Movie guide: 'First Man,' 'Bad Times at the El Royale' opening this weekend

 
Updated 10/11/2018 12:47 PM
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  • Despite setbacks, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) shows superhuman nerve and focus in "First Man."

    Despite setbacks, Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) shows superhuman nerve and focus in "First Man." Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Movies in theaters the week of Oct. 12

Four stars: superior. Three stars: good. Two stars: average. One star: poor. D (drug use), L (language), N (nudity), S (sexual situations, references), V (violence). Ratings by Film Critic Dann Gire, unless otherwise noted.

Opening this week

"All Square" -- A down-on-his-luck bookie (Michael Kelly) befriends an ex-girlfriend's 12-year-old son and soon begins taking bets on his baseball games. (Not rated) 93 minutes.

"Bad Times at the El Royale" -- In director Drew Goddard's pulpy but artificial thriller, a motley crew of travelers (Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth), all with secrets in tow, meet at the rundown El Royale hotel in Lake Tahoe. While this slow-burn thriller looks terrific, the payoff is less than. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) D, L, S, N. 140 minutes. ★ ★

"Bigger" -- Facing anti-Semitism and poverty, brothers Joe and Ben Weider beat the odds to build a fitness empire. (PG-13) 107 minutes.

"First Man" -- The sounds of silence make lots of noise in director Damien Chazelle's surprising, anti-epic, historical drama "First Man," a tightly coiled study of the first human to set foot on the moon. Ryan Gosling gives an understated performance as quiet, stoic astronaut Neil Armstrong. With Claire Foy and Jason Clarke. (PG-13) L. 141 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" -- Slappy is back to wreak more havoc this Halloween in this sequel based on the "Goosebumps" books by R.L. Stine. Jack Black, Chris Parnell and Ken Jeong star. (PG) 90 minutes.

"Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer" -- This follows the true story of the investigation and trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who ran an abortion clinic in West Philadelphia that went unchecked for years. (PG-13) 93 minutes.

"The Hate U Give" -- After witnessing the shooting death of her friend during a routine traffic stop, a teen (the remarkable Amandla Stenberg) is pushed and pulled in multiple directions over the course of this powerful, timely and deeply moving tale. Impeccably directed by George Tillman Jr., the drama defies expectation at every turn. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (PG-13) D, L, V. 132 minutes. ★ ★ ★ ★

"Kinky" -- An introverted surgeon begins a whirlwind romance with a handsome investor in Atlanta. (R)

"Look Away" -- Alienated high school student Maria's life is turned upside down when she switches places with her sinister mirror image in this psychological thriller. (Not rated) 103 minutes.

"22 July" -- This powerful, must-see film -- written and directed by Paul Greengrass -- explores several of the lives altered when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik went on a deadly rampage in Norway in 2011, killing 77. Greengrass balances showing a mass murderer's violence without glorifying it and letting the gunman explain himself without feeding supremacist hatred. Reviewed by Mark Kennedy, Associated Press. (R) V. 144 minutes. ★ ★ ★

Picks

"Christopher Robin" -- Ewan McGregor stars as the title character in a beautifully composed but not surprisingly conventional fantasy in which Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang set out to save their now grown-up human friend from a bad case of acute adulthood. (PG) 104 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Crazy Rich Asians" -- An economics professor from China (Henry Golding) brings his girlfriend (Constance Wu) to Singapore for a friend's wedding and to meet his parents. She's shocked to find out they're multimillionaires. The hotly anticipated rom-com, featuring an all-Asian cast, does not disappoint. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday, Washington Post. (PG-13) L. 121 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Mission: Impossible -- Fallout" -- Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the Impossible Missions Force must recover three stolen plutonium cores that an arms dealer and a terrorist group intend to use to target the world's holiest of places. Cruise blows way past James Bond for sheer athleticism and astonishing stunts in this tightly wound thriller. (PG-13) L, V. 147 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Nun" -- This fifth installment of "The Conjuring" series tells the origin story of demon nun Valek. This time, our protagonist is Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a novitiate who is dispatched by the Vatican, along with Father Burke (Demian Bichir), to a remote Romanian abbey where a young nun has just hung herself. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) V. 96 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Old Man & The Gun" -- Robert Redford picked the perfect character for what he says is his last acting role -- that of charming real-life bank robber and frequent prison escapee Forrest Tucker. Sissy Spacek co-stars as his love interest and Casey Affleck plays the Texas police sergeant piecing Tucker's crimes together. Reviewed by Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press. (PG-13) L. 93 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Pick of the Litter" -- Five Labrador retriever puppies compete to become guide dogs for the blind in a documentary that piles on the cuteness and generates deep respect for those who train the dogs to be canine superheroes. Not rated, but for general audiences. 81 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"Searching" -- John Cho stars as a desperate father who uses his daughter's computer to search for the missing teen, discovering along the way how little he knew her. Aneesh Chaganty's timely thriller unfolds largely through a single computer screen and depicts how cruel people can be on the web. (PG-13) D, L, S. 102 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"The Sisters Brothers" -- John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play the title brothers, accomplished hit men following a target during the heights of the Gold Rush. Jacques Audiard's Western is spiked with violence, but there's a sweetness as well. Reviewed by Ann Hornaday. (R) L, S, V. 121 minutes. ★ ★ ★

"A Star is Born" -- In his moving directing debut, actor Bradley Cooper remakes a stodgy Hollywood classic, giving it gritty, relevant life. Cooper stars as a hard-drinking musician who discovers and falls for a young singer (a transporting Lady Gaga) whose career soars as his implodes. (R) D, L, N, S. 135 minutes. ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Wife" -- Bjorn Runge's sublimely wrought drama captures the complex and contradictory nuances that accompany long-term marriages. Glenn Close stars as the wife of a celebrated author, creating a subtle, astonishing performance worthy of an Oscar nomination. (R) L, S. 100 minutes. ★ ★ ★

