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Film Listings, 3/28/19 – 4/4/19 

APOLLO 11

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm, Fair Oaks

Pick

click to enlarge TO THE MOON AND BACK The new documentary Apollo 11 transports viewers back to 1969 when NASA sent men to the moon for the first time. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of CNN Films
  • TO THE MOON AND BACK The new documentary Apollo 11 transports viewers back to 1969 when NASA sent men to the moon for the first time.

Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) directs this documentary about the historic 1969 mission to land on the moon. Using archival footage, you'll witness Cmdr. Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their amazing eight-day mission to the moon and back.

I remember as a 7-year-old what a momentous occasion this was, and some of the footage herein was material I saw broadcast live on TV, but what's really amazing is the restored film footage captured by NASA cameramen. And yeah, they were mostly men ... women were few and far between, though we see astronauts' wives and kids, not to mention lots of bystanders camped out to watch the launch live. For '60s fashion fans, the film is a cornucopia of mock turtlenecks under V-neck sweaters, floral frocks, and crazy hairdos.

The film opens hours before countdown, and we see the astronauts being fitted in their suits, technicians working on a leaking valve, and monitors lined with men—and a couple women—keeping track of the various systems. Putting a man on the moon was a monumental undertaking, which First Man (2018), starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, did a terrific job of fictionalizing. In Apollo 11, we're watching the real thing, and it's just as gripping.

Director Miller allows the archival footage and newscaster narration to tell the story, but when the voiceover alludes to the psychological baggage each astronaut takes into a dangerous space mission with him, we see photos and home movies of their families and test flights that led up to penetrating space—all that came before and all that could be lost.

The documentary reminds viewers that the Vietnam War was raging and the Chappaquiddick incident occurred during the mission—two things competing for news time in an era of three networks. We were in the midst of the Cold War, and there's no overstating the sense of pride that flooded the nation. The display of elation from both the NASA workers and the throngs of onlookers, for instance a J.C. Penney's parking lot full of campers watching the launch and touchdown, is astounding. It's also fun to see some of the celebrities who attended the launch, such as Johnny Carson and George C. Scott.

President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger are both on the U.S.S. Hornet when the astronauts are recovered from the ocean. It was a big deal, and Apollo 11 delivers a gripping chronicle of this incredible American achievement.

It's rated G, but I should warn parents that young children may find the film boring. We had a loud 4-year-old behind us who wouldn't be quiet and thought the best part of the film was anytime there was a countdown so he could show off his counting skills. I know you want your kids to see this, and they should, but wait for the DVD and show it to them at home when you can answer their questions without having to annoy an entire theater. This is too good to be distracted from. (93 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE BEACH BUM

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

click to enlarge NEVER GROW UP Irreverent stoner Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) lives life by his own rules, in The Beach Bum. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ICONOCLAST
  • Photo Courtesy Of Iconoclast
  • NEVER GROW UP Irreverent stoner Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) lives life by his own rules, in The Beach Bum.

Writer-director Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) helms this comedy about Moondog (Matthew McConaughey), a stoner and writer who marches to the beat of his own drummer. The film also stars Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Zac Efron and Jonah Hill. (95min.)

—Glen

BIRDS OF PASSAGE (PÁJAROS DE VERANO)

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm on Thursday, March 28 at 4:15 and 7 p.m.

Pick

Filmmaking duo Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (The Wind Journeys and Embrace the Serpent) direct José Acosta as Rapayet, a man who becomes involved with the marijuana boom in Colombia, a business that ends up destroying his family's lives and indigenous culture. The story is based on actual events during the Bonanza Marimbera, an era when people in northern Colombia became involved in drug smuggling.

Gallego and Guerra are less interested in making another grandiose story of drug trafficking and more focused on humanizing a story about a family's involvement, as well as focusing on an indigenous population that was heavily affected.

The five-chapter story looks at the Colombian drug trade from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The film opens up with Zaida's (Natalia Reyes) coming-of-age ceremony in a small village of a Wayúu population.

The Wayúu are an indigenous population in northern Colombia whose language and customs survived the Spanish conquest. The peaceful people are ranchers and farmers who also reside in large patches of desert and resolve conflict through communication.

As Zaida performs a dancing ritual in her red dress and wrap, Rapayet courts her and approaches her mother, Ursula (Carmiña Martínez), to ask for Zaida's hand in marriage. But the matriarch is skeptical of Rapayet; he's been exposed to modern life outside of the Wayúu people, and she fears that will taint their culture. She demands that he bring a dowry that includes goats, cows, and necklaces—in an amount way beyond his means—in exchange for her daughter.

Rapayet is steadfast in proving himself, so he and his partner Moisés (Jhon Narváez), by chance, learn that some AmeriCorps volunteers are looking to buy marijuana. Instead of hauling sacks of coffee beans, the two start trafficking marijuana. With dowry in hand, Rapayet returns to get his wife and, with some hesitation by Ursula, continues with his new business.

What Rapayet forgot about the business is that the flow of money also brings in the flow of guns, violence, and shady dealings.

