SHARE
Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, and Danny Glover in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO..

OPENING

5B (PG-13) There are some undeniably moving and shocking stories in this documentary that interviews patients and staffers who were there when San Francisco General Hospital founded the world’s first AIDS ward in the early 1980s. The trouble is that the filmmaking by directors Paul Haggis (Crash) and Dan Krauss don’t add much to the narrative. It’s admirable of them to focus on the nurses who comforted dying patients at a time when much was unknown about this ravaging disease, but the filmmakers don’t dig deeper when they have the chance, like when some of the nurses admit to self-medicating with alcohol and drugs to cope with the exhaustion of their job. The testimony of the survivors remains valuable to have, but it deserved a better film to show them. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

The Last (NR) Jeff Lipsky’s drama is about a Jewish family whose 92-year-old matriarch (Rebecca Schull) makes a shocking admission about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Also with Julie Fain Lawrence, Reed Birney, Jill Durso, Cara Yeates, AJ Cedeno, and Jagger Nelson. (Opens Friday)

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (R) Joe Talbot’s drama stars Jimmie Fails as a young man trying to reclaim possession of a magnificent house that his grandfather built 73 years ago. Also with Jonathan Majors, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, Rob Morgan, Finn Wittrock, Jamal Trulove, Maximilienne Ewalt, Jello Biafra, Thora Birch, and Danny Glover. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Liq-O-Rama-300x2509

Men in Black: International (PG-13) Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson star in this offshoot of the science fiction-comedy series as agents hunting down a mole in the organization. Also with Rebecca Ferguson, Liam Neeson, Rafe Spall, and Emma Thompson. Voice by Kumail Nanjiani. (Opens Friday)

The Outsider (NR) Jared Leto stars in this thriller as an American G.I. who joins the Japanese yakuza after World War II. Also with Tadanobu Asano, Kippei Shina, Shioli Kutsuna, Shun Sugata, Rory Cochrane, and Emile Hirsch. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Plus One (NR) Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine star in this comedy as two single friends who survive a spate of their friends’ weddings by agreeing to be each other’s date to all of them. Also with Finn Wittrock, Beck Bennett, Maya Kazan, Brianne Howey, Emma Bell, Rosalind Chao, and Ed Begley Jr. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Shaft (R) Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as a private detective, teaming up with his estranged son (Jessie T. Usher) to work on a case. Also with Regina Hall, Luna Lauren Velez, Alexandra Shipp, Matt Lauria, Isaach de Bankolé, Method Man, and Richard Roundtree. (Opens Friday)

Vault (R) Tom DeNucci’s thriller is about a group of small-time criminals in 1975 who attempt to steal $30 million from the mafia in Rhode Island. Starring Theo Rossi, Chuck Zito, Samira Wiley, Clive Standen, Vincent Pastore, Burt Young, William Forsythe, Don Johnson, and Chazz Palminteri. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

NOW PLAYING

Aladdin (PG) At last, a Hollywood movie where the Middle Eastern characters are the good guys. This live-action remake of the 1992 animated Disney musical fixes a good number (though not all) of the racial and class issues from the original. The decor helps differentiate the film from Disney’s other live-action remakes and forces Guy Ritchie out of his comfort zone to good effect. It isn’t all good, though, because Ritchie is rarely comfortable staging musical numbers and can’t match the wit of the animation in the original movie. (The new songs don’t add much, either.) However, the movie gives good roles to a cast full of Middle Eastern actors (Mena Massoud as Aladdin sings well and has the dance moves), and Will Smith avoids embarrassing himself as the genie and makes the part his own. We’ll take that much. Also with Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Numan Acar, and Billy Magnussen.

All Is True (PG-13) Kenneth Branagh aims for “meditative” and lands on “dull” in this biographical film that stars himself as an aged William Shakespeare in retirement at Stratford. The scenes of the prosperous Bard trying and mostly failing to raise crops on his farm are intercut with a lot of cutesy, strained metaphors about writing by screenwriter Ben Elton. There’s also some equally boring feminist stuff about Shakespeare’s daughters and some truly regrettable melodrama about the poet in agony over his dead 11-year-old son Hamnet, whose funeral he missed 20 years before. The only thing to relieve us is a suggestion of Shakespeare’s homoerotic attachment to the Earl of Wriothesley (Ian McKellen), which gives us these two lions reciting Sonnet 29 to each other. That’s nice to have, but you wish for Branagh’s corny theatricality to leaven things. Also with Judi Dench, Gerard Horan, Jimmy Yuill, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Kathryn Wilder, and Lydia Wilson.

