Creature From The Black Lagoon Finds Love, Thanks To Guillermo del Toro

A new gothic romance from Guillermo del Toro highlights the week’s openings. The Creature From The Black Lagoon had a romantic subtext involving the Gill Man and the female lead. Guillermo del Toro decided to put that relationship front and center, helped by a cast headed by Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones.

Another film worth checking out this week is a new low-key comedy from Aki Kaurismaki. He brings a human face to dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis.

For fans of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Gary Oldman’s incredible turn as Winston Churchill shows what was happening behind the scenes in British government.

Finally, don’t waste your time with the new Woody Allen movie. The film itself is said to be horribly predictable.

Bobbi Jene

Dancer Bobbi Jene Smith decides to leave stardom with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company to return to the U.S. Nearing age 30 means it’s time to establish herself as an independent creator. Yet that career path involves starting from scratch, taking teaching gigs while seeking a performance venue. Further complicating matters is Smith’s long-distance relationship with an Israeli dancer ten years her junior.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

Darkest Hour

Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) becomes English Prime Minister on May 9, 1940 at a critical moment. France and Belgium are on the verge of surrendering to Hitler. English Parliament members want a negotiated peace with the Germans or avoidance of future world war carnage. The English military gambles on the success of Operation Dynamo (see Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk for the results). But could England’s real ace in the hole actually be Churchill’s willingness to fight to the bitter end?

Now at the AMC Metreon 16, the CineArts Sequoia, and the Redwood Downtown 20


In 1890, Crown Prince Nikolay Romanov becomes infatuated with Imperial Theater ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya thanks to a public wardrobe malfunction. The duo’s resulting extra-marital affair gets endangered by the future Nicholas II’s need for a more suitable royal bride. Aleksei Uchitel’s drama, based on the historical record, has garnered controversy in Russia from conservative Orthodox Christians who’ve canonized Nicholas II.

Now at the 4-Star Theatre

The Other Side Of Hope

The new Aki Kaurismaki comedy takes on the issue of Middle East refugees. Syrian mechanic Khaled has stowed away on a ship to Finland hoping to obtain asylum. Wikstrom is a former shirt salesman who decides to try breaking into the restaurant business. The paths of these two men will cross. Perhaps they can help each other.

Now at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas


Richard Hambleton, Jean-Michael Basquiat, and Keith Haring were the big three of New York City’s 1980s outsider art scene. While all three artists became successful, Hambleton’s star faded thanks to his crippling drug addiction. Scoliosis and skin cancer further didn’t dim Hambleton’s talent. But the artist’s self-destructive nature would permanently damage his career.

Now at the Roxie Theatre

The Shape Of Water

The new film from Guillermo del Toro blends romance with the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In 1962 America, mute from birth Elisa (Sally Hawkins) works as a custodian at a top-secret government laboratory. The laboratory’s prize asset is a nameless South American merman (regular Guillermo del Toro collaborator Doug Jones). Government bureaucrats are convinced uncovering the merman’s abilities will help America win the space race. But Elisa sees in the merman a kindred spirit and soulmate. She embarks on a scheme to free the merman. But in the nation’s Cold War atmosphere, assets are never given up without a fight…

Now at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Unexpectedly Yours

Thirty years ago, Patty and Cocoy were friends in high school. Cocoy never acted on his feelings for Patty before she got married. Now the two former friends are thrown together again by chance. They’re tasked with organizing their high school reunion. The job might be simpler since Patty and Cocoy are now neighbors. But when Cocoy learns Patty is single again, his old feelings resurface. Also complicating matters is a budding relationship between Patty’s daughter Yanni and Cocoy’s nephew Jason.

Now at the Century 20 Daly City and the Century at Tanforan

Wonder Wheel

On 1950s Coney Island, lifeguard and aspiring playwright Mickey (Justin Timberlake) becomes involved in a family melodrama. The other players are married ex-actress waitress Ginny (Kate Winslet), alcoholic carousel operator and Ginny’s husband Humpty, and Humpty’s estranged daughter Carolina. Tension ramps up when Carolina seeks shelter from pursuers sent by her ex-mobster boyfriend. Also, Mickey’s affair with Ginny doesn’t stop him from falling for Carolina.

Now at the Albany Twin, the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, the Embarcadero Center Cinemas, the Piedmont Theatre

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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