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Film Listings, 3/5/20 – 3/12/20 

All theater listings are as of Friday, March 6.

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

Pick

Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) team up one more time in this third installment of the popular Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action spectacle, this time co-directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilail Fallah (Black, Gangsta). Confronting career changes and midlife crises, the two old partners join Miami PD's elite AMMO team to take down cartel kingpin Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio). (123 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10

Pick

click to enlarge BAD GIRL Antihero Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) protects a little girl on the lam and teams up with three other strong women to defeat the bad guys. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF DC ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photos Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
  • BAD GIRL Antihero Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) protects a little girl on the lam and teams up with three other strong women to defeat the bad guys.

Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) directs this comic book action-packed crime adventure featuring Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), who joins forces with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save Cass (Ella Jay Basco) from Gotham's arch villain Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and his henchman Zsasz (Chris Messina). (109 min.)

—Glen

BRAHMS: THE BOY II

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Nothing

Where's it showing? Park

In this sequel to The Boy (2016), a little boy named Jude (Christopher Convery) moves with his family to a guesthouse on the Heelshire Mansion grounds, where he makes friends with a lifelike doll he calls Brahms. (86 min.)

—Kasey Bubnash

THE CALL OF THE WILD

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon, The Croods) directs screenwriter Michael Green's adaptation of Jack London's classic novel about Buck, a St. Bernard and Scotch shepherd mix that's stolen and sent north to Canada's Klondike during the gold rush, where he's forced to become a sled dog. After many adventures and terrible masters, Buck eventually teams up with John Thornton (Harrison Ford), to whom he develops a fierce loyalty.

I loved this book as a kid. Buck's adventure is grand and teaches important lessons of fairness and bravery but also about the cold reality of the natural world, dog pack (and human) pecking order, and the ethical treatment of animals. It's all here in this new attempt to bring London's 1903 dog's-eye-view novel to life in film, first attempted in the 1923 silent film of the same name, and attempted again in 1935, 1972, 1976, 1996, and 2009.

If you can get past the jarring CGI of this new version, with its oddly anthropomorphized dog facial expressions and less-than-realistic looking animals, the core of what makes the story compelling is still there.

click to enlarge LOYALTY Jack London's story of Buck and his companion John Thornton (Harrison Ford) comes to the big screen, in The Call of the Wild. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
  • Photo Courtesy Of Twentieth Century Fox
  • LOYALTY Jack London's story of Buck and his companion John Thornton (Harrison Ford) comes to the big screen, in The Call of the Wild.

This is a story and film squarely aimed at the 8- to 12-year-old crowd, who I'm guessing won't be bothered by the CGI or anthropomorphization in the least. They'll love Buck's humanlike personality writ across his lovable face, not to mention his clumsy shenanigans. He's a dog with a mind of his own.

If you're not familiar with the story, some—but not all—of the book's elements are here: his dognapping, harsh treatment, series of masters, and eventual relationship with Thornton, who in the film version is a man hiding in the Klondike from of the tragic memory of his son's death and resulting failed marriage. The character of Hal (Dan Stevens), a greenhorn prospector who badly mistreats Buck and his other sled dogs, gets expanded into a revenge side plot.

The book is still superior to any of the film versions I've seen, including this one, but it's a very engrossing family film with an effective performance from Ford. Witnessing how Buck's various owners treat him is the story's most important lesson. Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford) is disappointed by Buck's unruly behavior but never resorts to punishment worse than making Buck sleep outside. When he's taken north to be sold into servitude, he's taught to obey with the end of a club.

Thankfully, mail carrier Perrault buys him and decides to give Buck a chance at learning to pull a sled, despite his partner Françoise's (Cara Gee) lack of faith in the lumbering dog. When Buck gets distracted by a rabbit and pulls the team off the trail and down a slope, Perrault exhibits patience and trust. Buck turns out to be worth the trouble and soon earns Françoise's trust and respect as well.

How Hal ends up with the team doesn't quite line up with the book version, but Thornton's intervention on Buck's behalf leads Buck to become his dog. Unlike Buck's previous "masters," Thornton isn't interested in having the dog do his bidding. Buck can come and go; Thornton just tells him to be home by dark.

The book's title comes from Buck's increasing interaction with a local timber wolf pack, and how he's called back to his ancestral behaviors, but not before proving himself a faithful companion to Thornton.

