Child's Play

Chucky's back: Child's Play at Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown

OPENING THIS WEEK

 

ANNA 

Writer and director Luc Besson has always enjoyed crafting action films starring tough women, from La Femme Nikita in 1990 to Lucy in 2014. His latest such picture centers on Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss), a supermodel who doubles as a highly skilled assassin. Luke Evans, Helen Mirren, and Cillian Murphy also star. Rated R. 119 minutes. Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)

 

CHILD’S PLAY 

Chucky the murderous doll is back to terrorize toy aisles in the reboot of this long-running horror franchise. Aubrey Plaza plays Karen, a woman who buys her son (Gabriel Bateman) a Chucky doll, unaware that it is capable of coming to life and causing havoc. She soon discovers her mistake when he goes on a killing spree, this time using his wifi connection to control electronic devices around him. Mark Hamill provides the voice for Chucky, who has never been shy about cracking a joke. Rated R. 90 minutes. Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)

 

2.5 Chiles - FRAMING JOHN DELOREAN

Not rated. 109 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema and The Screen. See review. 

 

3 Chiles - NON-FICTION 

Rated R. 108 minutes. The Screen. See review.

 

3 Chiles - PAVAROTTI 

Rated PG-13. 114 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review.

 

TOY STORY 4 

Even though 2010’s Toy Story 3 sent the beloved characters off on a perfect note, the film also made a great deal of money, so they’re back. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the gang — now under the care of a child named Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw) — head on a road trip with Bonnie’s family. The first order of business is making sure Bonnie’s homemade toy Forky (Tony Hale), birthed from a craft project, feels welcome. Then, Woody runs into Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who embarked on a life of travel ages ago. When they reach an antique store, a villain named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) threatens them all. Rated G. 100 minutes. Screens in 3D and 2D at Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. Screens in 2D at Regal Santa Fe 6. (Not reviewed)

 

NOW IN THEATERS

 

2 Chiles - ALADDIN

Disney’s live-action take on its own 1992 cartoon has a bit of everything — music, romance, adventure, and comedy — with an almost entirely non-white cast to boot. What it doesn’t seem to have is a genuine spark of life, perhaps by nature of being a close remake of a well-known film. The story centers on Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a street urchin who finds a magic lamp containing a genie (a blue-skinned Will Smith) and meets the princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). They fall for each other, but Jasmine must marry a prince by law; meanwhile, Jafar (Marwan Kenzari), the royal vizier, schemes to land Jasmine and the kingdom for himself. The cast members are likeable (particularly Scott), yet they struggle to elevate the material beyond a mechanical shift through the paces. Director Guy Ritchie applies little of the hip, kinetic action that earned him his reputation and seems to struggle with the musical scenes. But the film’s biggest problem is that it looks cheap for something so expensive, resembling a Disneyland attraction based on a movie more than it does an actual movie. Rated PG. 128 minutes. Screens in 2D only at Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)

 

3 Chiles - ALL IS TRUE

With some movies, it’s best not to allow worries over historical accuracy to derail our enjoyment. And there’s plenty to enjoy in All Is True, Kenneth Branagh’s fondly poignant look at William Shakespeare’s final years. Not much is known about that time, after the playwright’s beloved Globe Theatre burned to the ground in 1613 and he returned to his family home in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s not a peaceful retirement. Reconnecting with his neglected wife (Judi Dench, brilliantly huffy) and two variously troubled daughters (Kathryn Wilder and Lydia Wilson) is challenging, to say the least. But if Ben Elton’s screenplay benefits from dramatic imaginings and factual fudging, I’m content that Branagh — who stars as well as directs and whose devotion to Shakespeare is unarguable — was the one to approve them. The result is more country soap than biopic, a slow and soothing tale of family secrets and festering resentments. It’s a little soppy and a tad dull, but beautifully acted, richly photographed, and blessedly free of histrionics. Rated PG-13. 101 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Jeannette Catsoulis/The New York Times)

 

2.5 Chiles - THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

Despite its gorgeous nature photography, director John Chester’s autobiographical account of his and his wife Molly’s life-changing move from city to country life, to make a go at sustainable farming, feels a bit like an overlong promotional video. The Chesters left their lives in Los Angeles behind to found Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, California, with the help of farm expert Alan York. Using an experimental biodiversity model based on biomimicry, they successfully rejuvenated land not suited to farming. The film hits its stride when it explores the hardships they encounter, and in its tender treatment of human and animal relationships. But trying to sell audiences on the methods that worked for them undercuts the value of their message of sustainability and reduced carbon footprints. A director not so close to the project could have given the film a more balanced treatment. Rated PG. 91 minutes. The Screen. (Michael Abatemarco)

 

