• Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Movies Calendar| TGIF

Movies: ‘Boss Baby,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast’

  • PARAMOUNT PICTURES

    Cyborg policewoman Scarlett Johansson goes on the offensive against high-tech terrorists in “Ghost in the Shell.”

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OPENING FRIDAY

“Boss Baby”

>> Read the review

“The Devotion of Suspect X”

Not reviewed

Chinese crime thriller. In Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles. (Not rated, 1:52)

“Ghost in the Shell”

Not reviewed

A cyborg policewoman attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker. (PG-13, 1:42)

“Northern Lights: A Journey to Love”

A man comes back into the life of a son whom he had left behind in the Philippines; as the man tries to be a real father, he crosses paths with a quirky but broken Filipina. In Filipino with English subtitles. (PG, 1:38)

“T2: Trainspotting”

>> Read the review

“The Zookeeper’s Wife”

>> Read the review

NOW PLAYING

“Beauty and the Beast” ***1/2

This live-action/digital hybrid, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, is more than a flesh-and-blood revival of the 26-year-old cartoon, and more than a dutiful trip back to the fairy tale. It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves an invigorating aftertaste. The cast is stellar. Watson perfectly embodies Belle’s compassion and intelligence, while Stevens, blandly handsome as a prince, is a splendid monster. Emma Thompson is wonderful as Mrs. Potts, the singing teakettle, while Stanley Tucci and Audra McDonald are the excitable harpsichord and the operatic wardrobe; Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen are the suave candelabra and the anxious clock. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the lissome feather duster. The singing and banter are so vivid and so natural that you almost take for granted that they are mechanical objects sharing the frame with human characters. There’s also the obligatory scene-stealing villain — Gaston (Luke Evans), a narcissistic former soldier who is sweet on Belle — and his comical sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad). The awkward business about imprisonment turning into true love is handled smoothly. There are a few moments where the digital seams show; most of the time, though, you are happily fooled and enchanted. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s songs still inspire joyful dance routines, with “Be Our Guest” backing a choreographic extravaganza that enfolds decades of Disney history (all the way back to “Snow White” and “Fantasia”) in contemporary cinematic craft. (PG, 2:09)

“CHIPS” *

Reimagined by writer, director, producer and star Dax Shepard, the big-screen “CHIPS” is a tawdry, testosterone-fueled tale built around penis jokes and endless evaluation of women’s appearances, with the two main characters discussing the looks of almost every woman on screen. The best thing about “CHIPS” is some classic Southern California scenery and superb motorcycle riding, complete with stairwell tricks, airborne stunts and long shots of that beloved mecca for local bikers, the Angeles Crest Highway. But overall, the film is an uncomfortable eye-roll. Shepard (as Jon Baker) and co-star Michael Pena (Frank “Ponch” Poncherello) have plenty of charm, but not enough to support the feeble story and tasteless jokes. The low-brow stupidity could be redeemed by a strong story or well-developed characters, but “CHIPS” offers neither. (R, 1:41)

“Get Out” ***

Fifty years after Sidney Poitier upended the latent prejudices of his white date’s family in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” writer-director Jordan Peele has crafted a similar confrontation with altogether more combustible results in his comedy-horror “Get Out.” Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is visiting the home of his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams), who hasn’t told her parents he’s black. He gets a warm welcome, but it’s only skin-deep in a household where all the hired help is black. They are a spooky, robotic bunch, with zombielike demeanors in a “Stepford Wives” kind of way. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are excellent as Rose’s pseudo-progressive parents, saying things like, “But I voted for Obama!” and, “Isn’t Tiger Woods amazing?” Things get even stranger when Chris meets some family friends, who all appear oddly frozen in time. Eventually, the truth comes out, and things turn bloody. “Get Out” is radical and refreshing in that it defies the lamentable tradition in horror films — never the most inclusive of genres — that the black dude is always the first to go. (R, 1:43)

