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Film Listings 12/7/17 – 12/14/17 

COCO

click to enlarge ANCESTORS In the animated film Coco, young Miguel journeys to the land of the dead to discover his family's long held ban on music. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY/PIXAR
  • Photo Courtesy Of Disney/pixar
  • ANCESTORS In the animated film Coco, young Miguel journeys to the land of the dead to discover his family's long held ban on music.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina co-direct this animated adventure-comedy written by the directors and Jason Katz and Matthew Aldrich, about Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), an aspiring musician from a family in which music is banned. Miguel is swept into the Land of the Dead meets his forebears, in this film that explores the Mexican tradition of el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

Coco really is a love letter to the Mexican culture. I won't be one bit surprised if this wins Best Animated Feature at next year's Academy Awards. It deserves it! (109 min.)

—Glen Starkey

DADDY'S HOME

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive In, Bay, Stadium 10, Park, Galaxy

Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) have joined forces to provide their kids with the perfect Christmas. Their newfound partnership is put to the test when Dusty's old-school, macho dad (Mel Gibson) and Brad's ultra-affectionate and emotional dad (John Lithgow) arrive just in time to throw the holiday into complete chaos. (98 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

THE DISASTER ARTIST

click to enlarge BEHIND THE SCENES Take a look at the life of director of The Room Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in The Disaster Artist. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo Courtesy Of A24
  • BEHIND THE SCENES Take a look at the life of director of The Room Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in The Disaster Artist.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

The real-life story of writer/director Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), the man behind what is often referred to as "The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies," The Room, is brought to life, chronicling the odd film's troubled development and eventual cult success. (104 min.)

—A24

JANE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Jane is a profound and magnificently bare-bones documentary tracking the 50-plus-year career of pioneering British scientist Jane Goodall, the first human to study chimpanzees in the wild, using primary-source footage of her expeditions in Tanzania.

Director/producer Brett Morgen splices the never-before-seen footage dating back to the 1960s with present-day commentary from Goodall, and lets the material breathe and speak for itself. The result is a remarkable, poignant window into Goodall's life, her groundbreaking science, and the at-times disturbing discoveries about the nature of man's ancestors.

The quality of the video documentation in Jane is astonishing. In 1962, when she was a 26-year-old assistant to paleontologist Louis Leakey with no academic degree, Goodall was assigned to go to Africa to observe chimpanzees. Leakey apparently wanted somebody with an innate passion for animals but no scientific training or biases, as well as "monumental patience." National Geographic funded the expedition, so they sent a cameraman, Hugo van Lawick, with her. Goodall and Van Lawick would later marry, and he turned out to be a world-class wildlife videographer.

Van Lawick documented Goodall and the chimpanzees with extraordinary intimacy and precision. We watch Goodall slowly but surely gain the trust of the chimp family, and her science on that expedition snowballs into the establishment of the Jane Goodall Institute in Gombe.

From there, Morgen takes us through Goodall's triumphs, her motherhood, her divorce, and the dark times in her research. We learn about chimpanzees and their eerie and beautiful similarities to humans through her eyes and Van Lawick's lenses. Morgen doesn't try to censor or sugarcoat the disturbing aspect of the lives and behaviors of wild animals. We watch chimps die of polio and tear each other apart in violence—a brutal sight but shown because it's a necessary component of life.

And it's not only chimpanzees that are featured; there's amazing close-up footage of insects in Gombe, as well as jaw dropping shots from the Serengeti, of lions, zebras, hyenas, you name it.

Jane is an incredibly deep and meaningful documentary sitting at the intersection of science, identity, and spirituality. It's not to be missed. (90 min.)

Peter Johnson

JUMANJI

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Stadium 10 (Amazon Prime Member Showing Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.)

When young Alan Parrish discovers a mysterious board game, he doesn't realize its unimaginable powers, until he is magically transported before the startled eyes of his friend, Sarah, into the untamed jungles of Jumanji! There he remains for 26 years until he is freed from the game's spell by two unsuspecting children. Now a grown man, Alan (Robin Williams) reunites with Sarah (Bonnie Hunt) and together with Judy (Kirstin Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) tries to outwit the game's powerful forces in this imaginative adventure that combines breathtaking special effects with an enchanting mixture of comedy, magic, and thrills. (1995, 104 min.)

—Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

JUST GETTING STARTED

click to enlarge TROUBLE IN PARADISE In Just Getting Started, rivals Duke (Morgan Freeman) and Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) must put aside their differences to save the Villa Capri and Duke's life. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BROAD GREEN PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Broad Green Pictures
  • TROUBLE IN PARADISE In Just Getting Started, rivals Duke (Morgan Freeman) and Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) must put aside their differences to save the Villa Capri and Duke's life.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Morgan Freeman stars as Duke Diver, the freewheeling manager of the luxury Palm Springs resort, the Villa Capri. Diver may have a mysterious past, but he's a pro at making sure that life for the high-spirited residents is one big, non-stop party. But the status quo is challenged when ex-military charmer Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) checks in, triggering a competition between Duke and Leo for the top spot of alpha male, as well as for the affections of the newly arrived Suzie (Rene Russo). When Duke's past suddenly catches up with him, the rivals put aside their differences and the two men reluctantly team up to stop whoever is trying to kill Duke, and also save the Villa Capri. (91 min.)

