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Film listings for 10/19 through 10/26 

AMERICAN MADE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Galaxy

Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) directs Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a pilot contracted by the CIA to run guns and drugs in the late-'70s and '80s. The screenplay by Gary Spinelli is based on real events.

I'm sure this film skips over a lot of Seal's travails in the name of entertainment, but the film works as an exploration of American hubris. We all too often believe we're smart enough and cunning enough to control uncontrollable situations, and in the end, both Seal and the CIA proved to be inept fools who only made things worse. Maybe that's the American way. (115 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Battle of Sexes, the retelling of the 1973 sociopolitical tennis showdown between Billy Jean King (Emma Stone, La La Land) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell, The Office), is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but it is a well-executed and enjoyable portrayal of the true story of a match that became an iconic battlefront in the American feminist movement.

As the movie starts we're dropped into the chaotic life of King, who's regarded as the top women's player in the world. We see how she and the other female players face tremendous sexism from the male ringleaders of the tennis industry, always taking a back seat to the men's game and earning significantly less money. King's fiery nature is on display from the outset when she refuses to accept less money than the men in an upcoming tournament, and then she mobilizes all the female players to quit the Association of Tennis Professionals.

The women start their own tennis tour, with the help of World Tennis magazine's Gladys Heldman (a great Sarah Silverman), and begin to speak out strongly against gender discrimination. This all infuriates 55-year-old Riggs, a retired men's tennis icon played excellently by Carrell. In an obnoxiously jovial and condescending manner, he complains that women's tennis is just naturally inferior to men's tennis, and that the ladies are being unreasonable. Having just separated from his wife because of his gambling problem, Riggs starts calling up King and other players on the tour challenging them to a match, a "battle of the sexes."

King initially turns down his offer, but after Riggs easily defeats Margaret Smith, one of the top female players, King feels obligated to take him on. Stone plays a fantastic King throughout. The beginning-to-end tension between her unshakable conviction for respect and equality and society's unwillingness to shed chauvinistic views is really well depicted.

Not without its flaws, Battle of the Sexes is entertaining and definitely gives you insight into why this match snowballed into the national spectacle that it was. Not only that, but it's an interesting biography of King herself, her heroic ability to thrive under pressure as well as her grappling with her sexual identity behind the scenes.

My main issue with movie was that it spent a little too much time profiling Riggs, who really isn't sympathetic or that important and is a symbol of the sexism of the time. The film moves at a fast pace, which leaves you wanting more contexts for the events. But the pace also facilitates a nice, breezy viewing experience, and one that'll likely make repeated ones very enjoyable. (121 min.)

—Peter Johnson

BLADE RUNNER 2049

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival) takes up the reins of Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner in this sequel set 30 years after the original's year—2019. A new blade runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), discovers a long-buried secret and sets out to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), the blade runner from the original film.

This sequel is too long and too loud. OK, that's the end of my complaints. Otherwise, Blade Runner 2049 is a note-perfect follow-up to the original. The film's secrets are too delicious to reveal, but the gist of it revolves around greedy corporate industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), who's in search of the secret to establishing the next generation of replicants, genetically designed humanlike androids.

If you'll recall from the original, Nexus-6 replicants became rebellious, and with their superior strength, they were hard to "retire." Newer Nexus-7 and -8 models are designed to obey. Officer K is such a model, and he spends his time hunting down older replicants before retreating to his apartment that he shares with Joi (Ana de Armas), his holographic girlfriend—a product of the ubiquitous Wallace Corporation, which has insidiously infested itself in every corner of people's lives.

During an investigation on a protein farm, Officer K encounters Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista); a Nexus-6 replicant who's protecting the very secret Wallace needs to further his replicant work. Soon K finds himself being squeezed between his police boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) and Wallace's assassin replicant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) as he searches for Deckard and the truth.

Los Angeles is once again depicted as a dystopian melting pot populated by desperate characters, crime, and the sex trade. As the secret unfolds, the very future of humanity hangs in the balance.

Despite solid reviews (an 88 percent Rotten Tomatoes critic rating) and its predecessor's cult status, 2049 had a very soft opening weekend (only $30.5 million on a film that cost about $150 million to make), and it mainly attracted older white males. Maybe it's the long running time, maybe our current world filled with nuclear brinksmanship, mass shootings, and acrimonious race relations is already dystopian enough, but whatever the case the film didn't bring in the crowds.

Well, you know what? The original Blade Runner didn't immediately connect with audiences either. Time will tell, but I think this film explores important topics—ideas such as a caste society of the haves and have-nots, the future of technology and its replacement of authentic human relationships, artificial intelligence and the danger it represents to humankind, as well environmental destruction and the future of the planet.