As I noted, the film strays a bit from the book's storyline and compresses a lot of the book's action to fit the 100-minute runtime, but this is still a wonderful family film and absolutely worth a trip to the theater, especially if you're a dog lover—even when they're constructed solely of ones and zeroes. (100 min.)

—Glen

EMMA

What's it rated? PG

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

New

click to enlarge HUBRIS Emma Woodhouse, a selfish but well-meaning 20-year-old, spends her days trying to facilitate romantic matches, in Emma, the seventh film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1816 novel. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PERFECT WORLD PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Perfect World Pictures
  • HUBRIS Emma Woodhouse, a selfish but well-meaning 20-year-old, spends her days trying to facilitate romantic matches, in Emma, the seventh film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1816 novel.

Jane Austen's comedic romantic novel, Emma, gets adapted to the big screen for the seventh time with Autumn de Wilde directing Eleanor Catton's adaptation. It's 19th century England, and well-meaning but selfish 20-year-old Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy), a self-styled matchmaker, goes about her days meddling in the affairs of those around her. (124 min.)

—Glen

GREED

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

New

click to enlarge IT'S GOOD TO BE RICH Steve Coogan stars as super rich Sir Richard McCreadle, in auteur Michael Winterbottom's new satire Greed. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FILM4
  • Photo Courtesy Of Film4
  • IT'S GOOD TO BE RICH Steve Coogan stars as super rich Sir Richard McCreadle, in auteur Michael Winterbottom's new satire Greed.

Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, 24 Hour Party People, The Trip) helms this satire about the world of the super rich, starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, Shirley Henderson, and Asa Butterfield. (104 min.)

—Glen

HAI TANG HONG

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Wen Yi directs this 1955 Chinese film about the oppression and bullying of opera artists. (136 min.)

—Glen

IMPRACTICAL JOKERS: THE MOVIE

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Chris Henchy directs this comedy about a 1992 humiliating mishap and three of the four people involved as they attempt redemption competing in the hidden-camera challenges. (92 min.)

—Glen

THE INVISIBLE MAN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

See Split Screen.

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Park

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 Wiseblood

THE LODGE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

click to enlarge TWISTED Trapped in a snowed-in lodge, two children—Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh)—torment their father's new girlfriend, but their game twists out of their control, in The Lodge. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HAMMER FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Hammer Films
  • TWISTED Trapped in a snowed-in lodge, two children—Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh)—torment their father's new girlfriend, but their game twists out of their control, in The Lodge.

Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz (Goodnight Mommy) co-direct this horror thriller about Grace (Riley Keough), a woman snowed in at a remote lodge with her fiancé's two children—Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh). As the at-first-uncomfortable trio finally begin to connect, weird stuff threatens to conjure psychological demons from Grace's religious upbringing.

The filmmakers are throwing a lot of been-there-done-that ideas on the wall. There are the interior house miniatures of Hereditary (2018) and their accompanying feelings of being trapped in a box and being toyed with; some found footage—à la The Blair Witch Project (1999) or Paranormal Activity (2007)—from Grace's time in a cult; there's the snowy, isolated location of The Shining (1980); and there's Grace herself, a fragile woman who's been through a lot: She's the only survivor of a 39-person mass suicide of the cult her father led.

The set-up to Grace and the kids' time in the titular lodge is that the kids' father, Richard (Richard Armitage), is an investigative writer who met Grace when he was writing a book about said cult. He fell in love with her and left his wife, Laura (Alicia Silverstone), much to the anger of his children. I don't want to spoil the plot for you, but Aidan and Mia blame Grace for breaking up their parents' marriage and the subsequent fallout of the dissolution of their relationship.

Richard wants his kids to get to know Grace, so he leaves the three of them alone at the family's lakeside cabin and heads back to the city for work. Great plan, right?!? Not long after he's gone, things get weird. It doesn't help that Laura was a devout Catholic and had filled the cabin with religious iconography, which triggers Grace and reminds her of the dogmatic teachings of her father's cult.

Thanks to a serious snowstorm, soon the trio is cut off from civilization, and when the generator stops working, the water stops running, and their food, clothing, and most importantly Grace's medication go missing, they begin to suspect something occult is at work. Are they even alive, or is this purgatory?

Despite the many derivative elements, the film works effectively as a psychological thriller. Atmospheric music and sound effects, the aforementioned miniature interiors, the drab and desolate wintery location—it all combines into a moody thriller with a disturbing twist awaiting viewers. If you like mysteries, it's a fun one, and Riley Keough turns in a nuanced and committed performance.