2 Chiles - DARK PHOENIX

This final installment of 20th Century Fox’s take on the X-Men film franchise — before Disney, the property’s new owners, scraps everything to presumably fold it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe — finds the makers dragging the property across the finish line, seemingly out of ideas, and hamstrung by their own budgetary restrictions and a decade of recasting roles and monkeying with their narrative’s timeline until all sense has left the building. This installment finds them adapting one of the comic book’s most iconic stories while stripping everything interesting from it. We’re left with Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) being possessed by a cosmic force that gives her incredible powers and an evil side. Heroes and villains including Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) realize the threat she poses and try to prevent her potential from being realized, while also protecting her from alien invaders. As ever, the franchise does an excellent job portraying superhuman powers, giving them an unreal, almost horror-like quality — indeed, Carrie is the film this movie most closely resembles. Other than those nifty effects, there isn’t much left to recommend. Rated PG-13. 113 minutes. Screens in 2D at Santa Fe 6 and Regal Stadium 14. (Robert Ker)  

1.5 Chiles - THE DEAD DON’T DIE

In Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy, Adam Driver and Bill Murray play Ronnie and Cliff, a pair of amiable police officers in a small town called Centerville that starts to go kablooey, first with some strange solar phenomenon and finally with the arrival of staggering, staring, intestine-eating wraiths. It’s animated by the same mordant humor that has become Jarmusch’s trademark since making his debut a generation ago. Indeed, the entire opening credit sequence reads like an honor roll of downtown New York street cred. Such venerated elders as Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, and producer Sara Driver play supporting roles, along with relative youngsters like Selena Gomez and Sturgill Simpson. Jarmusch lards his script with self-referential nods that reward viewers heavily invested in their own cool, in-on-it knowingness. And sure, the callbacks and inside jokes bounce along charmingly at first, invoking Jarmusch’s oeuvre and that of his stars. But the banter eventually becomes stifling, as claustrophobic and oppressive as Centerville itself. It looks like it was a blast to make. But, ultimately, it’s the audience that gets it in the neck. Rated R. 105 minutes. Violet Crown. (Ann Hornaday/The Washington Post)

 

2 Chiles - GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

Despite featuring two of cinema’s biggest stars (literally), Warner Bros.’ budding MonsterVerse — a franchise built around the characters of Godzilla and King Kong — hasn’t gotten a lot of fanfare. This, despite the fact that 2014’s Godzilla, a reboot of the classic monster story, earned nearly $530 million at the box office and was generally well received, save for some quibbles about the human story. Five years later, you might expect the sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, to have addressed those concerns. Does it come out roaring — a balanced mix of fire-breathing action and story that moves you, efficiently, from one kaiju bout to the next? Unfortunately, Monsters tries a little too hard to correct course from what some saw as its predecessor’s flaws. The movie does not roar, but rather emits only a serviceable yelp. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes. Screens in 2D only at Regal Stadium 14. (Hau Chu/The Washington Post)

 

3.5 Chiles - JOHN WICK 3: CHAPTER 3 — PARABELLUM

Those who are tired of resorting to superhero movies for their cinematic action have found refuge in the R-rated violence of Keanu Reeves’ fitted-suit-wearing hitman John Wick — even if Wick himself disposes of enemies with ease and seems as indestructible as a superhero. While these films’ action scenes are expertly staged, inventive, and sprinkled with humor and gore, their pleasures also involve watching the world’s mythology gradually expand. In this installment, Wick finds himself with a $14 million bounty on his head after killing a member of a powerful assassin’s guild in the last film, and he must fight his way out of New York City as chaos rains down around him. Cast members Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Anjelica Huston, and Laurence Fishburne all take juicy bites out of their supporting roles, while Asia Kate Dillon emerges as an enticing new villain. The John Wick movies are a vibe, and series director Chad Stahelski coats it with a visual veneer that’s far more sumptuous and stylish than the material requires. Rated R. 130 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Robert Ker)

 

3 Chiles - LATE NIGHT

Katherine Newberry (Emma Thompson) has been hosting a late night TV show since around the time Johnny Carson’s retirement launched the talk show wars in ’92. The late night slot has never been a welcoming ground for women. No wonder Newberry is a bit prickly. And maybe a bit tired of the whole thing. But when her new network boss (Amy Ryan) tells her this season will be her last, Katherine digs in. One of her show’s problems is lack of diversity, with no female writers. So she orders her producer (Dennis O’Hare) to find her one. The hire turns out to be Indian American Molly Patel (an appealing Mindy Kaling, who wrote the screenplay), thus breaking the gender and color barrier in one stroke. Kaling’s story is reliable and predictable, but a lot of it is sharp and witty, and the direction by Nisha Ganatra (The Mindy Project, Girls) keeps it rolling smoothly. But the queen of Late Night is Thompson, whose impeccable timing and dry-as-gin wit makes you wonder why she hasn’t been dominating the late night TV talk show scene for the last quarter century. Rated R. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. (Jonathan Richards)