—Broad Green Pictures

JUSTICE LEAGUE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rental

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

Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) directs this ensemble super hero flick featuring Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Batman (Ben Affleck), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who must save the world from Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons, all while humanity ponders the death of Superman (Henry Cavill).

Justice League isn't a terrible movie, but in an age when superhero stories are finding new and fun ways of telling their stories, this feels like a step backwards. When even Gadot's luminescence can't save your dour proceedings, you've done something terribly wrong. (120 min.)

—Glen Starkey

LADY BIRD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm, Galaxy, Fair Oaks

Pick

Writer-director Greta Gerwig helms this coming of age story about high schooler Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) over the 2002-03 school year in Sacramento, exploring her difficult relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) and others in her life.

I've got a mom and two sisters, so I'm well aware that mothers and daughters can have very complicated relationships with one another, and that's certainly the case here. Marion loves her daughter and wants what's best for her, but she's extremely judgmental and frequently unsupportive of Lady Bird. Likewise, Lady Bird loves her mother but feels completely misunderstood, and she's abrasively dismissive of her mother and her provincial ideas.

One key scene finds them bickering bitterly in a secondhand store while searching for a dress for a dance. One second they're at each other's throats and then Marion pulls a dress from the rack and they both swoon over it like they're not in the midst of an argument. Theirs is a mercurial relationship that turns on a dime, but beneath the acrimony is a deep connection.

It's senior year, and Lady Bird is finding romance with Danny O'Neill (Lucas Hedges) and joining theater with her bestie Julie (Beanie Feldstein), but naturally things go awry and soon Lady Bird is pining over musician and anti-Capitalist Kyle (Timothée Chalamet) and ingratiating herself into the life of the super popular Jenna Walton (Odeya Rush). Gerwig perfectly taps into the floundering, insecure feelings of adolescence, and watching Lady Bird traverse the difficult terrain of this coming-of-age story is entertaining, joyous, and ultimately poignant.

The acting really does shine here, probably because Gerwig is first and foremost an actor herself, having appeared in a lot of wonderful indie films such as Damsels in Distress, Frances Ha, and Maggie's Plan as well as some bigger films such as Jackie and 20th Century Women. She gets wonderful performances out of her two principals, but I thought Feldstein as Lady Bird's awkward friend Julie—who's secretly and hilariously in love with her math teacher Mr. Bruno (Jake McDorman)—was a real stand out. Feldman morphs herself into an awkward wallflower.

One of the things the film does well is capture what a weird time high school is. It's like a bubble of unreality. Insecurities rule the day, and in general high school students have no idea that most of the popular kids have peaked and will grow up to be unhappy losers while the misfits inherit the earth, but as viewers we can see the writing on the wall. Jenna may be pretty and perfect, but she's destined to be a trapped housewife who'll forever try to recapture her glory days. Kyle may now be mysterious, edgy, and cool, but he's a pseudo intellectual who'll end up a bitter lifelong barista or bookstore clerk who felt life cheated him.

Maybe Lady Bird won't fare much better. Maybe she doesn't have the aptitude to be an artist or a writer. What the film makes clear is that Lady Bird learns what's important and learns to be a good human being. That's pretty much all anyone can hope for. (93 min.)

—Glen Starkey

NOVITIATE

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

See Split Screen.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rental

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium10, Park, Galaxy

Kenneth Branagh (Dead Again, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) directs himself as famed Belgium detective Hercule Poirot, who on a lavish train trip with 13 strangers must solve a murder that could only have been committed by one of his fellow travelers.

If you're familiar with the story, that may work in your favor. If not, the grand reveal may seem like a cop-out, and it certainly will frustrate the armchair detectives who think they're solving the case. If you like period mystery dramas, this latest iteration of this oft told tale isn't terrible, but I didn't need to see it in the theater. (114 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE STAR

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Park

A small but brave donkey named Bo (Steven Yeun) yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free, and finally goes on the adventure of his dreams. On his journey, he teams up with Ruth (Aidy Bryant), a lovable sheep who has lost her flock, and Dave (Keegan-Michael Key), a dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the star and become unlikely heroes in the greatest story ever told—the first Christmas. (86 min.)

