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Film Listings, 2/22/18 – 3/1/18 

ANNIHILATION

click to enlarge THE UNKNOWN In Annihilation, A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a secret mission where the laws of nature don't apply. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
  • THE UNKNOWN In Annihilation, A biologist (Natalie Portman) signs up for a secret mission where the laws of nature don't apply.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Based on Jeff VanderMeer's best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac. A biologist (Portman) signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply. (115 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

DARKEST HOUR

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

Darkest Hour drops viewers into one of the tensest, grimmest periods of World War II to illustrate how British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Garry Oldman), orated Britain and its people out of surrendering to and into defiantly fighting Nazi Germany.

Set in May of 1940, British Parliament has just ousted Neville Chamberlain as its Prime Minister as Hitler prepares to invade Belgium and Holland. Churchill is begrudgingly appointed as his successor, but fear and doubt still consumes the nation.

Churchill assumes the helm with the message to the nation that accepting defeat isn't an option. But he faces resistance from many members of Parliament and even members of his own cabinet, who bicker with him to settle a peace treaty with Hitler, as millions of British soldiers' lives are on the line. It's Churchill's commitment to the principles of his country and disdain for the moral atrocities of Nazism that compel him to push back against the momentum of a surrender. That's what's thrilling about this movie: the emotional battle between the convenience of giving up versus the profound consequences of that concession. (125 min.)

—Peter Johnson

EARLY MAN

What's it rated?PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

It's not often that audiences are treated to a sports-family comedy set amid a prehistoric-stop-animated backdrop but that's exactly what Nick Park (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit) does in Early Man. The film is Park's first foray as a solo director and marks more than a dozen years since the man who first introduced the world to the cheese loving and always tinkering duo of Wallace and Gromit helmed a feature length vehicle (The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005).

And although Early Man may lack some of the originality and general appeal of Park's previous animated adventures, the film is still filled with the same whimsy and humor his fans are more than familiar with: one line in particular features an older character remarking that sliced bread is "the best thing, since ... well, ever." Based on an original story first penned by Park, Early Man follows a down on his luck caveman, Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne), his pet wild boar, Hognob (voiced by Nick Park), and their small tribe of plucky Neanderthals as they grapple with a rapidly changing world.

It should surprise no one that what starts as a story about cavemen summoning the courage and know-how to the point they can hunt wooly mammoths ultimately evolves into a feel-good sports outing where the protagonists are playing for the right to live on land that is rightfully their birthplace (in this case, a veritable forest-filled crater surrounded by active volcanoes).

Park's films have always dabbled in—or in most cases completely revolved around—the absurd, and Early Man is no different. Look no further than the movie's opening scene, which features cavemen and dinosaurs living (and fighting) alongside one another before a flaming ball of space rock crashes into the earth and extinguishes a not insignificant amount of life. The sequence lightens up pretty quickly however, as nearby Neanderthals discover that the white-hot piece of meteorite resembles the shape of a soccer ball and quickly set up goal posts to hold the first ever "football" match.

Early Man is filled with many such snippets of dry humor that may fly over the heads of some younger audiences. For instance, only sports fans are likely to get the reference of calling the team of cavemen, "Early Man, United," but even so, there's plenty here for the whole family to enjoy. Just don't expect a history lesson. (100 min.)

—Spencer Cole

EVERY DAY

What's it rated?PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park

New

Based on David Levithan's acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Every Day tells the story of Rhiannon (Angourie Rice), a 16-year-old girl who falls in love with a mysterious soul named "A" who inhabits a different body every day. Feeling an unmatched connection, Rhiannon and A work each day to find each other, not knowing what or who the next day will bring. The more the two fall in love, the more the realities of loving someone who is a different person every 24 hours takes a toll, leaving Rhiannon and A to face the hardest decision either has ever had to make. (95 min.)

—Orion Pictures

THE 15:17 TO PARIS

What's it rated?PG-13

What's it worth? Steaming

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

Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino) directs this true account of how three American friends on vacation in Europe disrupted a terrorist attack on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. In a bold move, Eastwood cast the actual heroes of the event—Spencer Stone, Alex Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler—as themselves.

Does the gamble pay off? The quick answer is no. Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler are not professional actors, and even though they lived the events depicted, their performances largely come off as wooden. At the end of the film, Eastwood mixes archival footage from the French ceremony honoring the three men, which adds a nice touch of realism, but it's not enough to warrant casting these three non-actors.

There's certainly some emotional payoff when we see the men honored in France as well as a parade for them back home in their native Sacramento. What the three men did was incredibly brave, and it made me proud to be an American, but this film simply doesn't live up to Eastwood's reputation as a gifted filmmaker. He took a risk, and it failed. If you like the idea of using the real heroes in the roles, it may be worth a trip to the big screen for you, but I think most viewers will leave the theater underwhelmed. (94 min.)

