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Film Listings, 12/13/18 – 12/20/18 

Editor's note: Listings for Rodkey Theaters—Fair Oaks ((805-489-2364) and Sunset Drive-In ((805) 544-4475)—were not available at press time.

AT ETERNITY'S GATE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

See Split Screen.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

click to enlarge TRIUMPHANT RETURN After leaving Queen for an ill-fated solo career, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen re-formed in time to play the historic 1985 Live Aid concert. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW REGENCY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of New Regency Pictures
  • TRIUMPHANT RETURN After leaving Queen for an ill-fated solo career, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and Queen re-formed in time to play the historic 1985 Live Aid concert.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

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. (134 min.)

—Glen Starkey

CREED II

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Pick

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).

Yes, this loose Rocky sequel is formulaic, but it's a helluva good formula! Adonis' complicated personal life and need to dig deep within himself to find the champion he can become is still a great story. Jordan is terrific in the role, demonstrating nuance, range, and complex emotion. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Legend of Tarzan) directs this J.K. Rowling screenplay, the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts series, about magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who's enlisted by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to recapture escaped evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). (134 min.)

—Anna Starkey

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 chronicling 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 GREAT BUSTER

What's it rated? Not Rated

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show) directs and narrates an open love letter to Buster Keaton's career as a silent film comedian, actor, director, producer, and stunt performer.

Bogdanovich tells the story of a man born into show business, as his father owned a traveling show with close friend Harry Houdini. Keaton, born Joseph Frank Keaton, was part of the "The Three Keatons" act with his parents. When he was 3 years old, the act's main attraction was hurling Keaton around on stage. He even had a handle concealed at the waist on his suits—his father almost went to jail for child abuse a few times but found loopholes to get out of it. What made the crowd go wild with laughter was Keaton's serious stone face after he emerged from the toss.

Keaton had several qualities that made him so successful, which included his lack of facial expression, his ability to do a seamless stunt, and the courage to think outside the box. All those skills combined really came across on the screen.

An audience can instantly recognize an original reel or short because Keaton was in control of his cinematic pieces. He had a hand in creating the reel, directing, writing the storyline, and most importantly, Keaton took the time to make quality comedic pieces. But of course with every creative genius on the rise is almost always a somber destructive downfall.

The decline came at a time when sound was inching its way into movies and silent films were becoming old news. Through family relations, Keaton gets a contract with MGM—which is notorious for churning out films. He loses creative control over the production of the films and the comedy lacks. As Keaton mulls over "the worst mistake of his life," he also has trouble with his personal life as he deals with his infidelity and alcoholism.

So he takes a hiatus and seeks help from a rehabilitation center. He meets a nurse whom he remarries—Eleanor Keaton, who changes his life and supports him until the end of his life, but before his death Keaton's career doesn't come to an abrupt end. He still worked on stunts and jokes in commercials and in cameos.

The documentary does an amazing job of highlighting so many of Keaton's great works, but I wish it would have told me a little bit more about his life, who influenced him or who he collaborated with. The documentary was definitely a stepping-stone for me to do more research of my own on the legend and his porkpie hat.

The kind of strange part of the documentary was the interviews that Bogdanovich peppered throughout the film. I think he was trying to spark the interest of a younger audience, as he had commentary from comedians like Bill Hader and Johnny Knoxville. He also had interviews with Richard Lewis, Mel Brooks, Werner Herzog, and Dick Van Dyke. Oddly enough, he also included Jon Watts, who talked about how Keaton's work influenced him in creating Spider-Man: Homecoming—a film that was released last year. A little far reaching, but OK.

Bogdanovich has worn many hats in his cinematic career and film historian is one of them, so it made sense that he would create a film that really celebrates the comedic success of Buster Keaton with many laughs along the way. (102 min.)

—Karen Garcia

GREEN BOOK

click to enlarge FORMING FRIENDSHIP Virtuoso pianist Don (Mahershala Ali, left) and New York bouncer Tony (Viggo Mortensen) may come from different worlds, but they learn to respect one another. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks
  • FORMING FRIENDSHIP Virtuoso pianist Don (Mahershala Ali, left) and New York bouncer Tony (Viggo Mortensen) may come from different worlds, but they learn to respect one another.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Bay (ends 12/18), Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

Co-writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary) directs this biopic about African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver on a music tour of the 1960s American South. Though they're very different people, they develop a warm and enduring friendship. This is one of those classic feel-good movies only a true cynic could reject. Both lead characters come out of the other side of the story improved. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE GRINCH

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

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). (86 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

INSTANT FAMILY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

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. This well-intentioned dramedy explores the travails and triumphs of adoption, finding both comic and emotionally potent moments. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARY POPPINS RETURNS

click to enlarge MAGICAL NANNY! Lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), and Anabel Banks (Pixie Davis) set off for joy-inducing adventure, in the sequel Mary Poppins Returns, arriving in theaters on Dec. 19. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • MAGICAL NANNY! Lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), and Anabel Banks (Pixie Davis) set off for joy-inducing adventure, in the sequel Mary Poppins Returns, arriving in theaters on Dec. 19.

