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AQUAMAN

This premiere solo out­ing is as big and (oc­ca­sion­ally) dumb as its hero, but it can also match the weird charm of Ja­son Mo­moa’s per­for­mance. The story takes us to Aquaman’s be­gin­ning as a half-hu­man, half-mer­man kid who can speak to ma­rine wildlife (he gets that from his mom, an At­lantean queen played by Ni­cole Kid­man). When At­lantis threat­ens war on the land dwellers, Aquaman must re­al­ize his des­tiny as the un­der­wa­ter king­dom’s leader and usurp his hot-headed half-brother Orm (Pa­trick Wil­son). Much of the di­a­logue lands with a thud, and the act­ing could be stronger (Am­ber Heard, play­ing Aquaman’s love in­ter­est, is the big­gest of­fender), but as ef­fects-laden spec­ta­cles go, di­rec­tor James Wan de­liv­ers the goods and then some. The movie’s MVP, how­ever, is cos­tume de­signer Kym Bar­rett, who crafts ev­ery­thing from the bug-like out­fit of vil­lain Black Manta (Yahya Ab­dul-Ma­teen II) to the At­lantean ar­mor with such won­drous cre­ativ­ity that she could find her­self among the crafts­peo­ple be­hind the cos­tume dra­mas and pres­tige pic­tures on Os­car night. Rated PG-13. 143 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Santa Fe 6; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

AT ETER­NITY’S GATE

Ju­lian Schn­abel’s wildly un­even ac­count of the fever­ish last stretch of the life of Vin­cent van Gogh is largely about ways of see­ing. The por­trait that Schn­abel has put on film is in many ways as much about his own way of see­ing as van Gogh’s. Willem Dafoe cap­tures the artis­tic in­ten­sity and emo­tional in­sta­bil­ity that seem to have char­ac­ter­ized the fate­ful months in the spring and sum­mer of 1890 that pre­ceded the artist’s death. The main draw­back to Dafoe’s cast­ing is that he’s about 30 years older than van Gogh was when he died. De­spite its flaws, this ver­sion of van Gogh’s end game packs plenty of power and char­ac­ter as it takes Vin­cent from fail­ure and de­pres­sion in grey, grimy Paris to Ar­les af­ter meet­ing Paul

Gau­guin (an im­pe­ri­ous Os­car Isaac) and be­ing ad­vised to “go south, Vin­cent!” There’s plenty to an­noy you in this lat­est ad­di­tion to the well-stocked van Gogh cin­ema shelf, but also plenty to ad­mire, in­clud­ing Dafoe’s per­for­mance, some fine cameos by ac­tors Mathieu Amal­ric and Mads Mikkelsen, and a beau­ti­ful de­pic­tion of the cre­ative process of paint­ing it­self. Rated PG-13. 110 min­utes. In English and some French with sub­ti­tles. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

BEN IS BACK

In this in­die drama, Ju­lia Roberts plays Holly Burns, a mother who comes home on Christ­mas Eve to find her son Ben (Lukas Hedges of Manch­ester by the Sea) on her front stoop in­stead of at re­hab, where he is at­tempt­ing to re­cover from his opioid ad­dic­tion. She’s thrilled to see him, but soon she and Ben’s step­fa­ther Neal (Court­ney B. Vance) must nav­i­gate the hol­i­day care­fully, aware of Ben’s ten­dency to re­lapse and run. Peter Hedges, di­rec­tor of films such as Dan in Real Life and Lukas’ real-life fa­ther, wrote and di­rects. Rated R. 103 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