But what follows is catastrophic as lust and greed that comes with the new riches leads to death, severed family ties, and the end of cultural traditions.

What's amazing about this film is that it avoids the glorifying narco-style drug trafficking story we're told of lavish lifestyles, jewelry, cars, and all that money can buy. The changes with Rapayet's family are large in a sense but are subtle on the screen. We start seeing Zaida and her mother wearing nail polish, eyeliner, and a single gold necklace. In one scene, Zaida comically wears a small black purse, clearly out of place with her former indigenous community.

The scenes are all bursting with color and sound so immersive that it feels otherworldly. Gallego and Guerra did their research and worked with their actors to accurately portray the traditions of the Wayúu. The duo also made their crew 30 percent Wayúu to ensure authenticity. The film is worth seeing not just for its presentation, but for the story of the Wayúu. (in Wayúu, Spanish, English, and Wiwa; 125 min.)

—Karen Garcia

CAPTAIN MARVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writers and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind) helm this new installation in the Marvel Universe. In 1995, former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, joining an intergalactic cohort called Starforce before returning home to discover Earth is caught in a war between two alien species.

The plot is a bit more complicated than what's above. The story opens when Vers, as Carol is known in the Kree capital planet of Hala, is training to become a Kree warrior. Her problem, as her training partner and team leader Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tells her, is she can't control her emotions when she's in battle. Vers is a bit of hot mess. Women, right?

She suffers from nightmares involving another woman (Annette Bening), and she doesn't remember her past. Much of the film moves back and forth in time as Carol slowly pieces together her life before she became a Kree fighter and member of Starforce, which is at war with the Skrulls, shape-shifting aliens who can disguise themselves as anyone they come in contact with.

I don't want to give too much of the inventive plot away. Part of the film's fun is that viewers are as much in the dark about Carol's past and what's happening between the Kree and the Skrulls as she is. Suffice it to say, the story heats up when Carol eventually find herself back on Earth, where her arrival, crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store and finding communication gear at a Radio Shack—yes, it's definitely 1995—draws the attention of the authorities, specifically Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), an agent of a fledgling covert group called S.H.I.E.L.D.

Overall, it's an entertaining origin story of Captain Marvel as well as a rousing feminist saga as Carol discovers who she is and what she's capable of.

I wasn't sure how Brie Larson would be as Captain Marvel, but thankfully she approaches the role with humor. Gotta love an actress named after cheese, right? Superhero movies that take themselves too seriously are usually terrible, which is why Thor: The Dark World (2013) was a bit of a dud for me while Thor: Ragnarok (2017) was a blast. Superhero stories are inherently ridiculous, and when the stories and characters acknowledge that, even winkingly, they're more fun.

Vers comes off as irreverent and bordering on disrespectful of her superiors. As she learns more about her past, she begins to suspect she's been manipulated. She eventually locates her old pilot friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), now retired from the Air Force and living a quiet life with her daughter, Monica (Akira Akbar), who still remembers Auntie Carol from the old days. Vers makes a great role model for Monica, who also gets to see her mom get back into pilot action.

Jackson as Nick Fury has a lot of fun in his role and doesn't seem phased by the strong women around him, but the film's scene stealer is Goose, a big orange tabby.

With lots of great action sequences, solid special effects, and a classic tee-up for future sequels, Captain Marvel manages to entertain and inspire without resorting to didactic lecturing, but viewers will certainly be reminded of the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." (124 min.)

—Glen

DUMBO

click to enlarge EXPLOITED? Dumbo, a flying baby elephant, becomes a circus star, but it comes at a price, in Walt Disney's live action family fantasy, Dumbo. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • EXPLOITED? Dumbo, a flying baby elephant, becomes a circus star, but it comes at a price, in Walt Disney's live action family fantasy, Dumbo.

What's it rated? PG

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

New

Tim Burton (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands) directs this family fantasy about a flying circus elephant. The film is based on Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl's children's book and written for the screen by Ehren Kruger (who wrote three of the Transformers films).

The story centers on a struggling circus led by Max Medici (Danny DeVito), who hires former circus star but now wounded war veteran Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) to take care of Dumbo, a small elephant with giant ears that make it a laughingstock.

Holt's children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins), discover little Dumbo can fly, and soon ruthless entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) swoops in to make Dumbo a star with the help of French trapeze arts Colette Marchant (Eva Green). (112 min.)

—Glen

FIVE FEET APART

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

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

Justin Baldoni directs this romantic drama about two teenagers—Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse)—who both suffer from cystic fibrosis and fall in love in the hospital. Because of weakened immune systems and the danger of spreading germs, the title refers to a "6-foot rule" to avoid cross-infection.

Teens may enjoy this YA romance, but between the sick-teens-in-love clichés and mawkish tone, it does nothing to raise the subgenre. Richardson deserves praise for gamely selling this melodramatic pabulum, but most viewers will leave the theater with a shrug and a "meh." (116 min.)