It's not quite as good as Hereditary or last year's two standouts, Midsommar and Us, but it sure beats most of the films passing themselves off as horror these days. (108 min.)

—Glen

MY HERO ACADEMIA: HEROES RISING

What's it rated? Not rated

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

A group of kids aspires to become superheroes in this animated adventure directed by Kenji Nagasaki. All the elements you love from the series are here, and the animation and action are both incredible! (104 min.)

—Glen

1917

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

Co-writer and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead, Spectre) helms this World War I epic about two young British soldiers—Lance Cpl. Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Cpl. Schofield (George MacKay)—who are tasked with the impossibly dangerous mission of crossing German lines to warn the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment that their planned impending attack against the Germans will be charging into a deadly ambush, and to make the perilous mission even more urgent, Blake's brother is among the 1,600 endangered soldiers in the regiment. (119 min.)

—Glen

ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

click to enlarge POMPOUS CIRCUMSTANCE In the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band, Robertson celebrates himself, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IMAGINE DOCUMENTARIES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Imagine Documentaries
  • POMPOUS CIRCUMSTANCE In the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band, Robertson celebrates himself, screening exclusively at The Palm.

Daniel Roher directs this warm and nostalgic take on the creation and music of The Band, told from lead guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson's perspective.

As a young woman in a world filled with men and a journalist in a world filled with public relations reps trying to get in the paper, I know how to spot an unwarranted male ego when I see one. When I watched Robbie Robertson's interviews in Once Were Brothers, my "this-guy-is-an-egotistical-and-manipulative-nightmare" alarm bells rang out of control.

But as biased and strangely Robertson-centered as it was, I still really enjoyed the film.

Told from Robertson's perspective, Once Were Brothers focuses on the guitarist's clear-cut path to Americana stardom, starting with his early childhood visits to the highly musical tribal reservation in Canada where many of the relatives on his mother's side lived.

As a young tween, Robertson became obsessed with the gritty soulful blues and rock 'n' roll music of the '50s and decided unwaveringly that he wanted to spend his life as part of a band. He bought a guitar and started writing music. After opening a show for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, a legendary Arkansas-based rockabilly group, Robertson started shadowing the band. At just age 15, he wrote two songs that were included on a Hawks album, and then joined on as a guitarist soon after.

It's fun to learn about Robertson's lifelong passion for music (according to him). I guess that part isn't entirely according to him. Ronnie Hawkins appears in a hilarious but meaningful interview, where he applauds Robertson's work ethic and unprecedented musical style.

A hillbilly at heart, Hawkins steals the show with a few great quotes, including one about getting "more pussy than Frank Sinatra" and snorting cocaine cut with so much flour and baking soda that he felt he'd be "blowing biscuits" out of his nose after.

But when the film gets down to The Band itself and what led to the group's greatness and eventually its demise, the conflicts between bandmates are twisted and skimmed to fit Robertson's high view of himself.

Despite the film's focus on the idyllic space The Band recorded its albums in and the close connections bandmates cultivated with each other that allowed for ultimate musical collaboration, The Band in reality ended in turmoil and strife.

Drugs and alcohol were abundant among The Band's members, and while Robertson was getting married and having children, the other members were getting high and getting drunk. According to Robertson, alcoholism and heroin addictions consumed every member of The Band but Robertson and keyboardist Garth Hudson, who also just happens to be the only other surviving member. But he wasn't interviewed in this film.

Although the film did address the infamous feud between Robertson and drummer Levon Helm, who felt he wasn't given adequate writing credits on The Band's later albums, Robertson dismissed Helm's decades-old grudge as druggie paranoia. Though the film noted Helm's death in 2012, it didn't mention his battle with throat cancer that left him unable to sing or pianist Richard Manuel's suicide in 1986.

With bassist Rick Danko also long gone, the whole thing sort of felt like Robbie Robertson propaganda. (100 min.)

—Kasey

ONWARD

What's it rated? PG

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

New

click to enlarge BROS Teenage elf brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) go on a quest to discover if magic still exists in the hopes of spending one day with their father, who died before they were old enough to remember him, in Onward. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIO
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pixar Animation Studio
  • BROS Teenage elf brothers Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) go on a quest to discover if magic still exists in the hopes of spending one day with their father, who died before they were old enough to remember him, in Onward.

Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) directs this animated adventure comedy about two teenage elf brothers—Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt)—who go on a quest to discover if magic still exists in the hopes of spending one day with their father, who died before they were old enough to remember him. (102 min.)

—Glen

PARASITE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

In this four-Oscar winner, 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. (132 min.)

—Kasey

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Tomboy) directs Noémie Merlant as Marianne, an artist who is secretly hired to paint a woman's portrait that will be sent off to her suitor in Milan. With each longing glance meant to keep Héloïse's (Adèle Haenel) face in her memory to paint on a canvas later, Marianne finds love in a hopeless place. (122 min.)

—Karen Garcia

SEBERG

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Ends Thursday, March 3: Galaxy, The Palm

click to enlarge LAST CHANCE The life and death of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) and her involvement with the Black Panther Party is explored, in Seberg, leaving theater on March 3. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PHREAKER FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Phreaker Films
  • LAST CHANCE The life and death of French New Wave icon Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) and her involvement with the Black Panther Party is explored, in Seberg, leaving theater on March 3.

Benedict Andrews (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Una) directs Kristen Stewart as Jean Seberg in a film inspired by true events, which details the actress's ultimate mental collapse after the FBI underhandedly threatens her for her involvement with the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

While the story is an important one to tell, it's severely flawed, and Stewart's portrayal lacks any real substance—which everyone already knew was going to happen because she's a deadpan actress.

Seberg was a French-adopted American actress who gained her international fame by starring in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film Breathless. In the hopes of making it big in Hollywood, Jean leaves her husband and child in France and travels to Los Angeles for an audition.

On the airplane, she meets Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), a civil rights activist, and decides to take a stand. With her fist raised high, she poses with Black Panther members for photos.

Soon thereafter she decides to donate to the Black Panther education initiatives for the first time—which is historically false because the actress had contributed to the civil rights movement since she was a teenager—and begins an affair with Jamal. The affair and her involvement with the movement was enough reason for the FBI to start aggressively watching her every move.

Part of the crew tapping into her phone calls and putting the tiniest microphones on obscure items in her home is Jack Solomon (Jack O'Connell), a new FBI recruit who specializes in sound technology. Solomon is at first completely on board with the surveillance, calling Jean a sympathizer for the Panthers, but soon he becomes appalled by the organization's aggressive tactics to silence Jean.

The lies created by the organization and fed to gossip magazines, and the recordings of her personal life played back to Jean over the phone, lead to her paranoia and attempted suicide.

Seberg is part of a new wave of biopics and films loosely based on real moments in time, such as Judy and My Week with Marilyn, that seem to solely focus on external factors that broke down these talented individuals.

Andrews does things a little differently with Seberg by bringing in FBI agent Solomon, a fictional character, who starts to have remorse for mercilessly tapping into Jean's life. I'm a little confused as to why we needed this fictitious character who was assisting in ruining a character's life—a character based on a real person.

Why leave room for any kind of sympathy for a man in the FBI's COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program) that conducted illegal projects of surveillance and the discrediting of others. How was his remorse in any way equivalent to Jean's mental breakdown?

There are plenty of throwaway characters in the film like Solomon and Jamal's wives whose only purpose in the film is to be jealous of their husband's fixation on Jean. Not to mention a scene where Solomon's partner Carl (Vince Vaughn) asserts his macho dominance on his wife and daughter after they don't do exactly what he says when he says it. (103 min.)

—Karen

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Jeff Fowler directs this action adventure based on the Sega video game franchise about a super fast blue hedgehog from outer space. Settling into his life on Earth, our titular character (voiced by Ben Schwartz) must evade an evil genius, Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik (Jim Carrey), a government-hired baddie who wants to experiment on Sonic and steal his powers. (99 min.)

—Caleb

THE WAY BACK

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge REDEMPTION An alcoholic former high school basketball star (Ben Affleck) is offered a coaching job at his alma mater, but he must overcome his personal demons in order to succeed, in The Way Back. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros. Pictures
  • REDEMPTION An alcoholic former high school basketball star (Ben Affleck) is offered a coaching job at his alma mater, but he must overcome his personal demons in order to succeed, in The Way Back.

Gavin O'Connor (Warrior, The Accountant) directs this sports drama written with Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace, Run All Night) about an alcoholic former high school basketball star (Ben Affleck) who's offered a coaching job at his alma mater. Can he confront his old demons, redeem himself, and lead his squad to victory? (108 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

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