Pin It
Favorite

Film Listings 7/25/19 – 8/1/19 

All theater listings are as of Friday, July 26.

THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

click to enlarge HIYA! After being randomly attacked, timid Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) decides to join a dojo and learn martial arts, leading him into a hyper-masculine underworld, in The Art of Self-Defense, screening exclusively at The Palm. - PHOTO COURTESY OF END CUE
  • Photo Courtesy Of End Cue
  • HIYA! After being randomly attacked, timid Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) decides to join a dojo and learn martial arts, leading him into a hyper-masculine underworld, in The Art of Self-Defense, screening exclusively at The Palm.

Writer and director Riley Stearns (Faults) helms this story about mild-mannered Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), who after being attacked decides he needs to learn to protect himself. He enrolls in a local dojo run by a charismatic man who only goes by "Sensei" (Alessandro Nivola), who with hardcore brown belt, Anna (Imogen Poots), helps Casey gain confidence. Feeling like he's ready to take his training to the next level, Casey enrolls in Sensei's mysterious night classes where he discovers a dark world of hyper-masculinity.

This is uncomfortable, inky-black satire/comedy that will no doubt appeal to some but turn off others. It's purposely absurdist fare whose goal is to examine what it means to be a man in America and whether or not that's a goal worth striving for.

Casey is indeed a milquetoast wallflower. He's a naturally timid person whose best friend is his timid and quaking dachshund and whose interests include all things French. He doesn't know how to assert himself, and most of the interactions we see are cringe-worthy.

After the attack, he looks into buying a gun, but while awaiting the background check, he stumbles upon a neighborhood dojo and is soon enrolled in classes, learning to "punch with his foot and kick with his fist." Unlike most karate schools that teach martial arts as a last-resort defense, this dojo is weirdly aggressive, even in the children's classes run by Anna.

When Casey is awarded his yellow belt, he swells with pride, but when he decides to stand up to a bully and later backs down in fear, he wants to take his training to the next level—the mysterious night classes. It's more like Fight Club than anything else, but Casey gets an unexpected rise out of the violence, and soon he's drawn further into Sensei's dark, misogynist world.

There's some surprising and unexpected violence, some twists and revelations about Sensei, and soon the trance the Svengali-like Sensei has over Casey and Anna will have to be broken before it destroys them.

Eisenberg was made for this role and his nebbish nervousness inhabits Casey, who ends up doing things he'll deeply regret, things that will drive him to challenge Sensei. Likewise, Nivola is excellent as the enigmatic Sensei, a man who seems strong and wise but is really a bully who preys on the weak. Like I mentioned, this film won't appeal to everyone, but I loved its quirkiness! Its dark, absurdist humor is right up my alley, and its morally challenging resolution breaks with expectations. (104 min.)

—Glen Starkey

CRAWL

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

Pick

Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Piranha 3D, Horns) directs this action-horror film about Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario), who during a Category 5 hurricane returns to her family home to save her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), who's trapped in his flooding basement. When she arrives, however, the hurricane is the least of her problems as massive alligators make their escape increasingly unlikely.

While Crawl isn't going to win any awards, it's a masterful example of tension-filled action, and its claustrophobic setting adds to the thrills. We meet our protagonist during her college swim practice, letting us know that Haley has skills in the water. That turns about to be important since she spends most of the film submerged.

There's also some side plots about her parents' divorce, issues between her and her older sister, Beth (Morfydd Anderson), who calls to ask her to check on their dad, and Haley and her father's estrangement. He's her childhood swim coach, a driving taskmaster, who she hasn't seen in awhile and who has stopped showing up at her swim meets. These side plots offer some emotional resonance and help develop the chance for reconciliation between her and her dad while also offering moments of reprieve from the tooth-and-claw terrors menacing them. If you're looking for an effective horror thriller, this one's worth a watch. (87 min.)

—Glen

ECHO IN THE CANYON

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

In his directorial debut, co-writer Andrew Slater (with co-writer Eric Barrett) helms this documentary examining the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene and bands such as The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas. Through a mix of archival footage and contemporary interviews, we discover how this seminal time in music history has informed contemporary artists such as Fiona Apple, Beck, Norah Jones, and Jakob Dylan.

Both educational and entertaining, this doc is a must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in this fertile moment in rock history, when folk and rock were melded together.

You'll hear some amazing stories and watch some terrific performances, both archival and contemporary as Dylan leads his cohorts in re-creating songs. Poignant moments, laughs, and even a few come-to-Jesus moments work together to create a perceptive walk down memory lane. (82 min.)