“Kong: Skull Island” ***

Sci-fi action has so degenerated that to see one that’s not a succession of explosions feels almost nostalgic. But “Kong: Skull Island” is no throwback. It’s movie literate, informed by techniques from across several decades, even as it makes full use of CGI technology. It’s set in the 1970s, right after the Vietnam War. John Goodman plays a spooky scientist who’s exploring an uncharted island. Though ostensibly interested in earthquakes, he’s really interested in monsters. He leads a team that includes Samuel L. Jackson as a military officer brooding about Vietnam, Tom Hiddleston as a tracker and Brie Larson as a nosy journalist. The expedition’s first encounter with Kong is a kind of replay of the Empire State Building scene from the 1933 classic, only this time Kong has the home-field advantage. We get the perspective from inside the attacking aircraft — and it’s not fun for the crew. The rest of the film deals with the various characters figuring out which monsters are bad, which are worse and which are only sort of bad. Adding to the general festivity is John C. Reilly, as an aviator who has been stuck on Skull Island since 1944.

“Land of Mine” ***

“Land of Mine” is a fictionalized version of a neglected piece of postwar history, detailing the ruthless practice of using World War II German prisoners to defuse the hundreds of thousands of explosives that were placed on beaches by Germans to repel what Hitler thought would be an Allied invasion. The invasion never came. The victors thought it right to have Germans clear the mines — even today you’d probably find widespread agreement with the idea — and in “Land of Mine,” the man assigned the job of supervising these German prisoners, Sgt. Rasmussen (Roland Moller), initially holds this view. Despite efforts to keep the prisoners at arm’s length, however, he begins to befriend a few. The Germans are glaringly young, just teens, dragged into the war in its desperate final months, and the older Rasmussen gradually succumbs to an obligation to be a father to them. Beautifully filmed in miles of empty, desolate beach, the movie takes the idea of defusing explosives and makes it symbolic. The Allies eventually saw the wisdom of rebuilding defeated nations, establishing what become known as the Marshall Plan to avoid a repeat of post-World War I dynamics. Nonetheless, of the 2,000 Germans assigned to defuse bombs on Danish beaches, 1,000 were killed. (R, 1:40) In Danish and German with English subtitles.

“The Last Word” **

Shirley MacLaine plays Harriett, a retired ad exec and notorious control freak. When she spies the obituary of a former acquaintance in the newspaper, she decides she can leave nothing to chance and coerces the obituary writer, Anne (Amanda Seyfried), to draft one that will meet her specifications. Problem is, Harriet has no friends, no sympathetic colleagues, no un-estranged family. Anne, meanwhile, has ambition but no courage. She’s stuck at a dead-end print job and now saddled with the most unpleasant assignment of her career. From such apparent mismatches are buddy movies made, and “The Last Word” hews to genre norms, helped by appealing leads and an unusual feat of screenwriting candor. The film is played for bleak laughs, and off MacLaine’s late-career image as a tyrant, but one whose intimidating armor and weapons are merely the equipment that strong women acquire to survive in our culture. “The Last Word” is a love letter to MacLaine, but respect would have helped the movie more. Her sharpness, skill and timing are obviously intact. (R, 1:48)

“Life” *

“Life” was made by humans (we double-checked), and it’s a disappointment. The film takes an interesting idea — the perils of reanimating ancient life on Mars — and provides almost no rooting interest. The action begins promisingly, with six crew members on the International Space Station, using a robotic arm to catch a package containing soil samples from Mars that contain alien life. The crew treats “Calvin” like a pet — but Calvin has the strong survival instincts the crew lacks, and no one on the ship recognizes the peril that’s obvious to everyone in the audience. Soon, the alien starts taking out the crew in order, from most interesting character to least. The alien, a jellyfish/starfish/python hybrid, is arguably the most interesting character on screen, but the crew is a complete drag. Other than Ryan Reynolds as a wise-cracking engineer, there’s no sense of humor, adventure or resourcefulness. Jake Gyllenhaal is particularly listless as a ship’s doctor who doesn’t want to go back home. And just when you think the dialogue couldn’t get any worse, the children’s picture book “Goodnight Moon” becomes part of the plot. (R, 1:43)

