Pin It
Favorite

Film Listings, 5/16/19 – 5/23/19 

Editor's note: Listings for Rodkey Theaters—Fair Oaks of Arroyo Grande (805) 489-2364 and Sunset Drive-In of SLO (805) 544-4475—were not available at press time.

ARETHA FRANKLIN: AMAZING GRACE

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack co-direct this documentary about soul singer Aretha Franklin with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in January of 1972.

There are a lot of amazing elements to this documentary. The fact that Sydney Pollack (This Property Is Condemned, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Jeremiah Johnson, Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Firm) directed the 1972 filming and is now given co-direction credit 11 years after his death is pretty amazing. The fact that this footage languished for 47 years before seeing the light of day is pretty amazing. I should also mention it's a pretty rough edit, and there are a lot of moments where the camera operators struggle to get into focus.

None of that matters because the most amazing element of all is Aretha's voice. She was 29 years old, and she'd had a string of popular R&B hits such as "I Say a Little Prayer," "A Natural Woman," "Respect," Chain of Fools," "Think," "Do Right Woman—Do Right Man," and many more, but she decided to return to her gospel roots in performances filmed over two days. The concerts' live recordings yielded Amazing Grace, the best selling gospel album of all time.

Watching her work with Rev. James Cleveland, a great gospel singer in his own right, the incredible music director Alexander Hamilton, the Southern California Community Choir, and members of her own band is mind-blowing. The concerts had an improvised, organic feel to them, similar to the call and response gospel sounds of black churches all over America. The difference is Aretha's supple, nuanced, thrilling voice. It doesn't matter if you're religious or not, watching this film will fill you with the spirit.

The close-ups on Aretha's perspiring face, her eyes closed in solemn prayer, a serene Buddha-like glow of the divine all around her—you know you're witnessing a kind of magic, a kind of mass hysteria, a kind of miracle. It's also fun when the camera catches The Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger in the back of the room on the second night. Obviously word got out after the first night, and Jagger had to see for himself.

Everyone in that room hung on every note.

I watched the film the day before Easter, and it's all the church I need. Simply amazing! (89 min.)

—Glen Starkey

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

click to enlarge RESTORATION TIME Thanos has turned half the population of the universe to dust, but the remaining Avengers re-team to restore the balance, in Avengers: Endgame. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel Studios
  • RESTORATION TIME Thanos has turned half the population of the universe to dust, but the remaining Avengers re-team to restore the balance, in Avengers: Endgame.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) co-direct this follow-up to their 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War, which resulted in Thanos turning half the universe's population into dust. The remaining Avengers reassemble and work to undo Thanos' destructive act and restore the universe. It's the eleventh film in the connected Marvel Universe series.

This direct sequel to the events of Infinity War opens with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), aka Hawkeye, enjoying a picnic with his family on their rural property. He helps his daughter with her archery skills, and as he turns back from responding to his wife's call of lunchtime, the girl is gone ... vanished. When he turns back to his wife and sons, they too have disappeared. It's an emotionally resonant reminder of the stunning loss the survivors of Thanos' act experienced.

This scene is followed by other scenes introducing the various main characters and reminding viewers of their loss. This turns out to be both the film's strength and weakness. It's got a surprising emotional heft for a superhero flick, but it's also overlong and repetitive as we explore in detail the dozens of characters, their relationships and connections, their losses and reaction to those losses, and their eventual reunification and renewed fight to reverse what Thanos wrought.

As I wrote in my review of Infinity War, Thanos' act felt like a stunt. Too many of the characters who disappeared had already scheduled films and sequels coming up. It didn't feel final, and of course it wasn't because ... wait for it ... time travel! If that's a spoiler to you, you're obviously not a fan of the Marvel Universe because those who are know that Thanos' destructive act cannot stand.

Lucky for everybody, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aka Iron Man, is wicked smart and figures out how to go back in time. The film unfolds as Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America; Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), aka The Hulk; Thor (Chris Hemsworth); Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow; Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper); and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), aka Ant Man, all team up to get the Infinity Stones before Thanos has time to wipe out half the universe with them.

Even though I think the filmmakers could have cut 30 minutes and had a better film, this is still kickass!

Historically, the comic book realm has always been a boys' world. In the past, even the female superheroes seemed more designed to appeal to boys rather than girls—have you noticed, for instance, that most female superheroes dress like a PG-13-rated pole dancer or dominatrix? However, both Marvel and DC seem to be trying to evolve, not just on gender issues but other social issues. For instance, when Steve Rogers attends a survivors' group therapy session, one of the male members casually mentions his gay relationship and nothing's made of it. It's accepted as normal. During the pitched final battle, it's a group of female superheroes who convene to take a stand while their male co-parts wage individual battles. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), aka Captain Marvel, is the desperately needed tiebreaker in the final fight to the death. These moments are signs that the times they are a-changin', and it's a welcome change.