It's a visually arresting film with cinematography by Roger A. Deakins (1984, Sid and Nancy, Baron Fink, The Shawshank Redemption, No Country For Old Men). Painted in shimmering gold, dusty saffron, and graying umbers, it's glorious to watch. The music by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer takes up perfectly from the original's synth-driven Vangelis soundtrack, only more thunderous.

The film's quiet dialog in conjunction with its industrial-strength soundtrack may make for difficult home viewing. This is one best seen in the theater. Fans of the original, don't miss it! For the rest of you, if you have even a passing interest, rent the original and get thee to a theater! It's worth it! (163 min.)

—Glen Starkey

BREATHE

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Galaxy

For his directorial debut, Andy Serkis brings to life the inspiring true love story between Robin and Diana Cavendish (Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy), an adventurous couple who refuse to give up in the face of a devastating disease. When Robin is struck down by polio at the age of 28, he is confined to a hospital bed and given only a few months to live. With the help of Diana's twin brothers (Tom Hollander) and the groundbreaking ideas of inventor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville), Robin and Diana dare to escape the hospital ward to seek out a full and passionate life together. (117 min.)

—Bleecker Street

THE FOREIGNER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

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

Jackie Chan vs. Pierce Brosnan! You may not have realized it, but this is the big screen, cross-cultural showdown you've been waiting for.

Setting aside its rather offensive title, The Foreigner, based on a 1992 novel The Chinaman by Stephen Leather, is an exciting, surprisingly layered British-Chinese action flick that puts Chan's renown talent for combat acting on full blast while delving into the Ireland/England political conflict.

Chan plays Ngoc Minh Quan, a retired Vietnam War special forces fighter who now runs a Chinese restaurant in London while raising his teenage daughter. Years prior, Quan watched his wife and two other daughters get killed in the fog of war. He cherishes his remaining daughter, but then she's suddenly killed in a roadside bombing in London. An Irish group called the "Authentic IRA [Irish Republican Army]" takes credit for the attack. Quan, beside himself with grief and rage, makes it his mission to track down those responsible.

Enter Brosnan as Liam Hennessy—today a top Irish government official, but formerly a prominent leader of the IRA revolution against England. Hennessy, an insulated, pompous politician, is somewhat caught between those two lives, and, following the bombing, soon realizes that the terrorist attack may have been abetted by his own office.

Determined to get revenge for his daughter's death and not taking "no" as an answer, Quan bullishly advances up the political ladder to finally reach Hennessy. The film becomes an exciting duel between Quan's combat prowess and Hennessy's political savvy, as Irish officials try to hunt down Quan while another IRA terrorist attack is in the works.

Both Chan and Brosnan play great characters, and there are some solid supporting cast performances as well. I especially enjoyed Brosnan in this movie, who really acted his ass off as this angry, charismatic, psychologically troubled former revolutionary figure. Chan also managed to delve into deeper, more intense energy than the showoff-y roles of his younger years.

On its face, The Foreigner appears pretty far-fetched and silly. But director Martin Campbell (Legend of Zorro, Casino Royale) does a good job of making this thriller feel real, or at least very entertaining. (113 min.)

Peter Johnson

GEOSTORM

What's it rated? PG-13

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

After an unprecedented series of natural disasters threatened the planet, the world's leaders came together to create an intricate network of satellites to control the global climate and keep everyone safe. But now, something has gone wrong: the system built to protect Earth is attacking it, and it becomes a race against the clock to uncover the real threat before a worldwide geostorm wipes out everything and everyone along with it. (110 min.)

—Warner Bros. Pictures

HAPPY DEATH DAY

What's it rated? R

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

A college student (Jessica Rothe, La La Land) relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer's identity. (96 min.)

—Universal Studios

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Streaming

Where's it showing? Galaxy

Matthew Vaughn returns to direct this sequel about Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a rough-around-the–edges street kid who in the first film (Kingsman: The Secret Service, 2014) was recruited into a super secret training program for British spies, after which he stopped a global threat posed by a tech genius. This time around, the spy organization's headquarters is destroyed and the world is held hostage by a drug lord (Julianne Moore), so the Brits team with an equally clandestine American spy organization called Statesman to save the world. Co-written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the film is based on the comic book series The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. (141 min.)

—Glen Starkey

LOVING VINCENT

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? The Palm

See Split Screen.

