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Film Listings, 6/20/19 – 6/27/19 

All theater listings are as of Friday, June 21.

ALADDIN

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, 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? (128 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

ANNA

click to enlarge FEMME FATALE Sasha Luss stars as a beautiful assassin, in Anna. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CANAL+ AND CINE+
  • Photo Courtesy Of Canal+ And Cine+
  • FEMME FATALE Sasha Luss stars as a beautiful assassin, in Anna.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Writer-director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, Lucy) helms this action thriller about Anna (Sasha Luss), an assassin as beautiful as she is deadly. The film also stars Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, and Cillian Murphy. (119 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

John Chester (Lost in Woonsocket, Rock Prophecies) directs this documentary about he and his wife developing a sustainable farm on a 200-acre patch of depleted ground in Ventura County. They work to rehabilitate the soil, plant orchards and row crops, and raise a variety of animals. Hoping to live in harmony with nature, they discover that nature isn't always interested in living in harmony with them.

John and Molly Chester are idealists through and through. They want to live a life of purpose, and Molly—a personal chef who records online cooking tutorials—dreams of living on a farm and raising all their food. When their rescue dog, Todd, gets them evicted from their apartment for excessive barking, they see it as an opportunity to make Molly's dream come true.

Through investors who share their vision of a sustainable agriculture model, they raise enough money to buy Apricot Lane Farms, a dusty patch of earth that had been foreclosed on twice. They had no experience. What made them think they'd be able to make this farm work in the midst of California's brutal drought?

click to enlarge SUSTAINABLE In the documentary, The Biggest Little Farm, we witness a couple attempt to farm a 200-acre plot of depleted land—planting orchards and crops and raising animals, like Emma the pig and her best friend, Greasy the rooster—screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FARMLORE FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Farmlore Films
  • SUSTAINABLE In the documentary, The Biggest Little Farm, we witness a couple attempt to farm a 200-acre plot of depleted land—planting orchards and crops and raising animals, like Emma the pig and her best friend, Greasy the rooster—screening exclusively at The Palm.

Alan York—a soil, plant, and biodynamic consultant—told them it was possible to rejuvenate the land, and a lot of the film has to do with their ongoing struggle through diversification to create the fertile ground that York envisions. It's an inspiring dream, and York promises them that when balance is restored to the land, profitability will come. The Chesters can't seem to explain that to the flocks of birds that feast on their stone fruit trees; the gophers that eat the roots out from under the trees, killing them; and the coyotes that slaughter their chickens—initially the only profitable part of the farm—en masse.

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll watch in wonder through the magic of birth, death, and everything in between. Mostly, I was reminded of how unbelievably difficult farming can be and the deep work ethic and perseverance it takes to continue in the face of adversity. For anyone with a passing interest in food or farming, this is a must-see.

The story's constant underlying theme is finding balance, and its overarching message is that we can, through hard work and ingenuity, return our entire world to harmonious balance. What the Chesters did to these 200 acres is nothing short of amazing and exactly what humanity needs to do to the entire planet, but current corporate agriculture puts profitability before sustainability.

As inspiring as the film is, it's hard to imagine manifesting this form of agriculture worldwide. We have too many mouths to feed and an economic system—capitalism—that demands constant expansion to function. Hence, our very way of life is unsustainable, and to meet demand, our Big Ag food system generates inexpensive food that sustainable farming can't compete with.

I guess what it comes down to are small choices—choices to pay more for produce from local growers, choices to source meat locally from humane farmers, and choices to reject Tyson, Foster Farms, Monsanto, and other corporate ag entities that are part of the problem. Anything's better than nothing.

Obviously, we can't all be like the Chesters, but we can strive to be part of the solution, however small that part might be. Billions of people making small choices can have a big impact, and watching this documentary might be just the inspiration you need to start making those small but essential choices. (91 min.)

—Glen

BOOKSMART

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

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?