—Glen

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge FINDING HOME Jimmie Falls (Jimmie Falls, right) and his friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors, left) reclaim Jimmie's childhood home, a Victorian built by his grandfather, in The Last Black Man in San Francisco. - PHOTO COURTESY OF A24
  • Photo Courtesy Of A24
  • FINDING HOME Jimmie Falls (Jimmie Falls, right) and his friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors, left) reclaim Jimmie's childhood home, a Victorian built by his grandfather, in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

Co-writer Joe Talbot directs this story co-written by the film's protagonist Jimmie Falls, a young black man in San Francisco who reclaims his childhood home, a Fillmore District Victorian house built by his grandfather. (121 min.)

—Glen

THE LION KING

What's it rated? PG

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

See Split Screen.

MAIDEN

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

click to enlarge TRAIL BLAZERS In the documentary Maiden, we watch as 24-year-old charter boat cook Tracy Edwards (left) assembles a team of female sailors to enter the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW BLACK FILMS
  • Photo Courtesy Of New Black Films
  • TRAIL BLAZERS In the documentary Maiden, we watch as 24-year-old charter boat cook Tracy Edwards (left) assembles a team of female sailors to enter the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

Alex Holmes directs this documentary about 24-year-old charter boat cook Tracy Edwards, who assembles a team of female sailors to enter the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989.

—Glen

MIDSOMMAR

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Writer-director Ari Aster (Hereditary) helms this mystery-horror about young American couple Christian (Jack Reynor) and Dani (Florence Pugh), who travel with friends to Sweden for a once-every-90-years festival, which they soon discover is run by a pagan cult with sinister intent. Like his first feature, Hereditary, Midsommar is a dread-filled exercise in the slow burn, with the occasional surprise of graphic gore.

Aster's execution of drug effects on the users is both spellbinding and nauseating. I felt vaguely seasick during those scenes, which continued to grow toward the film's end. In fact, the overall effect of viewing Midsommar took me a good hour to shake. I actually found this film physically unsettling, which is quite a feat since most horror films just aren't scary to me. It's an amazing film, but it's not for everybody. I recommend it with caution! (140 min.)

—Glen

MOANA

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Friday, July 27, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort at 7:30 p.m.; $5 each or $20 for a family of up to 6

New/Pick

click to enlarge FIERCE Moana Waialiki (voiced by Auli'I Cravalho) works to lift a curse on her village in the 2016 animated adventure, Moana, screening July 27, outdoors at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • FIERCE Moana Waialiki (voiced by Auli'I Cravalho) works to lift a curse on her village in the 2016 animated adventure, Moana, screening July 27, outdoors at the Avila Beach Golf Resort.

The family-friendly animated adventure Moana (2016) will screen outdoors overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Friday, July 27, at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Snacks, food, and drinks will be available for purchase (no outside food or drink allowed), and attendees are invited to bring blankets or low-back chairs to watch the film on the lawn.

Set in ancient Polynesia and based on Polynesian mythology, the story follows Moana Waialiki (voiced by Auli'I Cravalho), the island chief's daughter. When the island's fishermen can't seem to catch fish and their crops die out, Moana discovers a curse has befallen her village—a curse incurred by the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) for stealing the heart of the goddess Te Fiti. Moana sets out on a dramatic sea voyage to find Maui and persuade him to return Te Fiti's heart, thus lifting the curse.

Fully rendered characters, eye-popping animation, and great songs combine to make Moana a terrific ride with a strong female protagonist and lessons all kids should learn. It's one of Disney's strongest offerings in the recent past. Doors open at 6 p.m. (107 min.)

—Glen

ONCE UPON A TIME ... IN HOLLYWOOD

What's it rated? R

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

New

click to enlarge GOLDEN HOLLYWOOD Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, left), TV star Rick Dalton's (Leonardo DiCaprio, center) stunt double, meets producer Marvin Schwarzs (Al Pacino, right), in Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • GOLDEN HOLLYWOOD Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt, left), TV star Rick Dalton's (Leonardo DiCaprio, center) stunt double, meets producer Marvin Schwarzs (Al Pacino, right), in Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino helms this story set in 1969 Hollywood about fading TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) as they struggle to remain relevant in the changing entertainment industry. Tarantino's ninth film features an ensemble cast and multiple storylines, including convicted killer Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) and victim Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and martial arts star Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and actor Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis). (161 min.)

—Glen

PAVAROTTI

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

Filmmaker Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man) directs this documentary that examines the life and career of famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. The film features never-before-seen footage, concert performances, and intimate interviews with the performer.