—Sony Pictures Animation

THOR: RAGNAROK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) directs Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the God of Thunder, who loses his hammer, is imprisoned on the other end of the universe, and finds himself pitted against his former ally The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a gladiatorial battle. Meanwhile, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, is threatening to destroy Thor's home, Asgard, so he must escape and race against time to protect everything he holds dear.

Between Blanchett as Hela and Goldblum as Grandmaster, you've got two really entertaining scenery chewing bad guys. Hemsworth's Thor has an everyman charm. If you were merely to delineate the plot, this film would sound pretty boring, but as a sustained joke about the preposterousness of the Marvel Universe, it's amazing! (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm, Stadium 10

Pick

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one shape-shifter of a movie. Is it a comedy, tragedy, or quest for vengeance, redemption, and catharsis? Director/writer Martin McDonagh (The Guard) manages to convince you it's all of the above at different twists and turns in the story.

We're dropped late into the aftermath of mother Mildred Hayes' (Frances McDormand, Hail, Caesar!, Moonrise Kingdom) grief and pain. Months have gone by since her daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) was viciously raped and murdered while walking home one night in their small town. Still, local law enforcement has made no arrests and doesn't even have any suspects. While driving down a forgotten road just outside Ebbing, Mildred gets and idea and proceeds to march into town and pay for three billboards in a row painted red with big black letters that say "Raped while dying," "And still no arrests?" and "How come, Chief Willoughby?"

It's a move that instantly sets the town aflutter, leading the viewer down several storylines. There's police chief Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle, Nanking), who feels targeted by the billboards while he's simultaneously dealing with life-threatening cancer. And we can't forget Willoughby's ne'er-do-well deputy Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell, Frost/Nixon, In The Soup), who has a history of allegedly torturing black people but somehow still has the trust of his boss. And there's the squirmy ad salesman Red (Caleb Landry Jones, Get Out, The Social Network), who surprisingly shows enough gumption to put the billboards up even though he gets flak being (we think) one of the few gay people in town. Meanwhile, the doe-eyed used car salesman James (Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones) makes not so subtle passes at Mildred after she gives an interview on TV.

At home, not everyone is on board with Mildred's bold move. Her teen son, Robbie (Lucas Hedges, Manchester By The Sea), is thrown further into depression by the memories the billboards drag up of his sister. And things get downright violent between Mildred and her abusive ex-husband, Charlie (John Hawkes, Lincoln).

The writing is impeccably sharp, with searing lines thrown in at the most emotionally potent moments, and yet, there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, too, in this film that deals rather heavily in anger and sorrow. The acting is superb, particularly performances from McDormand, who plays Mildred as hardened and determined to find justice, and Harrelson as the seemingly hick police chief creates so much nuance and depth for his character. And yet, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri requires being OK with swallowing a hefty dose of imaginative realism. We're dealing with very real problems, but this is a world where the consequences for, say, throwing someone out a window or committing arson don't really line up with reality at all. (115 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

WONDER

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

If you're the type of person who enjoys those inspirational, feel-good, make-you-laugh-and-cry kind of movies, then you'll love Wonder. However, if you're that type of person but also a bit of a nerd, you will love Wonder even more.

Wonder is about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Temblay), a 10-year-old science enthusiast who was born with facial deformities. The main storyline focuses on Auggie trying to adjust to attending school for the first time after being homeschooled his entire life, but there are also plots centered around the other characters, such as Auggie's mother (Julia Roberts) trying to finish her dissertation that she put off after Auggie was born.

On the surface, this film seems like your typical Oscar bait, with its underdog story and big name actors, (in addition to Roberts, it also features Owen Wilson as Auggie's father), but there are little details that make Wonder special. For example, there are a lot of references to Auggie's interests, and while I'm sure anyone would like this movie, I don't think that one can fully appreciate it if they don't watch Star Wars or have at least minimal knowledge of what Minecraft is. Unlike most movies of this genre that try to appeal to as wide of an audience as possible, Wonder doesn't shy away from pandering to a slightly more niche crowd.

That being said, even if you aren't a geek like Auggie, chances are there will still be at least one character in this film that you'll identify with. Auggie's older sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic), is particularly phenomenal, always loving and supporting Auggie despite the fact that she is dealing with problems of her own, and often feeling alone in those problems since her parents tend to put Auggie's needs before hers. Even the antagonists in this movie are given depth—for a second there, I actually felt sorry for cruel, rich boy Julian (Bryce Gheisar) once the audience meets his parents.

Even if cheesy underdog stories aren't your usual cup of tea, I still strongly encourage you to give Wonder a chance. It has more personality to it than most other films of this type, and Auggie isn't even the character in the spotlight 100 percent of the time. It has certain humor and charm that gives it just a touch of uniqueness, and I have a hard time coming up with reasons why anyone wouldn't like this movie. (113 min.) Δ

—Katrina Borges

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Arts Editor Ryah Cooley and others. You can contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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