Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

A welcome break from opera — super, space, or otherwise

A good week of new movie releases, including Jackie and Rogue One

Rogue One: Insert joke about how Storm Troopers’ need for a vacation is evidenced by their poor work performance here.
Rogue One: Insert joke about how Storm Troopers’ need for a vacation is evidenced by their poor work performance here.
Movie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story **

thumbnail

Disney spins the Wheel! Of! <em>Star Wars</em>! and gets “Gotta get that shield down!” as its Obligatory Plotline Rehash in director Gareth Edwards’ take on how exactly the rebellion got ahold of the plans for the original Death Star in <em>A New Hope</em>. (Answer: through some pretty dark dealings and considerable sacrifice.) The good news is that Edwards’ effort to make a storm-the-beach war film produces a tense third act that earns most of its big moments and also justifies much of what’s come before. The bad news is that what’s come before is a clunky attempt at a coldhearted espionage thriller, full of good characters saddled with bad dialogue, tense scenarios saddled with dumb action, and tolerable storyweaving saddled with bad fan service. (Blue milk! Walrus Man! A variant on "Never tell me the odds!" Etc.) Like the rebootish <em>The Force Awakens</em>, <em>Rogue One</em> features tweaks on the old standbys (leads Jyn and Cassian as Leia and Han, the politely snarky K-2SO as both C-3PO and RD-D2, etc.). Unlike <em>The Force Awakens</em>, it also features some genuine freshness: a reluctant collaborator with the Empire, a monk who can feel the Force but is nobody’s Jedi, and a frustrated baddie who just wants credit where it’s due.

Find showtimes

The Wikipedia entry for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story calls it “a 2016 American epic space opera film.” There’s lots more after that, but let me pause for a moment.

“Space opera?” As in “soap opera”? As in “Captain America: Civil War”? (Hat tip to my friend Charlie for pointing that one out.) I’d argue that Rogue One is the first Star Wars film in ages — maybe ever — that didn’t feel like a soap opera in space. No forbidden love. No mysteries about who is whose father/mother/sister. No tortured emoting lent extra significance by ponderous talk about the cosmic power of said emotion (“Release your anger,” etc.)

Most importantly, while it’s clearly a prequel with oodles of ties to A New Hope, there’s no feeling of “tune in next time!” As David Edelstein notes over at New York Magazine, “The problem with these ‘franchise’ films is that because of the need for more, more, and yet more installments, nothing ever seems wrapped up. But this one arrives at a familiar place and things get pretty well-settled.” A-men.

Movie

Jackie ****

thumbnail

Were it not for the giant blood stain on the lower-half of her fabled pink dress – a moment director Pablo Larraín takes his sweet time revealing in a startling pullback – and constant juxtaposition next to her husband’s casket, Jackie Kennedy could have just as easily been mistaken for a stewardess aboard Air Force One. Imagine a documentary portrait of a passive character set during the four most intensely intolerable days of her life and you’ll get an idea of the kind of emotional (and cinematic) wallop Jackie packs. Larraín places his subject center frame – she’s present in just about every shot in the film – while his star, Natalie Portman, takes us through a cauterized grieving process that at times borders on the surreal. Together they trap the character on film, like a rose frozen in a block of ice. Quite unlike any biopic that’s come before, but that’s no big shock given the director’s proven track record of originality.

Find showtimes

So much for the biggest movie of the week. Now on to the best. Scott would say it’s the unconventional First Widow biopic Jackie, but then Scott tends to be partial to director Pablo Larraín (No, Tony Manero, and even The Club). Me, I admired Jackie more than I liked it. I’d give the edge to La La Land, which is maybe not as great as a lot of critics are making it out to be but which remains a toe-tapping, grin-making ode to the artist’s struggle. (Scott liked it so much he didn’t even complain about the bad lip-sync during the otherwise delightful opening song!)