Think of Booksmart as a female version of Superbad, but with even more heart. Yes, this is a dumb, low-brow comedy, but it's also a smart coming-of-age story, an insightful examination of high school dynamics, and a heartfelt story of friendship. It's worth a trip to the theater. Of course, you do have to witness a girl getting barfed on, so prepare yourself. (102 min.)

—Glen

CHILD'S PLAY

click to enlarge HE'S BACK! The evil doll possessed by a serial killer is back in the reboot of Child's Play. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ORION PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Orion Pictures
  • HE'S BACK! The evil doll possessed by a serial killer is back in the reboot of Child's Play.

What's it rated? R

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

New

Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) directs this reboot based on the 1988 slasher film of the same name, which spawned six sequels and introduced the Chucky character, a doll possessed by a serial killer's soul. This time around, Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) gives her son, Andy (Gabriel Bateman), a doll named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill), unaware of its evil intent. (90 min.)

—Glen

THE DEAD DON'T DIE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

See Split Screen.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

Where's it showing? Park, Stadium 10

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. The sequel to 2014's Godzilla is co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick 'r Treat).

If all you want out of a movie is some awesome CGI Kaiju battles, King of the Monsters might do the trick, but all the "story" surrounding the said battles is a mess. Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) is a paleobiologist working for Monarch. She and her daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), witness the birth of Mothra and are promptly kidnapped by eco-terrorists led by Col. Alan Jonah (Charles Dance).

In a page torn from every wannabe blockbuster ever written, Monarch and doctors Ishiro¯ Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) approach Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), Emma's ex-husband, to track down his family. What follows is Jonah trying to release more monsters and Mark trying to stop them.

There are a few switcheroos about who's a good guy and who isn't, but it's mostly a semi-coherent mess and an excuse for giant monsters to wage epic battles. Secret underwater cities, mythological texts, outer space aliens, a plan to revive Godzilla by letting him feed off of radiation from a nuclear bomb—you name it, this film's thrown it into the mix.

If you like this kind of stuff, you're in luck—the film tees up a sequel. Will Godzilla battle King Kong? Keep spending money on these films and it's guaranteed. (131 min.)

—Glen

LATE NIGHT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

click to enlarge BELIEVER Mindy Kaling stars as writer Molly Patel, who's hired as the first female writer of a late-night talk show host who hopes to revive her flagging career, in Late Night. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 3 ARTS ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of 3 Arts Entertainment
  • BELIEVER Mindy Kaling stars as writer Molly Patel, who's hired as the first female writer of a late-night talk show host who hopes to revive her flagging career, in Late Night.

Nisha Ganatra (Cake, Chutney Popcorn) has directed plenty of episodes of well-known TV series like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off the Boat, Dear White People, and The Mindy Project. She's now calling the shots on her third directorial endeavor with Late Night and teaming up with Mindy Kaling who writes, produces, and stars in the film.

While the movie is a tad predictable, the script is smart, funny, and uplifting. What makes this story refreshing is the sprinkle of realism in a fantasized world. The characters deal with the #MeToo movement, diversity (or lack thereof), ageism, and a male dominated workplace.

Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a legendary host on a late-night talk show, and while she may be warm to her guests on camera, she's pretty cold and literally couldn't care less about anything or anyone else—she embodies the "off with your head" vibe. Except for her husband Walter Lovell (John Lithgow), who's suffering from a debilitating disease.

Newbury hasn't switched up her program to get with the times of "on the street" segments, silly games to play with celebrities, or having unconventional guests, like YouTube stars. She's also accused of being a woman who hates women.

The mold she's been in for so long is threatening her stay on the show. The network is giving her the boot, but Newbury is ready to put up a fight for the late night slot she's created. Part of that fight is hiring literally any woman, and that just so happens to be Molly Patel (Kaling), a chemical plant worker who landed the job interview on a whim.

Patel is hired as the only woman in an all-male writers' room. While she hilariously disrupts the brotherhood that's going on in the company, Patel is also fighting her own battle of showing everyone she's more than just a diversity hire. Patel is determined to help Newbury revive the show and her career.