Avengers: Endgame (PG-13) Pays off in spades. Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, our heroes travel through time to try to avert the mass death that occurred when Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped his fingers. The time-travel gambit is cleverly done, filling in backstory and making some of Marvel’s less essential previous films more important in retrospect. The film hits home emotionally, too, when you least expect it, as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) carry more emotional weight here than in other installments. Even if the massive climactic battle sequence is calculated to make you cheer when various superheroes enter the fray, it also brings an uncommon unity to the 21 movies that preceded it. Given what a heavy task this movie had to accomplish, it succeeds better than it had any right to. Also with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Rene Russo, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Winston Duke, Letitia Wright, Cobie Smulders, Linda Cardellini, Ty Simpkins, Ken Jeong, Frank Grillo, Maximiliano Hernández, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Natalie Portman, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson. Voices by Kerry Condon, Taika Waititi, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper.

Bharat (NR) Salman Khan stars in this Indian epic as an old man whose life spans the partition of India and Pakistan and the country’s history of religious and political violence as he enjoys careers as a motorcycle daredevil, a ship’s mechanic, and an oil wildcatter from Malta to the Arabian Peninsula, all in the name of keeping his family in Mumbai together. The film is a remake of the Korean drama An Ode to My Father, but the acting here doesn’t rise to the level of the earlier film’s, and there’s a fatally misbegotten sequence when the hero disarms a group of Somali pirates by showing them how to do Amitabh Bachchan’s dance moves. Better Indian epics will come by. Also with Katrina Kaif, Disha Patani, Varun Dhawan, Jackie Shroff, Nora Fatehi, Shashank Arora, and Tabu.

The Biggest Little Farm (PG) John Chester’s documentary chronicles his own attempts to develop a sustainable farm outside Los Angeles, despite no experience in farming.

Booksmart (R) Olivia Wilde proves a major comic talent in her directing debut, an instant classic of a teen comedy. A high-school valedictorian (Beanie Feldstein) and her openly gay best friend (Kaitlyn Dever) grow tired of being wallflowers and decide to cram four years’ worth of partying into the night before graduation. The story veers between episodes as the girls are repeatedly sidetracked on their way to a party, but Wilde sustains the anarchic energy as the movie barrels through one hectic, surreal night. Dever’s springiness contrasts well with Feldstein’s bulldozer-like force, and the script is chockablock with vivid supporting characters and funny lines. Billie Lourd steals all her scenes as an indestructible classmate who keeps improbably popping up along the girls’ journey and spends the entire film stoned. Also with Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Mason Gooding, Diana Silvers, Victoria Ruesga, Skyler Gisondo, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Austin Crute, Eduardo Franco, Nico Hiraga, Mike O’Brien, Will Forte, and Lisa Kudrow.

Brightburn (R) This riff on the Superman story stars Jackson A. Dunn as an alien child who falls to Earth in Kansas and starts to demonstrate superpowers. Also with Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jennifer Holland, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, and Becky Wahlstrom.

Changeland (R) Seth Green stars in and writes his own directing debut as a man who travels to Thailand with his best friend (Breckin Meyer) during a crisis in his life. Also with Macaulay Culkin, Brenda Song, Clare Grant, Rob Paulsen, and Rachel Bloom.

The Curse of La Llorona (R) Underneath all the ethnic trappings, this is just the same old third-rate horror flick with the same old conjuring tricks. Linda Cardellini stars as a widowed Los Angeles social worker in 1973 who inadvertently causes the deaths of two Mexican boys, and their mother (Patricia Velasquez) calls down the child-snatching Mexican spirit to take revenge by taking the social worker’s two kids. There are other versions of the story of La Llorona that the movie could have used more profitably, and while first-time director Michael Chaves shows some talent, he doesn’t display any more invention or wit than a thousand other hack horror filmmakers. Cardellini gives everything she has to this performance, which is the best reason to watch. Also with Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Tony Amendola, and Sean Patrick Thomas.

Dark Phoenix (PG-13) In Fox’s final X-Men installment, both sides must team up to stop Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) from destroying the world. Also with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Brian D’Arcy James, Ato Essandoh, Halston Sage, and Jennifer Lawrence.

