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Film listings, 5/23/19 – 5/30/19 

ALADDIN

What's it rated? PG

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

New

click to enlarge BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR Street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, left) discovers a magic genie (Will Smith) in a lamp, in a new-live action remake of Disney's animated classic, Aladdin. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR Street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, left) discovers a magic genie (Will Smith) in a lamp, in a new-live action remake of Disney's animated classic, Aladdin.

Co-writer and director Guy Richie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) helms this live action remake of Disney's animated 1992 film of the same name. Mena Massoud takes on the title role as a kindhearted street urchin who dreams of winning the heart of Jasmine (Naomi Scott), a princess living a constricted life. Aladdin is ordered by Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) to bring him a magical lamp, but Aladdin soon discovers the lamp, when rubbed, releases a genie (Will Smith), who grants the lamp bearer's wishes. Can Aladdin use the genie to stop Jafar's evil intentions and win the heart of his love? If you saw the original, you already know the answer. (128 min.)

—Glen Starkey

ALL IS TRUE

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Bay, The Palm

New

click to enlarge TO BE Kenneth Branagh (left) directs himself as renowned playwright William Shakespeare in the final days of his life, in All Is True. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TKBC
  • Photo Courtesy Of TKBC
  • TO BE Kenneth Branagh (left) directs himself as renowned playwright William Shakespeare in the final days of his life, in All Is True.

Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Thor, Henry V) directs himself as renowned playwright William Shakespeare in the final days of his life. Penned by screenwriter Ben Elton (Love Never Dies, Three Summers), the film also stars Lolita Chakrabarti as Stratford Landlady Lena, Jack Colgrave Hirst as Tom Quiney, Judi Dench as Anne Hathaway, and Ian McKellen as Henry Wriothesley. (101 min.)

—Glen

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.

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. Simply amazing! (89 min.)

—Glen

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

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 11th film in the connected Marvel Universe series. (181 min.)

—Glen

BOOKSMART

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge PARTY TIME Academic superstars and besties Molly (Beanie Feldstein, left) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) realize they wasted their high school years studying and decide to make up for it with one amazing night, in Booksmart. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Annapurna Pictures
  • PARTY TIME Academic superstars and besties Molly (Beanie Feldstein, left) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) realize they wasted their high school years studying and decide to make up for it with one amazing night, in Booksmart.

In her feature-length directorial debut, actress Olivia Wilde helms this comedy about teenage besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), who on the eve of their high school graduation realize they squandered their chance at fun by concentrating too much on being academic superstars. Can they cram four years of missed shenanigans into one night? (102 min.)

—Glen

BRIGHTBURN

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge ANTI-SUPERMAN An alien child crash lands on Earth, is taken in by Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks), and grows into something evil, in Brightburn. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE H COLLECTIVE
  • Photo Courtesy Of The H Collective
  • ANTI-SUPERMAN An alien child crash lands on Earth, is taken in by Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks), and grows into something evil, in Brightburn.

Think of this as a sinister Superman. David Yarovesky (The Hive) directs this sci-fi horror thriller by screenwriters Brian and Mark Gunn (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) about an alien child (Jackson A. Dunn), who crash lands on Earth, is taken in by a human couple—Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer (David Denman)—and grows up not to be the savior of mankind but its nemesis. (91 min.)

—Glen

A DOG'S JOURNEY

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Gail 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).

Yes, this is sentimental and manipulative as heck, but it's also sweet as can be. It's not going to win any awards or curry much favor with haughty film critics, but for openhearted audiences, this film will fill those hearts with all the feels. (108 min.)

—Glen

THE HUSTLE

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? 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

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

See Split Screen.

LONG SHOT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

Jonathan Levine (The Night Before, Warm Bodies, The Wackness) directs this rom-com about downtrodden journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen), who reunites 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, but it 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

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

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

click to enlarge ADORABLE DETECTIVE Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) searches for his old Pokémon partner after he goes missing, in Pokémon Detective Pikachu. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LEGENDARY ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Legendary Entertainment
  • ADORABLE DETECTIVE Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) searches for his old Pokémon partner after he goes missing, in Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens, Gulliver's Travels) directs this adventure comedy about Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who comes to the aid of 21-year-old Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), whose detective dad, Harry, goes missing. It turns out Pikachu and Harry were former Pokémon partners, and even more amazing, only Tim can understand what Pikachu is saying.

I'm definitely not this film's target audience. I don't know anything about Pokémon. I had to ask my wife if they were the same as Pogs. They're apparently not. Instead, they're some kind of creatures that partner with humans to wage battles, which is apparently bad, which is why Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) creates Ryme City so that Pokémon and humans can live in harmony.

The film does a pretty good job of educating novices like me on the Pokémon basics before launching into its story about the disappearance of Detective Harry Goodman, who was investigating a secret installation that has a captured Mewtwo, a very powerful Pokémon.

Tim and his father's old partner, an amnesiac Pikachu, go in search of clues and also team-up with Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton), a journalism intern looking for her big break, and her Pokémon partner, a Psyduck. Tim's warned against his investigation by Harry's old boss, Hideo Yoshida (Ken Watanabe), but that doesn't stop Tim from tracking down vials of purple gas called "R," which turn Pokémon violent when inhaled, as well as an underground Pokémon fight ring in Ryme City. Then there's Clifford's son, Roger (Chris Geere), who may not share his father's altruism when it comes to Pokémon.

