Movie Watch: Amarillo film options for July 20 to 27, plus review of 'The Big Sick'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
In Amarillo theaters this week: An acclaimed war epic, a sci-fi extravaganza and girls letting loose. Plus, my review of "The Big Sick."
New in theaters
Director Christopher Nolan tackles one of Britain's most mythologized war stories — the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 — with an innovative story structure in a film that's earning raves almost all across the board. Nolan (Inception, the Dark Knight trilogy) examines the event — the attemped evacuation of 300,000 soldiers across the English Channel, using civilians and their boats as a last resort — from three angles and time frames. One looks at the week-long ordeal of the soldiers (including One Direction's Harry Styles and newcomer Fionn Whitehead) waiting for rescue. One spends a day with a civilian (Mark Rylance) using his pleasure boat to journey across the channel with a wounded soldier in tow to rescue as many soldiers as he can. And the third takes place in one hour, as two pilots (Jack Lowden and Tom Hardy) try to fend off incursions by German planes. "I've never experienced anything quite like Dunkirk's intoxicating immediacy," writes the Associated Press' Lindsey Bahr. "It's a stunningly immersive survival film told in 106 thrillingly realized minutes. Nolan puts the viewer right in the action." (PG-13 for intense war experience and some language; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
A quartet of lifelong friends (Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish) reconnect on an excursion to New Orleans for Essence Festival in this raunchy new comedy from director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man series). Reviews are fairly positive. "Some of the bigger stuff does work—Latifah has a spectacularly silly absinthe-fueled moment where she makes out with a lamp—but the movie could use more scenes where its characters just get to talk to each other, snipe at each other, and revel in their shared history," writes the AV Club's Jesse Hassenger. (R for crude and sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
"Girls Trip" trailer
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director Luc Besson returns to the outlandish, bursting-with-imagination mode of his The Fifth Element with this adaptation of a popular French comic book series. Valerian and Laureline (Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevinge) are peace officers on a space station with a thousand alien cities attached to it. Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières' comic book inspired sci-fi films like Blade Runner and Star Wars, and some critics say that Valerian feels a little too familiar because of it. But Besson also is working in a maximalist mode that finds his oversized ambition drowning out things like narrative cohesion. The Wrap's Alonso Duralde writes that Valerian "is the kind of movie that’s going to generate fervent fans (and equally adamant detractors), to say nothing of enthusiastic cosplayers. It may not immediately wow mass audiences, but it’s the sort of weird and wonderfully well-intentioned misfire that will remain a cult favorite long after many of today’s hits are forgotten." (PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, suggestive material and brief language; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets"
Kiki's Delivery Service
"Kiki's Delivery Service" trailer
The Studio Ghibli Fest continues with this anime classic, a coming-of-age tale about a young witch who uses her magic broom to start a delivery service. It'll screen in English-dubbed (at 12:55 p.m. Sunday) and subtitled (at 7 p.m. Monday) versions at the Amarillo Star 14. (G)
This epic Bengali-language romance returns to theaters for a 15th anniversary screening at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Hollywood 16. The film stars Shah Rukh Khan as the titular character, who returns from school in London to marry his childhood sweetheart (Aishwarya Rai), then finds his life collapsing following a rejection by his family. (NR)
Summer Movie Express
"Happy Feet 2" trailer
Regal Cinemas — which operates the United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd. — continues its kid-friendly summer lineup with screenings of Happy Feet 2 and Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore at 10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
Artists Den Presents: Lady Antebellum
"Artists Den Presents Lady Antebellum" trailer
The hugely popular country trio is filmed at the United Palace in Washington Heights for this intimate concert film featuring hit songs and tunes from new album Heart Break. It'll screen at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at both the Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16. (NR)
Still in theaters
The Big Sick
The real-life romantic travails of actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani and podcast co-host/writer Emily V. Gordon add depth, stakes and honest humor to the romantic comedy The Big Sick.
Early in their relationship, Gordon fell seriously ill and had to be placed in a medically induced coma. In the film, the timeline is massaged so that she gets sick right in the middle of a relationship-threatening fight when Emily (played here by Zoe Kazan) finds out that Kumail (playing himself) hasn't been honest with her about the fact that his parents expect him to marry a Pakistani woman and that he's afraid that his relationship with Emily would lead to a total schism with his family.
Before we get there, though, Kumail and Emily have a perfectly charming courtship, though they're denying all the time that they want a relationship. She, a grad student, meets him at one of his stand-up gigs in Chicago, never expecting it to go beyond a one-night stand. But they're so perfectly compatible — softly sarcastic, observant and irreverent — that they can't stop spending time with each other. This time is crucial because the audience must fall for Emily too, and Kazan does a fantastic job of inhabiting the character and making us miss her later.
Then, she learns that he has been meeting Pakistani women / potential brides every week at family dinners. He's not complicit in the meetings — his mother (Zenobia Shroff) arranges for the women to just "drop by" — but he does nothing to stop them. And, because he's resigned himself to the fact that he'll probably have to marry one of them to keep the peace, he's not sure he wants to stop them.
After a brutal fight, Emily falls terrifyingly ill. One of her friends asks Kumai to sit with her at the hospital, and there, he's forced to sign a consent form allowing her doctors to place her in a coma. He uses her unconscious thumb to unlock her phone to call her parents, and that's when the film kicks into another gear.
Mom and Dad are played by the spectacular team of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, and they arrive already knowing about their daughter's broken heart. It's beyond icy at first, but when they see how devoted Kumail is to Emily — and when Kumail finally accepts the depth of his feelings for her — they grow extremely tight. But when Emily wakes up, she has to catch up to that trio, and she's not sure she wants to.
The film is a crowd-pleasing delight, notable for placing a Muslim-American at the center of a romantic comedy, but still completely universal. Nanjiani is sympathetic and believably flawed in a role that, despite being based on himself, often asks more of him than his co-starring role on HBO's Silicon Valley.
The film is a little long — though, honestly, I didn't realize that until after I walked out of the theater and saw the time. I was so invested in their relationship — and so happy to spend time with Hunter and Romano — that the time flew by.
(R for language including some sexual references; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
Baby Driver (H-16); Baywatch (Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40); The Big Sick (AS-14, H-16); The Boss Baby (WM-6); Captain Underpants: The Epic First Movie (WM-6); Cars 3 (H-16); Despicable Me 3 (AS-14, H-16); Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (WM-6); Everything, Everything (WM-6) The Fate of the Furious (WM-6); 47 Meters Down (H-16); The House (H-16); The Mummy (WM-6); Smurfs: The Lost Village (WM-6); Spider-Man: Homecoming (AS-14, H-16 and Tascosa Drive-In, 1999 Dumas Drive); Transformers: The Last Knight (AS-14); War for the Planet of the Apes (AS-14, H-16 and TDI); Wish Upon (AS-14, H-16); and Wonder Woman (AS-14, H-16). (Click on titles for my reviews and on theaters for showtimes.)