De De Pyaar De (NR) This Indian comedy stars Ajay Devgn as a 50-year-old venture capitalist in London who falls for a 26-year-old woman (Rakul Preet Singh) and causes an uproar among his ex-wife (Tabu) and grown children back in India. This leads to predictable farce and moony romanticizing of a May-December romance, and the musical numbers don’t add much. The one thing that does is the main character’s weird relationship with his psychiatrist (Jimmy Sheirgill), who comes to his London apartment, insults him personally, drinks his Scotch, borrows his money, and keeps insisting that his psychology degree isn’t fake. Also with Javed Jaferi, Alok Nath, Bhavin Bhanushali, Inayat Sood, and Madhumalti Kapoor.

Detective Pikachu (PG) If you or your kids are already knee-deep in Pokémon knowledge, this movie is for you. Otherwise, it’s got nothing. Justice Smith stars as an insurance investigator in a metropolis filled with the magical creatures who runs into his father’s Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) and reluctantly teams up with him to solve his father’s disappearance. The CGI effects team does excellent work to create a world where humans interact with the mystical warriors of various stripes. However, the film-noir plot is weak stuff and the filmmakers clearly think that they can evoke the style of those old thrillers by putting characters in trench coats. Smith (Paper Towns) does creditable work to hold up his end of things. He deserves better material than this. Also with Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Rita Ora, Karan Soni, Chris Geere, Diplo, Omar Chaparro, Bill Nighy, and Ken Watanabe.

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (NR) This South Korean thriller stars Ma Dong-seok as a mob boss who manages to escape from the clutches of a serial killer (Kim Sung-kyu) and teams up with a rogue cop (Kim Moo-yeol) to catch the guy, except that both the cop and the gangster are busy scheming to double-cross each other while the killer continues to bag more victims. Every character here is a massive asshole, but if you’re into something nihilistic where loyalty means nothing, this movie delivers. Director Lee Won-tae keeps everything moving as alliances shift, break, and re-form, and Ma gives the best turn as a self-contained, soft-spoken villain who nevertheless maneuvers like crazy so he can get the killer and reclaim his reputation. The movie is set for a Hollywood remake, which would do well to retain Ma in his role. Also with Choi Min-chul, Yoo Seung-mok, Kim Yoon-sung, Heo Dong-won, Oh Hee-jun, Yoo Jae-myung, and Kim Gyu-ri.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (PG-13) Michael Dougherty and his co-writers try to make the humans more interesting in this installment of the series. Big mistake. While Godzilla battles a bestiary’s worth of giant creatures rising up from the depths of the Earth, there’s all manner of cringe-worthy dialogue (“Oh my God!” “Zilla.”) and even more intolerable family drama between two estranged scientists (Kyle Chandler and Vera Farmiga) and their teenage daughter (Millie Bobby Brown). Dougherty graduated from low-budget subversive horror flicks like Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus, but a big epic like this blunts everything interesting about him. It’s a bridge too far. Also with Zhang Ziyi, Sally Hawkins, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds, Anthony Ramos, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, David Strathairn, and Ken Watanabe.

The Hustle (PG-13) In this trifling, inoffensive remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, a posh British con artist (Anne Hathaway) meets a working-class Australian grifter (Rebel Wilson) in a resort town on the French Riviera, and the two go back and forth between being allies and enemies. The two actresses are game, but the various characters they pretend to be aren’t funny (with the possible exception of Hathaway as a German psychiatrist), and first-time director Chris Addison has little sense of how to build a scene. This would have been better had it been a film version of the Broadway musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with Hathaway and Wilson singing and dancing. Watch for Dean Norris as a Fort Worth oilman who becomes a mark for the con artists. Also with Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Casper Christensen, and Nicholas Woodeson.

The Intruder (PG-13) There’s a surprising number of home-invasion thrillers about black families, and this one is nowhere near as inventive as Us. Michael Ealy and Meagan Good are a well-to-do San Francisco married couple who buy a house in Napa Valley from a friendly old guy (Dennis Quaid) who starts stalking them obsessively and acts as if the house is still his. Director Deon Taylor (Traffik) hammers home every action sequence without an ounce of cleverness or subtlety, and neither the racial angle nor the villain driving an emotional wedge between the husband and the wife generates anything interesting. The bad guy is a leering psychopath played clumsily by Quaid, and the other characters all act like idiots so that the plot can keep going. Also with Joseph Sikora, Alvina August, and Lili Sepe.