It's a lot to process, but that didn't stop me from rolling my eyes, fighting off a nap, and hanging onto the only shred of interest in the film, which was Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking Pikachu. I'm sure this film was everything its target audience hoped for, but I was bored stiff.

A switcheroo or two on who the real bad guy was kept me guessing, but my problem was I didn't really care. The whole underlying premise of exploiting Pokémon simply didn't excite me because I didn't really find much redeeming in the Pokémon. From Lucy's Psyduck to Lt. Yoshida's purple bulldog-looking Pokémon, whatever it was called, they seem like jerks.

And what's up with Mewtwo? Whose side is he (or she?) on and why? And why do they keep focusing on its crotch and where are its genitals? Maybe if I had more backstory I'd get it, but it all seemed surreal and unnecessarily weird.

And the end is especially unfulfilling and all too easy. There were no real stakes involved. Do you think Tim finds his dad, Harry? Will their estrangement end? Will Lucy get her big break? Will the real bad guy get caught? Of course everything will work out, which is boring!

I was impressed with the seamless special effects and the Ryme City set, so it was visually arresting, but that's not enough for me. There were a lot of kids in our screening and they seemed happy with the film, but I couldn't wait for it to end. If someone decides to make a film about Pogs, I'll have the good sense to skip it! (104 min.)

—Glen

RED JOAN

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 1950s. 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 a flashback to young Joan (Sophie Cookson), who falls under the spell of German Jew Leo (Tom Hughes) and her friend, Sonya (Tereza Srbova), who radicalizes 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

ROCKETMAN

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Sneak peak on May 30 (7 and 8 p.m.) at The Palm

New

click to enlarge SNEAK PEAK The Palm Theatre will screen the new Elton John (Taron Egerton) fantasy biopic, Rocketman, on May 30. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARV FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marv Films
  • SNEAK PEAK The Palm Theatre will screen the new Elton John (Taron Egerton) fantasy biopic, Rocketman, on May 30.

Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill, Sunshine on Leith, Eddie the Eagle) directs "a musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John's breakthrough years," with Taron Egerton in the lead role as the singer of "Rocket Man," "Your Song," "Daniel," and dozens of other hits. (121 min.)

—Glen

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium, Park

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?

Shahidi and Melton do the best they can with this absurdly contrived storyline, and maybe their giddy enthusiasm might be enough to win over some viewers, but most audience members can expect a headache from rolling their eyes. (120 min.)

—Glen

TOLKIEN

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

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

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Galaxy, The Palm

Pick

click to enlarge THE DANCER 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
  • THE DANCER 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.

Ralph Fiennes (Coriolanus, The Invisible Woman) directs Oleg Ivenko as Rudolf Nureyev, a dancer from the Soviet Union who defects to the West in order to live out his dream of becoming the greatest dancer of his time.

Fiennes and writer David Hare collaboratively work to effectively depict three timelines in Nureyev's life: his poverty-stricken beginnings, his bone-breaking training, and his fight to be free. What this movie doesn't focus on as much is the dancing, which isn't a horrible concept, as the film is about his decision to leave the Soviet Union and his former life behind.

The first timeline starts with the present, after Nureyev has defected to the West from the Soviet Union in 1961. Nureyev's dance instructor, Alexander Pushkin (Fiennes), is being grilled by a KGB official about why Nureyev defected—of course Pushkin almost too calmly states he has no idea.

We cut to a trans-Siberian train a little over a decade before where Nureyev makes his grand entrance into the world as his mother gives birth to him. This scene and the ones that follow of his childhood in central Russia are all heavily desaturated.

It's a stark contrast to the scene that follows, which is 17-year-old Nureyev on a plane with the rest of the Kirov Ballet visiting Paris on a mission to spread Soviet culture superiority. These scenes are filled with warm and light colors as Nureyev makes his way through Paris, taking in the architecture, people, and art while being closely followed by KGB officials. The officials don't need the dancers thinking for themselves, and Nureyev doing just that angers them.

But back to the beginning. We learn that through a lottery Nureyev's mother won a ticket to a ballet performance, and once he was in the crowd of attendees he fell in love with dance. After enrolling him in a dance school, Nureyev's instructors instantly saw his talent.

Nureyev was always different from the rest in all aspects, so much so that in his dancing career he challenged the norms that were the traditional positions for male ballet dancers. He wanted to be graceful, similar to the female dancers, and to do so he embodied the female movements in his dances.

But during his visit in Paris, he befriends Parisian ballet dancers and a socialite, Clara Saint (Adèle Exarchopoulos), who takes him to gay bars and dinners—against the dance company's and KGB's warnings to stop.

Fiennes does an amazing job of capturing the few dance performances we see by showing off close-ups of the dancer's body movements and, of course, Nureyev's intense sultry stare toward the ballet audience. I like the fact that there weren't too many performances, as the story focused on how Nureyev became a stellar dancer.

There's a lot of Nureyev's life that Fiennes unpacks, but it's done in such a way that doesn't make me yawn. If anything, it made me want to learn more about the dancer, who after defection worked internationally, was praised for his technical prowess, and later died of AIDS complications.

The film is in Russian, French, and English, but the feelings between the characters are not lost within the languages. I will admit that at times the pacing seems to slow down in some scenes, but overall the climax of the film really has the audience at the edge of their seat as Nureyev learns he will not be joining the Kirov Ballet in London. KGB officials tell him that he's to be taken to Russia. On an impulse and with Saint's help, he asks for political asylum, a move that isn't Cold War-fueled bur rather personal. (127 min.) Δ

—Karen

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

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