Welcome to L.A. Weekly’s Movie Guide, your look at the hottest films in Los Angeles theaters this week — from indie art house gems and classics to popcorn-perfect blockbusters and new movies garnering buzz. Check here every week before you make your big screen plans.
Friday, May 3
Shadow is the latest visual feast from Zhang Yimou, a glorious return to form after the inglorious The Great Wall in 2016. This one has to do with a third-century kingdom ruled by a young king whose general has a lookalike (the “shadow” of the title) whom he intends to deploy in an intricate scheme to defeat a warring faction. Working with his usual cinematographer, Xiaoding Zhao, Zhang creates a nearly monochromatic palette to tell a story in which magic is always threatening to penetrate the ordinary. This director’s exceptional command of style makes this a treat even when the plot gets thick and convoluted. ArcLight, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri. May 3, various showtimes; $16-$18; (323) 615-2550, arclightcinemas.com.
Clara is a modestly budgeted sci-fi drama from Canada about a romance that develops between an astronomer (Patrick J. Adams) obsessed with searching for life beyond our solar system and an artist (Troian Bellisario) with a yen for the beauties of outer space. The film, which had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, is partially inspired by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and TESS. Screen Media will release the film simultaneously in theaters and on demand. Directed by Akash Sherman. Arena Cinelounge, 6464 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., May 3, $16. (323) 924-1644, arenascreen.org.
Hesburgh examines the legacy of Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh, the Catholic priest and long-time president of the University of Notre Dame who played a key role in the civil rights demonstrations of the 1950s and '60s, advised multiple presidents, and reached across partisan lines in an attempt to heal the rifts in American culture. (Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more leaders like that?) Directors Patrick Creadon and Christine O’Malley take a deep dive into the media archives to dig up a portrait of a shrewd, morally courageous thought leader whose influence can be felt today. Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, Fri., May 3, 7:30 p.m.; $13. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
Meeting Gorbachev is the result of three extended interviews conducted between Werner Herzog and 87-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the U.S.S.R. Herzog’s frank conversation with this ailing but lucid politician covers the former general secretary’s major accomplishments, which include the denuclearization of the Soviet Union in the final days of the Cold War and the relinquishing of Russian control of Eastern Europe. An alternate title could very well be: Reforming Communism. This frank and stimulating history lesson was co-directed by André Singer. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., May 3, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com.