BO­HEMIAN RHAP­SODY

In 1991, Queen front­man Fred­die Mer­cury died from AIDS-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions. With this biopic, the band’s sur­viv­ing mem­bers at­tempt to do right by his legacy while also wa­ter­ing it down, set­tling petty scores with for­mer man­age­ment and re­mind­ing the pub­lic that they were there and con­trib­uted a great deal, too — as when gui­tarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) in­forms no­body in par­tic­u­lar that he wrote the solo in “Bo­hemian Rhap­sody.” The re­sults are grandiose, goofy, and largely en­ter­tain­ing. While a bit more en­ergy would have gone a long way, the film du­ti­fully hits the bench­marks of the band’s rise to fame without fuss­ing too much over de­tails, and Rami Malek em­bod­ies the larger-than-life lead singer Mer­cury with par­tic­u­lar rel­ish. Con­cerns from the gay com­mu­nity about the sur­face-level treat­ment de­voted to Mer­cury’s sex­u­al­ity are well noted, but for what the film is — a nearly fam­ily-friendly overview of Queen’s ca­reer — it de­liv­ers crowd-pleas­ing re­sults. More im­por­tantly, the film­mak­ers also know when to fore­ground Queen’s eter­nally vi­brant mu­sic and just get out of the way. Rated PG-13. 134 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker)

BUMBLEBEE

The 1980s era of fam­ily movies is ef­fec­tively recre­ated in this first en­try in the Trans­form­ers fran­chise not to be di­rected by Michael Bay. The year is 1987, and Char­lie (Hailee Ste­in­feld) is a mis­fit teenage girl with a sin­gle mom (Pamela Ad­lon). She fishes a ca­nary-yel­low Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle out of a scrap­yard with the in­tent to fix it up, and dis­cov­ers that it’s a ro­bot from a dis­tant world named Bumblebee, who was ren­dered mute in a bat­tle. The two bond over their shared out­cast sta­tus and soon must de­fend them­selves from the evil De­cep­ti­cons, as well as some army bros (led by an agent played by John Cena) who want the alien gone. It’s all ca­pa­bly crafted by di­rec­tor Travis Knight, and in­cludes sev­eral scenes that exude a tan­gi­ble warmth. But there isn’t an orig­i­nal bolt in the frame of this movie, which apes E.T. the Ex­tra-Terrestrial down to al­most all of its de­tails, and that fa­mil­iar­ity can be charm­ing at some times and bor­ing at oth­ers. The ‘80s set­ting also re­minds us that this prop­erty was cre­ated in that era as a cheap car­toon to sell toys; de­spite ef­forts to pro­vide the fran­chise with a soul, it still gives off that whiff of cold, bland cap­i­tal­ism. Rated PG-13. 113 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Santa Fe 6; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

THE FAVOURITE

All pol­i­tics is sex­ual in the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Col­man), in this rav­ish­ingly en­ter­tain­ing cos­tume romp as imag­ined by di­rec­tor Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos (The

Lob­ster). Anne ruled Eng­land for a seven-year stretch in the early 18th cen­tury. Her clos­est ad­vi­sor and con­fi­dante was Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marl­bor­ough. When that re­la­tion­ship soured, Sarah (Rachel Weisz) was re­placed in Anne’s af­fec­tions by Abi­gail Hill (Emma Stone), Sarah’s poor re­la­tion. Both were Ladies of the Bed­cham­ber to the Queen, and in this movie’s de­li­ciously bawdy take, they lived up to that ti­tle in more ways than one. Ev­ery­thing clicks in this darkly funny satire. The cos­tumes are rich, as is the pro­duc­tion de­sign in which palace in­trigue swirls and wars are al­ter­nately launched and halted, funded and starved, and min­is­ters come and go. The hu­mor is some­times so­phis­ti­cated, some­times slap­stick. All three women should be near the front of the line at Os­car time. Weisz and Stone duel for Anne’s af­fec­tions with wit, charm, de­ceit, and other, more sin­is­ter weapons. And Col­man is tran­scen­dent, cre­at­ing a doughy, gouty, self-pity­ing ego­tist with oc­ca­sion­ally glimpsed re­serves of no­bil­ity and steel. Rated R. 119 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