That said, don't leave reading this review with the idea that everything's going to turn out perfectly for our heroes. The film has the good sense to make at least some of its stakes real, so prepare yourself for some losses. Also keep in mind, prequels are a thing, so I have no doubt that if your favorite hero meets her (or his) final demise, Marvel will find a way toward resurrection. This film is proof positive that anything, even time travel, is possible. Taking in consideration the spectacle on screen, this film is worth paying full price! (181 min.)

—Glen

BREAKTHROUGH

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

Roxann Dawson directs this biographical drama about Guatemalan teenager John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), who in early 2015, while playing with friends, fell through the ice on Lake St. Louis, drowned, and was rescued by first responder Tommy Shine (Mike Colter), and CPR was performed for 27 minutes. On the brink of death and in a coma, John's religiously devout parents, Joyce (Chrissy Metz) and Brian (Josh Lucas), along with local pastor Jason Noble (Topher Grace), pray for the boy's recovery.

Essentially a sermon, the film will absolutely thrill the faithful, but unlike a lot of faith-based films, it also features a compelling true story and terrific performances that even non-Christians can enjoy. (116 min.)

—Glen

A DOG'S JOURNEY

click to enlarge PROMISE On his deathbed, Bailey (left, voiced by Josh Gad) promises his "boy" Ethan (Dennis Quaid) to return to care for Ethan's granddaughter, in A Dog's Journey. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Dreamworks
  • PROMISE On his deathbed, Bailey (left, voiced by Josh Gad) promises his "boy" Ethan (Dennis Quaid) to return to care for Ethan's granddaughter, in A Dog's Journey.

What's it rated? PG

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

NewGail Mancuso directs W. Bruce Cameron's adventure dramedy about a dog (voiced by Josh Gad) who finds his life's meaning through the humans he meets, such as Ethan (Dennis Quaid), CJ (Kathryn Prescott), and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). (108 min.)

—Glen

THE HUSTLE

click to enlarge DESPERATELY UNFUNNY Mismatched female scam artists—low-rent Lonnie (Rebel Wilson, left) and classy Josephine (Anne Hathaway)—star in The Hustle, a lackluster remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. - PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • DESPERATELY UNFUNNY Mismatched female scam artists—low-rent Lonnie (Rebel Wilson, left) and classy Josephine (Anne Hathaway)—star in The Hustle, a lackluster remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

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

Chris Addison (Veep) directs this comedy about two mismatched female scam artists—classy Josephine (Anne Hathaway) and low-rent Lonnie (Rebel Wilson)—who team up to take down the men who wronged them.

Sadly, there's nothing much to like here. The two talented leads are wasted, and the "feminist" twist of this gender-swapped loose remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels goes nowhere. (94 min.)

—Glen

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3—PARABELLUM

click to enlarge DETERMINED Assassin John Wick finds himself on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head, in John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Summit Entertainment
  • DETERMINED Assassin John Wick finds himself on the run with a $14 million bounty on his head, in John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2) and picking up mere hours after the second installment, this third in the series follows Wick's (Keanu Reeves) attempt to escape after a $14 million bounty is placed on his head for breaking an international assassins' guild rule. Now every hit man and woman is after him. About the only killer on his side is Sofia (Halle Berry). (130 min.)

—Glen

LONG SHOT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, Warm Bodies, The Wackness) directs this rom-com about stubborn, downtrodden journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), who reunites with his first crush, beautiful, ambitious, but lonely presidential hopeful, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). Full of good laughs throughout, with fun chemistry between our unlikely pairing of Rogen and Theron, Long Shot is definitely worth a watch but doesn't rise to any levels of elite comedy or filmmaking.

Flarsky has just quit his job as a muckraker for a Brooklyn news outfit out of moral principle, after a media conglomerate buys it out. In his better-off buddy Lance's (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) attempt to cheer him up at a schmoozy concert, Fred runs into Charlotte, who's the U.S. secretary of state, a 2020 presidential hopeful, and, of course, Fred's babysitter when he was little. Charlotte, both elegant and "presidential" but at heart laid back and unpretentious, recognizes Fred and the two meet.