 

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL

In this resuscitation of the Men in Black franchise, which began in 1997 and continued through two sequels, Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth play two agents of the same top-secret, alien-tracking organization that the characters embodied by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones belonged to. Operating out of a London branch under the supervision of High T (Liam Neeson), the agents travel the world, cracking jokes and preventing alien attacks. Emma Thompson also stars. Rated PG-13. 115 minutes. Screens in 2D only at Regal Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)

 

3 Chiles - ROCKETMAN

This biopic of Elton John (played by Taron Egerton) follows shortly on the heels of 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, to which it has been extensively compared, and for good reason. Whether centering on Elton John or Freddie Mercury, both movies are winsome crowd-pleasers that follow similar arcs: a musical genius rises to global popularity, attaches himself to a predatory manager, struggles with homosexuality in the public eye, isolates himself at the peak of fame, and finds redemption in part through realizing the importance of his writing partners. Despite the Xeroxed plot, an extended time in the protagonist’s dark period, and a strangely conservative depiction of monogamy as the only true path to happiness, the movies are quite different. Bohemian Rhapsody was a clunky movie elevated by Rami Malek’s portrayal of Mercury, while Rocketman is a lively film that succeeds in spite of Egerton’s unconvincing take on Sir Elton. Neither film follows their subject’s biographies very literally, but Rocketman leans into the fiction more, embracing the camp and blossoming into an outright musical, with characters often breaking into joyous song and dance. If you love these songs, then you’ll adore those moments — and who doesn’t love these songs? Rated R. 121 minutes. Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)

 

2.5 Chiles - THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2

All dogs are good dogs. This animated film about canines (and other domesticated critters), doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by real-world pooches. Call it a pretty good dog. Picking up where the original 2016 film left off, this sequel centers on a terrier named Max (Patton Oswalt, doing replacement voice duty after Louis C.K. was dropped from the franchise in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations). Max is still living happily in New York City with his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper). But then suddenly, everything changes: Katie gets married and has a baby. The baby becomes a toddler, and he and the dogs begin to get along so well that Max feels he must protect the child from everything. The main story kicks in when Max and his family take a trip to the country. That’s where Max meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), a cattle dog who actually works for a living and who disdains Max. Oswalt’s voice work is outstanding and most of the movie’s jokes land solidly, which, ironically, only serves to highlight the other weaknesses of the film. There are so many subplots, it’s like herding cats. It feels less like a compelling, full-length feature than like three decent short films, each of which is only vaguely related to the other, and all of which exist merely to get from one joke to the next. Rated PG. 86 minutes. Screens in 2D at Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Kristen Page-Kirby/The Washington Post)

 

SHAFT

Multiple generations of Shafts team up in this action-comedy, including the original Shaft (Richard Roundtree, from the 1971 film), his son (Samuel L. Jackson, from the 2000 film), and grandson (Jessie Usher). When a friend of the youngest is mysteriously killed, he recruits his dad and grandfather to help him get to the bottom of it. The two old-timers proceed to enjoy many jokes at the young whippersnapper’s expense. Rated R. 105 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)

 

3.5 Chiles - VAN GOGH & JAPAN

Returning to the subject of Vincent van Gogh, director David Bickerstaff (Vincent Van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing) narrows the focus to the influence of Japanese art and aesthetics on his work. The film delves into van Gogh’s intensive study of Japanese art, taking the viewer to Japan itself, to understand its artistic patrimony firsthand. Bickerstaff also takes us inside Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum to see the works in the 2018 exhibit Van Gogh & Japan and shows us just how impactful Japanese woodblock artists, like ukiyo-e master Utagawa Hiroshige, were on the artist. The filmmakers elucidate how he copied the Japanese prints while remaining true to the barely contained wildness of his own artistic vision. The film makes clear that, for van Gogh, the art of Japan was an obsession that served as counterpoint to the artist’s troubled soul. Not rated. 85 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Michael Abatemarco)

 

PERFORMANCE AND OTHER SCREENINGS

 

Center for Contemporary Arts

▼  1 p.m. Sunday, June 23: The Santa Fe Opera presents La Boheme (1926) with live music by pianist Hank Troy.

 

Jean Cocteau Cinema

▼  6 p.m. Saturday, June 22: Best F(r)iends Vol. 1 & 2 with actor Greg Sestero in person.

 

Midtown Bandstand

▼  6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21: The Screen’s Around the World Film Series presents Hotel Transylvania (2012).

 

Violet Crown

  11 a.m. Sunday, June 23: The Taming of the Shrew from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

  11 a.m. Wednesday, June 26: The 2019 Free Family Film Series presents Back to the Future (1985).

  7 p.m. Wednesday, June 26: The Auteurs Film Series, featuring films from Michel Gondry, presents The Science of Sleep (2006).