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Film listings for 10/27 through 11/3 

AMERICAN MADE

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Stadium 10

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. (115 min.)

—Glen Starkey

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? Park

A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. And if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn't hard enough, they have to do all of that while hosting and entertaining their own mothers. By the end of the journey, our moms will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers. (104 min.)

—STX Films

BLADE RUNNER 2049

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

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

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

THE FLORIDA PROJECT

What's it rated? R

Where's it showing? The Palm

The Florida Project tells the story of a precocious 6-year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with childhood wonder, possibility, and a sense of adventure while the adults around them struggle with hard times. (115 min.)

—A24 Films

THE FOREIGNER

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? Sunset Drive-In

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

IT

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

From director Andy Muschietti (Mama) comes the remake of the 1990 mini-series thriller IT, based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, which has been terrifying readers for decades. When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries. (135 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

JIGSAW

What's it rated? R

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

After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement find themselves chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade and embroiled in a new game that's only just begun. Is John Kramer (Tobin Bell) back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own? (91 min.)

—Lionsgate

LOVING VINCENT

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Full Price

Where's it showing? The Palm

Writers-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman helm this story about impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk), exploring his complicated life and mysterious death. Shot with live actors, the film was then transformed into animation. A team of 115 painters working in Van Gogh's style painted each of the film's 65,000 individual frames. The results are a spectacular and mesmerizing achievement! This film is a glory to behold, with paintings coming to life before your eyes.

The story—written by the co-directors and Jacek Dehnel—takes place a couple years after Van Gogh's death. When an undelivered letter is discovered from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, Vincent's friend and frequent subject Postman Roulin (Chris O'Dowd) enlists his son Armand (Douglas Booth) to carry the letter to Paris and search for Theo, since the forwarded letter had already been returned "undeliverable." Armand sets out on the train, and soon his task turns into a mystery story as he tries to find Theo, and barring him, his widow or someone else who should appropriately receive what was perhaps Van Gogh's last epistle.

The film is certainly not the definitive version or Van Gogh's death—it raises questions but doesn't offer certain answers, just more conjecture—but it's entertaining, poignant, and visually arresting. See this one in the theater! (94 min.)

—Glen Starkey

MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE

What's it rated? NR

What's it worth? Streaming

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House provides interesting and intimate insight into the man better known as "Deep Throat," the key FBI source behind Bob Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's historic reporting of the Nixon Watergate scandal.

But the film's muddy, chaotic story structure leaves much to be desired.

Based on Felt's 2005 memoir, director (and journalist) Peter Landesman attempts to unravel the 1974 Watergate investigation from Felt's, and the FBI's, perspective, providing the context for why Felt became a confidential informant for The Washington Post.

It's a great idea for a screenplay. The movie-viewing public is well familiarized with the journalistic side of Watergate through All the President's Men, but portrayals of Felt, the mysterious, high-level leaker who made that reporting possible, are scarce.

Mark Felt picks up in 1972, the year the FBI's founder and director J. Edgar Hoover died. Felt (Liam Neeson), the associate director of the FBI at the time, is flummoxed when President Nixon decides to appoint an outsider and political ally, Patrick Gray (Marton Csokas), as its new director.

As a 30-year FBI veteran with resolute deference for the agency's integrity and autonomy, Felt is disturbed and slighted by the choice and is even further dismayed when Gray and the White House start coordinating to quash the FBI Watergate burglary investigation in 1974 and protect Nixon. In response, Felt begins to meet confidentially with news reporters.

The problem with how this plays out is Landesman tries to accomplish too many things at once, resulting in a confusing story line, a lack of detail, many unanswered questions, and a general slog of an experience. What Mark Felt does do well is realistically portray the dramatic tension between a corrupt federal administration hell-bent on covering its ass and an unwaveringly independent investigator who "knows too much" (sound familiar and current?). It also provides interesting insight into Felt's personal life. We learn about Felt's struggle to locate his daughter (Maika Monroe), who had run away from home, and the struggles of his wife, Audrey (Diane Lane), who ultimately committed suicide.

Neeson delivers a solid, entertaining performance as Felt. But he's let down by those in charge of the movie's nuts and bolts. The pulse-pounding music, over-the-top dramatic exchanges, and chaos of the plot progression just add clutter and take away from what should be an excellent biopic. (103 minutes)

Peter Johnson

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

What's it rated? PG-13

What's it worth? Matinee

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

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

See Split Screen.

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. (119 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

THE SNOWMAN

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Streaming

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

From director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) comes this adaptation Jo Nesbo's crime novel The Snowman, the seventh book in his Harry Hole series (although this is the first time we've seen the character on the big screen). We follow Detective Hole (Michael Fassbender) as he investigates the disappearance of a woman on the first snow of winter. He discovers the calling card of an elusive serial killer at the woman's housea snowman, of course. With the help of a new recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), Hole must connect decades-old cold cases to the new one to find out what brought the killer out of hibernation and what their next move will be before it's too late.

