New This Week
GRAVITY Sandra Bullock and George Clooney team up as a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission and the crusty commander of the flight who find themselves linked to each other but adrift in deep space after their shuttle explodes in this high-concept thriller from Alfonso Cuarón (Children Of Men). (PG-13) 91 minutes. Starts Friday.
HAUTE CUISINE Veteran French actress Catherine Frot stars in this comedy about a popular restaurant chef who’s hired as personal chef to the president of France and finds herself learning to navigate national as well as kitchen politics. Christian Vincent directs. (PG-13) 95 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday.
PARKLAND The 50-year anniversary of the national trauma that was the JFK assassination is marked in this dramatized fiction film that views the events of those days in Dallas through the eyes of various ordinary people caught up in them—Secret Service ops, doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital, and the bystander with a movie camera who shot the infamous Zapruder film. Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, and Paul Giamatti lead the cast. Writer-director Peter Landesman adapted the script from Vincent Bugliosi’s non-fiction book, Four Days in November. (PG-13) 93 minutes. Starts Friday.
RUNNER RUNNER Justin Timberlake is a poor grad student who goes broke after hacking into a private online poker game, and Ben Affleck is the smooth operator running the game off the coast of Costa Rica from whom he tries to get satisfaction. Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie co-star in this crime thriller from director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). (R) 91 minutes. Starts Friday.
RUNNING WILD Author, photographer, activist, and lifelong cowboy Dayton O. Hyde is the subject of this documentary from filmmaker Suzanne Mitchell. Shot over 11 years, it chronicles Hyde’s efforts to preserve the landscape of the American West while operating the 12,000-acre Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota, a rescue ranch for wild mustangs. (Not rated) 93 minutes. Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: REEL ROCK 8 The eighth edition of the popular annual traveling roadshow of adventure and climbing films arrives at The Rio for one night only. On the bill this year: The Sensei, in which a fabled Japanese climbing master and a young American boulderer team up for an epic climb. Spice Girl, a profile of scrappy UK climber Hazel Findlay. High Tension: Uelli Stock and the Clash on Everest, which investigates the brawl between western climbers and sherpas on Everest earlier this year. The Stone Masters, a feature doc on the counter-culture climbing scene at Yosemite in the 1970s and beyond. Friday only (October 4) at the Rio. Complete show begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $15; tickets available at Pacific Edge. For more info, visit reelrocktour.com/
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz returns with its monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme for the Fall 2013 season is “The Journey.” This Week: UNA BREVE VACANZA (A BRIEF VACATION) Director Vittorio de Sica’s classic 1973 drama touches on themes of health care, labor, class struggle, and marriage in this tale of a lowly factory worker from Milan living in a basement with her underemployed husband, negligent sons and impossible in-laws, who is sent away for a life-altering stay at a clinic in the Italian Alps. With Florinda Balkan and Renato Salvatori. (PG) 106 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. Logan Walker, film studies lecturer at SJSU, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (October 6), 7 pm. Free.
NEW SERIES: NEW CULT FILMS AT THE DEL MAR In addition to its venerable Midnight Movie series of classics and favorites, the Del Mar launches another late-night weekend series devoted to strange and edgy cult films of more recent vintage. All the weirdness money can buy for just $6.50. This week: EUROPA REPORT. (PG-13) 90 minutes. Fri-Sat Late Show only. At the Del Mar.
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: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE R. 137 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.SHAUN OF THE DEAD (R) 99 minutes. (Thursday October 3) only, 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.
Movie Times click here.
BLUE JASMINE In Woody Allen’s latest, Cate Blanchett shines in one of the best performances of her career. It’s also one of Allen’s best films. Set in San Francisco, this dynamic drama—with touches of comedy—revolves around the a depressed and privileged East Coast socialite (Jasmine) whose fall from grace is hard and messy. Jasmine finds refuge in her sister’s apartment in San Francisco but soon, other dramas unfold. Watch how well Allen, who also wrote the outing, uses flashback to illuminate such a tighty-wound, unforgettable individual. Sally Hawkins also stars (as Jasmine’s sister) alongside. Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C. K., Bobby Cannavale, and Andrew Dice Clay. (PG-13) 98 minutes. (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer
THE BUTLER Director Lee Daniels (Precious) weaves together a compelling tale based on the real-life story of a longtime White House Butler. Forest Whitaker does an exceptional job capturing the grace and dignity of a man who has served numerous presidencies. Although the film chronicles a great deal of events that took place during the 1960s, it manages to evoke enough empathy and compassion for Whitaker’s Cecil and his family, primarily Oprah Winfrey, who stands out considerably here. Still, as much as there is here, you still wonder what the film experience may have been like had the script and Daniels probed even just a little deeper into Cecil’s psyche. Regardless, the film boasts one of the most enjoyable star-studded casts to hit the screen in some time. (PG-13) 133 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 The wacky inventor whose device turned water into food in the first Cloudy movie now has to save the world from a machine that merges food with animals, called “foodimals,” in this animated sequel. Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn direct. Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Neil Patrick Harris provide voices. (PG) 85 minutes.