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum (R) 55-year-old Keanu Reeves moves and fights like he’s 22 in this third installment of the martial-arts series. His hit man is now wounded and on the run after breaking the rules of his society of contract killers, so now his colleagues are all after him for the money and the notoriety. Director Chad Stahelski keeps up the accumulation of detail in this fictional universe full of colorful decor and sleek clothing. Also with Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Asia Kate Dillon, Saïd Taghmaoui, Randall Duk Kim, Boban Marjanovic, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian, Tobias Segal, and Laurence Fishburne. — Chase Whale

Ma (R) Octavia Spencer has a grand old time playing her matronly image for scares in this horror film. Diana Silvers (from Booksmart) stars as a teenager who moves back to her mother’s hometown, falls in with a group of partying teens, and runs into a middle-aged woman who opens up her basement as a party venue for them. Messy as this is, it’s also the best film ever directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, The Girl on the Train). He and Spencer create a pitiable monster out for revenge on the kids’ parents who tormented her when she was a teen. Spencer’s unhinged turn is the best reason to see this, and proof that she can do more than just the roles she’s been given so far. Also with Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, Missi Pyle, Luke Evans, and Allison Janney.

Rocketman (R) Better than Bohemian Rhapsody. This other musical biopic of a shy, gay, working-class British pianist who becomes a debauched rock star features Taron Egerton as Elton John. Though it’s officially sanctioned by Elton John, it doesn’t gloss over or glamorize Sir Elton’s drug- and sex-fueled excesses. Director Dexter Fletcher (who also did uncredited work on Bohemian Rhapsody) can’t escape the confines of the musical bio genre, but he does pull off some nice full-scale dance numbers, and Egerton (despite being too tall and good-looking for the part) holds up his end by doing his own singing and dancing. The further this movie dives into fantasy, the better it is. Also with Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Tom Bennett, Steven Mackintosh, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor, Ophelia Lovibond, Tate Donovan, and Gemma Jones.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG) In this sequel, Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt) tries to adjust to life in the country, while his friends in the city try to adjust to life without him. Additional voices by Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Bobby Moynihan, and Harrison Ford.

The Tomorrow Man (PG-13) First-time director Noble Jones shows some flashes of talent in this pleasantly amenable romance. John Lithgow stars as a socially awkward widower who takes a shine to a woman (Blythe Danner) whom he mistakes for a doomsday prepper. There is a neat twist that explains the real reason why she doesn’t run for the hills when he shows her his bunker filled with survival equipment. Mostly, this affair coasts on the chemistry between the two actors in a film that gives them rare romantic lead parts for their age group. The final joke is a nice one. Also with Derek Cecil, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow, Wendy Makkena, and Katie Aselton.

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

Chasing the Dragon II: The Wild Bunch (NR) Tony Leung Ka-Fai stars in this Chinese thriller as a gangster who sets his sights on Macau as he kidnaps rich people for ransom. Also with Louis Koo, Simon Yam, Yu On-On, Lam Ka-Tung, and Sabrina Qiu.

Echo in the Canyon (PG-13) Andrew Slater’s documentary interviews many of the musicians involved in the Laurel Canyon music scene in Los Angeles. Starring Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Michelle Phillips, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, Graham Nash, Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones, and the late Tom Petty.

Katie Says Goodbye (NR) Olivia Cooke stars in this drama as a 17-year-old girl who becomes a prostitute to stay alive in San Francisco. Also with Mireille Enos, Christopher Abbott, Jim Belushi, Nate Corddry, Keir Gilchrist, Chris Lowell, and Mary Steenburgen.

Pavarotti (PG-13) Ron Howard directs this documentary about the legendary Italian opera singer.

Project Ithaca (R) This science-fiction thriller is about a group of strangers who must work together to get home after waking up on a spaceship. Starring James Gallanders, Dera Campbell, Daniel Fathers, Alex Woods, and Caroline Reynaud.

The Souvenir (R) Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical film stars Honor Swinton Byrne as a film student in the 1980s who becomes romantically involved with a heroin addict (Tom Burke). Also with Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Ariane Labed, and Lydia Fox.

LEAVE A REPLY