The real mystery of The Snowman isn't "Who did it?" It's "How did this happen?" I had already heard the negative buzz surrounding this film before seeing it, which was surprising given the amount of talent involved (both in front of and behind the camera). I knew going in that Martin Scorsese had a producing credit, but I was even more baffled when I saw Alfredson's name in the opening titles.

Alfredson's Let the Right One In and The Snowman have two big things in common a lot of snow and a lot of bloodshed (although it's caused by a vampire in the former). Both films are also adaptations of best-selling novels. Since I haven't read either book, I cannot praise or blame the source material while comparing the two. Whether Let the Right One In is based on a better novel or not, its screenplay is inarguably stronger than The Snowman's.

Although Fassbender is convincing as a hardened, veteran detective, it's difficult to care about his character when his journey is constantly interrupted by unconvincing and unnecessarily complex red herrings and lengthy flashbacks of supporting characters that could have been thrown out completely.

Even so, I believe Alfredson approached the script he was given in a graceful way. Despite a muddled story, he manages to capture a unique down-to-earth atmosphere, rare when compared to most crime thrillers nowadays. Alfredson could have played it safe with David Fincher-esque stylization, but took a risk instead with a more matter-of-fact approach. Unfortunately, the risk didn't pay off this outing. The Snowman is frigid, but it isn't chilling. (119 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

SUBURBICON

What's it rated? R

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

Suburbicon is a peaceful, idyllic suburban community with affordable homes and manicured lawns ... the perfect place to raise a family, and in the summer of 1959, the Lodge family is doing just that. But the tranquil surface masks a disturbing reality, as husband and father Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) must navigate the town's dark underbelly of betrayal, deceit, and violence. This is a tale of very flawed people making very bad choices. (105 min.)

—Paramount Pictures

TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON

What's it rated? NR

What's it worth? Matinee

Where's it showing? The Palm (Last showing on Oct. 26)

If you surf, are a fan of surfing, or have even the vaguest awareness of the sport then you've likely heard of the iconic American surfer Laird Hamilton, who transformed surfing by going after unimaginably huge waves and popularizing tow-in surfing and a surf board with a propeller fin underneath that literally lifts the board off the water.

Hamilton is exceptional at what he does, but it's his backstory and personal motivations that make the documentary Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton a truly compelling film.

Similar to successful men like Barack Obama and Steve Jobs, Hamilton was raised by a young, single mom. His dad left when she was pregnant and so Hamilton's mom took off to Hawaii in search of a simpler life. This is where Hamilton became engulfed in surf culture, even meeting his future stepdad and surfer Bill Hamilton while body surfing as a young child.

The film toggles back and forth between interviews with Laird, family members, surf buddies, and editors from Surfer magazine as well as footage of the giant Laird surfing big waves. There's also a lot of period footage to set the scene for what Hawaii was like when Laird was growing up. There's probably a little too much of that for my taste, but it is interesting to see how much less populated Hawaii used to be.

While Hamilton is undeniably talented and ambitious (At 50-something he's still going strong in his sport), he doesn't seem to always have a lot of empathy for others if it gets in the way of his surfing goals. In one scene, we see his friends (some former) talk about Laird getting big and cutting them out of their production company that made videos about strapped-in surfing. When going after a particularly epic wave goes south real fast, Hamilton and his tow-in driver and friend are dragged under several times. When they finally resurface, it's revealed that his friend is bleeding profusely and may die. While (spoiler) Hamilton manages to get his friend to safety and into the hands of medical professionals, he doesn't ride along with him to the hospital, opting instead to head back into the water to conquer the wave. It's that kind of single-mindedness that's likely gotten the famous surfer to where he is today, but it left me feeling a tad dumbstruck and sad.

But then there's Hamilton being a great husband to his wife, Olympic volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, and helping one of his kids with her homework until every assignment is done. Hamilton is a complex individual. He admits that he could have done some things differently. But in the same breath, he also says that he might not do anything differently if it means he wouldn't get to live the life he has today. If nothing else, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton is a refreshingly honest look into the making and mind of one of the greatest American big wave surfers. (118 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE

What's it rated? R

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

Thank You for Your Service follows a group of U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq who struggle to integrate back into family and civilian life, while living with the memory of a war that threatens to destroy them long after they've left the battlefield. (108 min.)

—Universal Studios

THOR: RAGNAROK

What's it rated? PG-13

Where's it showing? Park

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)! (130 min.)

—Walt Disney Pictures

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, 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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