What To See & What To Flee At The Movies This Week

by Chris Narloch

So many new films open every week that it can be hard to keep up, even for a jaded movie junkie like me.

I have actually seen all the films reviewed below, however, and you can trust me when I say that three of the six are actually well worth your time and money.

The Lost City of Z

Obsessive dreamers make great subjects for the big screen, and this fact-based dramatic adventure is an excellent film about a man with a mission.

At the dawn of the 20th century, British explorer Percy Fawcett journeys into the Amazon, where he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region.

Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, which views indigenous populations as savages, the determined Fawcett repeatedly returns to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case.

Starring handsome Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) as Fawcett, and directed by the great James Gray (“We Own The Night”), “The Lost City of Z” is a fascinating film from start to finish, about a real-life mystery. In select theaters.

Their Finest

Another terrific movie inspired by true events, “Their Finest” is set in Britain circa 1940 and follows a married woman (Gemma Arterton) and a screenwriter (Sam Claflin) who develop a growing attraction while working together on a propaganda film about the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France.

I’m a sucker for movie-related behind the scenes stories, and this is one of the best examples of that genre in a very long time.

The film also features a superb supporting cast, including the peerless Bill Nighy as a hilariously pompous actor who stars in the movies within the movie.

Our plucky heroine eventually earns the respect of both Nighy’s and Claflin’s characters, and she finds her true calling along the way. An unforced ‘feminist’ film, ‘Their Finest’ is first-rate and funny. Now playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre.

Your Name

You’ll have to drive to the Century Greenback in Citrus Heights to see this one, since that’s the only theater in town still playing this gorgeous new anime from Japan.

You will be glad you made the trip though, as ‘Your Name’ is deservedly the highest-grossing anime of all time worldwide.

‘Your Name’ follows a teenaged boy and girl who embark on a quest to meet each other for the first time after they magically swap bodies. The story also involves a comet that may or may not strike the Earth.

The animation in the film is truly stunning, and to say any more would spoil this lovely, mysterious movie.


How do superheroes spend their time off? If you’re Chris Evans (star of the ‘Captain America’ movies) you join Octavia Spencer for a sweet story about a single guy raising his niece after the suicide of his sister.

Spencer is the sympathetic landlord, and there is also a bitchy British grandmother (Lindsay Duncan) on hand, who is trying to take the child away from our hunky hero because the girl is a valuable genius math prodigy.

‘Gifted’ isn’t as bad as its contrived plot summary would suggest, but it’s not great either. Evans and the terrific young actress (Mckenna Grace) who plays his niece have genuine chemistry, but they can’t surmount the script’s endless clichés.

Now playing at the Tower.

The Fate of the Furious

Dame Helen Mirren shows up in a very funny supporting role, Charlize Theron looks amazing as the sexy villainess, and there is a totally adorable baby in ‘F8’ whose incredible reaction shots are priceless (and probably the result of CGI).

Other than that it’s business as usual for Vin Diesel and company in the eighth installment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise.

The opening sequence set and filmed in Cuba is lovely to look at, and Jason Statham and The Rock are pretty funny together.

Unfortunately, the franchise’s plots and stunts –especially the ones here involving self-driving cars – have become so preposterous over the years that it’s hard to get past the script’s total implausibility. In wide release.

Going in Style

You can look at this film one of two ways, as either a sweet tribute to the longevity of three legendary actors or as a sad waste of their time and talent.

I’m on the fence because it’s a rare pleasure to see older lives depicted on the big screen, especially in this day and age, when youth-obsessed Hollywood cranks out one comic book movie after another.

I just wish that the producers of ‘Going in Style’ had chosen to remake something other than a 1979 George Burns/Art Carney comedy that was never great to begin with.

In the new version, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin play the retirees who rob a bank after their pension plan evaporates.

This is potentially a funny setup, but the movie’s dumb-down script requires those three great actors to be clueless old coots one minute and sly, savvy seniors the next. You can’t have it both ways. In wide release.

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