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Film Listings, 7/26/18 – 8/2/18 

click to enlarge HERO/LIFE BALANCE In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott (Paul Rudd, pictured right) struggles with being a father and a super hero. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures
  • HERO/LIFE BALANCE In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott (Paul Rudd, pictured right) struggles with being a father and a super hero.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it rated? Matinee

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

Pick

Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man, Ant-Man) directs this next entry into the Marvel universe set after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang and his superhero alter ego Ant-Man. As Scott struggles to balance his crime fighting and home life, he's once again called-on by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to join forces with Scott's one-time love interest (and Pym's daughter) Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) to deal with a new threat, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

This is definitely the sort of story you don't want to think too hard about because it's silly and absurd. But when the fists are flying or the cars are racing, moving from super small size to super big, it's best to disappear into the moment and go with it. (118 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE CATCHER WAS A SPY

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

From director Ben Lewin (The Sessions) and writer Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) comes the historical, World War II epic, The Catcher Was A Spy. During the war, major league catcher Moe Berg (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Clueless) is drafted to join a new team: the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor to the CIA). The Jewish Ivy League graduate also speaks nine languages and is a regular guest on a popular TV quiz show. Despite his celebrity, Berg is a mystery to all—a closeted gay man who is good at keeping secrets. The new spy is quickly trained and sent into the field to stop German scientist Werner Heisenberg (Mark Strong II, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The Guard) before he can build an atomic bomb for the Nazis.

This is a historical drama, so it's a slow burn until it boils over when it comes to the plot, but that can't be helped since this is a true story, after all. More fascinating than what actually happened is the character study of the extremely buttoned-up and secretive Berg, who attempts to reveal as little as he can about himself to the people in his life. When a fellow baseball player follows him home after seeing Berg leave a gay bar one night, Berg beats the crap out of him in an alleyway and shortly after bursts into tears in private. He seems both affectionate toward and detached from his long-term girlfriend, Estelle (Sienna Miller). Rudd as Berg successfully plays a man trying to blend in, who always manages to stick out.

As he's aging out of baseball, Berg uses his connections to get a job with the Office of Strategic Services, working under former football player William Donnovan (Jeff Daniels). His unique skill set and frustration over desk work quickly gets Berg assigned to a field case: finding out if German scientist Heisenberg (Strong) is really on the cusp of building an atomic bomb for the Nazis or not. He gets teamed up with military specialist Robert Furman (Guy Pearce, The Hurt Locker) and German-Jewish professor Samuel Goudsmit (Paul Giamatti, Sideways) and sent to Italy to confer with the Italian professor Eduardo Amaldi (Giancarlo Gianni, Quantum of Solace), who is still in correspondence with Heisenberg.

The film quickly delves into the moral dilemma presented to Berg: Is it better to kill one man to possibly save many? No one is entirely convinced of Heisenberg's complicity with the Nazis or possible secret allegiance with the Allies either way. Rudd gives just enough away to show Berg's inner struggle while still playing it close enough to the vest that the ending comes as shock, even if it's a bit anti-climactic. (98 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

click to enlarge SOBER Starring Joaquin Phoenix,  Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot follows the real-life story of newspaper cartoonist John Callahan as he becomes newly sober after a car accident. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Amazon Studios
  • SOBER Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot follows the real-life story of newspaper cartoonist John Callahan as he becomes newly sober after a car accident.

DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

New

John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) has a lust for life, a talent for off-color jokes, and a drinking problem. When an all-night bender ends in a catastrophic car accident, the last thing he intends to do is give up drinking. But when he reluctantly enters treatment—with encouragement from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill)—Callahan discovers a gift for drawing edgy, irreverent newspaper cartoons that develop an international following and grant him a new lease on life. (113 min.)