“Logan” ***

In “Logan,” the clawed mutant Wolverine gets to slash through the constraints of a kid-friendly PG-13 rating, and the result is bloody, vicious fun. Young children should not be allowed anywhere near this movie, but fans of the beloved character will relish the sight of the hot-tempered hero in his full limb-and-artery-slashing glory. Director James Mangold’s movie is filled with big action set pieces, chases and supervillains, yet it feels like it takes place in the real world. Initially, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is a functioning alcoholic working as a limo driver in a border town, living with Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a mutant who fries in direct sunlight, and looking after Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), now feeble and suffering from seizures that paralyze anyone standing nearby. Wolverine’s powers have declined and his interests have turned to sailing into retirement, so when a Mexican immigrant (Elizabeth Rodriguez) offers him $50,000 to take Laura (Dafne Keen), a curious 11-year-old, to a safe haven, he’s reluctant. But they develop a sincere father-daughter relationship when some mean-looking dudes in black SUVs come looking for her, bringing what had been a vaguely depressing movie roaring to life. It could have been 10 minutes shorter, but giving a protracted farewell to Jackman playing his signature role seems appropriate. (R, 2:15)

“Saban’s Power Rangers” **1/2

The silly but beloved “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” television series gets a big-screen reboot, this time as “Saban’s Power Rangers.” The film is more about a bunch of oddball teens than it is about colorfully suited karate-chopping superheroes — like “The Breakfast Club” with way more extreme daredevil behavior, as these misfits discover each other and stumble into their startling new powers, by way of five coins they happen to blast out of a mountainside. Explosives enthusiast Billy (R.J. Cyler, who steals the movie) is a neuro-diverse nerd who befriends disgraced jock Jason (Dacre Montgomery) in detention. Rebellious ex-cheerleader Kimberly (Naomi Scott), heavy metal yogi Trini (Becky G) and adrenaline-addled delinquent Zack (Ludi Lin) also power up. Soon they’re being groomed by the alien Zordon (Bryan Cranston, no really), and a sassy robot, Alpha (Bill Hader), to take on Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), who plans to use a monster to steal the Earth’s life crystal. We’re denied a good morphin’ sequence, and the production values are murky, but ultimately, “Power Rangers” maintains the essence of its origins in that it’s rather pleasantly bonkers. (PG-13, 2:04)

“The Shack” **

A folksy Octavia Spencer serving up baked goods is the vision of the divine in “The Shack,” Stuart Hazeldine’s nondenominational, magical realist, faith-based drama, an adaptation of the best-seller by William P. Young. But it’s a dark and windy road to get there, delving into the personal history of “Mack” Phillips (Sam Worthington). Mack’s childhood was marred by domestic violence, forging his understanding of God as wrathful and judgmental. That worldview is exacerbated by the abduction of his youngest daughter, Missy (Amelie Eve). Plunged into depression, Mack receives a mysterious invitation in the mail: a note from “Papa” (his wife’s name for God) asking him to a getaway at the shack where his daughter was likely killed. There he’s greeted not by a child killer, but by a trio of groovy spiritual teachers: God, aka Papa (Spencer); Jesus (Avraham Aviv Alush); and The Holy Spirit Sarayu (Sumire). They spend the weekend reiterating to Mack that God doesn’t judge, God only loves, and impressing upon him the importance of forgiveness and compassion so that he can move beyond the tragedy that has left him “stuck” in that shack. Though the dialogue is written with all the finesse of a self-help book, and the visuals are a garish technicolor explosion, there are some nuggets of wisdom that do resonate, regardless of personal belief. (PG-13, 2:12)

“Slamma Jamma”

Not reviewed

Chris Staples stars as a former prison inmate seeking redemption for his wrongful conviction through a national slam-dunk competition. With appearances by former football player Michael Irvin and baseball player Jose Canseco, who in real life suffered downfalls late in their star careers and worked to restore their reputations. (PG, 1:44)

