New This Week
GIMME THE LOOT
In this inner city graffiti adventure, a pair of Bronx teenagers with big dreams of becoming the most famous taggers in the neighborhood have two days to raise the cash to produce their epic masterpiece. Newcomers Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson star for rookie director Adam Leon. A hit on the festival circuit. (Not rated) 81 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Creator of those most lush and beauteous Impressionist masterpieces, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is both subject and inspiration of this dramatic film from Gilles Bourdos. Based more or less on true events and set in 1915 at the Renoirs’ country estate on the French Riviera, it involves the elderly painter at the end of his life, his soldier son, Jean (who would become the famed film director), home from the Front to convalesce, and a beautiful young artist’s model who rejuvenates the elder Renoir’s creative spark and fires up the son as well. Michel Bouquet, Christa Theret, and Vincent Rottiers star. Jacques Renoir (himself a veteran cinematographer) contributed the story. (R) 111 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Tom Cruise stars in the first sci-fi epic of the season. He plays a veteran of the future after the Earth has been abandoned, left behind to oversee the extraction of the last of the planet’s resources, whose tidy life is turned upside down when he rescues a mysterious woman in a downed spacecraft. Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones), and Melissa Leo co-star. Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy) directs the film, based on his own graphic novel. (PG-13) 126 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
After his feature debut with Primer a few years back, writer/director/star Shane Carruth is back to mess with your mind again in this oddball drama about a man and a woman so wrapped up in each other—and the life cycle of a mysterious eternal organism—that their identities have become fragmented. Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, and Thiago Martins co-star with Carruth. (Not rated) 96 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>
TO THE WONDER Reviewed this issue. (R) 112 minutes. (★★) Starts Friday.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: THE BIG LEBOWSKI The Dude loafs again in this perennial midnight favorite. Jeff Bridges stars as the Venice Beach bowling bum who takes slacking to absurd new depths in this deadpan 1998 comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen. John Goodman and Steve Buscemi co-star. (R) 117 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: FLASHBACK FEATURES Oldies and goodies on Thursday nights at the Cinema 9, presented by your genial host, Joe Ferrara. $5 gets you in. This week: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE The final 1989 installment of the trilogy gives us the wonderful Sean Connery as Indy’s gentleman scholar dad; embroiled in his son’s swashbuckling adventures, he snorts, “You call this archaeology?” Wisecracking and affectionate, Connery and Harrison Ford work alchemy together in dozens of great little throwaway moments. (PG-13) 127 minutes. (HHH1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Tonight only (Thursday, April 18), 9 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES This informal movie discussion group meets at the Del Mar mezzanine in downtown Santa Cruz. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights to pursue the elusive and ineffable meanings of cinema. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.
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THE CROODS A prehistoric family sets out to find a new home when their idyllic primordial homeland is threatened in this animated family adventure from DreamWorks. Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, and Catherine Keener provide voices. Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders direct. (PG) 98 minutes.
EVIL DEAD Sam Raimi had a hand in producing this remake/update of his 1981 cult horror hit about a group of unwary friends at a remote cabin who start fooling around with a Book of the Dead and falling prey to nasty demonic possession. Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, and Lou Taylor Pucci star for director Fede Alvarez; expect a female survivor this time around with Diablo Cody helping to cook up the script. (R) 91 minutes.
42 Newcomer Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson, the first African American ballplayer to cross the color line into Major League Baseball, suiting up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. Harrison Ford co-stars as Dodger GM Branch Rickey, whose policy against racism changes the game forever. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale). (PG-13) 128 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer.
FROM UP ON POPPY HILL The latest from Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s famed Studio Ghibli is directed by Goro Miyazaki, the maestro’s son. It’s an unusual outing for Ghibli in that the story features no overt eco-advocacy message nor any magical elements like gods, demons, or witches. Instead, it’s a simply-told tale of two Yokohama teenagers in 1963, facing life-sized issues of identity, loss, and love in the real world. Miyazaki fans should appreciate the subtlety of the craft here, but viewers coming to anime for the first time might want to start with something a little more dynamic. (PG) 91 minutes. (HH1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
JURASSIC PARK 3D The dinosaurs will be even more killer in 3D, running amok on a tropical island “theme park” in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 fx extravaganza based on the Michael Crichton novel. Homo sapiens co-stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum don’t have much to do, but as popcorn-chomping entertainment, the movie delivers the goods. (PG-13) 127 minutes. (★★★)
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, and Channing Tatum power this testosterone frenzy where the elite fighting force not only faces its mortal enemy, Cobra, but battles sinister forces within its own government. Jon Chu directs. (PG-13) 110 minutes.
