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Film Listings, 2/21/19 – 2/28/19 

Editor's note: Listings for Paso Robles' Park Cinemas were not available. Visit parkcinema.com or call (805) 227-2172 for films and show times.

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

click to enlarge NO MEMORY A human/cyborg hybrid (Rosa Salazar) who was saved from the scrap heap struggles to find her purpose, in Alita: Battle Angel. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Twentieth Century Fox
  • NO MEMORY A human/cyborg hybrid (Rosa Salazar) who was saved from the scrap heap struggles to find her purpose, in Alita: Battle Angel.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet Terror) directs Rosa Salazar as Alita, a half-human and half-advanced cyborg, who finds vengeance for the people of the post-apocalyptic world, Iron City, while finding out about her past. The movie is a live-action film adaptation of Gunnm, the Japanese cyberpunk manga series by Yukito Kishiro, also known as Battle Angle Alita in its English translated versions.

Alita is filled with action sequences that make us all feel good about sticking it to the man, or literally slicing the bad guys in half, but the plot's delivery falls short.

It's the year 2563, and, after a worldwide war known as The Fall, there are only two remaining cities: Iron City, a dismal dystopia on Earth, and, hovering above it, Zalem, an elite floating city run by Nova (Edward Norton). Apparently no one knows what Zalem is like because no one has been able to go up there since The Fall.

All of Zalem's trash (robotic arms, eyes, chests ... you name it) falls down to a scrap yard in Iron City. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) is often going through the yard looking for replacement parts for his patients.

That's the weird thing in this post-apocalyptic world, which is supposedly the last city on Earth: a lot of its inhabitants have some sort of robotic body part.

On one of his trips, he stumbles upon a live core (head and brain) of a young woman. He gives her a robotic body, one that he was going to give to his wheelchair-bound daughter, but she died before he was finished, so he gave it to the core and named her Alita (after his late daughter).

Alita doesn't have a single memory of her past, but she does have an instinct for combat and does not shy away from a fight. Dr. Ido becomes her father figure and quickly tries to shield her from learning of her past. She's a berserker—a cyborg built for battle—and the last of that kind.

Before she discovers her true self, she inevitable falls in love with bad boy Hugo (Keean Johnson) and motorball—a game that resembles football on Rollerblades but you're not on a team and if you get ripped to pieces, too bad so freaking sad, because you're poor and probably can't afford good replacement parts. The catch of motorball is that if you get to the championship games and win, you have a chance to go up to Zalem.

Throughout the film, the ruler of Zalem, Nova, has these weird glasses that not only make his eyeballs look freakishly microscopic, they give him the ability to look through the eyes of people in Iron City. He's constantly keeping an eye on (and basically being a puppeteer of) certain people, so he's a futuristic Big Brother.

While the overall plot of the film is interesting, about an hour was spent on just hashing out Alita taking in her new body and world. It didn't leave much time for the end, which felt extremely abrupt and, of course, left us on a cliffhanger.

I think that once Alita finds out who she is and the mission she's had since her creation, it becomes overshadowed by her infatuation of Hugo—she's in love, we get it.

When I first saw the trailers for this movie I was extremely skeptical because of its animation and Alita's ginormous eyeballs, but it really took me back to A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Similar to that film is the cliché sentiment of "Can a human love a robot?" and vice versa. The storylines within Alita, and there are a few, aren't revolutionary, but I'm here for the in-your-face action scenes, which are spectacular.

I will say that if there is a sequel in the works, I won't be mad about it and would definitely see it in theaters. (122 min.)

—Karen Garcia

ARCTIC

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

New

click to enlarge ALONE Mads Mikkelsen stars as Overgård, who survives a plane crash in the arctic and must find a way to survive, in Arctic. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ARMORY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Armory Pictures
  • ALONE Mads Mikkelsen stars as Overgård, who survives a plane crash in the arctic and must find a way to survive, in Arctic.

Co-writer/director Joe Penna, in his feature-length debut, helms this adventure drama about Overgård (Mads Mikkelsen), who, after a plane crash, finds himself stranded in the arctic. Should he stay in the relative safety of his crash site camp and hope to be rescued, or try to hike through the possibly deadly unknown to save himself? (98 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge MAN ON A MISSION Comedy writer Steve Young discovers a cache of vintage records that open up a new world of comedy to him, in Bathtubs Over Broadway. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blumhouse Productions
  • MAN ON A MISSION Comedy writer Steve Young discovers a cache of vintage records that open up a new world of comedy to him, in Bathtubs Over Broadway.