At the recent voting session for the San Diego Film Critics Society awards, there was a minor debate about whether or not you had to be able to sing to star in a musical. I say no — all you gotta do is sell it. And Emma Stone sells it.

Movie

La La Land ***

thumbnail

Billed as a movie lover’s dream for a reason: the eye hasn’t seen this much color on screen since Vincente Minnelli passed. The songs and musical numbers are lively, the cast attractive, all attempts to transform city streets into expressionistically lit studio backlots successful, and the ending decidedly downbeat. And there’s this five-and-a-half-minute long take that starts in search of a parked car and ends with a slow and deliberate pan over to the Hollywood Hills at twilight time that found me struggling to pick my jaw up from off the floor. Ditto a lovely romantic walking tour of the Warner Bros. lot. But, and it’s a big but, any number of the movie musicals that director Damien Chazelle references (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Band Wagon, It’s Always Fair Weather, etc.) have more depth of characterization than either Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s comparative stick figures are assigned. But enough grouching. This is one crowd-pleaser worth getting behind.

Find showtimes

As for the worst entry this week, the Will Smith weeper Collateral Beauty wins easily. (I didn’t ask Scott to review it — it’s Christmas, why be mean? — but the man is devoted to his craft.) The low-fi ’80s horror tribute Beyond the Gates wasn’t great, but at least it had heart (and guts, and brain matter, and you get the idea). Both Scott and I wanted to like that one more than we ultimately did.

In between the high and low were two solid smaller pictures. The Brand New Testament managed to give us a ten-year-old Little Miss God who was neither too precious nor too precocious, and a Daddy God who was a petty, mean-spirited delight. And in a bold move, it posited supernatural reality without the hope of an afterlife.

Evolution, meanwhile, eschewed the supernatural for super nature, the vivifying force that gave rise to what came before us, us, and what comes after us. And it upheld the saving power of human inspiration and artistic endeavor in the process!

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Dennis Caco's Mission Valley missing Midori

Max Boost creator finds car near Sweetwater Road
Rogue One: Insert joke about how Storm Troopers’ need for a vacation is evidenced by their poor work performance here.
Rogue One: Insert joke about how Storm Troopers’ need for a vacation is evidenced by their poor work performance here.
Movie

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story **

thumbnail

Disney spins the Wheel! Of! <em>Star Wars</em>! and gets “Gotta get that shield down!” as its Obligatory Plotline Rehash in director Gareth Edwards’ take on how exactly the rebellion got ahold of the plans for the original Death Star in <em>A New Hope</em>. (Answer: through some pretty dark dealings and considerable sacrifice.) The good news is that Edwards’ effort to make a storm-the-beach war film produces a tense third act that earns most of its big moments and also justifies much of what’s come before. The bad news is that what’s come before is a clunky attempt at a coldhearted espionage thriller, full of good characters saddled with bad dialogue, tense scenarios saddled with dumb action, and tolerable storyweaving saddled with bad fan service. (Blue milk! Walrus Man! A variant on "Never tell me the odds!" Etc.) Like the rebootish <em>The Force Awakens</em>, <em>Rogue One</em> features tweaks on the old standbys (leads Jyn and Cassian as Leia and Han, the politely snarky K-2SO as both C-3PO and RD-D2, etc.). Unlike <em>The Force Awakens</em>, it also features some genuine freshness: a reluctant collaborator with the Empire, a monk who can feel the Force but is nobody’s Jedi, and a frustrated baddie who just wants credit where it’s due.

Find showtimes

The Wikipedia entry for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story calls it “a 2016 American epic space opera film.” There’s lots more after that, but let me pause for a moment.

“Space opera?” As in “soap opera”? As in “Captain America: Civil War”? (Hat tip to my friend Charlie for pointing that one out.) I’d argue that Rogue One is the first Star Wars film in ages — maybe ever — that didn’t feel like a soap opera in space. No forbidden love. No mysteries about who is whose father/mother/sister. No tortured emoting lent extra significance by ponderous talk about the cosmic power of said emotion (“Release your anger,” etc.)

