Film Listings, 6/27/19 – 7/4/19 – New Times SLO

All theater listings are as of Friday, June 28.

ALADDIN

What’s it rated? PG

What’s it worth? Full price

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

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BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR Street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, left) discovers a magic genie (Will Smith) in a lamp, in a new-live action remake of Disney's animated classic, Aladdin. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WALT DISNEY PICTURES

  • Photo Courtesy Of Walt Disney Pictures

  • BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR Street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud, left) discovers a magic genie (Will Smith) in a lamp, in a new-live action remake of Disney’s animated classic, Aladdin.

Pick

Co-writer and director Guy Richie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) helms this live-action remake of Disney’s animated 1992 film of the same name. Mena Massoud takes on the title role as a kindhearted street urchin who dreams of winning the heart of Jasmine (Naomi Scott), a princess living a constricted life. Aladdin is ordered by Grand Vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) to bring him a magical lamp, but Aladdin soon discovers the lamp, when rubbed, releases a genie (Will Smith), who grants the lamp bearer’s wishes. Can Aladdin use the genie to stop Jafar’s evil intentions and win the heart of his love? (128 min.)

—Caleb Wiseblood

ANNA

What’s it rated? R

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

New

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

—Glen Starkey

ANNABELLE COMES HOME

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NO PLACE LIKE HOME A possessed doll is kept under lock and key in the home of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively), in the horror thriller, Anabelle Comes Home. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW LINE CINEMA

  • Photo Courtesy Of New Line Cinema

  • NO PLACE LIKE HOME A possessed doll is kept under lock and key in the home of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively), in the horror thriller, Anabelle Comes Home.

What’s it rated? R

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

New

To keep the possessed doll from wreaking havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) lock Annabelle in their artifacts room at home. But unspeakable horror awaits the family when Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on Judy, the Warrens’ 10-year-old daughter, and her friends. (100 min.)

—Caleb

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

What’s it rated? PG-13

What’s it worth? Full price

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy

Pick

Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War) co-direct this follow-up to their 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War, which resulted in Thanos turning half the universe’s population into dust. The remaining Avengers reassemble and work to undo Thanos’ destructive act and restore the universe. It’s the 11th film in the connected Marvel Universe series. (181 min.)

—Glen Starkey

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

What’s it rated? PG

What’s it worth? Full price

Where’s it showing? The Palm

Pick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Glen

BOOKSMART

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NERD PATROL Academic superstars and besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, left) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) decide to make their final night as high schoolers one to remember, in Booksmart. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANNAPURNA PICTURES

  • Photos Courtesy Of Annapurna Pictures

  • NERD PATROL Academic superstars and besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, left) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) decide to make their final night as high schoolers one to remember, in Booksmart.

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth? Full price

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre

Pick

In her feature-length directorial debut, actress Olivia Wilde helms this comedy about teenage besties Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein), who on the eve of their high school graduation realize they squandered their chance at fun by concentrating too much on being academic superstars. Can they cram four years of missed shenanigans into one night?

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

—Glen

CHILD’S PLAY

TIME TO PLAY Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) brings home a special present, a seemingly harmless Buddi doll named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill), for her son, in the horror reboot, Child's Play. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ORION PICTURES

  • Photo Courtesy Of Orion Pictures

  • TIME TO PLAY Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) brings home a special present, a seemingly harmless Buddi doll named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill), for her son, in the horror reboot, Child’s Play.

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth? Matinee

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

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

—Glen

THE DEAD DON’T DIE

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DEADLY DISCIPLINE Tilda Swinton stars as Zelda Winston, Centerville's eccentric undertaker and swordswoman. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANIMAL KINGDOM

  • Photos Courtesy Of Animal Kingdom

  • DEADLY DISCIPLINE Tilda Swinton stars as Zelda Winston, Centerville’s eccentric undertaker and swordswoman.