In her directorial and writing debut, Dava Whisenant helms this documentary-comedy about Steve Young, a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, who discovers a cache of vintage recordings marked "internal use only" that contain a Broadway-style show about major corporations such as General Electric, McDonald's, Ford, DuPont, and Xerox. Young goes in search of the composers and performers, opening up a new world of comedy and entertainment. (98 min.)

—Glen

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

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 film is nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Malek), Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Film Editing. (134 min.)

—Glen

COLD PURSUIT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

click to enlarge HE WILL FIND YOU Snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is out for revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son, in Cold Pursuit. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARADOX FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paradox Films
  • HE WILL FIND YOU Snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is out for revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son, in Cold Pursuit.

Hans Petter Moland directs this action thriller about snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson), who's out for revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son. This remake is based on Moland's 2014 Norwegian film, Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance).

This is a film that really wants to embody the black comedy vibe of the Coen brothers' Fargo (1996), with its glib tone, comic violence, and frigid locale. Unfortunately, it misses the mark. (118 min.)

—Glen

COLD WAR

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

When's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Writer-director Pawel Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love, Ida) helms this torrid romance set in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris, about Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), a music director who falls in love with Zula (Joanna Kulig), a singer, and hopes to persuade her to flee Communist Poland for France.

When's the last time you've left a movie theater devastated? Cold War will remind you of the power of cinema, the power of narrative simplicity, and the power of a stark black-and-white visual aesthetic. You haven't seen a film like this since Michael Curtiz' Casablanca (1942), Orson Welles' A Touch of Evil (1958), or Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light (1963).

The film is nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director (Pawlikowski), and Best Cinematography. This one deserves to be seen in the theater. (In Polish, French, German, Russian, Italian, and Croatian; B&W; 89 min.)

—Glen

THE FAVOURITE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Killing of a Scared Deer) directs this early 18th century period piece about two warring women seeking favor from the ailing, prickly Queen Anne (Olivia Colman).

Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) is the queen's longtime companion who essentially runs the country during a time of war. Newcomer Abigail (Emma Stone), a new servant to the queen, uses her charms to gain power of her own as she attempts to return to her aristocratic roots.

The film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Colman), Best Supporting Actress (Stone and Weisz), Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography (Robbie Ryan), Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing. (119 min.)

—Glen

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

click to enlarge DARE TO DREAM Saraya "Paige" Bevis (Florence Pugh, right) comes from a wrestling family and earns a spot in the WWE, though her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) doesn't, in the biopic dramedy, Fighting with My Family. - PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Metro-goldwyn-mayer
  • DARE TO DREAM Saraya "Paige" Bevis (Florence Pugh, right) comes from a wrestling family and earns a spot in the WWE, though her brother Zak (Jack Lowden) doesn't, in the biopic dramedy, Fighting with My Family.

Writer-director Stephen Merchant helms this biopic dramedy about pro wrestler Saraya "Paige" Bevis (Florence Pugh), who grew up in a wrestling family that made its living from wrestling in small venues nationwide, with father Patrick "Rowdy Ricky Knight" Bevis (Nick Frost) and mother Julia "Sweet Saraya" Bevis (Lena Headey). Paige and her brother, Zak "Zodiac" Bevis (Jack Lowden), dream of joining WWE, but when she earns a spot, it strains her family ties. The film also stars Dwayne Johnson and Vince Vaughn. (108 min.)

—Glen

GLASS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

Pick

In Glass, M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening) brings back three of his most iconic characters, directing Bruce Willis as David Dunn, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, and James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 24 personalities. The three are meshed together in a psychiatric ward to rid them of their superhuman delusions while Elijah has a plan of his own to bring the comic book plot to life.

We're so used to superheroes that have some sort of connection to a mythical god and are destined for greatness. These heroes are based on comic books' stories, but Shyamalan based his trilogy on the structure of the comic books themselves. He has a totally different take on his superheroes: They're just people. (129 min.)

—Karen

GREEN BOOK

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

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.

The film is nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Ali), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. (130 min.)