“Wilson” **1/2

There are plenty of laughs and fun characters in the dark comedy “Wilson,” but they don’t add up to an emotionally satisfying story. Woody Harrelson plays the title character, a loner who offers pointed critiques of society to total strangers — an unsuspecting dog-walker, a train passenger, even someone at a urinal. When his purported best bud moves away and his father dies of cancer, our hapless antihero decides to join the human race again. The next sequences are the best part of the film, as Wilson looks up an old friend (David Warshofsky), whose gruff disposition makes Wilson seem like Elly May Clampett in comparison. Equally funny are Wilson’s encounters with a cantankerous pet-store customer (Lauren Weedman) and a horny dating prospect (Margo Martindale). Wilson eventually tracks down his ex-wife, Pippi (Laura Dern), and, slowly but surely, things march toward the implausible when Pippi reveals that Wilson is actually a father. He begins the search for the child — whom Pippi gave up for adoption — in a bid to give his life more meaning. The biting humor doesn’t quite mesh with the sentimental father-daughter story. Nevertheless, “Wilson” never gets boring. (R, 1:34)

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

“North By Northwest” (1959)

2 and 7 p.m., April 2 and April 5, Dole Cannery, $13

Director Alfred Hitchcock’s dazzling 1959 cross-country adventure stars Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill, a man wrongly accused of murder, aided by Eve (Eva Marie Saint) and pursued by the sinister Philip Vandamm (James Mason). (PG, 2:25)

“Kizumonogatari, Part 1 & 2” Double Feature

7 p.m., April 5, Consolidated Ward and Kapolei, $15

Japanese anime horror: A high school student saves a blonde vampire, and finds himself drawn into the world of darkness in Part 1; in Part 2, he must battle supernatural vampire-hunters to win back his humanity. (Not rated)

“The Case for Christ”

8 p.m., April 6, Dole Cannery, $16

Pondering the existence of God, and what role God could play in believers’ lives. (PG-13, 2:45)

“Going in Style” (1979)

5, 7:40 and 10:20 p.m., April 6, Regal Pearl Highlands, $8-$12

Senior citizens Willie (Lee Strasberg), Al (Art Carney) and Joe (George Burns) lead lives of uninterrupted boredom until they alight upon the idea of robbing a bank together. (A remake comes out April 7.) (PG, 1:38)

Arthouse

DORIS DUKE THEATRE

Honolulu Museum of Art, 532-6097, honolulumuseum.org; $8-$10

15th Anniversary: “Donnie Darko”

9:30 p.m. Friday

Restored version of Richard Kelly’s cult hit about a teen (Jake Gyllenhaal) who, while sleepwalking, is confronted by a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank who says the world will end in just more than 28 days. The next morning, a jet engine crashes through Donnie’s bedroom while Frank continues to torment him, trying to persuade him to commit terrible acts of vandalism and more. (2001, 2:14)

“I, Claude Monet”

1 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Phil Grabsky’s documentary, shot on location throughout Europe at spots Monet painted, is based on more than 2,500 letters. It’s narrated by Henry Goodman and offers insight into the influential painter and his artistic style of impressionism. (2016, U.K., 1:24)

Cinematheque Francaise 2017

Runs Saturday through April 18. Opening reception, 6 p.m. Saturday with a French buffet, no-host bar, tour of the Impressionist Gallery and 7:30 p.m. screening of “Cezanne and I.” $40-$45.

>> “Cezanne and I” (“Cezanne et moi”)

Two friends develop a mutual love for art and beautiful women, prompting a move to Paris — where one’s prospects soar while the other’s is set in disappointment. In French with English subtitles. (2016, France, 1:56)

>> “The African Doctor” (“Bienvenue a Marly-Gomont”)

1 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

A doctor looking to escape the dictatorship in Zaire aims to become the doctor in a small French village, where villagers have never seen an African and are hesitant to trust him. In French with English subtitles. (2016, France, 1:36)

>> “Arctic Heart” (“Le Secret des banquises”)

4 p.m. Sunday

In this romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist, a professor studying proteins produced by penguins gets caught up with his shy researcher. In French with English subtitles. (2016, France, 1:21)

>> “He Even Has Your Eyes” (“Il a deja tes yeux”)

7:30 p.m. Sunday and 1 p.m. Wednesday

In this comedy, a happily married couple longs to adopt a child. Their Senegalese parents have already picked out a name for their future grandson that reflects the family’s ancestry. Then the adoption agency calls with good news. A 6-month-old baby boy has been put up for adoption. He’s white. In French with English subtitles. (2016, France, 1:35)