—Glen

GLORIA BELL

click to enlarge UNEXPECTED ROMANCE A free-spirited divorcee (Julianne Moore) relearns the complications of dating, in the romantic drama, Gloria Bell. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo Courtesy Of A24
  • UNEXPECTED ROMANCE A free-spirited divorcee (Julianne Moore) relearns the complications of dating, in the romantic drama, Gloria Bell.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Co-writer/director Sebastián Lelio (Disobedience, A Fantastic Woman) helms this dramedy-romance about 50-something free spirit Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore), who's looking for love in LA nightclubs.

Divorcée Gloria's days are filled at a straight-lace, boring office, but at night, she's out on the dance floor. One night she meets Arnold (John Turturro) and romance blooms, but the unexpected affair also complicates both of their lives, which are entangled with children and ex-spouses. It's an engaging slice of life.

The film is an English language remake of the director's own 2013 Chilean-Spanish film Gloria, starring Paulina García. While this new version follows the original almost scene-by-scene, it's new and wonderful thanks to an irresistible and amazing performance by Moore, who's incredible in the role. Her performance alone makes the film worth watching. (102 min.)

—Glen

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

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.

This closer to this trilogy hits the mark perfectly, continuing the series' visual delights and bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion. Sure, you can find a few nits to pick, but if you and your family liked the first two, this one's sure to please. (104 min.)

—Glen

THE KARATE KID

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre on Sunday, March 31 at 1 p.m. and Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m.

click to enlarge WAX ON, WAX OFF A martial arts master (Pat Morita) agrees to train his 15-year-old neighbor (Ralph Macchio), in The Karate Kid, which screens in celebration of its 35th anniversary at Downtown Centre on March 31 and April 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • WAX ON, WAX OFF A martial arts master (Pat Morita) agrees to train his 15-year-old neighbor (Ralph Macchio), in The Karate Kid, which screens in celebration of its 35th anniversary at Downtown Centre on March 31 and April 2.

Pick

Martial arts master Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) agrees to teach his 15-year-old neighbor, Daniel (Ralph Macchio), self-defense tactics to use against the school bullies who have been terrorizing him. John G. Avildsen (Rocky) directed this classic underdog tale, which screens in celebration of its 35th anniversary. (126 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

A MADEA FAMILY FUNERAL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Nothing

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Writer-director and star Tyler Perry returns with another Madea film. This time around, Madea and her crew travel to rural Georgia where family secrets come to the surface as they plan an unexpected funeral.

Consider this dead horse well beaten. This is Perry's 11th in his cross-dressing saga about a wise but caustic matriarch and her hapless relatives who Madea has to berate into compliance. Predictable, contrived, and with nothing new left to say, A Madea Family Funeral is hopefully the series' final nail in its coffin. (102 min.)

—Glen

NO MANCHES FRIDA 2

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Park

Nacho G. Velilla directs this Spanish-language sequel about ex-con Zequi (Omar Chaparro), whose wedding day jitters threaten his upcoming marriage to Lucy (Martha Higareda).

If you need a little inconsequential lightweight fun, and you don't mind groan-inducing humor, this may do the trick. (102 min.)

—Glen

US

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

See Split Screen.

UNPLANNED

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge CONTROVERSIAL MEMOIR A former Planned Parenthood clinic director (Ashley Bratcher) becomes an anti-abortion activist, in Unplanned. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PUREFLIX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pureflix
  • CONTROVERSIAL MEMOIR A former Planned Parenthood clinic director (Ashley Bratcher) becomes an anti-abortion activist, in Unplanned.

Co-directors Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon steer this drama based on the memoir of the same name. A life-changing experience turns Abby Johnson (Ashley Bratcher), the youngest clinic director in the history of Planned Parenthood, into an anti-abortion activist. (110 min.)

—Caleb

WOMAN AT WAR

What's it rated? NR

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge WAR SONG An environmental activist (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) battles the Icelandic aluminum industry, in Woman at War. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Magnolia Pictures
  • WAR SONG An environmental activist (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) battles the Icelandic aluminum industry, in Woman at War.

Benedikt Erlingsson directs, co-writes, and co-produces this comedic thriller about an environmental activist (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) crusading against the Icelandic aluminum industry. But her life changes when her long-forgotten application to adopt an orphan child from Ukraine finally gets approved. (in Icelandic, English, Ukrainian, and Spanish; 101 min.)

—Caleb

WONDER PARK

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

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

In this animated family adventure, a 10-year-old girl named June (voiced by Sofia Mali as young June and Brianna Denski as older June) used her imagination to create a magnificent amusement park with her mother (voiced by Jennifer Garner). After her mother dies, and as she grows older, she loses her wildly imaginative creativity, until one day at math camp she stumbles upon the manifestation of her childhood fantasy. June learns that she must team up with the park's talking animals to save it from the chimpanzombies seeking to destroy it.

Colorful and distracting, Wonder Park will capture your kindergarten's attention for its run time, but you'll be checking your watch and wondering why they couldn't afford writers to craft an actual story. (85 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

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