember?), giving 20 percent to the women he beat and the rest to his wife, who escapes bloodied but with her toddler. The scene's only point is to remind viewers that Lisbeth is a badass out to right wrongs.

What follows is less about a feminist railing against patriarchy and misogyny and more of a high-tech thriller about another programmer, Frans Balder (Stephen Merchant), who's built a program that can commandeer and control any nation's weapons systems and was commissioned by the United States. He realizes his program is an abomination and is too powerful for any country to wield, so he hires Lisbeth to cyber-steal it. This sets in motion a complicated story that includes American operative Ed Needham (Lakeith Stanfield), Swedish official Gabriella Grane (Synnøve Macody Lund), and a mysterious criminal organization called the Spiders, that seems to be headed by Lisbeth's supposedly dead sister Camilla.

Despite the blanket of dread covering the story, there's some fun to be had. Watching Lisbeth outsmart her various opponents is fun, and Balder's gifted son, August (Christopher Convery), ups the emotional ante. It's also interesting listening to Lisbeth converse with various characters, such as her lover, Sofia (Andreja Pejic). She has no interest in protecting Sofia's feelings. Americans lie or soften to protect others' feelings, but not Lisbeth. She's essentially humorless.

Fans of the books will probably feel like this new story is off base and that Clair Foy's Lisbeth Salander doesn't feel true to novelist Stieg Larsson's vision. They're right, and the source material is so beloved that any reboot would suffer by comparison. If you like these kinds of films, hit a matinee, but for me this is only worth a rental. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

GREEN BOOK

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

Co-writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) directs this biopic about African-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver on a music tour of 1960s American South. Though they're very different people, they develop a warm and enduring friendship. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE GRINCH

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Co-directors Yarrow Cheney (The Secret Life of Pets) and Scott Mosier helm this animated adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story, narrated by Pharrell Williams, about a grumpy curmudgeon, the Grinch (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who plans to ruin Whoville's Christmas. Along the way, the Grinch encounters various inhabitants of the town including Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely), her mother, Donna Who (Rashida Jones), and Mr. Bricklebaum (Kenan Thompson).

I never thought we would ever get another feature-length version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Didn't we already stretch the short story to its limits with the Jim Carrey iteration? I just hope the next one is a Christmas horror film akin to Krampus, or better yet an entire trilogy helmed by hobbiteer Peter Jackson (if anyone knows how to carve multiple three-hour films from one single book, it's not him).

If this Grinch brings anything new to the table, it's the fact that Cumberbatch is by far the most uncharacteristically clean and relatively normal (by human standards) Grinch we've ever seen on screen. Not saying that's a bad thing, it's just different. He's still grumpy and mean, but nothing he does warrants his "stink, stank, stunk" description found in the lyrics of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."

The song, a holiday favorite since its debut in the original 1966 animated Grinch adaptation, is covered by Tyler the Creator for the new film and can be heard over a montage of the Grinch getting out of bed, putting his socks and pants on, drinking coffee, etc. You know, just the grossest things imaginable. I had to listen to it as soon as I got home. One of the highest rated comments on the YouTube video made my night"The lyrics say his teeth are yellow, but they are white and way brighter than my future will ever be."

Compared to both adaptations that came before it, this year's Grinch doesn't set the bar any higher. For me, few things in this world will ever top Jim Carrey's Grinch sitting alone in his cave, eating broken glass. ("Am I just eating because I'm bored?") But this one is still enjoyable enough in my opinion, and I think that will ring true for children and families especially. I definitely laughed more than I thought I would, even without the glass eating. (86 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

INSTANT FAMILY

click to enlarge KID TROUBLE (Left to right) Octavia Spencer, Rose Byrne, Tig Notaro, and Mark Wahlberg star in the excellent comedy-drama Instant Family. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
  • KID TROUBLE (Left to right) Octavia Spencer, Rose Byrne, Tig Notaro, and Mark Wahlberg star in the excellent comedy-drama Instant Family.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer and director Sean Anders (Horrible Bosses 2, Daddy's Home) helms this story about Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne), who adopt three children, sending their lives into utter chaos. A well-intentioned dramedy, Instant Family explores the travails and triumphs of adoption.

Originally, the couple meant to adopt one small child but after meeting three siblings in need—including rebellious 15-year-old Lizzy (Isabela Moner)—they suddenly find themselves on a steep learning curve on how to parent three children they've only just met.

Based on director Anders' own experiences, the film also features an emotionally potent performance by Octavia Spencer and an excellent deadpan turn by comedian Tig Notaro. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Co-directors Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Cider House Rules, A Dog's Purpose) and Joe Johnston (October Sky; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Jumanji; Captain America: The First Avenger) along with writers Ashleigh Powell (in her screen writer debut) and Simon Beaufoy (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) re-imagine this classic Christmas ballet story. (99 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

OVERLORD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Park

Pick

Julius Avery (Son of a Gun) directs this action/mystery/horror story about two World War II-era American paratroopers—Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and Ford (Wyatt Russell)—who are dropped behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day to complete an operation essential to the invasion's success, but as they approach their target, they discover a Nazi experiment that creates powerful zombie soldiers.