—Glen Starkey

FIFTY SHADES FREED

What's it rated?R

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

Believing they have left behind shadowy figures from their past, newlyweds Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) fully embrace an inextricable connection and shared life of luxury. But just as she steps into her role as Mrs. Grey and he relaxes into an unfamiliar stability, new threats could jeopardize their happy ending before it even begins. (120 min.)

—Universal Pictures

FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL

click to enlarge FAMOUS Follow the story of the real-life love affair between Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) and the eccentric Academy winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) in 1978 England in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Sony Pictures Classics
  • FAMOUS Follow the story of the real-life love affair between Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) and the eccentric Academy winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) in 1978 England in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

Based on Peter Turner's memoir, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Jamie Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award (R)-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening) in 1978 Liverpool. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control. (105 min.)

—Sony Pictures Classics

GAME NIGHT

click to enlarge FUN AND GAMES In Game Night, a weekly get-together for couples turned murder mystery party gets a little too real. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW LINE CINEMA
  • Photo Courtesy Of New Line Cinema
  • FUN AND GAMES In Game Night, a weekly get-together for couples turned murder mystery party gets a little too real.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star as Max and Annie, whose weekly couples game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's charismatic brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), arranges a murder mystery party, complete with fake thugs and faux federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it's all part of the game—right? But as the six-uber competitive gamers set out to solve the case and win, they begin to discover that neither this game, nor Brooks, is what they seem to be. Over the course of one chaotic night, the friends find themselves increasingly in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn. With no rules, no points, and no idea who all the players are, this could turn out to be the most fun they've ever had ... or game over. (93 min.)

—New Line Cinema

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Rental

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

First-time director Michael Gracey helms The Greatest Showman, an original, straight-to-screen musical inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum (played here by Hugh Jackman) and the formation of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The film never claims to be wholly factual and only uses the aspects of Barnum's life that fit into its desired rags-to-riches structure.

Overall, The Greatest Showman is a mixed bag full of flawed and fun moments alike. It's hard to tell how serious it takes itself at times, but the best parts are the unashamedly cheesy ones. And I really wish it embraced that cheesiness moreit could have been grater. (139 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

I, TONYA

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

From director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, The Finest Hours) and writer Steven Rogers (P.S. I love You, Friday Night Lights) comes I, Tonya, based on unbelievable, but true events. This mock-u-mentary style film is a darkly comedic tale of American figure skater, Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie), and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. Though Harding was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). The cast is rounded out with a mustachioed Sebastian Stan as Harding's impetuous ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Allison Janney as her acid-tongued mother, LaVona Golden.

I, Tonya takes someone from popular culture we thought we had the measure of, and throws all of our ideas out the window. (119 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

With Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, we see an old game through new lenses. In present day, we have a group of four archetypal teenagers. You know, similar to The Breakfast Club. You've got the nerd Spencer (Alex Wolff), his former best friend turned jock Fridge (Ser' Darius Blain), a self-absorbed popular Bethany (Madison Iseman), and smart girl Martha (Morgan Turner) who's a little salty about her peers. The crew gets detention and winds up having to remove staples from magazines for the evening. Anyone else find that to be an unusual punishment? To top it off, they're doing it in an abandoned classroom filled with old school memorabilia and random junk. That's where the unlikely group finds Jumanji (this time in video game form). They decide to ditch their task to play it. Once the game is plugged in and rebooting, the kids are sucked into the console, entering into the Jumanji world. But there's a catch: They have assumed the bodies of their avatars.

This is where the fun really starts; Spencer turns into Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). His weakness: he has none. Fridge turns into Franklin "Mouse" Finbar (Kevin Hart). You can only guess where the nickname comes from. Notorious hottie Bethany turns into the nerdy, male Professor "Shelly" Oberon (Jack Black), a cartographer, cryptographer, archaeologist, and paleontologist. Shy Martha turns into Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). She's a martial artist and dance fighter with very short and tight clothing. With their new personas, the group must learn to work together and trust one another so they can return the jewel known as the Jaguar's Eye to the jaguar statue.

This film does what many remakes fail to do, which is successfully entertain its audience. I wasn't quite sure how this would go walking into the theater. But these actors did a hilarious job delivering as prepubescent teenagers in way over their heads. I was laughing nonstop throughout the film. (112 min.)

—Karen Garcia

LADY BIRD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Bay

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.

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. (93 min.)

—Glen Starkey

LIVES WELL LIVED

What's it rated?NR

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing?The Palm

Pick

First-time director Sky Bergman helms this documentary that asks older people their secret to a happy and fulfilling life. Mixing one-on-one interviews, her subjects' personal photos and home movies, as well as archival footage of seminal events in their lives, Bergman uncovers wisdom collected from 40 subjects with 3,000 years of collective life experience.

This film is a monument to lives of dignity and honor, of self-sacrifice and generosity. We younger generations could do well by these lessons. I absolutely loved this film. (72 min.)

