Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for Feb. 1 to 8, including 'Winchester,' 'Faces Places,' Oscar nominees

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on
Jason Clarke and Helen Mirren star in "Winchester."
Courtesy CBS Films and Lionsgate

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

In Amarillo theaters this week: Helen's got a gun, plus a Pantex-related documentary and 10 Oscar nominees.

 

New in theaters

Faces Places

Agnès Varda and JR direct and star in the Oscar-nominated documentary "Faces Places."
Courtesy Cohen Media Group

Confession time: My exposure, so far, to films of the French New Wave is sadly limited. I've seen Jacques Demy's classics The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but beyond that, not much. 

That includes the films of Agnès Varda, whose films pioneered the movement (and who, coincidentally, was married to Demy). 

All of that is just to say that the delights of Faces Places are apparent even to someone who's unfamiliar with La Nouvelle Vague, and it lit a fire under me to see more of Varda's filmography.

Varda and photographer JR co-direct and star in Faces Places, which is likely the frontrunner for the Oscar for best documentary feature. They travel around the French countryside, visiting small town inhabitants and taking photos of them for JR's large-scale art projects. In one village, they invite residents into JR's van, which includes its own photo booth and large-format printer, to take pictures of them chomping down on the middle of a baguette. The printed photos are then pasted to a wall to cutely suggest they're all eating on one ginormous piece of bread. In another, they blow up a photo of a woman who's the last hold-out in a town where miners once thrived. In another, they make a mural out of a photo of a mailman, who fondly looks back on the years when he could do his job on a bicycle. 

It becomes clear that Varda and JR are recognizing the precarious state of these tiny towns in France (much as their American counterparts are also precariously hanging on) as well as celebrating the contributions of unsung, unnoticed neighbors — magnifying them like a bronze statue does for a war hero.

But somewhere along the way, Varda becomes the film's central figure. She has said that Faces Places could be her last film, and there is certainly a valedictory air to the film's last half, as Varda disarmingly talks about the effects age has had on her body and she reflects back on her career and personal relationships with Demy and, crucially, with Jean-Luc Godard.

You don't need a degree in film studies to appreciate the film, especially the warm camaraderie between JR and Varda and between the artists and their everyman subjects. The filmmakers love celebrating the overlooked and forgotten, and they do so with a joy that's positively infectious. (PG for brief nude images and thematic elements; click here for showtimes at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40)

"Faces Places" trailer

 

Winchester

Helen Mirren stars in the horror film "Winchester."
Courtesy CBS Films and Lionsgate

Helen Mirren stars as the heiress of the Winchester gun fortune in this horror film "inspired by true events" (except, you know, that ghosts aren't real). Mirren's Sarah Winchester (no Sam or Dean in sight, I guess) is building a massive, convoluted home that's meant to lock away the vengeful spirits haunting her family. No reviews are available yet. (PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, drug content, some sexual material and thematic elements; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)

"Winchester" trailer

 

Oscar Watch

In addition to documentary nominee Faces Places (above), check out these Oscar nominees.:

  • Coco — nominated for two Oscars, including Best Animated Feature — returns for screenings at Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • Darkest Hour — nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Gary Oldman) — continues with screenings a day at Amarillo Star 14. Here's my review.
  • The Greatest Showman — nominated for Best Song ("This Is Me") — continues screening several times a day at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • I, Tonya — nominated for three Oscars, including Best Actress (Margot Robbie) — opens at Amarillo Star 14 and continues at Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • Lady Bird — nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan) — returns to Amarillo Star 14. Here's my review.
  • The Post — nominated for two Oscars: Best Picture and Best Actress (Meryl Streep) — continues screening at Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • The Shape of Water — nominated for a leading 13 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Sally Hawkins) — continues at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi — nominated for four Oscars — continues screening at Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Frances McDormand) — continues screening at Hollywood 16. Here's my review.
  • And, looking ahead, all nine Best Picture nominees will screen in marathons from Feb. 23 to March 4 at Amarillo Star 14 and from Feb. 25 to March 4 at Hollywood 16 (which also will screen the 10 live-action and animated short films nominated this year).

 

Special engagements

The Safe Side of the Fence

"The Safe Side of the Fence" trailer

Director Tony West will bring his documentary about nuclear workers who fell ill to Amarillo for a special screening at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Amarillo Star 14. This will be the 23rd city among those with historic nuclear sites around the country at which West has screened the film, he said in an email. 

The film focuses on St. Louis' Mallinckrodt Chemical Works, where massive amounts of uranium were refined for the Manhattan Project.

"As a result, the chemical company's employees would become some of the most contaminated nuclear workers in history," West said. "This documentary explores the legacy that St. Louis is still coping with, from workers who became ill, to the challenge of cleaning up some of the world's first nuclear waste."

The film also explores the history of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, a government program that was set up to compensate nuclear weapons workers who became ill from their work, West said. 

The program has paid out more than $200 million to workers from the Pantex Plant, West said, out of a total of $14 billion.

"We hope the film will provide workers and their family members more awareness about the program and give the community a look into what some of the men and women who went to work to protect this county went through insides these plants," he said.

Advance tickets are available here.

 

Digimon Adventure Tri.: Loss

"Digimon Adventure Tri.: Loss" trailer

The latest installment of this anime series gets a one-night-only screening, dubbed in English, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. (NR)

 

Tell Them We Are Rising

"Tell Them We Are Rising" trailer

This Indie Lens Pop-Up screening from Panhandle PBS will feature a film that explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities have played over the course of 150 years in American history, culture, and identity. It'll screen at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Amarillo College's Concert Hall Theatre on the Washington Street campus, followed by a panel discussion featuring HBCU-graduates living in Amarillo. Admission is free. Call 806-371-5224.

 

Upcoming

Feb. 8: The BDSM-lite Fifty Shades franchise wraps up with Fifty Shades Freed, for which advance tickets are on sale now at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16 — the latter of which also will screen a Fifty Shades marathon. Plus, Hollywood 16 is selling advance tickets to Clint Eastwood's docudrama The 15:17 to Paris and CGI / live-action family film Peter Rabbit.

Feb. 15: Advance tickets are on sale now at both multiplexes for the highly anticipated Black Panther, featuring the first black superhero carrying a Marvel Cinematic Universe film (Blade, starring Wesley Snipes, did predate it, though). Hollywood 16 also is selling advance tickets to biblical drama Samson

Feb. 18 and 21: TCM's Big Screen Classics series will continue with The Philadelphia Story, a sparkling comedy starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart team for this sparkling comedy. It'll screen at 2 and 7 p.m. both days at both Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16.

 

Listings at a glance

Click on titles for my reviews and on theaters for showtimes.

Coco (H-16); The Commuter (H-16); Darkest Hour (AS-14); Daddy's Home 2 (WM-6); Den of Thieves (AS-14, H-16); Faces Places (WM-6); Father Figures (WM-6); Forever My Girl (AS-14, H-16); The Greatest Showman (AS-14, H-16); Hostiles (AS-14, H-16); Insidious: The Last Key (AS-14, H-16); I, Tonya (AS-14, H-16); Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (AS-14, H-16); Justice League (WM-6); Lady Bird (AS-14); Maze Runner: The Death Cure (AS-14, H-16); Paddington 2 (AS-14, H-16); Padmaavat (H-16); Pitch Perfect 3 (H-16); The Post (H-16); The Shape of Water (AS-14, H-16); The Star (WM-6); Star Wars: The Last Jedi (H-16); Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (H-16); Thor: Ragnarok (WM-6); 12 Strong (AS-14, H-16) and Winchester (AS-14, H-16). 

 

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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