DON JON Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed this refreshing comedy in which he also stars as a guy whose penchant for Internet porn gets in the way of real connection with women. Of course, when he meets a lovely lady (Scarlett Johansson), things take a turn and the two attempt to give real relationship a try. Unrealistic expectations may mar that effort, but watch for the film’s biggest surprise— Julianne Moore, whose character creeps up on you and gives the film (and its main character) a chance to consider some real meaning and depth. This is a bold effort for Gordon-Levitt and he shows terrific promise as a filmmaker. Tony Danza, Brie Larson, and Glenne Headly also co-star. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★)—Greg Archer
ENOUGH SAID Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 93 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE FAMILY Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a couple of Mafia insiders relocated with their teenage kids to Normandy, France, in the Witness Protection program after testifying against the mob. Tommy Lee Jones co-stars as the crusty US agent trying to help them blend in this black comedy thriller from Luc Besson. Dianna Agron and John D’Leo play their kids. (R)
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 Original stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, and Lin Shaye return to the dark side in this horror sequel about a family struggling against deadly forces in the spirit world. James Wan directs. (PG-13) 105 minutes.
GOOD OL’ FREDA Talk about a dream job. Freda Kelly was just 17 when she landed a job as personal secretary to The Beatles in 1962. No one had any idea how big the band would become, and Liverpool homegirl Freda rode that colossal wave with them for the next 11 years. Ryan White’s documentary is as ebullient, down-to-earth, and irresistible as Freda herself, telling her amazing story: from the Cavern to Beatlemania to Apple Corps, she was there. White assembles a fabulous collection of vintage still photos, newsreel footage, and period music, and Freda’s good humor, and irrepressible sense of fun make her a most personable tour guide through an extraordinary cultural era. (PG) 86 minutes. (★★★ 1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
PRISONERS Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this tense crime drama as a husband and father whose little daughter has disappeared, and a veteran detective who is determined to crack the case before the father does something rash. Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano co-star for Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies). (R) 153 minutes.
RIDDICK Vin Diesel returns as the intergalactic escaped convict first introduced in Pitch Black. (R) 119 minutes.
RUSH Four-star movies are hard to come by, so relish this. True, everyone has their own likes and dislikes but whatever you may feel about auto racing, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with how Director Ron Howard’s film is executed. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star as real-life Formula One race car drivers and competitors James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Bruhl stands out particularly here, but both actors lose themselves in their roles. That, coupled with Howard’s keen eye and style, make this one of the director’s best efforts in his entire career. As for the story, it traces the rivalry on the Grand Prix race track that consumed the racers during the 1970s. Peter Morgan (The Queen; Frost/Nixon) penned the script. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara come along for the ride. What works best here is the intensity and mood Howard creates. A memorable ride indeed.. (R) 123 minutes. (★★★★)—Greg Archer.
SALINGER Shane Salerno’s documentary offers a compelling look inside the secret life of the late, famously reclusive author of “The Catcher In the Rye.” While it tends to go overboard gushing about Salinger’s genius, the film does manage to remain grounded as it pieced together the author’s life—private, professional and during his seclusion. Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen, Tom Wolfe, and Gore Vidal are among the intriguing interviewees featured here and they all add nuance and depth as the portrait of Salinger is painted. This is a wonderful look at one of the most fascinating literary minds of the 20th century. (PG-13) 120 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer.
THE SPECTACULAR NOW The writers of 500 Days of Summer have another hit here. This contemporary love story about a charming teen with no future plans who lives for the moment and his unlikely romance with a “nice girl” who doesn’t date, reads sci-fi, and dreams of the future is stellar. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) star for director James Ponsoldt. (R) 95 minutes. (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer.
THANKS FOR SHARING Another take on redefining the modern family from screenwriter Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right) in his directing debut. Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad star as three men recovering from addiction who become a support team for each others’ victories. Gwyneth Paltrow, Joely Richardson, and Alecia Moore play the women in their lives. (R) 112 minutes.
WE’RE THE MILLERS None of the characters have morals, but if its slapstick you crave, then this could be your ticket. Jason Sudeikis and. Jennifer Aniston. (R) 110 minutes. (★★)—Greg Archer
THE WORLD’S END Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite with director Edgar Wright for the third time in this final installment of the trilogy begun with Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. Expect their patented mix of cheeky satire and apocalypse as the friends set out on a drinking marathon to conclude at their favorite pub, The World’s End, only to run afoul of an unexpected menace. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike co-star. (R) 109 minutes. (★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer