7 Blog

Archive: Movies / Spokane and North Idaho

new movies archive

‘All the Money in the World’ has a whole new look

Earlier in the year, when trailers for movie destined for year-end screenings were first being shown, one drew particular interest.

The trailer for "All the Money in the World" had a distinguished feel, which was strange since it featured Mark Wahlberg who is many things but … distinguished? Hardly.

But the trailer also featured Michelle Williams. And as it quickly made clear, the film — buoyed by the effective use of the song "Time of the Season" — was both a family and crime drama, one revolving around the real-life story of the kidnapped grandson of the world's richest man.

Check that. Not just the world's richest man. But as the trailer claimed, the richest man "in the history of the world." Or something like that.

And the biggest surprise came at the end when we discovered just who was playing that man, the late oil magnate J. Paul Getty. None other than Kevin Spacey, hidden under a heavy layer of makeup and prosthetics.

Fast forward a few weeks. And suddenly a new trailer for the movie begins screening. And suddenly Spacey is nowhere to be seen. Now Getty is being played by Christopher Plummer, who at 88 needed hardly any makeup at all to play the role.

And backed by a generic, pulsing soundtrack, the feel of the trailer is much closer to a simple action flick. Mark Wahlberg, just that fast, seems far more appropriate.

What happened? Well, the Harvey Weinstein scandal happened. And fairly quickly other Hollywood heavyweights were affected by similar accusations, and one of those was Spacey.

So Ridley Scott, director and producer of the film, acted — deciding to replace Spacey, recast with Plummer and remake the film in an incredibly short time so as to make its opening date (which in Spokane will be Christmas Day).

You can find versions of the whole story in various online locations. Click here to get the New York Times article.

Also, watch the video embedded below, which shows the contrast between the two trailers — and see how different they are. Especially how different the whole feel is.

Then decide which you prefer.

The week’s movies redux: Money, money, money

Updated: A couple of additions have been made to the local movie-release schedule. They are:


"Tiger Zinda Hai": Two special agents, one Indian and the other Pakistani, attempt to save 25 Indian nurses who have been kidnapped by Muslim extremists in Iraq. In Hindi with English subtitles.

"Darkest Hour": Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill in the latest look at the former British prime minister's struggle to handle UK affairs on the eve of World War II.

Christmas day

"All the Money in the World": Based on the true story of kidnapped J. Paul Getty III, whose mother (Michelle Williams) struggled to convince the boy's grandfather, multi-billionaire J. Paul Getty, to pay for his release.

The Magic Lantern is picking up the already-released "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

That's the lot. So go. Enjoy the holidays and see a movie.

The week’s releases: Little people, circuses and the jungle

Now that "Star Wars" fever is dying down … just kidding. People, even most critics, are still buzzing over the newest addition to the George Lucas-created franchise. But a new week brings new offerings to the theaters. Including what the national release schedule says will open this week:


"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle": This updated version of the 1995 Robin Williams film features four teenagers being drawn into a video game and becoming their adult avatars. Cue Guns N' Roses.

"The Greatest Showman": Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum in this imaginative musical abut the birth of the circus. Send in the clowns. 


"Downsizing": Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") brings his wry touch to a story about a world that promises shrinking yourself down to five inches will solve all your problems. Cue Randy Newman.

"Father Figures": Owen Wilson and Ed Helms stars as brothers who go off in search of their real father. Does father really know best?

"Pitch Perfect 3": The Belles have gone their separate ways, but circumstances cause them to unite a final time to compete for a spot on a USO tour. Sometimes, life is a real pitch.

As always, I'll update when the local theaters update their final schedules.

Friday’s openings redux: ‘Wonder Wheel’

One addition to make to Friday's movie schedule:

"Wonder Wheel": Woody Allen's new film is set in 1950s Coney Island and explores the world of a carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his aggrieved wife (Kate Winslet) as told by a young lifeguard (Justin Timberlake).

Also, AMC River Park Square has announced that it will hold a special, seven-hour-30-minute "Pitch Perfect Treble Feature Marathon" on Dec. 21, capped by the premiere of "Pitch Perfect 3."

Click here for tickets.

Friday’s openings: One more Jedi story

Note: The original version of this post said that the new "Ferdinand" movie was a Disney production. It is not. The management regrets the error.

And then it was Jedi time. Looking ahead to Friday's movie openings, we anticipate the latest "Star Wars" offering.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi": Rey (Daisy Ridley) joins Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) as the Resistance takes on the First Order. Hmmm, where have we heard the kind of plot before? Rebels? Empire?

"Ferdinand": Based on the 1936 children's story about a bull that would rather smell flowers than fight, Blue Sky Studios ("Rio," "Ice Age") and Fox adapt the book into a complete feature film. It's kiddie time.

I'll update further when the local theaters finalize their respective schedules.

Friday’s openings redux: Supernatural Norway

A couple of additions have been made to the list of Friday's movie openings, which are listed below, including a second run of the Idris Elba-Kate Winslet film "The Mountain Between Us."

The other opening is:

"Thelma": The latest by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, which will play at AMC River Park Square, "Thelma" tells the story of a young woman whose passion brings about mysterious supernatural occurrences. Call it "Carrie Revisited."

That's the list. So go. See a movie. And enjoy.

Friday’s openings: More than just a ‘Disaster’

Comedy in a couple of different forms will be on tap beginning Friday, at least according to the national movie-release schedule. The two scheduled openings are:

"The Disaster Artist": James Franco directed, and stars in, this adaptation of the book "The Disaster Artist," which details the making of one of the worst films ever made, Tommy Wiseau's "The Room." You are tearing me apart, Lisa! (Note: The film opened in limited release last Friday and is now going wider, to 800 theaters.)

"Just Getting Started": Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones stars as mismatched partners (one a former mob lawyer, the other an ex-FBI agent) who have to work together to foil a mob hit. Maybe they'll make an offer we can't refuse.

I'll update when the local bookings become finalized.

Friday’s openings: ‘Three Billboards’ finally arrives

One of the films that a number of area movie have been asking about, "Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri," is the only new film opening locally on Friday. The whole of Friday's scheduled lineup is as follows:

"Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri": Frances McDormand stars as a strong-willed woman who pushes local law enforcement to find the killer (or killers) of her daughter. #notmargefromfargo

I've already mentioned that the Magic Lantern will open the Catholic-themed film "Novitiate." AMC River Park Square will both open a newly remastered, 20th-anniversary run of James Cameron's "Titanic" and, likely for Academy Award nomination purposes, bring "Marshall" back for a second-run showing.

I'll update if and when more information becomes available.

Magic Lantern to open Catholic film ‘Novitiate’

Continuing its practice of seeking out films you're not likely to see anywhere else, the Magic Lantern Theater will open the Catholic-minded movie "Novitiate" on Friday.

Capturing an 88 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (73 percent among regular viewers, the film is described this way: "Led by a gripping performance from Melissa Leo, 'Novitiate' grapples uncompromisingly — and ultimately compellingly — with questions of faith and feminism."

Here are some critical comments:

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: ""Novitiate" is challenging, uncomfortable, violent, simple in its message about transformative mind control imposed on youth, superbly acted and technically flawless"

Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader: "Writer-director Maggie Betts balances the naturalistic exchanges of her sympathetic young cast with bravura set pieces for the seasoned actors."

Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com: " 'Novitiate' finds room for all these viewpoints; appreciating the dedication it takes to live such a life while also questioning its suppression of individuality, emotion. This willingness to embrace such complexity is a bit of a miracle in itself."

I'll update the overall list of Friday's openings when it becomes final.

Good chance you’ll like ‘Lady Bird’

It's not likely to last, because it seldom does, but for the moment the movie "Lady Bird" has a 100 percent "fresh" rating on the critics' site Rotten Tomatoes.

One. Hundred. Percent.

Critics are a contentious group. Some have been accused of rating a movie down just to avoid going along with the crowd, though that may be an unfair assessment. In any event, only 33 of the top 100 movies of all time have a 100 percent rating. Even "The Wizard of Oz" has just a 99 percent Tomato-meter rating. 

So, the high score a triumph for actor-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig, whose film has hit the top mark with ratings from 150 some critics. Here are a few of the more sterling comments:

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: " 'Lady Bird' is a triumph of style, sensibility and spirit. The girl at its center may not be a heavyweight, but her movie is epic."

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "As warm as it is smart — and it is very smart — 'Lady Bird' marks actor/screenwriter Greta Gerwig's superb debut as a solo director and yet another astonishing performance by star Saoirse Ronan."

Tomris Laffly, Time Out: "A sweet, deeply personal portrayal of female adolescence that's more attuned to the bonds between best girlfriends than casual flings with boys, writer-director Greta Gerwig's beautiful 'Lady Bird' flutters with the attractively loose rhythms of youth."

The movie has an 89 percent rating among non-critics, too, so it's not just a critical darling. Regular movie fans like it, too.