GINGER & ROSA In Sally Potter’s thoughtful and involving drama, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is the backdrop before which two teenage girls in London struggle to come of age. The remarkable Elle Fanning and a very affecting Alice Englert star in a simple, yet potent story about teenage girlfriends, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, and all the ways those delicate balances can be tipped, one way or another, during the perilous dance of growing up. The plot may seem a bit far-fetched at times, and the hair and clothes are not always accurate for the era, but there’s something so touching about the authenticity of these young female voices and their nameless, formless yearning that will speak to anyone who has ever been a 17-year-old girl. (PG-13) 90 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE HOST It could be Invasion of the Bodysnatchers for teens in this first adaptation of a new book series by Stephanie Meyer (the Twilight Saga), in which a plucky teen girl romances two hot guys while trying to outwit a sinister force that robs people of their memories and takes over their bodies. Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, and Jake Abel star for director Andrew Niccol. (PG-13)
ON THE ROAD There are about 45 minutes of a great movie in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famed beat odyssey: in the very beginning and the end, when we hear snippets of Kerouac’s dynamic “bop” prose. In between lies an increasingly frantic and pointless gallop back and forth across North America; it successfully mimics the characters’ headlong pursuit of sex, drugs, jazz, and alcohol, but without the transformative power of Kerouac’s words, we’re stuck watching repetitive scenes of frenzied partying, which soon pales as a spectator sport. Still, actors Sam Riley, Garret Hedlund, and Tom Sturridge (fictional surrogates for Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg) work hard, and Viggo Mortensen steals his scenes as the others’ profane patron saint (read: Willam S. Burroughs). (R) 124 minutes. (★★1/2) —Lisa Jensen.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN True, Americans have become conditioned to seeing excessive violence on screen but that doesn’t mean a film must go overboard. (Here’s hoping that the recent tragedies in Boston will serve as yet another reminder to Hollywood that maybe less is so much more.) In any case, this film is thrilling. Morgan Freeman takes over as the President in jeopardy after a terrorist attack traps the Prez (Aaron Eckhart) in the White House. Gerard Butler is a “disgraced former Presidential guard” in this Die Hard at The White House flick. It’s relentless in its suspense—and all its terror, which so hauntingly reflect the times we’re living in. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). (R) (★★★)—Greg Archer.
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Sam Raimi’s lavish prequel imagines the witches and the wizard of Oz in their heedless youth, its mood and texture heavily influenced by the beloved 1939 MGM film. James Franco is fun as the cheesy carnival magician destined to become the wizard (and savior) of Oz, although his superficial character never takes enough of a journey. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams are three delectable young witches. Despite some slow-going, dubious plotting, and an unresolved strain of moral ambiguity, the cheeky dash of Raimi’s film, and his affection for the source, makes for a mostly entertaining trip down the yellow brick road. (PG) 130 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES One of the most captivating and emotionally haunting films of the season. Director Derek Cianfrance, who so wonderfully weaved Blue Valentine into the stunning tapestry that is was, proves himself in his second film. It stars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a generational drama that does not quite move in linear fashion. Instead we’re given moments in time—a fragment of the ’90s, the 2000s and beyond—where Cianfrance evokes a certain mood, steering audiences into considering how one’s fate can often be predetermined by family, residence, social constraints and unresolved emotional issues. Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider hoping to support his new family but his intentions venture off course when he delves into a series of daring crimes. Meanwhile, Cooper plays an ambitious rookie cop suddenly lured into the corrupt judicial system. Can he create a sea change by doing the right thing? It’s fascinating to watch this drama play itself out. Both Gosling and Cooper deliver the best performances of their careers here. Not to be missed. Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, and Ray Liotta co-star. (R) 140 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
THE SAPPHIRES This shiny jewel is a wonderful surprise. Set in1968, an Aboriginal girl group from the outback morphs into a Motown-style quartet thanks to a down-on-his-luck promoter (Chris O’Dowd in a memorable role) and gets sent to entertain the U.S. troops in Vietnam. There’s a great deal of heart in this film and we are offered characters not often see on screen today. It also effectively creates a believable backstory for the girls, which allows us to become invested in what transpires for them. Based on a true story, the film is “feel-good” but also well-crafted and boasts a rare kind of fun and innocent exuberance missing from many movies coming out of Hollywood today. A sheer delight. Chris O’Dowd, Jessica Mauboy, and Deborah Mailman star for director Wayne Blair. (PG-13) 103 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer
SCARY MOVIE V It’s the satire franchise vs. the Paranormal-type home video horror motif in the fifth outing for the spoof comedy series (with some digs at Black Swan and the Fifty Shades phenomenon long the way). Simon Rex, Ashley Tisdale, Molly Shannon, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan pop up in the cast for director Malcom D. Lee. (PG-13)
SPRING BREAKERS Girls go wild in this new comedy from the ever-idiosyncratic Harmony Korine (Mr. Lonely) about four college coeds who ditch their boring campus and commit a robbery to finance their spring break in Florida—bringing them into the orbit of a dubious rapper/criminal/drug-dealer (James Franco) with an agenda. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine star. (R) 94 minutes.
TRANCE James McAvoy stars in this new thriller from Danny Boyle as an art auctioneer who enables a criminal gang to steal a priceless painting. The ever-menacing Vincent Cassel plays the gang leader who hires a hypnotherapist to delve into the auctioneer’s troubled psyche when he can’t remember where he hid the painting—with increasingly bizarre results. Rosario Dawson co-stars. (R) 101 minutes.