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth? Matinee

Where’s it showing? The Palm

Pick

Writer-director Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise, Dead Man, Broken Flowers, Only Lovers Left Alive, Paterson) helms this horror-comedy about a zombie uprising in the normally peaceful and sleepy town of Centerville. Can local Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray) and officer Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) stave off the horde? Will junior policewoman Mindy Morrison (Chloë Sevigny) be of any help? How about strange new undertaker Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton)? And what’s up with Hermit Bob (Tom Waits)?

Over his long, strange career, Jarmusch has earned the auteur title. He’s unquestionably an amazing writer-director. And this cast? Holy hell, that’s a lot of talent on screen! And yet this film seems to squander its potential. Its pace borders on glacial. It’s so deadpan that even the non-zombies feel devoid of life. Ultimately, its message—which by the way feels tacked on at the end by Tom Waits’ voiceover narration—seems to be that humanity has been zombified by our shallow, capitalist, consumerist culture; anesthetized by our vices; and our utter annihilation is much deserved.

That’s pretty heavy for a zom-com. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland were a lot more fun than this dour affair. Of course, between the cast and witty writing, the film is still worth watching, I just wish it would have been better, and I wish Jarmusch had found a more satisfying ending than this dizzyingly contrived one.

Essentially what we have here is a zombie satire, and a very self-aware and self-reflexive one at that. When we first hear Sturgill Simpson’s theme song on the radio, Driver’s Ronnie says something like, “Oh, I love this song,” and Murray’s Cliff says, “It sounds really familiar,” to which Ronnie says, “That’s because it’s the theme song.” Huh? Later, after Cliff berates Ronnie for continuously saying, “I don’t think this is going to end well,” Cliff yells, “How do you know?” Ronnie says, “I read the whole script.” These are some strange choices.

Hermit Bob seems to be the only character able to see human culture for the mess that it is; hence, he lives alone in the woods away from people. Then there’s the odd, otherworldly Scottish undertaker Zelda, which Swinton is clearly having a lot of fun playing. These bizarre characters are enough to keep the film interesting even as it drags along, one shaky, stilted zombie step at a time toward its weird conclusion. Maybe seeing 6-foot-2 Adam Driver pull up in a tiny red convertible Smart Car makes it all worth it. Maybe not.

I’m pretty much down to see anything with Bill Murray in it; he’s always worth watching. He’s playing himself again in the upcoming Zombieland sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, which is currently in post production. Should be interesting considering he died in the first one. Of course, that’s the thing about zombies. They don’t stay dead.

As for this film, it sure doesn’t seem like it’s going to be remembered as one of Jarmusch’s better films. According to Rotten Tomatoes, critics (53 percent) are liking it slightly more than audiences (45 percent), but both seem to be rating it a bomb. Maybe I’m missing something because Jarmusch is usually a really smart director.

It’s certainly fun to see punk rocker Iggy Pop as one of the coffee craving zombies, and Sturgill Simpson has a cameo as Guitar Zombie. Steve Buscemi as the racist Farmer Frank Miller is interesting, too, as is Danny Glover’s hangdog Hank Thompson. Caleb Landry Jones stars as quirky gas station/memorabilia store owner Bobby Wiggins, who falls for “big city hipster from Cleveland” Zoe (Selena Gomez), who’s passing through town.

All of these various characters and cameos have their moments on screen, but the sum of the parts don’t really add up to much. Should you go see this? Yes, if you like Jarmusch, Murray, and zombies. Will you be blown away by how awesome it all is? Nope. No way. I’m filing this film away as a curiosity. (105 min.)

—Glen

ECHO IN THE CANYON

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SCHOOL OF ROCK Echo in the Canyon, a documentary that explores the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene, features one of the last recorded interviews with Tom Petty before his death in 2017. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT

  • Photo Courtesy Of Greenwich Entertainment

  • SCHOOL OF ROCK Echo in the Canyon, a documentary that explores the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene, features one of the last recorded interviews with Tom Petty before his death in 2017.