Howard clearly has a lot of affection for his subject, and he makes the man as thrilling and interesting as his music. Of course, a man with Pavarotti-sized appetites can't come out looking like an angel, which only serves to humanize a man with god-sized talent. (114 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

ROCKETMAN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? 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? Park

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. Save your pretty pennies, parents, and just wait to Redbox it or stream it on your preferred service. (86 min.)

—Karen Garcia

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

click to enlarge HE CAN SWING BY A THREAD Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, in the action-packed Spider-Man: Far From Home. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel Studios
  • HE CAN SWING BY A THREAD Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, in the action-packed Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Clown) directs this story that follows the events of Avengers: Endgame. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) joins besties Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) on a European vacation, hoping for a little heroics-free rest and relaxation, but when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) comes calling, Peter works to uncover the mystery of otherworldly attacks plaguing Europe.

Maybe I'm suffering from comic book movie overload, but this new Spider-Man installment just didn't "wow" me the way it seems to for most reviewers and audiences. Rotten Tomatoes rates it a 91 percent with critics and 96 percent with audiences. It's entertaining enough, but I don't see what all the hype is about. It's just another big-budget comic book adventure.

Basically, the film is flawed. Its big switcheroo is too obviously projected, Peter is too gullible (where are your "spidey senses," dude?), and the entire affair lacks the coherence of its predecessor. If you've got a couple of hours to waste and need a distraction, hit a matinee. These comic book spectacles are best seen in the theater. Hopefully you'll like it more than I did. (129 min.)

—Glen

STUBER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rent it

Where's it showing? Galaxy, Stadium 10

Michael Dowse (Take Me Home Tonight, Goon) directs this action-comedy/mismatched-buddy film about Vic (Dave Bautista), a detective, who enlists his Uber driver, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) to track down a terrorist. Can Stu survive and maintain his excellent Uber driver rating?

This film will get a few laughs out of you, but also some groans, eye rolls, and a severely strained credulity. Its title—Stuber—is a combination of the driver, Stu, and the company he drives for, Uber, which sort of tells you about the level of sophistication you should expect.

The mismatched buddy flick is a tired formula, and Stuber tries to mix it up with Stu's sensitivity and Vic's toxic masculinity, but its thematic exploration runs shallow. It's more about violence and trying to sell inexplicable plot twists. If you're game for inane shenanigans punctuated by gunfights, try a matinee. Otherwise, a rental feels like a better value. (93 min.)

—Glen

TOY STORY 4

What's it rated? G

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

Pick

click to enlarge STRANGE NEW WORLD Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks, left) and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) search for a missing toy, in Toy Story 4. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pixar Animation Studios
  • STRANGE NEW WORLD Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks, left) and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) search for a missing toy, in Toy Story 4.

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

When I first heard Toy Story 4 was in the works, I felt betrayed and bewildered. Toy Story 3 had such a finality to it, why try to follow a nearly perfect ending to the series? So why keep going? Well, money of course! Little did I know Pixar's more noble intentions for this installment, which surprisingly opens the door to countless more adventures—for some characters more than others.

The final product isn't the petty cash-grab I was expecting, and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed it even more than Toy Story 3. Fight me! Neither film is on par with 1 or 2 in my book, but wow does this one get pretty darn close. There's a really genuine story here, which can't be said of too many fourth entries in a series. (100 min.)

—Caleb

WILD ROSE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

Tom Harper (War Book, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death) directs Nicole Taylor's screenplay about Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), an ex-con and single mother who dreams of becoming a country singer in Nashville, though her mother Marion (Julie Walters) thinks her dream is a waste of time. When Rose takes work as a house cleaner, she finds an ally in the woman of the house. This is definitely a banner year for music-centric films, and this low-budget U.K. charmer brings a hefty emotional wallop along for the ride.

Tattooed on her arm is the phrase "three chords and the truth," her definition of country music. Rose-Lynn has a voice, and she certainly has enough heartache to write 100 country ballads, but the film is also about her finding a way to express her truth and those deep emotions, and that's what makes it all so wonderful. I laughed and cried and would absolutely watch this film again. It's entertaining and moving and ultimately redemptive, just like a great country song. (101 min.)

—Glen

YESTERDAY

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full price

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

Pick

Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later ..., Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) directs this screenplay by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually, War Horse) about Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician who awakes after a bicycle accident caused by a worldwide power outage to discover he's the only person who remembers The Beatles' music. Soon he's considered the greatest singer-songwriter in the world, but will his newfound fame be a blessing or a curse?

Yes, Yesterday is basically sitcom-level silliness and essentially a one-joke movie, but it's a good joke, and the film may be just the diversion we need right now. Don't believe all the negative reviews from cynical critics. Instead, believe Rotten Tomatoes' 90 percent audience score. This is a crowd pleaser! (116 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