OPENING THIS WEEK
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)
3 chiles - HALSTON
Not rated. 105 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. See review.
3 chiles - LATE NIGHT
Rated R. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14; Violet Crown. See review.
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 3D and 2D at Regal Stadium 14. Screens in 2D only at Regal Santa Fe 6 and Violet Crown. (Not reviewed)
Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine) are old college friends through thick and thin. Ben is single and Alice is experiencing a rough breakup; the two decide to be each other’s dates through wedding season, with the coarse Alice helping Ben pick up women. Everyone thinks they’re dating, however, because their chemistry is so natural — and maybe those people are on to something. Not rated. 99 minutes. Jean Cocteau Cinema. (Not reviewed)
3.5 Chiles -THE PROPOSAL
Not rated. 86 minutes. The Screen. See review.
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)
Not rated. 96 minutes. 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 16, only. Violet Crown. See review.
3 chiles - WOODSTOCK: THREE DAYS THAT DEFINED A GENERATION
Not rated. 106 minutes. The Screen. See review.
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)
ALL IS TRUE
Kenneth Branagh has starred in and directed many of William Shakespeare’s plays; in this film, which he also directs, he plays the Bard himself. It’s 1613, and the Globe Theatre has just burned down. Shakespeare retreats to Stratford-upon-Avon with his wife, Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench), with his sights on retirement. As he faces down this final chapter in his life, he comes to terms with how he’s treated the women around him. Ian McKellen plays Shakespeare’s patron, the Earl of Southampton. Rated PG-13. 101 minutes. Center for Contemporary Arts. (Not reviewed)
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 over-long 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. Center for Contemporary Arts; Violet Crown. (Michael Abatemarco)
3.5 chiles - BOOKSMART
In this twist on the Superbad formula, Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play two intelligent feminist besties who, on the eve of their high school graduation, realize that they should have studied less and partied more. The pair attempt to make up for four years of lost time with one big blowout, which finds them on the unforgettable trail of raunchy adventures at numerous parties. Along the way, they cross paths with a number of friends, enemies, and frenemies, with romantic potential coming and going without ever lingering too long in the foreground. Actress Olivia Wilde, in her directorial debut, takes her time in getting the film’s momentum going, but once familiarity and affection for the characters settle in, the ride becomes breezy, charming, and often funny. Like many of the best high school films, it conjures a time when you didn’t know anything but thought you knew everything, when you faced a vibrant future while also bidding farewell to friends and acquaintances that you didn’t realize you cared so much about. Rated R. 102 minutes. Regal Stadium 14 and Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)
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, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)
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 Santa Fe 6, Regal Stadium 14, and Violet Crown. (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, and Violet Crown. (Robert Ker)
Octavia Spencer plays the villain in this horror movie about a lonely, socially awkward woman (Spencer) who finds a modicum of acceptance when a group of teenagers befriend her. Initially, they use her to buy them beer and let them party at her house, but they eventually accept her into their circle, even giving her the nickname “Ma.” The attention flatters the unhinged Ma, who soon develops an unhealthy, and eventually murderous, attachment to the kids. Rated R. 99 minutes. Regal Stadium 14. (Not reviewed)
3 chiles - ROCKETMAN
This biopic of Elton John (played by Taron Egerton) follows shortly on the heels of 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, of 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 Santa Fe 6, 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)
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 16: Santa Fe Opera presents a sneak peek of Pavarotti.
▼ 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 19: the National Organization for Women presents Feminists: What Were They Thinking?
Jean Cocteau Cinema
▼ The Image You Missed.
▼ 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15: The Matrix (1999).
▼ 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 15: the Around the World Film Series presents Ponyo (2008).
▼ 6 p.m. Thursday, June 19: Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community. With remembrances from Santa Fe community members of what their lives were like in 1969.
▼ 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20: En Donde los Bailadores Se Entregan los Corazones with live music by Lone Piñon.
▼ 11 a.m. Sunday, June 16: Faust from the Royal Opera House.
▼ 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 19: The 2019 Free Family Film Series presents Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
▼ 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, June 19: The Birdcage (1996).
▼ 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20: The Auteurs Film Series, featuring films from Michel Gondry, presents Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013).