Yes, this film's premise sounds like a recipe for cinematic disaster. The Nazi/zombie genre is a well-worn path of mediocrity, from Dead Snow to Outpost to Zombie Lake (or Le Lac Des Morts Vivants in French). But Overlord does something different—it tells a cracking good war story that just happens to run into some zombies.

Think of it as a B-movie version of Saving Private Ryan with some excellent gore effects. This is the film I didn't know I needed. Loved it! (109 min.)

—Glen Starkey

POKÉMON THE MOVIE: THE POWER OF US

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Starts on Nov. 26 in Stadium 10

New

Tetsuo Yajima directs this animated family adventure about Fura City's Wind Festival and the people who celebrate it. (112 min.)

—Glen Starkey

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Co-directors Phil Johnson and Rich Moore helm this animated sequel in which Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a Wi-Fi router in their arcade to a new adventure. (112 min.)

—Glen Starkey

ROBIN HOOD

click to enlarge BOYS IN THE HOOD Former Crusader-turned-rebel Robin of Loxley (Taron Edgerton, right) and his Moorish partner, Little John (Jamie Foxx), take on the corrupt British crown, in Robin Hood. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LIONSGATE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Lionsgate
  • BOYS IN THE HOOD Former Crusader-turned-rebel Robin of Loxley (Taron Edgerton, right) and his Moorish partner, Little John (Jamie Foxx), take on the corrupt British crown, in Robin Hood.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Otto Bathurst directs this action-adventure about former Crusader-turned-rebel Robin of Loxley (Taron Edgerton) and his Moorish partner, Little John (Jamie Foxx), who take on the corrupt British crown. Can the Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelson) stop Robin, and can Marian (Eve Hewson) stop herself from falling in love? (116 min.)

—Glen Starkey

WARREN MILLER'S FACE OF WINTER

click to enlarge HARD CHARGE World-class winter athletes show their stuff in Warren Miller's Face of Winter, screening Nov. 29 in the Fremont Theater. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARREN MILLER ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warren Miller Entertainment
  • HARD CHARGE World-class winter athletes show their stuff in Warren Miller's Face of Winter, screening Nov. 29 in the Fremont Theater.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Wednesday, Nov. 29, in the Fremont Theater (7:30 p.m.; $18.93 at fremontslo.com)

New

Chris Patterson directs this 69th Warren Miller Entertainment documentary about winter sports, featuring world-class new and veteran athletes tackling challenging winter sports from Engleberg, Chamonix, British Columbia, Alaska, Chile, Iceland, New Zealand, Washington, and more. The film features Jonny Moseley, Anna Segal, Dash Longe, Forrest Jillson, Amie Engerbretson, Simon Hillis, Seth Wescott, Jim Ryan, and Jess McMillan. (120 min.)

—Glen Starkey

WIDOWS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park, The Palm

Pick

Co-writer Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave) directs this crime drama about Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), and Belle (Cynthia Erivo), who must team up to pull off a heist after three of their husbands are killed on a botched job and a crime boss demands payment.

I love a good heist film, but Widows ups the ante with a twisty script co-penned by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects), taking on the dynamics of romance, gender hierarchy, government corruption, racism, and more. It's tense, thrilling, and completely engrossing.

The opening cuts between the botched robbery and the various women's relationships with their men. Veronica is deeply in love with Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), the gang's boss. We discover Alice's man, Florek (Jon Bernthal), is abusive; that Linda's man, Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), is a degenerate gambler putting her dress shop at risk; and that Amanda (Carrie Coon), who doesn't team up with the other wives, has the most traditional family relationship with her man, Jimmy (Coburn Goss). Because Amanda doesn't accept Veronica's invitation to complete Harry's next planned heist, the remaining women enlist Belle, a single mom and tireless worker who's trying to support her daughter.

Meanwhile, we learn about the Mulligans, an old political family that has run Chicago's 18th ward for generations. Patriarch Tom Mulligan (Robert Duvall) is trying to pass the torch to his son, Jack (Colin Farrell), but local African-American crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is running against Jack, backed by his violent brother, Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya). It probably sounds more convoluted than it is. McQueen's direction and Flynn's script does an amazing job of introducing the various characters as well as creating a Chicago that's gritty and hardscrabble.

The botched robbery stole $2 million from Manning, and he expects Veronica and the other widows to make good on it by liquidating their assets. But they have another idea when Veronica comes into possession of Harry's heist book, which contains meticulous plans for a new $5 million heist ... if they can only figure out what the target is. The blueprints in the book don't have a location. Crafty detective work, chess-like planning, and staying strong in the face of male threats propel these tenacious women forward. They're not going to do what the men expect them to, and that surprise element helps the women enact their plan.

McQueen gets some great acting out of his cast. Davis, Debicki, Neeson, and Duvall are especially amazing, but there's nary a wrong note in the entire cast. This one's definitely worth a trip to the theater. (129 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and others. You can contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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