Of course, there's a love dynamic going on with one of the writers and Patel, but the little to no significance it's given in the film is perfect. There's also an infidelity scandal between Newbury and one of her writers, which the media jumps on. There's also Patel fighting for a place in a male-dominated world as a female and a woman of color.

Honestly, this story has it all and deals with it, while dramatized, as realistically as it can, with plenty of laughs along the way. It should also be noted that Kaling wrote the story specifically with Emma Thompson in mind as the lead character, who was the perfect person for the part—so maybe if you, like Kaling, put your dreams out into the universe, they will come true. Not to gloss over working your butt off as a writer on a late-night show, getting in the writers' room of an evening time slot (The Office), and eventually creating your own TV series. (102 min.)

—Karen Garcia

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

click to enlarge RUNNING ON EMPTY New recruit Agent M (Tessa Thompson, right) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) join forces to find an enemy mole in their organization, in the uninspired Men in Black: International. - PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Columbia Pictures
  • RUNNING ON EMPTY New recruit Agent M (Tessa Thompson, right) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) join forces to find an enemy mole in their organization, in the uninspired Men in Black: International.

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Stream it

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

F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set It Off, The Italian Job, Fate of the Furious) directs this new installment in the sci-fi comedy franchise Men in Black. This time around, new Agent M (Tessa Thompson) joins the U.K. Men in Black team, including Agent O (Emma Thompson), High T (Liam Neeson), Agent H (Chris Hemsworth), and Agent C (Rafe Spall) to search for an enemy mole in their organization.

This is a sequel in search of an original idea, and try as it might, it can't find one. Instead, it heaps on silly coincidences and half-hearted complications, and obvious twists and unnecessary turns, as the script weaves a story about an invasion by The Hive, a super powerful secret weapon, and alien twins that manifest as pure energy.

The big question is who's the mole, and since the list of possible candidates is astonishingly small, it doesn't take much effort to figure it out, which sort of deflates the whole film before it even gets started.

You won't need to get neuralyzed to erase your memory of this film; it's so forgettable it will be an afterthought before the theater door closes behind you. (115 min.)

—Glen

ROCKETMAN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

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.

It's an impression of Elton's life. It's about his struggle with homosexuality, his estrangement from his parents, his rocky relationships, his handling of fame, and his eventual realization that his lifestyle isn't sustainable. One of his biggest fears is whether or not he'll be as good without the drugs and alcohol, which allowed him to overcome his fears and become a superstar. (121 min.)

—Glen

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Stream it

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

Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, The Lorax, The Secret Life of Pets) and Jonathan de Val band together to co-direct the second installment of the animated Secret Life of Pets. This time around, the New York apartment furry residents leave their owners once again on an adventure to save a new wild friend.

While there are plenty of one-liners that are definitely flying over the heads of the young audience in the theater, the plot of the film is all over the place. An elementary-school-aged kid is probably not going to notice the three stories that honestly should have been separate animated shorts that somehow clumsily come together, but all you adults out there definitely will.

Back in New York in the concrete jungle where dreams are made, we find Max (Patton Oswalt, who replaced Louis C.K.) and his buddy, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), living the good life with their owner. Their life turns upside down once their owner falls in love, gets married, and has a little boy named Liam. Of course Max wants to take care of Liam but realizes the city is a dangerous place for a toddler. His helicopter-parent instincts result in a nervous tick. Maybe Max just needs a little vacation, so the family leaves the city and visits an uncle in the country. It's there that he meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), a no-nonsense kind of a dog (very Harrison Ford), who's going to teach Max to get over his fear.

Before Max goes on his trip, he leaves his favorite bee-shaped squeaky toy with Gidget (Jenny Slate) to protect. Predictably, within the first day of guardianship, she loses the toy and it bounces into the window of an apartment that's filled with cats. Seriously, the neighbor has dozens of cats—its pretty ridiculous. But the cats are scratch-your-eyes-out catty, and Gidget needs help. She needs to learn how to be a cat in order to get the toy back.

click to enlarge FOUR-LEGGED HEROES The pets are at it again: Snowball (Kevin Heart), Gidget (Jenny Slate), and Pops (Dana Carvey) team up to save their newest neighbor in the New York City, in The Secret Life of Pets 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Universal Pictures
  • FOUR-LEGGED HEROES The pets are at it again: Snowball (Kevin Heart), Gidget (Jenny Slate), and Pops (Dana Carvey) team up to save their newest neighbor in the New York City, in The Secret Life of Pets 2.