LUCKY

What's it rated? NR

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

In his directorial debut, the actor John Carroll Lynch directs Harry Dean Stanton in his last starring role as Lucky, a 90-year-old atheist staring down his own mortality. First and foremost, the film offers a remarkable performance by Stanton—a fitting swan song for one of Hollywood's most dependable and iconic character actors.

Lucky collapses after his morning exercises, hitting his head, but although he smokes and drinks, Lucky's doctor Christian Kneedler (Ed Begley Jr.) assures Lucky he's in remarkable health for his age. Of course, that's not going to stop him from dying, Kneedler tells him; he's simply getting old and his body will eventually give out.

In many ways, this is an existentialist exploration of what it means to live life well, and what it means to die well. Death is imminent for Lucky, and as an atheist, there's nothing waiting on the other side for him. It's a gloomy thought, but it doesn't stop him from rising each morning and going through his routine. It's a raw, authentic performance by Stanton. You can't look away.

The film moves at the pace of a 90-year-old. We see Lucky wake up, wash his armpits, smoke a cigarette, do his "five yoga poses," drink his coffee, dress, and ploddingly walk through town. He's a creature of habit, cantankerous but well liked, but he sometimes lets his emotions run away from him.

When at a bar, he overhears his friend Howard (David Lynch) consulting with a lawyer, Bobby Lawrence (Ron Livingston), on a last will and testament, and Lucky becomes incensed and challenges Bobby to a fight, apparently because he distrusts lawyers. We also learn that Lucky used to frequent another bar, but he was 86ed for life. We don't know why, but during his daily walk through town, he stops in front of the location and yells, "Cunts!" Then he moves along.

He's a man trying to make sense of his life, and he's aided in that endeavor when he runs across Fred (Tom Skerritt), a Marine veteran of World War II. Since Lucky is a Navy vet of the same era, the two reminisce and commiserate, pondering what their shared experiences mean and how they were shaped by them.

The film isn't didactic or preachy, nor does it offer any pat answers. It's simply a character study of a person who's facing death, and in lesser hands than Stanton's, it would no doubt feel fairly thin. Instead, it feels like an honest glimpse into the remarkable ordinariness of old age.

Lucky is a fan of crossword puzzles and the meaning of words, and he's particularly interested in the term "realism," which he notes means both, "the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly, and the quality or fact of representing a person, thing, or situation accurately or in a way that is true to life." Lucky the film does both. (88 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE

What's it rated? NR

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House centers on "Deep Throat," the pseudonym given to the notorious whistleblower for one of the greatest scandals of all time, Watergate. The true identity of the secret informant remained a mystery and source of much public curiosity and speculation for more than 30 years. That is until, in 2005, special agent Mark Felt shockingly revealed himself as the tipster. This unbelievable true story chronicles the personal and professional life of the brilliant and uncompromising Felt, who risked and ultimately sacrificed everything—his family, career, and freedom—in the name of justice. (103 min.)

—Sony Pictures Classics

MARSHALL

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

Director Reginald Hudlin's Marshall, is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It follows the young lawyer (Chadwick Boseman) to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur (Sterling K. Brown) charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer (Kate Hudson). (118 min.)

—Open Road Films

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

The Mountain Between Us is a wonderful romantic-adventure film based on the novel by Charles Martin. Beautifully directed by Hany Abu-Assad, the entire plot is based on a growing romance. Alex Martin (Kate Winslet), a travelling photojournalist, unexpectedly meets Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) at an airport after both of their flights get cancelled. The pair wind up together under tragic circumstances after their attempt to fly, regardless of weather advisories, lands them in a terrible plane crash that leaves them stranded deep in the snow-stormed wilderness.

The story begins in wintery late December, with Alex desperately trying to get a flight to New York to make it back in time for her wedding. The terrible weather in Idaho leaves her with no other option but to locate a private hangar in the hopes that a pilot will be willing to fly her anywhere closer to home. During her time at the airport, she notices a friendly stranger, Ben, who is also in the same predicament and must get back to Baltimore for a very important surgery he has to perform.

Alex meets a friendly pilot named Walter (Beau Bridges), who offers to help charter them to Denver for $800, but must hurry in order to get them there before the storm hits so they can catch their connecting flights home. Ben decides to join Alex on the plane with Beau, and the three take off alongside Walter's furry companion, a yellow lab that remains nameless throughout the film, but ends up being everyone's favorite character. Once they take off, flying over snow-capped mountains, Walter begins to stutter while speaking and eventually is unable to speak at all. Ben quickly realizes that Walter is having a stroke.

