By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
In Amarillo theaters this week: The return of a horror franchise, a sci-fi romance, another Oscar contender, an "excellent" revival of a "party-time" favorite and more.
Another nominated film arrives this week, as does a new way of seeing a frontrunner.
- 20th Century Women: Well, let's just say this right up front — Annette Bening was robbed. Bening stars as Dorothea — the warm, big-hearted, big-opinioned center of writer/director Mike Mills' follow-up to 2011's delightful Beginners. That film was about Mills' memories of his father; 20th Century Women, which opens Friday at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, is about his mother, and boy, what a mother she was. Set (mostly) in 1979, the film centers on the life of Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), the 15-year-old son of Dorothea and an absent father, raised in a communal atmosphere in an always-under-construction Santa Barbara home shared with two boarders (Greta Gerwig's punk naif Abbie and Billy Crudup's handyman William). Dorothea, concerned that she is not enough for Jamie, enlists Abbie and neighbor Julie (Elle Fanning) to help her son become the best man he can be. She's a great mother, but as anyone who's ever been an adolescent knows, there comes a time when kids naturally begin pulling away from their parents. Through the crises both small and large that he navigates in the film, and with the invaluable guidance of the women around him, Jamie learns how to move through the world as a decent man. Mills' script was nominated for best original screenplay, the film's sole Oscar nod. But Bening, to get back to my original point, is absolutely spectacular in a nuanced, naturalistic way. There aren't really any fireworks here, and maybe that's why her performance was overlooked in the Oscar race, but what she does is so real, so warm, so funny that it's absolutely a master class in acting. Gerwig, Fanning, Zumann and Crudup each rise to her level, too, helping craft an imminently re-watchable film (I've already watched my screener twice) celebrating fully realized, wonderfully human characters. (R for sexual material, language, some nudity and brief drug use; WM-6)
- La La Land, this year's leading contender, has been digitally remastered and will screen in IMAX at the United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd. The non-IMAX version will continue screening at the Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive, as well as the Amarillo Star.
- Several of the other Best Picture nominees that opened or re-opened here last week (Moonlight, Manchester by the Seaand Arrival, specifically) have departed. But four others remain. Hacksaw Ridge continues to screen at the Amarillo Star, and Fenceshas moved there (and left the Hollywood) for a single screeing per day. Lion continues for a fourth week at Westgate Mall 6. And Hidden Figures continues with multiple screenings daily at both multiplexes.
- Jackie, an intense drama about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's reaction to the assassination of her husband, is screening at Lubbock's Alamo Drafthouse, 120 W. Loop 289. It has yet to arrive in Amarillo, so if you're interested in seeing Natalie Portman's performance (nominated for best actress), you ought to head down. The film also was nominated for best costume design and best original score.
- Disney hit Moana (nominated for best animated feature and best original song) continues screening once a morning at the Hollywood Star 16;
- Passengers (nominated for best original score and production design) returns for a pair of daily screenings at the Amarillo Star 14;
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (nominated for best sound mixing and visual effects) continues at both multiplexes;
- Doctor Strange (nominated for best visual effects) opens at Westgate Mall 6;
- And Trolls (nominated for best original song) continues screening at Westgate Mall 6.
New in theaters
Robert De Niro stars as an aging comedian desperate to restart his career and put his past on a schlocky '90s sitcom behind him in this new drama from director Taylor Hackford. While performing at a nostalgia night, De Niro's Jackie Berkowitz's insult comedy doesn't go over well, landing him in a fight with a heckler. Meanwhile, he strikes up a friendship (or more?) with a woman (Leslie Mann) who's also doing court-ordered community service and squabbles with his brother and sister-in-law (Danny DeVito and Patti LuPone). Reviews are ranging from disinterested to scathing. The Seattle Times' Moira Macdonald writes that the film has "the grain of an interesting idea" but it mostly "just plods along, slowly and sleepily, leaving little evidence that it was ever there." Variety's Geoff Berkshire opines that "Partly because De Niro’s delivery of the comic material never quite connects, it’s hard to discern if the audience is meant to root for Jackie’s comeback or view him as tragically misguided." (R for crude sexual references and language throughout; H-16)
The early-2000s horror franchise, in which people are killed after watching a video, is revived for new audiences — or, possibly more accurately, for 30-somethings who loved the first two films. This time, a young woman (Matilda Lutz) discovers a part of the deadly video that no one else has ever seen. The film has not been screened for critics. (PG-13 for violence/terror, thematic elements, some sexuality and brief drug material; AS-14, H-16)
The Space Between Us
Asa Butterfield (Ender's Game) stars as a child born on Mars to an astronaut helping colonize the planet. By the time he's a teenager, he wants to know more about his unknown father and Earth, so he strikes up an online friendship with a girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson), eventually journeying back to Terra firma to meet her. Will he find his father and find a new home on Earth? Or will his Martian organs give out? Beats me — the film hasn't been screened for critics. (PG-13 for brief sensuality and language; AS-14, H-16)
The iconic 1954 romance starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn comes back to theaters as part of the Cinemark Classics Series, screening at 2 p.m Sunday and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday. (NR; H-16)
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this comedy favorite, inspired by a series of popular Saturday Night Live sketches with stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, with a one-night-only screening (in Amarillo, at least) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Amarillo Star 14 and the Hollywood 16. (PG-13 for sex-related dialogue; AS-14, H-16)
Still in theaters
Boo! A Madea Halloween (WM-6); The Bye Bye Man (AS-14); Collateral Beauty (WM-6); Doctor Strange (WM-6); A Dog's Purpose (AS-14, H-16); Fences (AS-14); Gold (AS-14, H-16); Hidden Figures (AS-14, H-16); Hacksaw Ridge (AS-14); La La Land (AS-14, H-16); Lion (WM-6); Moana (H-16); Monster Trucks (AS-14, H-16); Ouija: Origin of Evil (WM-6); Un Padre No Tan Padre (H-16); Passengers (AS-14); Patriots Day (H-16); Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (AS-14, H-16); Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (AS-14, H-16); Sing (AS-14, H-16); Split (AS-14, H-16); Trolls (WM-6); XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (AS-14, H-16); and Why Him? (H-16). (Click links for my reviews)