—Glen

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

click to enlarge MURDEROUS FUN Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, foreground) learns how she's become trapped in a time loop, reliving her murder over and over, in the satirical sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blumhouse Productions
  • MURDEROUS FUN Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe, foreground) learns how she's become trapped in a time loop, reliving her murder over and over, in the satirical sequel, Happy Death Day 2U.

Writer/director Christopher Landon (Burning Palms, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) helms this sequel that picks up exactly where his original, Happy Death Day, left off, which is great for fans but quite unfortunate for lead character Theresa "Tree" Gelbman (Jessica Roth), the college student who spent the entirety of the first film reliving the day she was murdered over and over until she unmasked the killer. Just when Tree thought her time-warped troubles were finally far behind her, it seems that her boyfriend's roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu), has inherited the same Groundhog Day-esque curse she suffered from.

And with the curse's resurgence comes a new killer, but one that dons the same hoodie and "Babyface" mask as the original murderer. But what keeps this sequel from becoming an exact replica of the original starts with its exploration of what started the time loop to begin with, as the characters never uncover its origin in the first film. I usually don't like when sequels, especially horror and sci-fi films, try to explain phenomena that occurred in their predecessors (for example, 2010: The Year We Make Contact added too much literal context to the abstract final minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey).

Most monoliths and other cinematic mysteries are just better left unsolved. Having said that, I actually wasn't bothered at all by this sequel's explanation for the time looping. In fact, I loved it. It's meant to be schlocky on purpose, which ties into the satirical nature of both films. I won't give anything away, except that it's very Back To The Future referential, another big boost in my book.

While the original was both a slasher film and a satire of the genre, in the same vein as Scream, Happy Death Day 2U upholds the comedic approach but turns it up to 11, almost to the point of becoming a flat-out spoof. If you've seen the trailers, I'm sure you already know what I meanthe shot of a group of skydivers exiting their plane one by one followed by Tree, wearing nothing but underwear and noticeably without a parachute, says it all. That's just one of Tree's many suicides that included chugging drain cleaner and leaping headfirst into a woodchipper, featured in a montage (appropriately set to "Hard Times" by Paramore) after she finds herself trapped in the time loop again. Cue the next song: "Let's Do the Time Warp Again!" (100 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD

What's it rated? PG

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

New

click to enlarge NOT ALONE When Hiccup (right, voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers his dragon, Toothless, isn't the only living Night Fury, they go in search of the hidden Dragon utopia, in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks Animation
  • NOT ALONE When Hiccup (right, voiced by Jay Baruchel) discovers his dragon, Toothless, isn't the only living Night Fury, they go in search of the hidden Dragon utopia, in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

Writer-director Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch) helms this third installment in the franchise about Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his Night Fury dragon, Toothless, who it turns out isn't the only Night Fury dragon after all. When Hiccup discovers there's a clandestine Dragon utopia, he and Toothless rush to find it before bad guy Grimmel (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. (104 min.)

—Glen

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Writer-director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) helms this story based on James Baldwin's novel about Harlem woman Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) trying to clear her fiancé, Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt (Stephan James), of a crime he didn't commit while carrying their first child.

If you want a reminder of all the ways the deck is stacked against black people in the U.S., this is the film. What's amazing about the film and book is it's also a complicated and tender love story, a celebration of black family life, and an optimistic clarion call that despite the horrors piled upon the black community, there's an unstoppable nobility there.

The film is up for three Academy Awards: Best Actress (Regina King), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. (119 min.)

—Glen

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

See Split Screen.

THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Chris Pratt stars as the voice of Emmet Brickowski, a construction worker Lego who must save his friends from alien invaders and discover who he really is. This second film was released about five years after the first, The Lego Movie, with the same writers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but a new director, Mike Mitchell (Trolls, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Sky High).

Like many sequels, this film falls short of presenting a unique storyline; it's your average coming-of-age story told while flying through other dimensions peppered with catchy (and annoying!) sing-along numbers. There's a lot of singing, but this time everything's not awesome, and a song could quite possibly get stuck in your head. (106 min.)

—Karen

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS (ANIMATION, LIVE ACTION, DOCUMENTARY)

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? The Palm

See the five Academy Award contenders in each of the short film categories: Animation, Live Action, and Documentary. These gems of short-form cinema may be brief, but they pack a mighty punch.