—Amazon Studios

HOTEL TRANSLYVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION

What's it rated? PG

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

Join our favorite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac (voice of Adam Sandler) can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else's vacation at the hotel. It's smooth sailing for Drac's pack as the monsters indulge in all of the shipboard fun the cruise has to offer, from monster volleyball to exotic excursions, and catching up on their moon tans. But the dream vacation turns into a nightmare when Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) realizes Drac has fallen for the mysterious captain of the ship, Ericka (voice of Kathryn Hahn), who hides a dangerous secret that could destroy all of monsterkind. (97 min.)

—Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation

click to enlarge DISGRACED HEROES After damage is done to the city by the Incredibles while fighting crime, the super family is forced to go underground or find a way to make being super legal again. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DISNEY/PIXAR
  • Photo Courtesy Of Disney/pixar
  • DISGRACED HEROES After damage is done to the city by the Incredibles while fighting crime, the super family is forced to go underground or find a way to make being super legal again.

INCREDIBLES 2

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Pick

From writer/director Brad Bird (Ratatouille) comes the sequel Incredibles 2, 14 years after the original film premiered. Everyone's favorite family of superheroes is back in Incredibles 2—but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of normal life. It's a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack's emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again.

It's been more than a decade since the Incredibles first burst onto the scene and delighted audiences with its unique nostalgia drenched take on what was then just an emerging powerhouse genre in contemporary cinema And while the film may be a shade darker than the first iteration, this new installment delivers on just about everything it promises and should leave families entertained until the next chapter arrives in theaters (which hopefully comes sooner than a decade and a half).

I also wanted to take a minute to commend Bird's choice to leave cell phones out of the picture, allowing his film to flex its muscles without pocket-sized distractions. It truly speaks to the traditionalist bent of the series, which seems to draw from 1950s era super hero shows and comics, as much as even earlier, "Golden Age" science fiction classics. Bird gives audiences a glimpse of how his generation and those before him viewed the future, and while those dreams may be dated, they still come across as new, exciting, and utterly unique, and that's pretty incredible. (118 min.)

—Spencer Cole

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible, A Monster Calls) directs this follow-up to Jurassic World (2015), which was about an island dinosaur park and a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur that goes on a killing spree and brings down the park. Three years later, the island has been abandoned and left to the dinosaurs, but then the island's dormant volcano rumbles to life, threatening to kill all the dinosaurs. Claire Dearing (Bruce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) mount a rescue mission, but do the powers that be have an ulterior motive to funding their attempt?

This is a big, fun, entertaining, summer popcorn movie that audiences will like but critics will condemn thanks to the law of diminishing returns. You can only throw the same thing at the screen so many times before it becomes surprise-free, and I'd say we're just about there, but if you're interested, see it on the big screen for full effect. (128 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MAMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

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

Pick

Ol Parker (Now is Good, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) directs returning and new cast members in the sequel to the popular 2008 ABBA-centric musical-turned-movie Mamma Mia! In the first film, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a bride-to-be who invites three of her mother, Donna's (Meryl Streep) old flames to her wedding in an attempt to discover who her real father is. The sequel switches off between a time before and after the original film, focusing on both Sophie's new life attempting to carry on her late mother's hotel business and her mother Donna's young life around the time of her pregnancy.

Most of Sophie's scenes are marked by her mother's absence, whose presence is missed just as much by the audience as by the characters. She is in the process of planning a grand opening party for the remodeled Greek hotel her mother began, but of course, the party plans go slightly awry. Her mother's friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) visit for emotional support, and consistently provide the wittiest lines in the entire film.

Lily James plays the young version of Donna, and does so beautifully while a bit unrealistically. Few of Streep's mannerisms and only traces of her energy are adopted by James, making it hard to fully believe her as a young Donna. Despite this slight disconnect, James still proves a charismatic and free-spirited character who is easy to root for. Watching her meet Sophie's three potential dads is amusing and often more lighthearted than the present-day scenes.

Though the musical numbers are lively, they feel overproduced and a bit sanitized. The songs don't fit the scenes as snugly as they did in the original, bringing up the question of how many storylines can (or should) be developed from the music of one 1970s Swedish pop group. There was something especially disappointing about reused songs from the first film. These recycled tracks were some of the best in the sequel, but still fell short of their original performances.