What’s it rated? PG-13

Where’s it showing? The Palm

New

First-time director Andy Slater helms this documentary that explores the birth of the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene, its influence on contemporary artists, and the groups involved with its creation, including the Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and The Mamas and the Papas. The film also features one of the last recorded interviews with Tom Petty before his death in 2017. (82 min.)

—Caleb

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

What’s it rated? PG-13

What’s it worth? Stream it

Where’s it showing? Park

Monarch, a cryptozoological agency, tries to deal with the emergence of monsters—Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah—who are battling for supremacy on Earth. The sequel to 2014’s Godzilla is co-written and directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick ‘r Treat).

If all you want out of a movie is some awesome CGI Kaiju battles, King of the Monsters might do the trick, but the “story” surrounding the said battles is a semi-coherent mess and an excuse for giant monsters to wage epic battles. Secret underwater cities, mythological texts, outer space aliens, a plan to revive Godzilla by letting him feed off of radiation from a nuclear bomb—you name it, this film’s thrown it into the mix.

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

—Glen

LATE NIGHT

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth? Full price

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Park, Stadium 10

Pick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Karen Garcia

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

What’s it rated? PG-13

What’s it worth? Stream it

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

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

This is a sequel in search of an original idea, and try as it might, it can’t find one. You won’t need to get neuralyzed to erase your memory of this film; it’s so forgettable it will be an afterthought before the theater door closes behind you. (115 min.)

—Glen

PAVAROTTI

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LEND ME A TENOR Pavarotti, a new documentary from director Ron Howard, examines the life and career of famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IMAGINE ENTERTAINMENT

  • Photo Courtesy Of Imagine Entertainment

  • LEND ME A TENOR Pavarotti, a new documentary from director Ron Howard, examines the life and career of famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

What’s it rated? PG-13

Where’s it showing? Galaxy

New

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. (114 min.)

—Caleb

ROCKETMAN

What’s it rated? R

What’s it worth? Full price

Where’s it showing? The Palm, 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, Stadium 10

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

While there are plenty of one-liners that are definitely flying over the heads of the young audience in the theater, the plot of the film is all over the place. An elementary-school-aged kid is probably not going to notice the three stories that honestly should have been separate animated shorts that somehow clumsily come together, but all you adults out there definitely will. Save your pretty pennies, parents, and just wait to Redbox it or stream it on your preferred service. (86 min.)

—Karen

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

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SPIDEY SENSES Peter Parker (Tom Holland), aka Spider-Man, agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several otherworldly attacks plaguing Europe, in Spider-Man: Far From Home. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS

  • Photo Courtesy Of Marvel Studios

  • SPIDEY SENSES Peter Parker (Tom Holland), aka Spider-Man, agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several otherworldly attacks plaguing Europe, in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

What’s it rated? PG-13

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10 (Opens July 2)

New

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) joins his best friends Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) on a vacation trip to Europe. But Parker’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are scrapped when he agrees to help Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uncover the mystery of several otherworldly attacks plaguing the continent. (135 min.)

—Caleb

TOY STORY 4

What’s it rated? G

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

See Split Screen.

YESTERDAY

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FAB ONE A struggling singer/songwriter wakes up one day to discover that The Beatles have never existed and realizes he's the only person who remembers their music, in the comedy fantasy, Yesterday. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WORKING TITLE FILMS

  • Photo Courtesy Of Working Title Films

  • FAB ONE A struggling singer/songwriter wakes up one day to discover that The Beatles have never existed and realizes he’s the only person who remembers their music, in the comedy fantasy, Yesterday.

What’s it rated? PG-13

Where’s it showing? Downtown Centre, Galaxy, Park, Stadium 10, Fair Oaks, Bay

New

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire) helms this comedy fantasy about Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling singer/songwriter in a small English seaside town. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Malik wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed and realizes he’s the only person who remembers them and their music. (112 min.) Δ

—Caleb

New Times movie reviews were compiled by Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood this week. Contact him at cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

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