You'll get your chance to see beginning today. The movie opens today at AMC River Park Square.

Below: Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan talk about the movie "Lady Bird."

The week’s openings redux: ‘Lady Bird’

And the adjustment to the movie schedule is: Yes, Christmas is on the list, as is Greta Gerwig's most recent, critical darling of an arthouse movie. In addition to the films listed below, the week's movies include:


"The Man Who Invented Christmas": Ever imagine how Charles Dickens dreamed up "A Christmas Carol"? This film provides a plausible answer. God bless us, every one.

"Lady Bird": Saoirse Ronan stars as an independent-minded, high-school senior who lurches toward adulthood in this comedy written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Take that, Noah Baumbach.

That's the list. So go, see a movie. And enjoy.

The week’s openings: Disney-Pixar serves ‘Coco’

Still reeling from the lukewarm box-office reaction to "Justice League," not much is scheduled for the national movie-release schedule this week. In addition to the possible holiday-themed "The Man Who Invented Christmas," the two mainstream expected openings are:


"Coco": Based on the Mexican holiday Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), this Disney-Pixar film follows the exploits of a boy who investigates his family's anti-music bias by entering the realm between death and life to talk to a long-dead musician. Que siniestra!

"Roman J. Israel, Esq.": Denzel Washington plays a struggling attorney who steals from the mob and then must face the consequences. Yeah, that always turns out well.

And at the Magic Lantern:


"Jane": Based on found footage of the naturalist and chimp researcher Jane Goodall, this Brett Morgen documentary explores Goodall's early years in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park.

As always, I'll update when the local listings get finalized.

Friday’s openings: Superheroes, chimps and children

Another week, another superhero offering — this time from DC Comics — as "Justice League" leads Friday's movie openings. The week's scheduled national movie-release schedule is as follows:

"Justice League": Batman (Ben Affleck) leads a diverse team of characters with super powers, from Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to Aquaman (Jason Momoa), against the obligatory great threat. 

"Wonder": A boy (Jason Tremblay) whose facial features have been altered due to a medical condition, and various surgeries to correct the situation, enters public school for the first time — in fifth grade. As if that grade wasn't tough enough.

"The Star": The story of the first Christmas is told through the story of a donkey and his animal friends. Note: Ving Rhames plays Theddeus the Dog.

And at the Magic Lantern? Two openings:

"The Florida Project": Sean Baker ("Tangerine") explores the existence of characters living in a Florida budget motel through the eyes of the children who reside there.

"Jane": Documentary filmmaker Brett Morgen ("The Kid Stays in the Picture") uses a trove of archival footage to tell the story of noted researcher Jane Goodall.

I'll update when the local theaters finalize their listings.

Friday’s openings redux: time for a bit of weird

In keeping with its ongoing practice of opening offbeat films on occasion, AMC River Park Square is scheduled to open a movie on Friday that promises to be a little south of weird. The movie:

"The Killing of a Sacred Deer": Colin Farrell plays a surgeon who is forced to react when a teenage boy he befriended begins to act strange.

The film was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos from a script he co-wrote. Lanthimos, who was born in Greece, is noted for exploring — hmmmmm — unusual themes in his films. The only one I've seen is his 2015 offering "The Lobster," in which he cast Farrell as a man whose desire is to become what the film's title implies. Really.

As Lanthimos declared in an interview with the UK Independent, "“Me, personally, what I want is to allow people to be engaged actively in watching the film,” he says. “I like to construct films in a way that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, [but so you’ll still] be able to enjoy them, be intrigued [and] start to think about the meaning of things – and hopefully by the end of it, you’ll have some strong desire to keep thinking about them.”

Note his use of the term "a bit uncomfortable." You've been warned.

Friday’s openings: Daddies and the mustache

A pair of Hollywood specials — one a sequel to a family comedy, the other a remake of a mystery chestnut — should on on tap Friday, if the national movie release schedule is in anyway accurate. The films are:

"Daddy's Home 2": Taking up where its 2015 predecessor left off, the characters played by Will Ferrel and Mark Wahlberg must endure a Christmas with their respective fathers — played by John Lithgow and, yes, Mel Gibson. Pair it with "Bad Moms Christmas" for a family themed two-fer.

"Murder on the Orient Express": Another version of the 1934 Agathie Christie novel about the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigating a murder on the famous train line. If you're familiar with the story, the only mystery will involve how Kenneth Branagh manages not to disturb his character's outlandish mustache.

It seems the Magic Lantern is opening nothing new this week. As always, I'll update this post when the local listings are finalized.