First Man

You'd never expect a story as big as the moon landing to be told as intimately as it's told here. The result is a stunning film that you'll carry in your heart for a long time. Ryan Gosling stars as Commander Neil Armstrong. Though he bears no physical resemblance, he captures the demeanor of the private astronaut perfectly. A family tragedy informs that demeanor throughout the film, and I'm not going to be the one to spoil it. "The Crown's" Claire Foy is great as Armstrong's wife, Janet, and Kyle Chandler, solid as NASA's flight crew director Deke Slayton. I bow to director Damien Chazelle who keeps upping his game. His films "Whiplash," then "La La Land" and now this are among my favorites. My only issue: his close-up shaky-cam works brilliantly in the confines of cockpits and space capsules, but it distracts when it's used in earthbound family scenes. Still, "First Man" is a must-see. Universal Pictures - Rated PG-13

Bad Times at the El Royale

If you've seen the trailer with Chris Hemsworth swiveling his hips in that mesmerizing dance, well then, you've already bought your ticket to "Bad Times at the El Royale." But settle down, this is an ensemble movie about seven strangers who land at a hotel that straddles the Nevada/California border, and none of them is who they appear to be. Jeff Bridges also stars along with Jon Hamm and Dakota Johnson. Yes, Hemsworth is perfect in the far-from-Thor role of a Manson-like cult leader. The real standouts, though, are two unknowns: a singer played by Tony winner Cynthia Erivo and Bill Pullman's son, Lewis, as the hotel clerk. This is film noir at an intriguing level, from the director of the Hemsworth-starring horror flick "A Cabin in the Woods." He lets it go to long and get too violent, but it's worth checking out.. or in this case, checking in! 20th Century Fox - Rated R

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

Halloween's coming up, so we have to have a Halloween movie. And Jamie Lee Curtis's return to the classic horror franchise is a week away. So we have "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween." Two boys find a book in an abandoned house, which turns out to be R.L. Stine's "Haunted Halloween." 'Slappy' the creepy ventriloquist dummy, is back and unleashes his monsters from the costume aisle of the local discount store. The boys and a sister try to rein them in. Jack Black, who starred in the first movie, comes in way too late in this one as author Stine. Face it, this movie is for kids. And with Stine's following, it will likely find its audience, though it's not as good as the first one. Sony Pictures Releasing - Rated PG