friday flicks Archives

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At West Wind Glendale Drive-In: Sonic the Hedgehog—At this writing, it is still possible to go out to the movies here in the Valley, if you really want it; the West Wind Drive-In on 55th Avenue in Glendale is still open for business. Even though some of the fonder memories of my childhood and youth involve seeing stuff like The Valley of Gwangi and Food of the Gods and The Giant Spider Invasion and Horror Hospital and The Concrete Jungle at drive-ins back in my beloved...

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On VOD: Emma—This adaptation of the Jane Austen classic was released to the multiplexes in mid-February, and then to on-demand services when the theaters were closed in response to the current pandemic. It’s an idyllic deadpan comedy that might pass two hours of “shelter in place” quite agreeably. Austen’s “handsome, clever and rich” title heroine fancies herself a superb matchmaker, and amuses herself with meddling in the engagements of others. Most recklessly, she encourages her...

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At this writing, movie theaters are closed across the Valley. Time for what may prove a long season of movie nights on the couch. I wanted to make some video suggestions, but my overarching suggestion: Watch your favorites. Watch movies that make you happy. For me, these include the original Psycho, Sunset Boulevard, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Them!, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (despite the “Bring out yer dead!”...

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Opening wide this weekend: The Hunt—There’s been a fair amount of huffy fake outrage in conservative media over this shocker, in which vile liberal elites kidnap patriotic ‘Muricans and hunt them like animals. It’s roughly the zillionth variation on The Most Dangerous Game, and it may be the most imbecilic. “Snowflakes” caricatured with the subtlety of a Taki rack up a body count of “deplorables” only slightly less stereotypical. The truth, of course, is the movie...

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In wide release: The Invisible Man—After the dispiriting Tom Cruise version of The Mummy in 2017, Universal turned to Blumhouse Productions for their next monster reboot. Good move, as it turned out. This new version of the story of a see-through madman has little in common with the 1897 H. G. Wells yarn, or the classic 1933 James Whale film adaptation, beyond the name of the title character: Griffin. Played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, he’s a...

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January and February tend to be the doldrums of the moviegoing year, full of titles that the studios want to unload with a quick release before blockbuster season, and don’t care if they’re forgotten by awards season. One remedy for this drought is to catch up on the high-profile stuff from last year you may have missed; FilmBar, for instance, is showing Bong Joon Ho’s horrifying, hilarious, wildly original surprise Best Picture winner Parasite, the...

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Opening this weekend: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)—Armed with a broad Gotham accent, Margot Robbie is endearingly crazy-eyed, manic and girlishly bouncy as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s jilted, heartsick ex, in this newest DC free-for-all. When she’s not dodging old enemies who bear her any number of murderous grudges, she’s helping super-anti-heroine team Birds of Prey defend an adolescent (Ella Jay Basco) from a scuzzy, sadistic gangster whose alter...

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Opening this weekend at Harkins Metrocenter 12, AMC Westgate 20 and Cinemark Mesa 16: Quezon’s Game—Directed by veteran cinematographer Matthew Rosen, this historical epic from the Philippines is sort of Schindler’s List, Manila-style. It’s about the efforts, in the late ‘30s, by Filipino President Manuel Quezon to bring more than a thousand German Jews to his country — then still a U.S. commonwealth — to rescue them from the rising threat of the Nazis. According...

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Opening this weekend: The Gentleman—Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Pearson, a wildly wealthy weed kingpin in the UK. By virtue of the fact, which Mickey himself points out, that his illicit product doesn’t kill people like heroin does, he’s the least despicable boss in this latest of writer-director Guy Ritchie’s gangster comedies. Mickey would like to divest himself of his massive subterranean pot empire and live the life of a gentleman, so he makes an offer...

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Time for the movie critic’s annual exercise in self-importance (as opposed to all those weekly exercises in self-importance): The Top Ten List. Here are the ten films from the past year that seem like the best to me, at least at the moment: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—As with Inglourious Basterds, tolerance for Quentin Tarantino’s provocative do-over of 1969 in general and the Manson murders in particular will be a matter of personal taste; I...

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For Boomer-era people on, the annual watching of certain movies has become a traditional part of marking the holiday season. But this can be a chore. The equally essential TV specials, like Rudolph, The Grinch and A Charlie Brown Christmas, don’t require the same investment of time, during an already hectic season, as movies do. Yet when the holidays are over, you may feel a pang that you didn’t get to White Christmas or Scrooged...

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Opening wide this weekend: Terminator: Dark Fate—Another day, another killer robot from the future for Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in this newest sequel to the sci-fi classic of 1984, directed by Tim Miller. This time the murderous cyborg has the handy multitasking ability of separating his handsome human form (Gabriel Luna) from his scary mechanical skeleton. He arrives in Mexico City to terminate Dani (the charming Natalia Reyes), a seemingly ordinary young factory worker. The...

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At Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Chandler: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein cereal party—Out of the many Halloween-appropriate movie-going options available right now, from The Lighthouse to Zombieland Double Tap to The Addams Family, you might want to consider a fun old-school possibility, the 1948 favorite in which the comedy team mixes it up not only with the Frankenstein Monster (Glenn Strange) but with Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), and the tortured Larry Talbot, aka the Wolf Man...

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In wide release: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil—Not really evil, exactly. In her live-action star vehicle from 2014, the horned sorceress from Sleeping Beauty, here played by Angelina Jolie, got both a backstory and a whitewash. She placed the curse of perpetual sleep on poor innocent Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), sure, but she was driven to it when Aurora’s jerk father did her wrong, and she later repented her spite and became the girl’s doting godmother....

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Opening wide:   The Dead Don’t Die “The greatest zombie cast ever disassembled!” That’s how this Jim Jarmusch horror comedy is being promoted, and it’s hard to argue with the hipster cred of the stars: Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny as the slow-to-action police force in a small town; Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi and Eszter Balint among the townies, Selena Gomez among some big-city kids passing through, Rose Perez as TV journalist “Posie...

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