Movie Watch: Films opening in Amarillo the weekend of April 1
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by Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Films opening in Amarillo this weekend include a comeback vehicle for a star you really, really like; a decidedly non-“Downton” role for Maggie Smith; Loki as a country music legend; and a sequel to a surprise faith-based hit.

Hello, My Name Is Doris: Sally Field finally headlines a movie again in this quirky comedy from director Michael Showalter. Doris is an eccentric, 60-something woman who has spent most of her adult life caring for her mother and finds herself blossoming after attending a self-help lecture and developing a crush on a new, younger coworker (Max Greenfield, “New Girl.”) Reviews for the film are mostly positive, but Field herself is getting raves: “Field keeps both hands firmly on the wheel as Doris, skillfully maneuvering through both the comedic and dramatic scenes like the two-time Oscar winner that she is,” Katie Rife wrote for The A.V. Club. (R for language; Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)


The Lady in the Van: Maggie Smith takes a hard 180 from her role on the late, lamented “Downton Abbey” with this comedy/drama based on an incident in British writer/personality Alan Bennett’s real life. Smith plays a confounding, mentally ill homeless woman who takes up residence in Bennett’s driveway – a “temporary” arrangement that lasted 15 years. As I said in my review, “Smith’s acidity cuts through the sugar” and the film is “sardonic and empathetic in pretty much the right doses.”  (PG-13 for a brief unsettling image; Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6)


I Saw the Light: British actor Tom Hiddleston goes from playing a Norse trickster god in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to playing country music pioneer Hank Williams in this dismally received new biopic, which has a 13 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Great movies, like great songs, illustrate the ineffable. This is a movie that had too much to tell and not enough to say,” the Associated Press’ Lindsey Bahr wrote. “May as well be titled ‘Hank Williams Drinks, Flirts, Has Back Problems, and Occasionally Sings,” jabbed Tricia Olszewski of The Wrap. Williams’ short but intense life certainly has enough material for a film; it doesn’t sound as if director Marc Abraham succeeded in making beautiful music, though. (R for some language and brief sexuality/nudity; United Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Hollywood 16)


God’s Not Dead 2: Melissa Joan Hart stars as a high-school teacher sued for discussing Jesus in her history class in this spiritual (see what I did there?) sequel to the 2014 film, which broke records by grossing $62 million worldwide (since surpassed by other hits in this red-hot genre). “Our film really is merely about taking the conversation about faith in the public forum to a new level,” Hart told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview that also touches on her belief that Christians are now being persecuted for their beliefs. The film wasn’t screened for critics before its opening. (PG for some thematic elements; Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)