GREEN BOOK

This “in­spired by a true story” tale fol­lows a well­worn for­mula: an odd-cou­ple pair­ing of po­lar op­po­sites who take a while to warm up to each other, but when they fi­nally do, it’s as cozy as Christ­mas (where the movie ends). The mis­matched pair is Tony Val­le­longa (Viggo Mortensen), a brawl­ing goom­bah from a Bronx Ital­ian neigh­bor­hood, and Dr. Don Shirley (Ma­her­shala Ali), a fas­tid­i­ous African-Amer­i­can con­cert pi­anist who lives high atop Carnegie Hall. The year is 1962. Dr. Shirley and his trio are em­bark­ing on a con­cert tour of the Deep South, and he re­quires a driver who can dou­ble as en­forcer. Mortensen warms into the role af­ter lay­ing the boor on a bit thick in the es­tab­lish­ing scenes. Ali, too, has to play through a stereo­type, but he emerges tri­umphant, and he ices the deal with su­perb pi­ano work. There is scarcely a scene that you don’t see com­ing, scarcely a but­ton that is not pushed. Yet they are pushed and ex­e­cuted so win­ningly that in the end you’d be in­clined to for­give the movie even if an an­gel got his wings. Rated PG-13. 130 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

HOLMES AND WAT­SON

Will Fer­rell and John C. Reilly, the dy­namic duo from pop­u­lar comedic films like Tal­ladega Nights: The Bal­lad of Ricky Bobby and

Step Brothers, re­unite for this movie based on one of the most fa­mous lit­er­ary part­ner­ships of all time: Sher­lock Holmes (Fer­rell) and Dr. Wat­son (Reilly). When a mur­der oc­curs at Buck­ing­ham Palace, the bum­bling pair must solve the case in or­der to pro­tect the Queen (Pam Fer­ris). Rated PG-13. 90 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

MARY POP­PINS RE­TURNS

Emily Blunt blows into Lon­don via the um­brella of Mary Pop­pins, the whim­si­cal Bri­tish nanny fa­mously por­trayed by Julie An­drews, for this se­quel to the 1964 film. The Banks sib­lings, now adults played by Emily Mor­timer and Ben Whishaw, find them­selves at risk of los­ing their child­hood home. Pop­pins ap­pears in or­der to help them, as well as the next gen­er­a­tion of Banks kids, through this rough patch, get­ting them back in tune with the magic of life. The plot is clichéd, but di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall nails the tone per­fectly, por­tray­ing Lon­don with a small-town friend­li­ness and uti­liz­ing clas­sic-style an­i­ma­tion for Pop­pins’ flights of fancy. Lin-Manuel Mi­randa plays the Dick Van Dyke-like side­kick, a singing street lamp­lighter, and Mi­randa’s ex­pe­ri­ence with Hamil­ton lends a pol­ished air to the de­light­ful (and plen­ti­ful) mu­si­cal num­bers. Blunt is charm­ing in the lead role, thread­ing the nee­dle

be­tween stern nanny and big­hearted ma­gi­cian per­fectly. While the run­ning time is too long for some toddlers, this movie finds Dis­ney re­cap­tur­ing the ef­fort­lessly warm feel­ing of their clas­sic live-ac­tion movies, right down to the ap­pear­ances by Van Dyke and An­gela Lans­bury. Rated PG. 130 min­utes. Re­gal Santa Fe 6; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Based on John Guy’s 2004 bi­og­ra­phy Queen of Scots: The True

Life of Mary Stu­art, this pe­riod drama tells the story of Mary, Queen of Scots (Saoirse Ro­nan), who re­turned to Scot­land from France as a teenage widow in 1561 and pro­ceeded to ruf­fle many feathers, most no­tably those of Queen El­iz­a­beth (Mar­got Rob­bie). Di­rec­tor Josie Rourke at­tempts to ex­am­ine both pow­er­ful women with a sym­pa­thetic eye, as they vie for the throne of Eng­land with sup­port­ers on each side. The clash doesn’t end well for one of them; those aware of Bri­tish his­tory know which one, while for every­one else, it might be con­sid­ered a movie spoiler. Rated R. 124 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