As Charlotte plans her run for president, she decides, against everyone's better advice, to hire the brash and unemployed Fred as a speechwriter. A romantic rollercoaster ride ensues as Secretary Field takes off with Fred and the team on an international tour to gain support for her ambitious global climate legislation.

Levin tries to walk a fine line of mixing silly comedy with political story and so often veers into the land of the absurd. At one point, Theron is literally high on ecstasy while she tries to resolve a sudden international hostage crisis. To Long Shot's credit, Rogen and Theron convince us with good writing and chemistry that they're right for each other, to the dismay of her key campaign staffer, Maggie (a funny June Diane Raphael), who tries (and usually fails) to keep Charlotte focused on her presidential bid.

Can Charlotte and Fred make it against all odds? That's the tension throughout the film and what keeps us in our seats. What nearly got me out of mine was Theron's character, whose political ambitions I found pretty unconvincing. Still, if you just go for the laughs and to see how the hell Rogen could pair with Theron, Long Shot will thoroughly entertain. Underlying the action are timely themes of sexism, media degradation, and whether authenticity can win in politics. (125 min.)

—Peter Johnson

THE MUSTANG

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Co-writer/director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre helms this drama about violent convict Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts), who's given a shot at rehabilitation via a therapy program involving wild mustangs.

Twelve years ago, Roman left his domestic partner brain damaged in an attack. He's well aware of his shortcomings and doesn't believe he's fit for reintegration into society, but that changes when he's placed in a rehabilitation program run by Myles (Bruce Dern), a rancher who assigns prisoners a specific wild mustang to train.

Predictably, things don't go well initially, but soon, another inmate with a way with horses, Henry (Jason Mitchell ), helps Roman, who learns as much from his horse as the horse learns from him.

There are some unexpected twists in turns in this well-worn redemption genre, and terrific performances by Schoenaerts and Dern breathe fresh life into it. It also features an ending you won't see coming and won't soon forget. (96 min.)

—Glen

A NIGHT OF PATAGONIA FILMS

click to enlarge ADVENTURE Fishpeople is one of four Patagonia outdoor adventure films being screened at the Fremont Theater on May 18. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PATAGONIA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Patagonia
  • ADVENTURE Fishpeople is one of four Patagonia outdoor adventure films being screened at the Fremont Theater on May 18.

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it showing? Saturday, May 18, in the Fremont Theater, 8 p.m.

New

SLO Motion Film and the Fremont Theater present four Patagonia films about mountain biking (Life of Pie, 12 min.), skiing (Treeline, 40 min.), running (The Wolfpack, 13 min.), and surfing (Fishpeople, 48 min.). The special event will also include a Q-and-A with a special guest. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets ($21 general and $19 for students and seniors) are available at Boo Boo Records and at fremontslo.com.

—Glen

PENGUINS

What's it rated? G

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Bay

Pick

Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson co-direct this documentary about Steve, an Adélie penguin on a quest to find a mate and start a family. Ed Helms narrates.

This beautifully filmed documentary, which required 16 cinematographers filming over three years, plays up its subject's inherent charm. The story of Steve's struggle to mate is relentlessly endearing, and Ed Helms' wonderful narration makes the film shine even brighter. Kids will love it and so will you! (76 min.)

—Glen

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU

What's it rated? PG

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

See Split Screen.

POMS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

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

Zara Hayes (The Legend of Billy Jean: Battle of the Sexes) directs this comedy starring Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, and Rhea Perlman as a quartet of women who start a cheerleading squad at their retirement community. Despite its likeable leads, Poms is clichéd, predictable, and preposterous—think Golden Girls meets Bring it On, but terrible. (91 min.)

—Glen

RED JOAN

click to enlarge TRAITOR Loosely based on a true story, Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is a former British civil servant who's discovered, at age 80, to have passed secrets to the Russians in her youth, in Red Joan, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRADEMARK FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Trademark Films
  • TRAITOR Loosely based on a true story, Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is a former British civil servant who's discovered, at age 80, to have passed secrets to the Russians in her youth, in Red Joan, screening exclusively at The Palm Theatre.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Trevor Nunn directs Lindsay Shapero's screenplay loosely based on the real-life case of British civil servant Melita Norwood, who passed classified info about the British atomic program to the Russians in the 1940s and '50s. She wasn't discovered until 1992 as an 80-year-old. In this story, Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) is the stand-in for Norwood, who's exposed as the KGB's longest serving British spy.

This fascinating slice of history is a bit slow and plodding, but Dench is typically watchable in the short time she's on screen. Much of the story is flashback to young Joan (Sophie Cookson), who falls under the spell of German Jew Leo (Tom Hughes) and her friend Sonya (Tereza Srbova), who radicalize her politics.