>> “1984”

7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1949 novel about a government bureaucrat whose job is to rewrite history and erase people from existence in post-atomic war London. (1985, U.K., 1:53)

>> “After Love” (“L’economie du couple”)

1 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday

In this drama surrounding a Brussels household, a woman wants to separate from her unemployed companion of 15 years. She’s been the main breadwinner of the family, but he refuses to leave the house until he gets his 50 percent. In French with English subtitles. (2016, Belgium/France, 1:38)

MOVIE MUSEUM

3566 Harding Ave., 735-8771; $5, $4 members

“Songs My Brothers Taught Me”

Noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. today

High-schooler Johnny and his 11-year-old sister live with their single mother on an Indian reservation while the eldest son is in prison. Johnny hopes to move to Los Angeles with his girlfriend but is apprehensive about leaving his sister behind. For ages 15 and older. (2015, 1:33)

“Ixcanul”

1:45, 5:15 and 8:45 p.m. today

Maria, who lives on a farm along the slope of a Guatemalan volcano, prepares to meet her future husband but knows nothing of his world, which includes electricity, cars and running water. For ages 12 and older. In Kaqchikel with English subtitles. (2015, Guatemala/France, 1:33)

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

11:45 a.m. and 2, 4:15, 6:30 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday

This adventure-romance by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling revolves around a British “magizoologist” who arrives in 1920s New York and creates havoc within the American wizardry circles. With Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Colin Farrell. Rated PG-13. (2016, U.K./U.S., 2:13)

“A Monster Calls”

12:30, 2:30, 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday

A British preteen suffering from nightmares during his mother’s battle with cancer receives magical help when an ancient yew tree uproots itself one night and tells the boy, “I have come to get you.” With Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson. Rated PG-13. (2016, U.S./Spain/U.K., 1:48)

“Cosime e Nicole”

11 a.m. and 2:45 and 6:30 p.m. Monday

During the Genoa G-8 riots, an Italian boy and French girl fall in love at first sight and escape to Genoa to live and work, but their happiness is foiled when they cover up an incident involving an illegal immigrant who falls off scaffolding. For ages 15 and older. In Italian and French with subtitles. (2012, Italy, 1:46)

“El Jeremias”

1, 4:45 and 8:30 p.m. Monday

Set in Semora, Mexico, this comedy revolves around 8-year-old Jeremias, who feels like an outcast at both school and home, yet his IQ test reveals he’s a genius. For ages 10 and older. In Spanish with English subtitles. (2015, Mexico, 1:35)

“Silence”

12:30 and 5:45 p.m. Thursday

Adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s “Chinmoku,” set in the 17th century, about two Catholic missionary priests who travel to Japan in search of their mentor, who left the church. Earned an Oscar nomination for best cinematography. Rated R. (2016, U.S./Taiwan/Mexico, 2:41)

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

3:15 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday

In this segment of the “Star Wars” saga set before 1977’s original film, Jyn keeps hearing how her father, designer of the Death Star, was a traitor, but she knows the truth. She sets out to battle the evil empire, armed with her father’s knowledge of how to destroy it. Rated PG-13. (2016, U.S./U.K., 2:13)

INDIE LENS POP-UP FILM SCREENINGS

Free monthly screenings of films from the award-winning PBS series “Independent Lens.” PBS Hawaii’s Headquarters, 315 Sand Island Access Road, free. RSVP: 562-5030, eventbrite.com. Information: pbshawaii.org.

“National Bird”

6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary follows three whistleblowers at risk of dealing with consequences, as it provides rare insight of survivors and veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the controversial secret U.S. drone war, which brought about the killings of people in foreign countries. (2016, 1:32)

THURSDAY DINNER THEATER @ WISP

7 p.m. Thursday, WISP Cafe & Lounge, Lotus Hotel, second floor; doors open 5:30 p.m. (for dinner). $5. Reservations: 436-4326.

“Calle 54”

Director Fernando Trueba showcases the great Latin jazz artists of the last century, including Tito Puente, Eliane Elias, Gato Barbieri and Paquito D’Rivera. (1997, Spain, 1:46)

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