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Film Listings, 12/26/19 – 1/2/20 

All theater listings are as of Friday, Dec. 27.

Editor's note: The updated listings (past Thursday, Dec. 26) for Park and Stadium 10 were unavailable at press time. Call the theaters or check their websites for accurate listings.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

click to enlarge PUPPET MASTER Tom Hanks plays beloved television host Fred Rogers, in director Marielle Heller's biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRISTAR PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tristar Pictures
  • PUPPET MASTER Tom Hanks plays beloved television host Fred Rogers, in director Marielle Heller's biopic, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) directs this biopic drama that's based on the real-life friendship between beloved children's television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod, renamed Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) in the film.

Fred Rogers may not think of himself as a hero, but the majority of the millions of children who grew up watching him still hold him to hero status today. He was the adult who understood the difficulties of being a child, who comforted you when you were sad—even wrote a song for you to sing about those feelings—and took you on all sorts of adventures when you visited his neighborhood.

Lloyd is a man in need of a little Mr. Rogers magic. He has a bitter relationship with his father who he refuses to see, a new baby he can't quite figure out how to connect with, and a job he both jumps into and hides behind. His reputation precedes him. No one wants to be interviewed by the guy who turns around and writes scathing portrayals of his subjects. Yet, when tasked with writing a short piece on heroes, Lloyd is assigned Fred Rogers, who happily agrees to meet with him.

The storyline here is really Lloyd's—his journey to forgiveness with his father and closeness with his new son. Mr. Rogers is the guiding light that gets him there. This film has magic sprinkled all over it, and Tom Hanks captures the calm realness of Fred Roger's to a T. (108 min.)

—Anna Starkey

BOMBSHELL

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

click to enlarge BRINGING DOWN AN EMPIRE The true story of the women who set out to expose Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment is explored in director Jay Roach's drama, Bombshell. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LIONSGATE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Lionsgate
  • BRINGING DOWN AN EMPIRE The true story of the women who set out to expose Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment is explored in director Jay Roach's drama, Bombshell.

Co-producer and director Jay Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Meet the Parents) helms this drama based on the true story of several women at Fox News who set out to expose CEO Roger Ailes (played by John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. The cast includes Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, Kate McKinnon, and Allison Janney. (108 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

CATS

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rental (for first-timers); Matinee (for Webber buffs, aka Webheads)

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

click to enlarge HEY JUDI Judi Dench stars as Old Deuteronomy, in director Tom Hooper's adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • HEY JUDI Judi Dench stars as Old Deuteronomy, in director Tom Hooper's adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats.

Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Miserables, The Danish Girl) directs this adaptation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the poetry collection, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Elliot. Over the course of a single night, a tribe of cats called the Jellicles make what is known as "the Jellicle choice" and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and gain a new life.

I can't predict what my reaction to Cats would have been had I not been a longtime fan of the original musical. The current consensus on the adaptation seems to be that critics absolutely despise it (at least according to its score of 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), while audiences' reactions are lukewarm at best (with an audience score of 62 percent). I was actually hoping to fit in with the former crowd, but alas, I'm obliged to take a contrarian stance as there was hardly a moment where I was not smiling during my screening. I'm not kiddingor should I say, kitty-ing. Admittedly, there were a fair amount of instances where I was laughing at Cats, rather than with it. Still, that's genuine joy nonetheless.

Again, full disclosure: I went in to Cats already loving the songs. I wouldn't recommend the film as an introduction to the musical; I think first-timers are prone to become distracted by most of the laughably unsettling CGI. But if you are a Cats fan, or a musical lover in general, I can't stop myself from recommending seeing this on the big screen. Even if you end up hating the gaudy production design, the most positive thing you'll be able to claim leaving the theater is you've never seen a film quite like Cats. It's a flamboyant mess at times, but the moving performances (especially from Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellan) and bizarrely beautiful dance sequences made this cinematic adaptation worthwhile for me. Even its most criticized absurdities work in its favor. Don't buy in to the hate. Cats is far from purr-fect, but it ain't kitty litter either. (120 min.)

—Caleb

DARK WATERS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, I'm Not There) directs this historical legal thriller about corporate defense attorney Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) who takes on an environmental lawsuit against DuPont, which he links to a number of deaths and illnesses caused by its pollution and practices.