Most importantly, while it’s clearly a prequel with oodles of ties to A New Hope, there’s no feeling of “tune in next time!” As David Edelstein notes over at New York Magazine, “The problem with these ‘franchise’ films is that because of the need for more, more, and yet more installments, nothing ever seems wrapped up. But this one arrives at a familiar place and things get pretty well-settled.” A-men.

Movie

Jackie ****

thumbnail

Were it not for the giant blood stain on the lower-half of her fabled pink dress – a moment director Pablo Larraín takes his sweet time revealing in a startling pullback – and constant juxtaposition next to her husband’s casket, Jackie Kennedy could have just as easily been mistaken for a stewardess aboard Air Force One. Imagine a documentary portrait of a passive character set during the four most intensely intolerable days of her life and you’ll get an idea of the kind of emotional (and cinematic) wallop Jackie packs. Larraín places his subject center frame – she’s present in just about every shot in the film – while his star, Natalie Portman, takes us through a cauterized grieving process that at times borders on the surreal. Together they trap the character on film, like a rose frozen in a block of ice. Quite unlike any biopic that’s come before, but that’s no big shock given the director’s proven track record of originality.

Find showtimes

So much for the biggest movie of the week. Now on to the best. Scott would say it’s the unconventional First Widow biopic Jackie, but then Scott tends to be partial to director Pablo Larraín (No, Tony Manero, and even The Club). Me, I admired Jackie more than I liked it. I’d give the edge to La La Land, which is maybe not as great as a lot of critics are making it out to be but which remains a toe-tapping, grin-making ode to the artist’s struggle. (Scott liked it so much he didn’t even complain about the bad lip-sync during the otherwise delightful opening song!)

At the recent voting session for the San Diego Film Critics Society awards, there was a minor debate about whether or not you had to be able to sing to star in a musical. I say no — all you gotta do is sell it. And Emma Stone sells it.

Movie

La La Land ***

thumbnail

Billed as a movie lover’s dream for a reason: the eye hasn’t seen this much color on screen since Vincente Minnelli passed. The songs and musical numbers are lively, the cast attractive, all attempts to transform city streets into expressionistically lit studio backlots successful, and the ending decidedly downbeat. And there’s this five-and-a-half-minute long take that starts in search of a parked car and ends with a slow and deliberate pan over to the Hollywood Hills at twilight time that found me struggling to pick my jaw up from off the floor. Ditto a lovely romantic walking tour of the Warner Bros. lot. But, and it’s a big but, any number of the movie musicals that director Damien Chazelle references (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Band Wagon, It’s Always Fair Weather, etc.) have more depth of characterization than either Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s comparative stick figures are assigned. But enough grouching. This is one crowd-pleaser worth getting behind.

Find showtimes

As for the worst entry this week, the Will Smith weeper Collateral Beauty wins easily. (I didn’t ask Scott to review it — it’s Christmas, why be mean? — but the man is devoted to his craft.) The low-fi ’80s horror tribute Beyond the Gates wasn’t great, but at least it had heart (and guts, and brain matter, and you get the idea). Both Scott and I wanted to like that one more than we ultimately did.

In between the high and low were two solid smaller pictures. The Brand New Testament managed to give us a ten-year-old Little Miss God who was neither too precious nor too precocious, and a Daddy God who was a petty, mean-spirited delight. And in a bold move, it posited supernatural reality without the hope of an afterlife.

Evolution, meanwhile, eschewed the supernatural for super nature, the vivifying force that gave rise to what came before us, us, and what comes after us. And it upheld the saving power of human inspiration and artistic endeavor in the process!

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Terra Lawson-Remer out-raises Kristin Gaspar

San Diego State not ready for emergency
Next Article

Thai Joints rule in the Heights

Pick up or delivery, Thai fans have it good on Adams Avenue
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close