Ultimately, Joan is less enamored by Communism than she is with the fairness of a level playing field between competing ideologies. (101 min.)

—Glen

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

click to enlarge MEET CUTE Pragmatic teenager Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi, right) finds love with hardworking student Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) amid her family's difficulties, in The Sun Is Also A Star. - PHOTO COURTESY OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • MEET CUTE Pragmatic teenager Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi, right) finds love with hardworking student Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) amid her family's difficulties, in The Sun Is Also A Star.

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Park, Stadium

New

Ry Russo-Young (Before I Fall, Nightlife) directs Tracy Oliver's screenplay based on Nicola Yoon's romance novel about a pragmatic teenager named Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi), who finds love with hardworking student Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) amid her family's difficulties. Is it fate? (120 min.)

—Glen

TOLKIEN

click to enlarge BECOMING J.R.R. Nicholas Hoult stars as the fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien in Tolkien, a biographical drama about his formative years, and his relationship with Edith Bratt (Lily Collins). - PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Fox Searchlight Pictures
  • BECOMING J.R.R. Nicholas Hoult stars as the fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien in Tolkien, a biographical drama about his formative years, and his relationship with Edith Bratt (Lily Collins).

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

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

Dome Karukoski (Tom of Finland, Beauty and the Bastard) directs Nicholas Hoult as John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in a biopic that unravels how Tolkien's life experiences lead to the creation of his stories.

The film does a fairly decent job balancing Tolkien's past flashbacks and present without boring the audience with too much information. Unfortunately, it's overly predictable.

We're introduced to a young Tolkien overcome with a fever and exhaustion in the trenches of Somme during World War l. He's a second lieutenant on a mission to find his friend in the midst of all the chaos. In these war scenes, delirium (perhaps?) drives him to see what he believes is fire from a dragon; as the gas and smoke clear, there's the scaly creature. On this self-proclaimed mission, he's followed by a loyal soldier (Craig Roberts) who won't leave his side, no matter the situation they find themselves in. Can you believe that his name is Sam? Coincidence? I think not.

During the gruesome scenes of death and gigantic pools of blood, we get a glimpses of Tolkien's childhood to early adult life before the war. After the unexpected death of his mother, Tolkien and his brother are fostered by a wealthy woman and put into a prestigious boys academy.

Although Tolkien loses his mother, he never loses her knack for telling stories. He continues the tradition by telling his own stories to another orphan living in the woman's foster home, Edith (Lily Collins), who will later become his wife. She encourages him to not only tell stories but to pursue his passion of creating his own language for these narratives—in case you were wondering how he was inspired to come up with the Elvish languages Sindarin and Quenya.

Credit to his language creation should also go to Tolkien's professor at Oxford, but back to his teenage years. At the academy, he makes an unlikely friend with the headmaster's son, Robert (Patrick Gibson), which leads him to make friends with two other boys. His calls this group a brotherhood, but it's much more than that ... it is—wait for it—a fellowship.

It's an interesting look into the man behind the majestic fantasy worlds he has written for so many to enjoy. I think Karukoski and writers David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford do a good job of packing in as much of Tolkien's life as they could in the movie time frame, but the connections made between Middle Earth and what led to it are frankly boring. For someone that was so imaginative, the writers could have been a little more whimsical about it. The greatest part about the film was Hoult's delivery of Tolkien, an orphan with not much but the drive to be a storyteller and preserve the fellowship and love he gained in his life.

While I wouldn't say seeing this film is worth walking to the ends of Mordor over, it's definitely worth seeing if you want a take on your favorite author's life. Márienna. (112 min.)

—Karen Garcia

THE WHITE CROW

click to enlarge GO WEST, YOUNG MAN Oleg Ivenko stars as famed Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, in The White Crow, which chronicles his defection to the West, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BBC FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of BBC Films
  • GO WEST, YOUNG MAN Oleg Ivenko stars as famed Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, in The White Crow, which chronicles his defection to the West, screening exclusively at The Palm.

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus, The Invisible Woman) directs Oleg Ivenko as ballet star Rudolf Nureyev, in this story about his defection from Russia to the West. Based on Julie Cavanagh's book, Rudolf Nureyev: The Life, and adapted for the screen by David Hare (The Hours, The Reader), the film also stars Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin as Nureyev's roommate Yuri Soloviev. (101 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

Tags:

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Trending in the Alternative Press

Search, Find, Enjoy

Submit an event

Trending Now

© 2019 New Times San Luis Obispo
Powered by Foundation