By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
In Amarillo theaters this week: the flash and crash of Justice League, the tears and inspiration of Wonder and the Christmas miracle in The Star, plus early arrivals for Thanksgiving.
New in theaters
A Ghost Story
A haunting (sorry) meditation on grief, A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck as a husband who can't move on after his death (donning a spectacular shroud designed by Amarillo native Annell Brodeur). As his wife (Rooney Mara) struggles to rebuild her life, the husband stubbornly stays behind, as more and more time passes. It's a mood piece, for sure, and even writer/director David Lowery said it wasn't for everyone: "There will be plenty of people who call it pretentious, plenty more who walk out at a very specific point about twenty minutes in, and others who will shrug it off, for whom it will be neither here nor there. But some people will love it, and I'm excited for them to discover it." His prediction was right; reviews are mostly quite positive. "The movie is so simple in its storytelling and its situations are observed so patiently that the result has a disarming purity, as if Lowery jammed a tap into his subconscious and recorded one of his dreams directly to film," writes RogerEbert.com's Matt Zoller Seitz. (R for brief language and a disturbing image; click here for showtimes at Premiere Cinemas Westgate Mall 6, 7701 W. Interstate 40.
DC's greatest heroes assemble and, hoo boy, the critics aren't too happy about it. In the wake of the critical drubbings received by Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, DC's cinematic efforts appeared to be on an upswing with Wonder Woman. But director Zack Snyder's fingerprints still appear to be all over this one, which brings Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to the fold alongside Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Snyder actually stepped away from the film for family reasons, with Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) stepping in for some rewrites and reshoots. "Whedon’s humor is grafted on in too-obvious ways; it sticks out incongruously amid all the stilted mechanics of this alarmingly basic movie. All these Whedonisms have the opposite of the intended effect. They give off a strenuous hum, the desperate sound of a turd polished in vain," writes Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson. "Justice League is almost pathologically chipper, as if trying to cast off the oppressive bleakness of earlier DC films—but that’s not enough to make it a good movie," writes The Atlantic's David Sims. (PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action; click here for showtimes at United Artists Amarillo Star 14, 8275 W. Amarillo Blvd., and Cinemark Hollywood 16, 9100 Canyon Drive)
A donkey (voiced by Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead), a sheep (Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live) and a dove (Keegan-Michael Key, Key and Peele) follow a star in the west and help save the day at the first Christmas in this new animated feature. Other voice actors include Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi as Mary and Joseph, Kelly Clarkson as a horse, Kristin Chenoweth as a mouse, Oprah Winfrey and more. (PG for some thematic elements; click here for showtimes at Amarillo Star 14 and Hollywood 16)
A 10-year-old boy born with a congenital disorder that has caused severe facial malformations (played by Jacob Tremblay, Room) goes to public school for the first time in this family drama based on the immensely popular YA novel by R.J. Palacio. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play Auggie's devoted parents, with Izabela Vidovic as his teenage sister and Mandy Patinkin and Daveed Diggs as supportive staffers at his school. Reviews are quite solid, warning viewers to pack tissues for the tearjerker. "(T)his is a celebration of empathy, a reminder that even the people who might be making us miserable have their own problems and their own people who are making them miserable. Its secret weapon is Tremblay, whose big, Keane-painting eyes defy you not to melt over Auggie and his travails, but it’s a solid ensemble through and through," writes The Wrap's Alonso Duralde.
Justice League Double Feature Event
Savvy synergy at work: The smash success of this summer's Wonder Woman has expectations higher than they had been for Justice League and, captializing on that, Warner Bros. will offer a double feature of WW and JL beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday only.
The Exterminating Angel
Thomas Adès’s surreal opera, based on Luis Buñuel's film, premieres on the The Met: Live in HD season, screening at 11:55 a.m. Saturday at the Hollywood 16.
Bring the tissues for a screening of this inspirational sports drama as part of Cinemark's Classics Series at 2 p.m. Sunday and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Hollywood 16.
Advance tickets are on sale now for pre-Thanksgiving openings of the new Pixar film Coco and Denzel Washington's legal thriller Roman J. Israel, Esq.
Still in theaters
American Made (WM-6); A Bad Moms Christmas (AS-14, H-16); Daddy's Home 2 (AS-14, H-16) Despicable Me 3 (WM-6); Happy Death Day (WM-6); Jigsaw (AS-14, H-16); Let There Be Light (H-16); The Mountain Between Us (WM-6); Murder on the Orient Express (AS-14, H-16); Only the Brave (AS-14); The Snowman (WM-6); Thank You for Your Service (H-16); Thor: Ragnarok (AS-14, H-16); and Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween (AS-14). (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.