—Glen

OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS (LIVE ACTION)

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? The Palm

Is it a requirement that for a live action short film to be nominated for an Oscar, it has to emotionally devastate the audience? Seriously, that's all viewers could assume after leaving the theater having sat through all five of these shorts up for the Academy Award. Don't get me wrong, each film is a quality piece in its own right, but I can't recommend a single viewing of all five—they're all too sad, dark, and upsetting in their own award-worthy ways.

The five films are Madre (Spain), Fauve (Canada), Marguerite (Canada), Detainment (Ireland), and Skin (U.S.). Madre is about a young mother who receives what at first seems like an innocuous phone call from her 6-year-old son but is actually a frightening call for help. Fauve follows two young boys horsing around near an open pit mine—but their playful competition turns perilous. Marguerite is about an elderly woman who opens up about her true, repressed sexuality to her younger lesbian caretaker. Detainment brings to life the police interrogations of the two British boys responsible for abducting, torturing, and murdering toddler James Bulger in 1993 (a true story). Skin portrays a white supremacist father, his relationship with his skinhead gang and his young son, and the repercussions that follow his racist beating of a black man at a grocery store.

Uplifted yet? All five films tackle worthy subject areas, and I actually liked them all individually except Detainment, which I thought was a bit salacious without accomplishing much. But they're all truly, incredibly harrowing, even the piece on the elder's repressed sexuality, which just made you feel deeply sad for her. Madre was my favorite of the lot, as it showcased a spellbinding performance from Marta Nieto, the distraught and helpless mother on the phone with her son in trouble.

I do love that The Palm is playing these hard-to-find short films for the public. My recommendation? Go check out the animation and documentary nominees over the weekend. Save the live action shorts for home viewing, when you can break them up at least two at a time. An audience can only take so many gut punches in one sitting. (five films, about 25 min. each).

—Peter Johnson

STAN & OLLIE

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Jon S. Baird (Filth) directs Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy, in this melancholic biopic about the comedy duo as they attempt to revive their career with a rigorous theater tour of post-war Britain.

This affectionate look behind the scenes at the beloved pair of funnymen examines their triumphs and travails, how their partnership was in some ways like a marriage, how their past haunts them, and Oliver's failing health. It's a charming, albeit modest, tribute to two decent gentlemen who connected with audiences for decades but now know their current tour is probably their swan song. (97 min.)

—Glen

A STAR IS BORN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

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.

The film is up for nine Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress (Lady Gaga), Best Actor (Cooper), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Matty Libatique), Best Original Song ("Shallow"), Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. (135 min.)

—Glen

THE UPSIDE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless, Divergent) directs this American remake of the wonderful 2011 film, Les Intouchables, about Phillip (Bryan Cranston), a wealthy quadriplegic who hires Dell (Kevin Hart), a man with a criminal record, to help him with his day-to-day needs.

Score this as another one of those audience-pleasing films that critics find cliché and cloying. True, it's not as good as its French progenitor, but as a feel-good story of redemption, it works, and there's no denying Cranston and Hart's chemistry. (125 min.)

—Glen

VICE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

click to enlarge PUPPETMASTER Christian Bale stars as Vice President Dick Cheney, who wielded unprecedented power in a position usually seen as powerless, with guidance from his wife, Lynne (Amy Adams). - PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • Photos Courtesy Of Annapurna Pictures
  • PUPPETMASTER Christian Bale stars as Vice President Dick Cheney, who wielded unprecedented power in a position usually seen as powerless, with guidance from his wife, Lynne (Amy Adams).

Writer-director Adam McKay (The Big Short, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers) helms this biopic dramedy about Washington, D.C., bureaucratic insider Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), who became George W. Bush's (Sam Rockwell) vice president, using his power to reshape the U.S. and its foreign policy.

The film is up for eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Film Editing. (132 min.)

—Glen

WHAT MEN WANT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

In this role-reversal remake of the Mel Gibson film, What Women Want (2000), Adam Shankman (Rock of Ages, Hairspray (2007), Bringing Down the House) directs Taraji P. Henson as Ali Davis, a woman who gets the upper hand over her fellow male sports agents when she begins to hear their thoughts.

Ultimately unnecessary and forgettable, What Men Want does little with its central conceit. Henson, as gifted a comedian as she is, can't get her footing in this uneven mess of a film. Maybe it's worth a look at home on a rainy afternoon, but be prepared to groan at some of the "jokes." (117 min.) Δ

—Glen

New Times movie reviews are compiled by Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey. Contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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