Unfortunately, Mama Mia! Here We Go Again! does not re-create the original electricity of the first film, but rather provides a subtle warning for yet another largely nostalgia-driven, profit-seeking sequel. However, just because the film is unable to fully recapture the original magic does not mean it misses all the marks.

Even while the shortcomings are easily recognizable, this musical film still offers a fun watch and a worthy trip down memory lane for viewers. If you are a fan of the first, I wouldn't discourage you from attending a local screening sporting some denim and a boa. However, I also wouldn't advise you to walk in expecting to fall in love all over again. (114 min.)

—Ashley Ladin

click to enlarge BEST-LAID PLANS In Mission: Impossible-Fallout, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team join forces with a CIA assassin to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
  • BEST-LAID PLANS In Mission: Impossible-Fallout, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team join forces with a CIA assassin to prevent a disaster of epic proportions.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-FALLOUT

What's it rated? PG-13

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

New

The best intentions often come back to haunt you. Mission: Impossible-Fallout finds Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team (Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, and Ving Rhames) along with some familiar allies (Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan) in a race against time after a mission gone wrong. Henry Cavill, Angela Bassett, and Vanessa Kirby also join the dynamic cast with filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie returning to the helm. (147 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

OCEANS 8

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Fair Oaks

Upon her release from prison, Debbie (Sandra Bullock), the estranged sister of legendary conman Danny Ocean, puts together a team of unstoppable crooks to pull off the heist of the century. Their goal is New York City's annual Met Gala and a necklace worth more than $150 million. (110 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

SKYSCRAPER

What's it rated? PG-14

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

Dwayne Johnson leads the cast of Skyscraper as former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford, who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in China he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he's been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name, and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building ... above the fire line. (103 min.)

—Universal Pictures

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

A newcomer to big productions, Boots Riley directs Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta) as Cassius Green, a black man who picks up a telemarketing job while trying to make ends meet in an alternative present-day Oakland. Green promptly learns that he can make exponentially more sales by using his "white voice" over the phone, which quickly helps him rise up in the company and discover harrowing truths about big business.

Green is a relatable character—tired with his life of perceived mediocrity, he struggles to find meaning and desires to move up in the world. In the beginning of his telemarketing career, he befriends a protest-hungry coworker Squeeze (Steven Yeun), who rallies the whole office together in an attempt to unionize. However, once Green shows promise and is promoted to power caller, the telemarketing A-team that is almost stuff of legend, he stops fighting the power and starts to become it.

This isn't a film for casual moviegoers who are just looking for a way to pass the time before dinner. It's conceptual, whacky, and challenges the viewers' perceptions of the world both inside and outside the screen. However, if you're hungry for original satire and don't mind sticking with a film through some disturbing turns, Sorry to Bother You is a worthy choice. (105 min.)

—Ashley Ladin

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Stadium 10 (advance screening July 27)

New

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon), two 30-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey's ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world. (116 min.)

—Lionsgate

TAG

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Fair Oaks

For one month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they've been playing since the first grade—risking their necks, their jobs, and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry, "You're it!" This year, the game coincides with the wedding of their only undefeated player, which should finally make him an easy target. But he knows they're coming ... and he's ready. (100 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

TEEN TITANS GO TO THE MOVIES

What's it rated? PG

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

New

It seems to the Teens that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies, everyone but the Teen Titans, that is! But de facto leader Robin (voice of Scott Menville) is determined to remedy the situation, and be seen as a star instead of a sidekick. With a few madcap ideas and a song in their hearts, the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town, certain to pull off their dream. But when the group is radically misdirected by a seriously super villain and his maniacal plan to take over the Earth, things really go awry. The team finds their friendship and their fighting spirit failing, putting the very fate of the Teen Titans themselves on the line! (92 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

click to enlarge SEEING TRIPLE Documentary filmmakers explore the story of triplets who are separated at birth in Three Identical Strangers. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEON
  • Photo Courtesy Of Neon
  • SEEING TRIPLE Documentary filmmakers explore the story of triplets who are separated at birth in Three Identical Strangers.

THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Pick

In this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction documentary directed by Tim Wardle, in 1980, three 19-year-old strangers discover they're identical triplets separated at birth. Their unlikely reunion leads to notoriety, but as they learn more about the circumstances of their separation, questions arise involving ethics and human nature.

Bobby Shafran heads off to community college and is surprised that everyone he meets greets him like an old friend, smiling, waving, asking him how his summer was. People keep calling him Eddy, and he soon discovers that he's got a doppelganger. A friend of Eddy's puts the two on the phone together, and they discover they're both adopted and both have the same birthday. In short order, Bobby's reunited with his brother, believing they were twins.

The feel-good story becomes even harder to believe after Bobby and Eddy's story winds up in the news, and then a third brother, David, comes forward. The three are instant celebrities. They wind up on talk shows, in papers and magazines, and people marvel at how similar they are even though different families raised them. Their speech patterns, mannerisms, even their preferred cigarettes are eerily similar. Even more important, they're delighted to reunite—long-lost brothers together again.

If that were the whole story, that'd be amazing and worthy of a documentary in and of itself, but as the brothers—and their respective parents—look deeper into the circumstances of their separation, things take a dark turn. Spoiler! The triplets were part of a larger experiment about nature versus nurture, an experiment that has serious ethical flaws.

The researchers and subjects were all Jewish, and the subjects all came from the same New York-based Jewish adoption agency. "Nazi shit" is how one of the brothers describes these so-called experiments. There's been a fair amount of research on the effects of adoption itself, and books like Primal Wound talk about some of the psychological ramification of being separated from a mother at an early age. As an adoptee myself, I'd much rather be placed with a family that wants a child than left with a mother that doesn't, but I'm pretty sure these various separated twins would have rather been adopted together than placed in different homes. To me, that's the real tragedy of Three Identical Strangers. (96 min.)

—Glen Starkey

TOP GUN

What's it rated? PG

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

In this 1986 film, devil-may-care navy pilot Pete Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is sent to Miramar Naval Air Station for advanced training. Here he vies with Tom Kasansky (Val Kilmer) for the coveted "Top Gun" award. When not so occupied, Mitchell carries on a romance with civilian consultant Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis). Shaken up by the death of a friend, Mitchell loses the Top Gun honor to Kasansky. Worried that he may have lost his nerve, Mitchell is given a chance to redeem himself during a tense international crisis involving a crippled US vessel and a flock of predatory enemy planes. (110 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Park

When a 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop, he and his friends are unwittingly thrust into the depths of the dark web. They soon discover someone has been watching their every move and will go to unimaginable lengths to protect the dark web. (88 min.)

—BH Tilt

click to enlarge PUPPET PERSONALITIES Fred Rogers used puppets, such as King Friday XIII, to personify different personality types to better communicate with children. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TREMOLO PRODUCTIONS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tremolo Productions
  • PUPPET PERSONALITIES Fred Rogers used puppets, such as King Friday XIII, to personify different personality types to better communicate with children.

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

What's it rated? PG

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm, Stadium 10

Pick

Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) helms this documentary biopic about beloved cardigan-clad children's TV host Fred Rogers.

It's easy to dismiss Fred Rogers as "just" a children's TV host, and a sappy, low-budget one at that, but this documentary reveals just how deeply he cared about children; how hard he worked at helping children through topical issues such as Robert Kennedy's assassination, divorce, and war; and how seriously he took his role as host of positive children's programming as foil to what he saw as bad role modeling and encouragement of humanity's baser instincts in other kids' programs.

What makes the film even more poignant is its depiction of Rogers at his lowest. Looking at our culture today, it's clear his message didn't prevail. Still, his message was a worthy one and remains so today. Won't You Be My Neighbor? is a wonderful celebration of a wonderful man who touched countless lives and exemplified a life well lived. (94 min.) Δ

—Glen Starkey

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Arts Editor Ryah Cooley and others. You can contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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