Passables

"Alpha" -- Sheer spectacle dominates Albert Hughes' ambitious and flawed prehistoric adventure about the pivotal moment when a man first domesticates a wolf, paving the way for lupines to earn their canine status and work toward the coveted title "Man's Best Friend." With Kodi Smit-McPhee. (PG-13) V. 97 minutes. ★ ★

"Colette" -- Wash Westmoreland's handsome but too-timid period film stars Keira Knightley as author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who blazed a relentlessly unconventional path through Belle Epoque Paris, leaving behind a litany of affairs, scandals and dozens of books. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) N, S. 121 minutes. ★ ★

"Fahrenheit 11/9" -- The latest documentary from agent provocateur Michael Moore attempts nothing short of a magic act: turning despair into hope. He starts off with the question asking how Trump got elected, then moves on to the Flint water crisis, and then to grass-roots activists (David Hogg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) who are impatient for change. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (R) L. 125 minutes. ★ ★

"The House With a Clock in Its Walls" -- As far as kid-centric comic horror goes, Eli Roth's film has everything going for it, outside of originality and cleverness. A young orphan aids his magical uncle (Jack Black) in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world. Cate Blanchett is superb as the stylish sorceress Mrs. Zimmerman. (PG) 104 minutes. ★ ★

"The Meg" -- Jason Statham stars as a tough-guy deep sea diver in Jon Turteltaub's formula but commercially attractive creature feature about a prehistoric giant shark that turns everything in the ocean into appetizers. (PG-13) L, V. 114 minutes. ★ ★

"Night School" -- A smooth-talking salesman (Kevin Hart) seeking his GED joins a group of misfits in a class presided over by a no-nonsense teacher (Tiffany Haddish). The crude comedy has heart and an important message, but the road to knowledge here passes through bodily fluids. Reviewed by Pat Padua, Washington Post. (PG-13) D, L, S, V. 111 minutes. ★ ★

"Operation Finale" -- Ben Kingsley paints a chilling portrait of Adolf Eichmann in Chris Weitz's post-WWII wannabe thriller about Israeli agents abducting the former Nazi administrator and forcing him to stand trial for his war crimes during the Holocaust. With Oscar Isaac and Nick Kroll. (PG-13) L, V. 109 minutes. ★ ★

"Peppermint" -- Jennifer Garner stars as a mom who learns how to dispatch bad guys in all sorts of gruesome and psychotically theatrical ways to avenge the murders of her husband and daughter by agents of a powerful drug boss in Pierre Morel's cliched, bloody revenge tale. Reviewed by Lindsey Bahr. (R) L, V. 102 minutes. ★ ★

"The Predator" -- A mercenary (Boyd Holbrook) teams up with an evolutionary biologist (Olivia Munn) and others to battle aliens, but plot and character become collateral damage in a free-for-all of goofy jokes, blood-splattering violence, cluttered visual effects and preposterous stunts. (R) L, S, V. 107 minutes. ★ ★

"A Simple Favor" -- A fashion publicist (Blake Lively) disappears after leaving her son with a friend, a widowed parenting vlogger (Anna Kendrick), in Paul Feig's hybrid of twisty mystery and absurdist comedy. The film, however, makes a better comedy than thriller. Reviewed by Sonia Rao, Washington Post. (R) D, L, N, S, V. 116 minutes. ★ ★

"Smallfoot" -- A Yeti (voiced by Channing Tatum), raised in a community where government deceit has kept his massive fellow creatures from knowing that humans exist, befriends a "smallfoot" (James Corden) in a needlessly complicated animated tale that delivers an unexpected lesson in integrity. (PG) 109 minutes. ★ ★

"Venom" -- Tom Hardy plays a TV investigative journalist whose body is invaded by an alien organism in a destabilizing mix of intentional and unintentional comedy that for better and worse returns the superhero movie to its natural state: camp. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (PG-13) V, L. 112 minutes. ★ ★

"White Boy Rick" -- A 14-year-old (newcomer Richie Merritt) turns FBI informant to avoid prosecution for selling guns to drug dealers with his father (Matthew McConaughey) in an interesting -- and depressing -- fact-based crime drama. When he's cut loose, Rick puts his new skills to use as a real drug dealer. Reviewed by Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post. (R) D, L, N, S, V. 110 minutes. ★ ★

Unpreviewed

"All About Nina" -- Nina Geld (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a stand-up comedian whose career is taking off, but whose personal life is a disaster. So she flees to Los Angeles where she meets Rafe (Common), who challenges her preconceptions. (R) 97 minutes.

"Exes Baggage" -- A musician who prefers to be alone with his music falls for a rebellious woman who fights for what she believes in. (Not rated) 104 minutes.

"Hell Fest" -- A masked serial killer stalks a horror-themed amusement park, terrorizing patrons. (R) L, S, V. 89 minutes.

"Trico Tri Happy Halloween" -- A middle-class Hispanic family moves to a Miami house haunted by mischievous ghosts. (NR) 89 minutes.

Foreign language

"Andhadhun" -- In Hindi.

"Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava" -- In Telugu.

"Despertar" -- In Spanish and English.

"Devadas" -- In Telugu.

"Helicopter Eela" -- In Hindi.

"Loveyatri" -- In Hindi.

"Son of Manjeet Singh" -- In Punjabi.

"Sui Dhaaga" -- In Hindi.

"Ya Veremos" -- In Spanish.

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