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Film Listings, 5/30/19 – 6/6/19 

Editor's note: Listings for Paso Robles' Park Cinemas were not available. Visit parkcinemas.com or call (805) 227-2172 for films and show times.

ALADDIN

click to enlarge YOUNG LOVE Can street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, right) win the heart of Jasmine (Naomi Scott)? Find out in the live-action remake of Aladdin. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • YOUNG LOVE Can street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, right) win the heart of Jasmine (Naomi Scott)? Find out in the live-action remake of Aladdin.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

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?

I would be very interested to see this version of Aladdin one more time (probably an understatement) with someone who has never seen the original. This year's remake is by no means better than the 1992 film, but it's still a gem in its own right—or should I say a diamond in the rough? But I'm curious if there are any huge faults I'm ignoring because my brain is subconsciously filling in those blanks with plot details from the original film. I need an outsider's perspective! Who out there hasn't seen the animated film? Putting a Craigslist ad out tonight: Seeking someone who had a terrible childhood.

If you peek at the film's reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, you'll notice how polarizing reactions to Aladdin have been—with a critics' score of 58 percent versus an audience score of 94 percent. I'm happy (and darn proud) to say I'm with the latter crowd. There's nothing glaringly bad about Aladdin I can think of—and believe me, I've tried. But please, don't go in expecting Will Smith's take as the genie to top Robin Williams' unmatchable performance. Smith does his own thing. It's nowhere near Williams' level, but it's enjoyable enough. The overall vibe reminded me a lot of Hitch, where Smith played a dating coach who mentors a bumbling client (Kevin James) into winning someone's heart.

Massoud has great chemistry with both Smith and Scott, but now I can't help imagining James in the Aladdin role. Aladdin Blart: Mall Cop? Quick, I need a lamp. I have a wish. (128 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

ALL IS TRUE

click to enlarge SHAKESPEARE's WIFE Judi Dench stars as Anne, spouse to the famed bard, who returns to her after The Globe Theatre burns, in the imaginative biographical drama, in All Is True. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TKBC
  • Photo Courtesy Of TKBC
  • SHAKESPEARE's WIFE Judi Dench stars as Anne, spouse to the famed bard, who returns to her after The Globe Theatre burns, in the imaginative biographical drama, in All Is True.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Hamlet, Murder on the Orient Express) directs and stars as William Shakespeare stumbling into retirement and the last years of his life.

Ben Elton's screenplay is a witty and fictional take on a world-renowned poet and playwright whose private life was and is still a mystery.

The story begins at what seems like an end for Shakespeare. In June of 1613, London's Globe Theater burns down to the ground and with it Shakespeare's creativity. The loss resulted in Shakespeare's writer's block and his hasty decision to move back home to Stratford-upon-Avon to retire, vowing never to write again. But of course the peaceful retirement that Shakespeare is hoping for isn't what he gets when he returns to a family—a wife and two daughters—he'd basically abandoned for his career.

However, the story lines go far beyond the family that awaited his return and longed for his affection. While Shakespeare was away living his best life, his son Hamnet (Sam Ellis) died suddenly at a young age, leaving behind his twin, Judith (Kathryn Wilder), and sister, Susanna (Lydia Wilson). Lord only knows that Shakespeare is suffering, as daughters are only good for marrying off to be another man's property.

It's a hard truth that Judith throws in her father's face because she's single and nowhere near ready to mingle. In fact, she's pretty pissed off for a majority of the film because she believes Shakespeare is upset that the wrong twin died. His son should have lived and become a poet just like his father, but why can't Judith be a poet like her father?

There's also the weird dynamic with his wife, Anne (Judi Dench), who he married when he was 18 and she was 26—scandalous. He's been away so long that Anne almost treats him like a guest who's overstayed his welcome. She also pushes him to grapple with how selfish he's been over the years by only thinking of his reputation and never about how his actions affected hers.

Then there's Susanna, who's married to some Puritan jerk who treats her poorly and doesn't really show her any affection. So what does Susanna do? Find affection in the arms of another man.

The Shakespeare household is anything but boring as the family finds its way to making amends for all the resentment and secrets they've kept over the years.

Elton's tale of a man's last years on earth dives into the dynamics of a family dealing with loss and regret, with a whole lot of wit. It's much more enjoyable than a straight biopic as Elton and Branagh have respectfully imagined what their Shakespeare would have been like.

I'm usually not a huge fan of the director giving himself the leading role, but Branagh walks the fine line of balancing his character's screen time with everyone else's. In fact, I'd argue that Judith is a more powerful character than Shakespeare himself and has a bigger story to tell. In most of the scenes, Shakespeare seems a little small compared to his female counterparts. (101 min.)

—Karen Garcia

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, 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 11th film in the connected Marvel Universe series. (181 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BOOKSMART

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

See Split Screen.

BRIGHTBURN

click to enlarge SUPER-ANTI-HERO Alien child Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) crash lands on Earth and is raised by a human couple just like Clark Kent/Superman, but instead of growing up to save the world, he grows into something evil, in Brightburn. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE H COLLECTIVE
  • Photo Courtesy Of The H Collective
  • SUPER-ANTI-HERO Alien child Brandon (Jackson A. Dunn) crash lands on Earth and is raised by a human couple just like Clark Kent/Superman, but instead of growing up to save the world, he grows into something evil, in Brightburn.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

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.