Meanwhile (I know, another damn story to follow), Snowball (Kevin Hart) is more than just a cute bunny; he's a pajama-wearing superhero, or so he thinks. He's hired by Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), who's witnessed the cruelty of a tiger being held against its will by an evil circus owner. Daisy needs Snowball's help to rescue the tiger.

Somehow these three entirely different stories come together in the end with the same goal in mind: help the tiger find a safe home away from his large-nosed jerk captor.

There were definitely kids laughing when Max was freaking out in the country at all the new sounds of the farmland—a cow farting, a frog chilling on a lily pad, and a freaking turkey that won't stop following him. And the soundtrack that accompanied the film had the kids in my row dancing in their seats. Not to mention the A-list actors giving so much personality to these four-legged creatures that we wish we could talk to in real life.

But the storyline just wasn't there. It's a lot to keep up with in the beginning once you realize that this isn't just one story and there are so many different characters. Save your pretty pennies, parents, and just wait to Redbox it or stream it on your preferred service. (86 min.)

—Karen

SHAFT

click to enlarge DINOSAURS John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Shaft I (Richard Roundtree) team up to search for a killer, in the regressive and unnecessary Shaft. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVIS ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Davis Entertainment
  • DINOSAURS John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Shaft I (Richard Roundtree) team up to search for a killer, in the regressive and unnecessary Shaft.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Stream it

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

Tim Story (Barbershop, Think Like a Man, Ride Along) directs this story about John "JJ" Shaft Jr. (Jesse T. Usher), an MIT grad specializing in cyber security. When his best friend dies under mysterious circumstances, JJ turns to his estranged father, private investigator John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson). Together they explore the Harlem underworld in search of answers, eventually teaming with John Shaft I (Richard Roundtree).

In case you're wondering, the original 1971 Shaft is still the best, probably followed by director John Singleton's 2000 reboot Shaft. But even the original money-grabbing sequels—Shaft's Big Score! (1972) and Shaft in Africa (1973)—are better than this unnecessary, regressive nod to the blaxploitation classic.

Heavily armed misogynists and homophobes tramping around Harlem kicking ass may have seemed like "taking it to the man" in the 1970s, but today the Shafts feel like dinosaurs. Instead of creating an evolved character, we get a missed opportunity to make Shaft cool again. (105 min.)

—Glen

THE TOMORROW MAN

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge LOVE AND STUFF A survivalist (John Lithgow) and a shopaholic (Blyth Danner) find love, in The Tomorrow Man. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SYMBOLIC EXCHANGE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Symbolic Exchange
  • LOVE AND STUFF A survivalist (John Lithgow) and a shopaholic (Blyth Danner) find love, in The Tomorrow Man.

Writer-director Noble Jones helms this romance between survivalist Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) and shopaholic Ronnie Meisner (Blyth Danner), a mismatched pair of characters who try not to get lost in one another's stuff. (94 min.)

TOY STORY 4

What's it rated? G

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

New

click to enlarge TOYS TO THE RESCUE Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Bo Peep (voiced by Anne Potts) reunite in Toy Story 4. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pixar Animation Studios
  • TOYS TO THE RESCUE Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Bo Peep (voiced by Anne Potts) reunite in Toy Story 4.

Josh Cooley directs this fourth installment in the Toy Story franchise. This time around, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) must convince his toy pals to welcome a new addition, Forky (voiced by Tony Hales), into their fold, even though Forky is just a spork made into a toy in arts and crafts class by their child, Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw). When Bonnie's family goes on a road trip, Forky takes off, so Woody and a few other toys go in search of him. (100 min.) Δ

—Glen

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

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