L.A. Weekly’s Movie Guide is 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.
The Jane Austin classic Emma is reimagined in this new adaptation by L.A. photographer Autumn De Wilde. Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Emma Woodhouse, a young woman navigating life and love in 1800s England. Meddlesome yet well-meaning, a spoiled Emma navigates life alongside her father (Bill Nighy) and longtime friend George Knightley (Johnny Flynn) as she acts as town matchmaker. From the comedic timing to the costumes, color palate, and soundtrack – everything about this comedy is as sharp and punctuated as its name.
Ghoulish doll Brahms is back to continue his reign of terror in Brahms: The Boy II. In an effort to quell the onset of their young son Jude’s (Christopher Convery) troubled behavior, Liza (Katie Holmes) and Sean (Owain Yeoman) move the family to a guest house situated on deeply wooded land. Despite its haunting appearance, the young family somehow has no idea of the history of the main house – the Heelshire Mansion – and its terrifying past. Creepy attracts creepy, as Jude finds Brahms buried in the woods after being compelled to the spot by an unknown force. As the pair unite, the unsettling plot takes off. Complete with jump scares, ominous whispers, and a fittingly uncomfortable soundtrack, the film directed by William Brent Bell, reminds us that some things are better left buried.
Based on the novel by Jack London, Call of the Wild is set in the wilds of Alaska and follows a dog’s journey as he transforms from a privileged pet to a brave adventurer. Stolen from his home in Santa Clara, California and transported to the frozen Canadian Yukon in a cruel and brutal fashion, Buck’s potential is noticed by rugged outdoorsman and prospector John Thorton (Harrison Ford) who nurtures the dog back to health. French-Canadian mail runners (Omar Sy, Cara Gee) train Buck to become a sled dog as he sheds his life of luxury and finds a new sense of purpose. Directed by Chris Sanders, the film relies heavily on CGI to retell this fantastic tale. See review here.
Friday, February 21
Highly intelligent Bart (Tye Sheridan) is a hotel The Night Clerk who witnesses a murder while watching guests on hidden cameras. On the autism spectrum, the young clerk’s voyeuristic tendencies are an uncomfortable attempt to better learn to communicate. His actions and inability to relate raises the suspicions of the lead detective (John Leguizamo), quickly making him the number one suspect. Intricately woven and juxtaposing pity against logical conjecture by director Michael Cristofer, The Night Clerk is a puzzle. Laemmle, 207 N Maryland Ave., Glendale, Fri., Feb. 21, various showtimes; $6-$11. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
In 1956, 23-year-old biologist Anne Innis Dagg ventured into the South African wilderness to study giraffes in their natural habitat. Despite her unprecedented solo journey being four years before Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey’s study of mountain gorillas, Anne’s groundbreaking achievement is seldom heard of. This documentary directed by Alison Reid, aims to change that, bringing recognition to one of biology’s female pioneers. The Woman Who Loves Giraffes follows Anne as she retraces her steps, giving viewers a first hand look at her work. Using letters and original 16mm film footage, the documentary brings a new perspective to gender discrimination and climate alarm. Laemmle, Multiple Locations, Fri., Feb. 21, various showtimes; $6-$12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
A modern-day story of ambition and challenge, Goldie follows the title character, Goldie (Slick Woods), as she navigates the harsh realities of trying to make it in the city. Showcasing New York as both raw and flashy, Goldie struggles with the difficulties of an imprisoned mother and the threat of being separated from her siblings by child investigative services. Despite daunting obstacles, Goldie is determined to show the world that she is the star her little sisters know her to be. Convinced that her big break is waiting just around the corner if she could just get her hands on a golden fur coat and land a job as a dancer in a hop-hop video, she fights to achieve her goals. Sam de Jong directs this scrappy film of survival. Lumiere Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, Fri., Feb. 21, 7:50p.m.; $11-$14. (310) 274-6860, lumierecinemala.com.
Using Martin Scorsese’s own 35mm Technicolor print as a reference, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman has gone through a complete 4K photochemical restoration and is gracing the silver screen again. Set in the Spanish seaside, Ava Gardner plays an American nightclub singer whose beauty is deadly. She meets her match in Dutch captain Hendrick van Der Zee (James Mason), a man doomed to sail for eternity unless he can break his curse through love and sacrifice. Otherworldly and hopelessly romantic, the film is based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman. Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Fri., Feb. 21, various showtimes; $6-$12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
Though originally debuted in 2002, Sunshine State’s theme of gentrification and displacement could easily be set in 2020. John Sayles’ timeless satire juxtaposes the whitewashed town of Delrona Beach, Florida against the neighboring black community of Lincoln Beach. Encroaching corporate tourism threatens both, as main characters Marly (Edie Falco) and Desiree (Angela Bassett) each face the struggle of both preserving and escaping small town life, with a group of golfers providing commentary as a modern-day Greek chorus. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m.; $8 – $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.
As part of the John Sayles: Independent showcase presented by UCLA Film & Television Archive, the American Cinematheque, and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program, The Secret of Roan Inish is being shown in a limited special screening. As director John Sayles’ first international film, 1994’s The Secret of Roan Inish is set amount the gorgeous backdrop of Ireland’s west coast. Telling the tale of a fantastic fable, traditional folklore is explored through the lense of a child’s imagination. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m.; $8 – $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is celebrating its 35th anniversary by touring the country with Pee Wee himself, Paul Reubens. Each screening is followed by a talk with Paul about the making of the movie, including never-before-heard stories. A story of a rebel and his bike, audiences join Pee-Wee on his adventure as he searches for his beloved, stolen bicycle. From hitchhike hijinks to a daring escape on a moving train, comedy abounds in this classic enjoyed by all ages.
The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd; Thu., Feb. 27 (sold out); Second screening added for Sun., March 1, 7:30 p.m.; $160 – $180. (310) 206-8013, peewee.com