The plane goes down violently and Ben is the first to wake up after the crash. The only survivors are Ben, Alex, and the dog. Ben buries Walter and wraps Alex's wounded leg while she is still unconscious. A few days go by and Alex finally wakes up, only to find out that they are all stranded on a mountainside with little food and quickly realizes that no one actually knows that they are missing—Walter never filed a flight plan before takeoff.

A stubborn Ben insists that they stay inside the plane wreckage for shelter and wait for rescuers to come, but Alex firmly believes that they must travel for help or they will never make it. After a few more days go by, things intensify between Alex and Ben. The strangers begin to realize that they need one another in order to survive, but can't seem to agree on much. Once they break into their first fight, a frustrated and fed-up Alex storms off with the dog, leaving Ben behind. He eventually goes after her, but because of Alex's leg injury there is no turning back. The two have no choice but to keep moving forward. Alex finally comes to know that she really does need Ben's help and cannot make it alone.

Weeks go by and while the two are figuring out how to survive, they stumble upon an abandoned cabin as they are running out of food and Alex's leg injury isn't getting any better. As Alex and Ben grow fonder of one another, they must figure out if they're going to make it out alive and whether they truly do love one another. (103 min).

—Rachelle Ramirez

ONLY THE BRAVE

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

All men are created equal... then, a few become firefighters. Only the Brave, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country. As most of us run from danger, they run toward it—they watch over our lives, our homes, everything we hold dear, as they forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire. (133 min.)

—Columbia Pictures

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Same Kind of Different as Me is based on the inspiring true story of international art dealer Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), who befriends a homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) in hopes of saving his struggling marriage to Debbie (Renée Zellweger), a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. Jon Voight plays Hall's father, with whom he reconciles thanks to the revelations of his new life. (119 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

THE SNOWMAN

What's it rated? R

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

When an elite crime squad's lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall. (119 min.)

—Universal Studios

TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON

What's it rated? NR

Where's it showing? The Palm

This is the remarkable story of an American icon that changed the sport of big wave surfing forever. Transcending the surf genre, this in-depth portrait of hard-charging athlete Laird Hamilton explores the fear, courage, and ambition that push a man to greatness-and the cost that comes with it. (118 min.)

—IFC Films

TYLER PERRY'S B00 2! A MADEA HALLOWEEN

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Stadium 10, Park

Madea and the gang are back for this hilarious sequel. Madea (Tyler Perry), Bam (Cassi Davis), and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) venture to a haunted campground and the group must literally run for their lives when monsters, goblins and the bogeyman are unleashed.

—Lionsgate

VICTORIA AND ABDUL

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

If you like movies with happy endings and no loose ends, then Victoria and Abdul is not the film for you. However, if you want to see a slice of life from a once lost part of history that's filled with charm and subtle humor, then you will adore this movie.

"Mostly" based on true events, Victoria and Abdul focuses on the relationship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Their story begins in the late 1880s, while Britain ruled India, and Abdul, a low class Indian man, is hired to present Victoria with a ceremonial coin. Victoria takes a liking to him and requests him to be her personal servant, then later promotes him to Munshi—a previously non-existent role in the palace, which involved teaching Victoria about Indian language, culture, and religion. The other members of the royal household are scandalized by the entire situation and persistently try to convince Victoria to send Abdul back to India.

It's hard to articulate what exactly makes this movie so delightful. There's just something very pure and very human about the way the titular characters have such fun together, completely ignoring all the reasons their friendship supposedly shouldn't blossom. Abdul's endearingly dorky sense of humor also plays well alongside the more deadpan, disgruntled attitude of his other friend and fellow Indian, Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar). Even when dealing with racism or classism from the antagonist characters—for most of the film such moments are played for laughs—making the antagonists appear more foolish than threatening.

For those who care about big names, Victoria and Abdul also has a pretty stunning cast. In addition to Dench as Victoria, it also features Michael Gambon as the prime minister and Eddie Izzard as Victoria's son. However, the lesser-known actors shine just as much, especially Akhtar, who steals nearly every scene he's in.

The only thing that really bothered me about this movie was the complete lack of resolutions. As the story progresses, the film's tone gradually gets more and more serious, but pretty much all of the problems that arise end up getting pushed aside instead of resolved. This is forgivable considering that the movie is based on true events and it's unlikely that any of those problems were resolved in real life either, but it can still be frustrating for a viewer. Though you'll definitely laugh for most of the film, you'll probably leave the theater feeling a bit sad.

All in all, Victoria and Abdul is worth seeing. It's not your typical anti-prejudice movie where good triumphs and all is overcome, but in this case the journey matters more than the destination. (112 min.) Δ

—Katrina Borges

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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