The subversive superhero premise doesn't quite live up to its potential, but the film has some interesting moments as it mixes slasher/horror tropes with sci-fi, coming of age, and villain origin story. Perhaps the most interesting element is the maternal desperation Tori has to believe her adopted son, who she named Brandon, is inherently good. After all, she raised him from an infant.

When he turns 12, things turn darker as he develops an interest in nude females and human organs. Kyle is much quicker than his wife to tune into Brandon's dark side. Add to Brandon's mood swings the fact that he's apparently invulnerable, and you have a set-up for a gory showdown.

If you're a fan of inky black sci-fi and realistic gore, this may be worth a trip to the theater, but otherwise, wait for Redbox. (91 min.)

—Glen

CAPTAIN MARVEL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? 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. (124 min.)

—Glen

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

click to enlarge MONSTER MASH A whole slew of monsters—Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah—battle for supremacy on Earth, in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.
  • Photo Courtesy Of Warner Bros.
  • MONSTER MASH A whole slew of monsters—Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah—battle for supremacy on Earth, in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

Monarch, a cryptozoological agency, tries to deal with the emergence of monsters—Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah—who are battling for supremacy on Earth. Co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick 'r Treat), the film stars Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, and Ken Watanabe. (131 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

click to enlarge HAND-TO-HAND Assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) takes on all comers, in the relentless action film John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Summit Entertainment
  • HAND-TO-HAND Assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) takes on all comers, in the relentless action film 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

Pick

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 and killing a member of the guild's upper order inside the off-limits Continental Hotel. Now every hit man and woman is after him. About the only killer tentatively on his side is Sofia (Halle Berry), who owes him a debt.

For sheer mayhem, it's hard to top the John Wick franchise. Sure, films like Smokin' Aces (2006) and Shoot 'Em Up (2007) have over-the-top gun violence, but compared to the John Wick films, they come off as cartoonish. And yes, films like Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003) and The Raid: Redemption (2011) have comparable hand-to-hand combat scenes, but the fight choreography in the John Wick films is crazy good and features premiere Hollywood actors trained in the martial arts rather than martial artists trained as actors.

This third installment in the series has everything you've come to expect—amazing martial arts, knife, and sword fight scenes; close-quarters gunplay; vehicle (even horse) chases; and people who love their dogs more than anything.

Director Chad Stahelski was a martial artist first, martial arts instructor second, Hollywood stuntman third, and came to direction in 2014 with the first John Wick film. He knows how to create believable yet dazzling violence, and he ups the ante with some amazing settings, like a fight in what appears to be a knife museum, a horse stable using horses as weapons, an all-glass room, and a Casablanca compound with Berry's character Sofia and her two fierce Belgian Malinois dogs.

The story is a bit thin. It's basically an escape film followed by an attack film, but if you like fantasy violence, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better franchise, and this may be the best film of the three.

Perhaps the hardest element for my disbelief to overcome is the crazy-kooky world of the international assassins' guild with exclusive assassin-friendly Continental Hotels in major cities and elaborate rules set by the High Table regarding blood pacts and markers and who's allowed to kill whom and where. It's an attempt to bring some semblance of honor to the proceedings. Even after Wick is made excommunicado, he's still able to call in his marker with The Director (Angelica Huston), who runs a Belarusian ballet and wrestling school, where Wick was apparently trained.

There are also questions of loyalty between New York Continental Hotel manager Winston (Ian McShane) and his concierge Charon (Lance Reddick), who allowed Wick an hour's head start and are now under scrutiny by The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), who the High Table sent to mete out justice.

The Adjudicator also visits The Director and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), the latter of whom runs a group of "homeless" street thugs and whom she also deems guilty of helping Wick by not killing him on sight when he had the chance.

The High Table's assassin is Zero (Mark Dacascos), a samurai-esque martial arts master with a legion of ninja-like students. Part of the story's humor is Zero's fawning flattery of Wick, who's regarded as the best assassin. Zero desperately wants Wick's approval, even though he's trying to kill him.

All these competing factions are set-ups for the inevitable fourth installment, where director Stahelski will have to take another crack at topping the over-the-top action of the first three films. Can he do it? I, for one, will be in the audience to find out. (130 min.)

—Glen

MA

click to enlarge HARMLESS? A lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) meets some teens and lets them party in her basement, but the kids start to question the woman's motivation, in the horror-thriller Ma. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Blumhouse Productions
  • HARMLESS? A lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) meets some teens and lets them party in her basement, but the kids start to question the woman's motivation, in the horror-thriller Ma.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train) directs this horror-thriller about a lonely woman (Octavia Spencer) who meets some teens, buys them booze, and lets them party in her basement. Access to alcohol and a safe place to party seem like a dream come true for the kids ... until they begin to question their host's motivations. (99 min.)

—Glen

POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU

click to enlarge RUN FOR IT Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, foreground) has to save his fellow Pokémon, find his old partner, and escape death, in Pokémon Detective Pikachu. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LEGENDARY ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Legendary Entertainment
  • RUN FOR IT Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, foreground) has to save his fellow Pokémon, find his old partner, and escape death, in Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

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

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

ROCKETMAN

click to enlarge GLAMOR Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in the fantasy biopic, Rocketman. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARV FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marv Films
  • GLAMOR Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in the fantasy biopic, Rocketman.

What's it rated? R

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

New

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 WHITE CROW

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

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 Nureyev became enrolled in a dance school, his 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 but 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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