MOR­TAL EN­GINES

The writ­ing team be­hind the Lord of the Rings movies (Peter Jack­son, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens) adapts the first novel in Philip Reeve’s science-fic­tion se­ries into this ad­ven­ture film. Set in a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic fu­ture where Lon­don is a gi­ant mov­ing ma­chine that is run­ning out of re­sources, the story cen­ters on Hester Shaw (Hera Hil­mar), a woman who at­tempts to kill the evil Thaddeus Valen­tine (Hugo Weav­ing) and is, along with a young man she en­coun­ters (Robert Shee­han), ousted from Lon­don. She meets some fel­low rebels out­side the city lim­its and they hatch a plan to take Valen­tine down. Rated PG-13. 128 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Santa Fe 6. (Not re­viewed)

THE MULE

Clint East­wood’s ad­vanced age isn’t stop­ping him from di­rect­ing and star­ring in movies. This time, he plays Leo Sharp, a World War II vet­eran who, in his late eight­ies, en­coun­ters fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and solves them by be­com­ing a drug mule for the Si­naloa car­tel. As his work­load grows larger, he at­tracts the at­ten­tion of a DEA agent (Bradley Cooper) who at­tempts to track him down. The story is based on true events, adapted from the New York Times ar­ti­cle “The Si­naloa Car­tel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule.” Dianne Wi­est, Lau­rence Fish­burne, and Michael Peña also star. Rated R. 116 min­utes. Re­gal Santa Fe 6; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Not re­viewed)

RALPH BREAKS THE IN­TER­NET

This se­quel to the 2012 an­i­mated com­edy

Wreck-It Ralph finds the video-game hero Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his buddy Vanel­lope (Sarah Sil­ver­man) ven­tur­ing into the in­ter­net via a Wi-Fi router to try to save Vanel­lope’s game from de­struc­tion. They join a hard­core on­line game called Slaugh­ter Race, where Vanel­lope finds a greater sense of pur­pose and a po­ten­tial new bestie in Shank (Gal Gadot), one of the game’s driv­ers. Ralph grows con­cerned that he’s los­ing his friend, and his in­se­cu­ri­ties de­liver what the film’s ti­tle prom­ises. It’s a lot of plot for one an­i­mated film to han­dle, but there’s noth­ing to fault with the cast — play­ing the lov­able bruiser is right in Reilly’s wheel­house, and Sil­ver­man com­ple­ments his lead ef­forts nicely with her own chirpy charm. The film in­cludes many in-jokes about the in­ter­net and Dis­ney films, but a pro­longed game of “spot the ref­er­ence” doesn’t add up to a to­tally sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. For­tu­nately, the two stars sup­ply enough heart to carry the movie through its stilted patches. Rated PG. 112 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Robert Ker) SEC­OND ACT Jen­nifer Lopez stars as Maya, a mid­dle-aged woman work­ing in a re­tail job who is cer­tain that she has as much to of­fer the busi­ness world as any young, con­nected MBA grad­u­ate. She gets her chance to prove her met­tle when her god­son (Dal­ton Har­rod) cre­ates a fake ré­sumé and so­cial me­dia ac­counts to make her seem ac­com­plished, and she’s hired as a con­sul­tant by an in­vest­ment firm. She then needs to fake it un­til she makes it, of­ten to comic re­sults. Rated PG-13. 103 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

SHO­PLIFTERS

Osamu (Lily Franky) is the pa­tri­arch of the Shi­batas, a Tokyo fam­ily scrap­ing out a mar­ginal ex­is­tence. They have day jobs, but for the bal­ance of life’s ne­ces­si­ties, they turn to shoplift­ing. We meet Osamu and the pre­teen Shota (Kairi Jyo), as they ex­e­cute a well-grooved run on a gro­cery store. On their way home they hear five-year-old Juri (Miyu Sasaki) cry­ing and shiv­er­ing out­side her locked house, so they scoop her up and bring her home with the gro­ceries. When they no­tice scars on her skinny lit­tle body, they de­cide to keep her. So be­gins Sho­plifters, the Palme d’Or-win­ning film from Ja­panese mas­ter Hirokazu Kore-Eda. The ap­peal­ing fam­ily in­cludes mother Nobuyu (Sakura Ando), her younger sis­ter Aki (Mayu Mat­suoka), and Grandma Hat­sue (Kirin Kiki, who died in Septem­ber). But Kore-Eda starts pulling back cur­tains and re­veal­ing mul­ti­ple lay­ers of char­ac­ter and back­story that build from un­set­tling to dev­as­tat­ing. The ac­tors, from the lit­tle girl to the grandma, project a warmth and hu­man­ity that give the seis­mic rev­e­la­tions of the movie’s endgame a touch­ing and lin­ger­ing res­o­nance. Not rated. 121 min­utes. In Ja­panese with sub­ti­tles. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (Jonathan Richards)

