Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for April 27 and beyond

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and Patton Oswalt star in "The Circle."
Courtesy STX Films

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

In Amarillo theaters this week: A techno-thriller with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, and Shirley MacLaine in full crotchety mode, plus a Heath Ledger documentary and more.

 

New in theaters

The Circle

Emma Watson stars in the Dave Eggers thriller "The Circle."
Courtesy STX Films

In this thriller adapted by Dave Eggers (with director James Ponsoldt) from his 2013 novel, Mae (Emma Watson) takes a job at the world's largest tech and social media company, only to learn that it's behind efforts that could radically affect everyone's personal liberty and privacy rights. Though it sounds like a horror film based on Instagram and Facebook, Eggers told Mother Jones that he wrote it as a warning against the surveillance state. I'm curious to see it based on the acclaimed source material and killer cast, which also includes Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood) and the late Bill Paxton. But early reviews from its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival are mixed. The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore says "this film — with its big stars and easily digested moral dilemmas — is the kind of 'issue'-inflected entertainment that could stimulate some thought about the services we use and which use us online." But The Wrap's Dan Callahan says it's "implausible" and that it "takes a valid concern about lack of privacy in the Internet age and turns it into a hyperbolic and finally laughable melodrama." (PG-13 for a sexual situation, brief strong language and some thematic elements including drug use; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)

"The Circle" trailer

 

How to Be a Latin Lover

Eugenio Derbez stars as a gigolo past his prime in "How to Be a Latin Lover."
Courtesy Pantelion

Eugenio Derbez (star of the hit bilingual comedy Instructions Not Included, the most successful Spanish-language movie ever released in America) plays Maximo, an aging stud whose much-older wife kicks him out in favor of a much-younger lover. He's forced to move in with his estranged sister (Salma Hayek) and her young son (Raphael Alejandro) and, from the look of the trailer, learns all kinds of life lessons about the importance of family, etc., etc., etc. He also tries to hook up with another older, wealthy woman (Raquel Welch, looking pretty great), and somewhere along the way runs into characters played by Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell and Rob Corddry. "Admittedly, it's an odd mix," writes The Arizona Republic's Randy Cordova. "You get a genial family comedy layered into the story of a gigolo preying on older women. Still, Derbez, as this ridiculously vain manchild, manages to tie it all together and be both effortlessly funny and charming." (PG-13 for crude humor, sexual references and gestures, and for brief nudity; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)

"How to Be a Latin Lover" trailer

 

The Last Word

Shirley MacLaine stars as an elderly woman taking stock of her life by hiring a ghost writer for her obituary in "The Last Word."
Courtesy Bleeker Street

The great Shirley MacLaine stars as a control-freak senior hellbent on leaving behind a good obituary in this contrived but not unwatchable dramedy from director Mark Pellington. MacLaine — whose screen persona started off coy and melancholy in The Apartment, then became gruffly lovable in Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias — now appears to be in nothing but bitch-mode, based on Bernie and this film. Still, she's Shirley MacLaine, so there's still just enough charm and buried vulnerability here to make us root a bit for Harriet as she belatedly takes stock of her life and attempts to polish her legacy. It's thoroughly implausible that Harriet can shanghai the local newspaper's obituary writer (Amanda Seyfried) into putting weeks and weeks of work into pre-writing Harriet's obit — almost as implausible as the idea of a struggling newspaper still having one writer devoted to writing nothing but obituaries (much less one that it could turn loose on this extended project). It's even more implausible that Harriet could become a mentor to an at-risk black girl (AnnJewel Lee Dixon, whose innate charm doesn't make her character any less of a token) at a community center, then bring her along for her legacy-rebuilding adventures with Seyfried. And it's possibly even more implausible that Harriet could get a job (while demeaning a current employee) at an indie radio station. But despite all of the contrivances, MacLaine and Seyfried find real notes to play, and the film isn't as awful as it could be. That's damning with faint praise, I know, and while MacLaine deserves all the praise in the world, this film just doesn't live up to her. (R for language; click here for showtimes at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40)

"The Last Word" trailer

 

Special engagements

Men in Black

"Men in Black" trailer

Cinemark's Classics Series continues with a 20th-anniversary screening of this sci-fi favorite starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith as Earth's front line of defense against interstellar aliens in our midst. "The good guys dress in black, remember that." It'll screen at 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Hollywood 16. (PG-13 for language and sci-fi violence; H-16) 

 

Jonah: On Stage!

"Jonah: On Stage!" trailer

Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster, Penn., stages this musical adaptation of the biblical tale of the stubborn prophet's misadventure with a giant whale. It'll screen at 7 p.m. Monday at the Amarillo Star 14. (NR)

 

American Wrestler: The Wizard

"American Wrestler: The Wizard" trailer

An Iranian teen (George Kosturos) in 1980 tries to fit in with his California classmates by joining the wrestling squad in this feel-good movie screening at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at both the Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. He turns out to be a wrestling savant whose success helps him shed the outcast label, which had been exacerbated by the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis. "(W)hat the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in personality, as Kosturos brings the kind of rare alchemy to the role of Ali that makes all present feel as if they’re watching the birth of a movie star," writes Variety's Peter Deburge. (PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, language and thematic material; AS-14, H-16)

 

I Am Heath Ledger

"I Am Heath Ledger" trailer

This intimate documentary gets a big-screen preview at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Amarillo Star 14 before its debut at 9 p.m. May 17 on Spike. The late Ledger, who died in 2008 of an accidental overdose of sedatives, shot a great deal of the private footage pieced together by directors Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray for the film, which has the blessing of his surviving blood relatives and several close friends who are interviewed for the film. The result is a film "that is unconventional and in many ways haunting, because it takes you up close to the person Heath Ledger was: a true free spirit, who lived without the rules most people in the entertainment business cling to — and without the boundaries," writes Variety's Owen Gleiberman.

 

 

Still in theaters

Beauty and the Beast (AS-14, H-16); Born in China (AS-14, H-16); The Boss Baby (AS-14, H-16); The Case for Christ (H-16); CHiPS (WM-6); A Dog's Purpose (WM-6); The Fate of the Furious (AS-14, H-16); Get Out (AS-14, H-16); Gifted (AS-14, H-16); Going in Style (AS-14, H-16 and Tascosa Drive-In, 1999 Dumas Drive); John Wick: Chapter 2 (WM-6 and TDI); The Lego Batman Movie (WM-6); Life (H-16); Phoenix Forgotten (AS-14, H-16); The Promise (AS-14, H-16); Smurfs: The Lost Village (H-16); and Unforgettable (AS-14, H-16). (Click on titles for my reviews and on theaters for showtimes)

 

 

Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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