—Glen Starkey

PHANTOM THREAD

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Pick

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice) reteams with Daniel Day-Lewis in this story of dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, who with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) runs the posh fashion business the House of Woodcock. Set in 1950s London, Woodcock's fastidious life is turned upside down by Alma (Vicky Krieps), a willful young woman who becomes his lover and muse.

All the worst human emotions are on display in Phantom Thread, a story about ego, jealousy, manipulation, hostility, and disappointment. Incongruently, it's also very funny.

Like many of Anderson's stories, Phantom Thread is about big personalities with compromised morals. That can make it difficult to find anyone to root for; however, Anderson's sumptuous filmmaking, attention to detail, and unflinching gaze at his complicated characters is as gorgeous and elevated as one of Reynolds' haute couture designs.

It also helps that the acting is truly amazing, and Anderson gives his players the space they need to develop their characters. Nothing feels rushed, which for some viewers may translate as a slow pace, but I was never bored. (130 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE POST

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Pick

Steven Spielberg (Jaws, The Color Purple, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln) directs this true story about Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), the first female newspaper publisher, and tenacious editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), who join forces to reveal a government cover-up spanning five presidencies. Written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer, the film also stars Sarah Paulson as Tony Bradlee, Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, Tracy Letts as Fritz Beebe, Bradley Whitford as Arthur Parsons, Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara, and Matthew Rhys as famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Spielberg is a superlative director, not as showy as some, but great at building tension in the small moments and letting his actors carry the weight of scenes, and what amazing actors! Streep is a revelation, displaying Kay's internal struggle with the lightest of expressions, yet we know exactly what she's going through. Hanks plays Bradlee with the brash confidence of someone more committed to journalistic integrity than with keeping his job.

As far as The Post is concerned, I see Oscar wins on the horizon. This is great filmmaking! (116 min.)

—Glen Starkey

PETER RABBIT

What's it rated? PG

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

Peter Rabbit (James Corden), the mischievous and adventurous hero who has captivated generations of readers, now takes on the starring role of his own irreverent, contemporary comedy with attitude. In the film, Peter's feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates to greater heights than ever before as they rival for the affections of the warm-hearted animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). (100 min.)

—Columbia Pictures

SAMSON

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Samson is based on the powerful, biblical epic of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. Samson's (Taylor James) supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire. After being betrayed by a wicked prince and a beautiful temptress, Samson is captured and blinded by his enemies. Samson calls upon his God once more for supernatural strength and turns imprisonment and blindness into final victory. (110 min.)

—Pure Flix Entertainment

THE SHAPE OF WATER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a lonely mute who works as a janitor in a high-security government laboratory in 1962 Baltimore. For 10 years she's walked and cleaned the halls of the facility with her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer).

Every day Elisa sticks to her routine: take a shower, polish her shoes, make lunch as well as a meal for her neighbor and friend Giles (Richard Jenkins), and then catch the bus to work.

Her life takes a turn when she and Zelda are called into a room to clean up a bloody mess created by "the asset" (Doug Jones), at least that's what the scientists and government officials are calling it. The asset is a scaled creature from South Africa that now resides in a water tank against its will. Elisa is drawn to the creature, maybe because she too is an outsider in the world that she lives in. She forms a bond with the creature that feels more like love than friendship. But her days of sharing hard-boiled eggs for lunch and listening to her vinyl record player are numbered; the very fate of the creature is on the line.

Writer and director Guillermo Del Toro's (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim) latest offering is visually intriguing as an everyday woman finds her fairy tale—with some bloody scenes mixed in, of course. (123 min.)

—Karen Garcia

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

Pick

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) continues the Skywalker saga as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force.

What's interesting about the latest chapter in the saga is the connection that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is building with the force. While it's thought that Luke (Mark Hamil) is the last Jedi needed to save the Rebellion, let's be real: There are great forces of power within Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Rey seeks Luke not only for his help with the fight against the First Order, the next generation of the Empire, but also for his teachings. There is a strong sense of the Force within her, she just doesn't know how to harness or understand it. That connection has brought a different kind of communication between her and Kylo Ren. Wherever the two are, they are able to communicate with one another and even see the other's surroundings. (152 min.)

—Karen Garcia

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Fair Oaks, Bay

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.

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?"

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. (115 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

WINCHESTER

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Streaming

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Park

Purportedly inspired by true events, this ghost story suggests that Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), heir to the Winchester rifle empire, constructed the famed San Jose Winchester Mystery House while guided by vengeful spirits killed by Winchester rifles. Under risk of being forced out of her 51 percent share of the company for being of unsound mind, Sarah agrees to allow San Francisco psychiatrist Dr. Eric Price (Jason Clarke) to visit the house and assess her mental fitness. The film is co-rewritten and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig (Undead, Daybreakers, Predestination) from a script by Tom Vaughan.

I'd love to see a real biopic of Sarah Winchester instead of this flappy piece of filmmaking. The acting is commendable and the house is fascinating, but save your money and take a trip up to San Jose to see the real thing live and in person. This forgettable and unnecessary film doesn't have a ghost of a chance being remembered. (99 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

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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