SPI­DERMAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE

The wall-crawl­ing su­per­hero Spi­der-Man makes his fea­ture-length an­i­mated de­but, and the re­sults of­fers vi­brant vi­su­als that make most su­per­hero and an­i­mated films look con­ser­va­tive by com­par­i­son. With bold ac­tion that seems to leap from a comic book, Into the Spiderverse boasts a re­fresh­ing style that bor­rows from anime, graf­fiti art, and other sources, and is ac­com­pa­nied a lively hip-hop sound­track. In keep­ing with the youth­ful new-mil­len­nium vibe, the pro­tag­o­nist is not your grand­fa­ther’s Peter Parker — it’s the won­der­ful Miles Mo­rales (voiced by Shameik Moore), the teenage, African-Amer­i­can ver­sion of Spi­der-Man that de­buted in the comic books in 2011. Mo­rales runs into Parker (Jake John­son), how­ever, when he stum­bles into the SpiderVerse, a range of Spi­der-Man-like char­ac­ters from al­ter­nate di­men­sions, which in­clude a fe­male ver­sion of Spi­der-Man (Hailee Ste­in­feld), a De­pres­sion-era pulp hero (Ni­co­las Cage), and a pig (John Mu­laney). To­gether, they must stop the King­pin (Liev Schreiber) from de­stroy­ing all of their di­men­sions. Rated PG-13. 117 min­utes. Screens in 2D only at Re­gal Santa Fe 6; Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

VICE

Adam McKay (The Big Short) has been crit­i­cized for triv­i­al­iz­ing the legacy of for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Dick Cheney. But the goofy side of McKay’s por­trait of the man who rose out of a boozy gut­ter to be­come the most pow­er­ful sec­ond ba­nana in our na­tion’s his­tory is there to coun­ter­point a deadly se­ri­ous story. Chris­tian Bale is noth­ing short of jaw­drop­ping in his em­bod­i­ment of Cheney. It’s not just the weight he gains dur­ing the course of the pic­ture, it’s ev­ery­thing about him — the slouch, the walk, the tilt of the head, the hunch of the shoul­ders, the sneer, the stare. Amy Adams plays Cheney’s wife Lynne, who turns him around from a wastrel and onto the path of power. There are en­ter­tain­ing per­for­mances from Steve Carell as Don­ald Rums­feld, and Sam Rock­well as Ge­orge W. Bush, though the movie misses a chance to ex­plore more mean­ing­fully the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Cheney and Dubya. And some­times the hu­mor may go a lit­tle over the top. But a lot of it is nee­dle-sharp, and driven by Bale’s ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance, it hits with the force of a weapon of mass in­struc­tion. Rated R. 132 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; The Screen; Vi­o­let Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

WEL­COME TO MARWEN

Steve Carell plays Mark, a man who is se­verely phys­i­cally as­saulted. As part of his re­cov­ery from brain dam­age, he in­vents a minia­ture town called Marwen in his back­yard, where he can let his imag­i­na­tion run wild, and via a col­lec­tion of Bar­bie-sized dolls, be the hero in his life that he al­ways wanted to be. His heal­ing process is put to the test when he must tes­tify in court against his at­tack­ers and re­live the trauma. Les­lie Mann, Diane Kruger, and Janelle Monáe also star. Robert Ze­meckis di­rects. Rated PG-13. 116 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14. (Not re­viewed)

Cat and mouse: Ah-in Yoo in Burn­ing, at Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts

Get out: Jay El­lis in Es­cape Room, at Re­gal Sta­dium 14

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