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? (starts 12/19) Bay, Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10

New

Rob Marshall (Chicago Memoirs of a Geisha, Pirates of the Caribbean: One Stranger Tides Into the Woods) directs this sequel to the 1964 classic about a magical nanny who helps two neglected children reconnect with their father. This time around, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to the Banks family children who are now adults. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lives with his three children—Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), Georgie (Joel Dawson)— and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), in the same house on Cherry Tree Lane. With encouragement by Michael's sister, Jane (Emily Mortimer), and the help of lamplighter, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary helps the new set of Banks children find the joy in life. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MORTAL ENGINES

click to enlarge LONDON CALLING Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) works to stop London, a mobile predator city, from destroying everything in its path, in Mortal Engines. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MEDIA RIGHTS CAPITAL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Media Rights Capital
  • LONDON CALLING Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) works to stop London, a mobile predator city, from destroying everything in its path, in Mortal Engines.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Christian Rivers directs this post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure about a future in which London is a mobile city that devours everything in its path. One woman, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), joins forces with London outcast, Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), and the outlaw, Anna Fang (Jihae), to stop the city before it destroys what's left of the world. (128 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE MULE

click to enlarge NEVER TOO OLD Clint Eastwood directs himself as Earl Stone, a horticulturist and World War II vet who's caught in Michigan running $3 million worth of Mexican cartel cocaine, in The Mule. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros.
  • NEVER TOO OLD Clint Eastwood directs himself as Earl Stone, a horticulturist and World War II vet who's caught in Michigan running $3 million worth of Mexican cartel cocaine, in The Mule.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Clint Eastwood directs this crime thriller screenplay by Sam Dolnick, based on the New York Times Magazine article "The Sinaloa Cartel's 90-Year-Old Drug Mule" by Nick Schenk. Eastwood takes on the role of Earl Stone, a horticulturist and World War II vet who's caught in Michigan running $3 million worth of Mexican cartel cocaine. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION

click to enlarge DO IT, CLARK! Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) endures all manner of humiliation, in the 1989 classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, screening Dec. 19, in Galaxy Theaters. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros.
  • DO IT, CLARK! Clark Griswald (Chevy Chase) endures all manner of humiliation, in the 1989 classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, screening Dec. 19, in Galaxy Theaters.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Wednesday, Dec. 19, in Galaxy

New/Pick

Jeremiah S. Chechik directs this script by John Hughes staring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswald, who with his wife, Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and kids, Audrey (Juliette Lewis) and Rusty (Johnny Galecki), must suffer through the holidays with his parents, in-laws, and cousin Eddie Johnson (Randy Quaid) and family. The 1989 comedy has become a staple and dishes up irreverent holiday fun. (97 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Don't bother

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Diederik Van Rooijen directs this horror-thriller about police officer Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell), who, fresh out of a stay in rehab, is assigned to guard the city morgue. Once there, she begins to suspect that an evil entity has infested the cadaver of Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson).

If you're wondering what a horror film is doing out during the holiday and Oscar season, wonder no further—it's a weird-timing dump meant to fool viewers into thinking there might be something special about this film rather than simply the should-have-been-straight-to-video piece of trash it is.

The film is as lifeless as the dead bodies populating the morgue and is filled with all the clichés you've come to expect from the possession genre. It's about as memorable as a ... yeah, I already forgot. (85 min.)

—Glen Starkey

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-directors Phil Johnson and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph, Zootopia) helm this animated sequel in which Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) follow a WiFi router in their home arcade, Litwak's Family Fun Center, to explore a strange new world: the internet.

Six years have passed since the events of Wreck-It Ralph, and Ralph and Vanellope are still best friendsclose as "peanut butter and bacon," Ralph says at one point. When Vanellope's game, Sugar Rush, is in danger of being unplugged and scrapped for parts after its steering wheel breaks, the pair seek help in the world of the internet, a realm completely unknown to the duo and the other pixelated inhabitants of Litwak's arcade. Ralph and Vanellope start at eBay (or "eBoy" as Ralph continuously calls it), where a Sugar Rush steering wheel is up for auction. The wheel would save Vanellope's candy kingdom home from destruction, but will the pair be able to raise enough money to bid for the item in time?