If you're short on corporate outrage, this is the film for you. It's a stark reminder of how toothless the Environmental Protection Agency is, how corporations essentially own the government, and how corporations are not people! They might be run by people, but they're soulless money-generating entities devoid of morality.

As the film starts, stolid, stoic attorney Robert Bilott has just made partner at Taft, a law firm that specializes in defending chemical companies. The firm would love to land DuPont as a client, but instead, a couple of farmers show up from Bilott's hometown claiming something connected to a DuPont landfill is killing their cows. Long story short, Bilott takes their case and is soon suing DuPont, much to the chagrin of his boss, Tom Terp (Tim Robbins), who reluctantly agrees to allow him to work the case but to be "surgical"—in and out as quickly as possible. Instead, Bilott has embarked on a case that will drag out decades and put his job, family, and health on the line.

Unlike, say, a John Grisham potboiler, what Dark Waters depicts is the tedious grind of law practice, the painstaking work of scouring files, looking for the needle in the haystack that will prick the corporate balloon and hold it accountable for its wanton greed. If you're expecting courtroom theatrics, there's very little of that. Instead, this is the story of an unlikely hero whose tenacity, steadfastness, and deeply held morals made him into DuPont's worst nightmare—a man who couldn't be bought, scared off, or worn out.

It's pretty infuriating that big corporations get away with this stuff. At one point the EPA fines DuPont. I don't remember the exact amount, but it was millions of dollars ... which added up to three days' worth of DuPoint's profit from their poisonous Teflon coating. Multi-million-dollar fines mean nothing to multi-billion-dollar companies. It's pocket change. How can we expect corporations to protect the public trust if it's cheaper to poison us and pay a token fine for it?

Ruffalo and Hathaway are terrific together. They have a natural chemistry and embrace their characters wholeheartedly. Sarah is a devout Catholic who wants her sons to be just as devout. She's both subservient toward and committed to her husband, but when she sees him falling into what seems like an obsessive conspiracy theory, she's forced to assert herself.

Ruffalo plays Robert like a nondescript frump, a kind of hangdog everyman. He only seems to come alive when he's holding DuPont's executives accountable. I loved it when these corporate titans were forced to confront the results of their bottomline decision making—the kids with birth defects, the line workers with cancer, the dead.

This is a gripping film and a sad indictment of the government institutions that are supposed to protect us but too often don't. (126 min.)

—Glen

FROZEN II

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

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, 2013) return to helm this animated sequel about Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idena 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

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

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

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?

Knives Out starts with a classic Agatha Christie whodunit set-up: Wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his extended—and deeply dysfunctional—family to his remote estate to celebrate his 85th birthday, but he's discovered dead the next morning by his housekeeper, Fran (Edi Patterson). Da-dun-dun!

Police Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) is summoned to investigate, along with dapper and astute detective Benoit Blanc, who begins to question the various family members and staff, all of whom have deep dark secrets and hidden motives. Viewers quickly become armchair detectives as we work alongside Blanc to discover the culprit in our midst!

Who could it be? Son Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon), who runs his father's lucrative publishing empire; or Walt's Nazi son Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell); or wife, Donna Thrombey (Riki Lindhome)? Or Harlan's daughter, Linda Drysdale (Jamie Lee Curtis), who parlayed her father's million-dollar loan into a house-of-cards real estate empire? Or maybe it's Linda's husband, Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), who's under his wife's thumb? Or their lazy son, Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), who's at risk of being cut off from his grandfather's good graces? Or Harlan's daughter-in-law, Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette), the widow of his deceased son; or her daughter, Meg Thrombey (Katherine Langford), whose tuition to an elite university is at risk? At the center of it all is Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), Harlan's nurse and friend.

Despite the large ensemble cast, keeping track of who's who is never a problem in Johnson's slick screenplay. He's a terrific director, and his 2005 high school film noir crime drama, Brick, remains a favorite, as does his 2012 sci-fi thriller Looper. Knives Out is an excellent addition to Johnson's impressive oeuvre. We think we know what's going on, but as the story plays out, we discover layers upon layers of intrigue.