This quest for funds takes Ralph and Vanellope to various websites where they encounter new characters including Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot), a racer from the racing game, Slaughter Race; J.P. Spamley (voiced by Bill Hader), a hilariously personified click-bait pop-up ad; and Yesss (voiced by Taraji P. Henson), a cyber trendsetter. Old characters are back as well, including Sgt. Tamora Jean Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch) and her husband Fix-It Felix Jr. (voiced by Jack McBrayer). One Instant Family-esque subplot of the film concerns the couple's adoption of the Sugar Rush racers into their home while their game is out of order.

What makes Ralph Breaks The Internet fun is its personification of the World Wide Web. It's the same kind of charm shared by animated peers Inside Out and Osmosis Jones—films that attribute human characteristics to emotions and blood cells (and Tylenol), respectively. The world of the internet is illustrated as a sprawling metropolis. The biggest websites and apps are represented as malls and skyscrapers, with Google being the tallest, of course. My favorite inclusion by far is Instagram, which appears as a fine art gallery. This is one to see in theaters, for sure. And make sure to stay for the mid-credits scene, especially if you're a Frozen fan! (112 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

ROBIN HOOD

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

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?

File this new installation of the classic tale in the unnecessary and irrelevant bin. While some of the action sequences are spectacular, the film tries desperately to modernize the tale but only succeeds in making it incoherent and unintentionally funny. Don't let it rob you of your money and time. (116 min.)

—Glen Starkey

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

click to enlarge SPIDEY SENSES In this new animated adventure, Spider-Men and a Spider-Woman from different realities team-up to stop a common foe, in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL AND COLUMBIA PICTURES CORP.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel And Columbia Pictures Corp.
  • SPIDEY SENSES In this new animated adventure, Spider-Men and a Spider-Woman from different realities team-up to stop a common foe, in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

What's it rated? PG

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

New

Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman co-direct this animated action adventure that takes place in the Marvel multiverse. Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) becomes the Spider-Man of his version of reality, then crosses into a parallel universe where he teams with other realities' Spider-Men and a Spider-Woman to stop a an evil that threatens all realities. (117 min.)

—Glen Starkey

A STAR IS BORN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

Co-writer, director, and co-star Bradley Cooper helms this remake of A Star Is Born (first released in 1937, and later remade in 1954 and 1976). In this iteration, Cooper stars as Jackson Maine, a famous musician whose star is waning as he discovers talented but insecure singer Ally (Lady Gaga). As Jack battles alcoholism and his own decline, he helps Ally find the strength to let her talent shine.

You'd think on the fourth retelling things would be getting stale, but Bradley Cooper takes a sweeping look at the rise and fall of stardom, the shallowness of the entertainment industry, creativity, substance abuse, family dynamics, and romance. (135 min.)

—Glen Starkey

VOX LUX

click to enlarge A DIVA IS BORN Natalie Portman star as pop star Celeste, in the drama Vox Lux, which covers 18 tumultuous years of her career. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KILLER FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Killer Films
  • A DIVA IS BORN Natalie Portman star as pop star Celeste, in the drama Vox Lux, which covers 18 tumultuous years of her career.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

New

Writer-director Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader) helms this drama about pop star Celeste (Natalie Portman), who through unforeseen circumstances reaches stardom. Covering 18 years—1999 through 2017—the story views important cultural touchstones through her perspective. (110 min).

—Glen Starkey

WIDOWS

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? 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. (129 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE WIFE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Björn Runge (Daybreak, Mouth to Mouth, Happy End) directs Jane Anderson's (How to Make an American Quilt) screenplay based on Meg Wolitzer's novel about Joan Castleman (Glenn Close), wife of famed author Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), who's awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. During their trip to Stockholm to claim his prize, she begins to ruminate on her life choices.

The film's secret weapon is Close, whose riveting performance is worth the price of admission. It's also a wonderful meditation of the power of talent, and who is allowed to wield it. This lays bare the pain of domestic drama. (100 min.)

—Glen Starkey

WILDLIFE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

New/Pick

Actor Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, Swiss Army Man) gets behind the camera for this story he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan—based on Richard Ford's novel—about teenager Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould), who's left to deal with his mother, Jeanette's (Carey Mulligan), reaction to his father, Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), abandoning the family to take a menial and dangerous job.

First-time director Dano does a brilliant job creating an understated gem and coaxing out a career-defining performance from Mulligan. Not showy but instead quiet and contemplative, Wildlife is a slow and sad dissolution of a 1960s marriage, with an ending that will haunt you. (104 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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