The film skirts abject campiness but keeps the proceedings just serious enough to stop from falling into farce. It's a heck of a lot of fun and proof that murder mysteries need not fall out of favor as outdated. Knives Out pays homage to its forebears while creating a fresh and contemporary take on an old genre.(130 min.)

—Glen

click to enlarge ENDURING SISTERHOOD Little Women follows the lives of four sisters—Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), Meg (Emma Watson), and Amy (Florence Pugh) (from top to bottom)—as they come of age in 1860s New England. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • ENDURING SISTERHOOD Little Women follows the lives of four sistersJo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), Meg (Emma Watson), and Amy (Florence Pugh) (from top to bottom)as they come of age in 1860s New England.

LITTLE WOMEN

What's it rated? PG

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

New

Greta Gerwig (Ladybird) helms this adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, which follows the lives of four sistersAmy (Florence Pugh), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Meg (Emma Watson)as they come of age in 1860s New England, amidst the aftermath of the Civil War. (135 min.)

—Caleb

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 Bubnash

RICHARD JEWELL

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

click to enlarge THANKLESS HERO After saving thousands from a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is falsely reported as a terrorist, in Richard Jewell. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 75 YEAR PLAN PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of 75 Year Plan Productions
  • THANKLESS HERO After saving thousands from a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is falsely reported as a terrorist, in Richard Jewell.

Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, American Sniper) directs this drama about security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser), who saved hundreds from a bomb at the 1996 Olympics only to be pilloried by the media who falsely reported he was a terrorist.

Fake news and incompetent FBI agents are served up on a platter in this new Clint Eastwood film. It's almost like he's shilling for Trump by attacking a couple of his favorite targets! The film has also been condemned for being sexist, portraying Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs (a scenery-chewing Olivia Wilde) as a sleazy journalist willing to sleep with FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) to find out who the FBI's prime suspect was. For a film that seems to want to condemn fake news, falsely smearing a now-dead reporter (Scruggs died of a drug overdose 2001) seems ironic and hypocritical. So if you've come to this new Clint Eastwood film to discover the truth about the Richard Jewell case, you're about to be misled.

If, on the other hand, you've come to see a gripping, well-acted, and economically and deftly directed fictionalized account of a tragic case of false accusation, you're in the right place! Say what you want about his politics—there's no denying Eastwood is a gifted director. He introduces us to a man who deeply respects government institutions and wants nothing more than to be a respected law enforcement officer, but Jewell is overzealous and a tad power-mad. He frequently oversteps whatever slight authority he has. I'm glad Eastwood didn't romanticize Jewell, instead portraying him as flawed and sadly desperate, which also made him the perfect suspect for the FBI—a wannabe cop who wanted to be seen as a hero. The film is also about Jewell's relationship with his mother, Bobi (a fantastic Kathy Bates), and his lawyer, Watson Bryant (another rock-solid performance by Sam Rockwell). It's an engaging story, even if a lot of it is embellished or just plain wrong (131 min.)

—Glen

SPIES IN DISGUISE

click to enlarge PIGEON POWER Super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) is transformed into a pigeon in order to complete an elaborate mission, in the animated action-comedy, Spies in Disguise. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUE SKY STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blue Sky Studios
  • PIGEON POWER Super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) is transformed into a pigeon in order to complete an elaborate mission, in the animated action-comedy, Spies in Disguise.

What's it rated? PG

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

New

This animated family action-comedy, adapted from Pigeon: Impossible by Lucas Martell, follows sauve super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith) and socially awkward gadgets inventor Walter Beckett (voiced by Tom Holland) who team up to save the world from peril. (102 min.)

—Caleb

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

What's it rated? PG-13

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

See Split Screen.

UNCUT GEMS

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm, Park

New

click to enlarge DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH A jeweler (Adam Sandler) balances family, business, and increasingly threatening adversaries, in the crime-dramedy, Uncut Gems. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo Courtesy Of A24
  • DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH A jeweler (Adam Sandler) balances family, business, and increasingly threatening adversaries, in the crime-dramedy, Uncut Gems.

Co-directors Josh and Benny Safdie (Good Time) helm this crime-dramedy that follows a charismatic jeweler (Adam Sandler) who finds himself balancing family, business, and increasingly threatening adversaries after making a high-stakes bet. (134 min.) Δ

—Caleb

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood this week. Contact him at cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

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