New This Week
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 In this sequel to the hugely popular, family-friendly animated fantasy, boy-hero Hiccup has grown into a young man, and he an his buddies are perfecting the sport of dragon racing with the flying dragons recently introduced into the culture of their Viking island. But while exploring uncharted territories with his beloved pet dragon, Toothless, Hiccup discovers a secret that threatens the new peace between humans and dragons. Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Wiig provide voices. Dean DeBlois directs. (PG) 102 minutes. Starts Friday.
THE SIGNAL It’s a high-tech game of cat and mouse when three college students on a road trip across the Southwest run afoul of a mysterious genius computer hacker whom they contact online. Brenton Thwaites stars as the member of the three isolated from the others; Laurence Fishburne plays his antagonist. Olivia Cooke and Beau Knapp co-star for director William Eubank. (PG-13) 97 minutes. Starts Friday.
22 JUMP STREET Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back as the undercover cops who bluffed their way through high school in the first Jump Street movie. Now they’re undercover at a local college, and drifting apart into opposite jock and bohemian art scenes on campus. Peter Stormare and Ice Cube co-star for co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs). (R) 105 minutes. Starts Friday.
WORDS AND PICTURES Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche star as unlikely romantic partners, who meet at an upscale prep school—he’s an extroverted English teacher, and she’s a reserved art teacher. Yet romance blossoms as they become caught up in a debate between their students over whether words or pictures are more important. Veteran Australian-born director Fred Schepisi (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith; Last Orders) directs.(PG-13) 111 minutes. Starts Friday.
NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE It’s a new season for Britain’s acclaimed National Theatre of London, broadcasting highlights from its 2014 Season digitally, in HD, to movie theaters worldwide. Live performances will be broadcast one Thursday evening a month, in the Grand Auditorium of the Del Mar, with encore performances the following Sunday morning. This week’s showing is A Small Family Business.
A SMALL FAMILY BUSINESS This raucous, award-winning farce about modern greed and dysfunctional family dynamics from playwright Alan Aykbourne centers on a man who inherits his father-in-law’s business, only to discover other family members have been plundering the profits for years. Adam Penford directs. (Not rated) 160 minutes. At the Del Mar, Thursday only (June 12), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (June 15), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare subscribers: $13.
THE MAGICAL TRIO AT THE OREGON COUNTY FAIR Local filmmaker LB Johnson directs this documentary celebrating the unique creative and community spirit at the Oregon Country Fair, shot on location during the three years (2007-2009) she spent working on the video crew for the Fair. The film is organized around a Tarot reading done for the birthday of the Fair that featured the “Magical Trio”—The Magician, The Wheel of Fortune, and The Sun. At the Center For Spiritual Living (1818 Felt St. Santa Cruz), Friday only (June 13), 7:30 p.m. Admission: $8—$10.
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.
BELLE Newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a winning performance in this engaging, handsomely-mounted drawing room drama about a real-life young woman of color who may have had an impact on the legal campaign to end slavery in England. The daughter of an English naval captain and a slave woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle was raised in gentility by her father’s aristocratic uncle, the Lord Chief Justice of England, in the late 18th Century. Anglo-African filmmaker Amma Asante mixes abolitionist politics with (largely invented) romance for an affecting tale of a woman’s search for identity and a glimpse into a political era in which men of principle still dared to confront the moral issues of the day. (PG) 105 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
CHEF Jon Favreau wrote and directed this fun feast for foodies, in which he stars as a top chef who quits his job at an L.A. restaurant over creative differences with the owner (Dustin Hoffman). He goes on the road with a food truck, selling spicy Miami-style sandwiches with his sous-chef buddy (John Leguizamo) and his Internet-savvy 10-year-old son. Sofia Vergara is his sassy ex, and while the plot plays out exactly as you expect, the actors are engaging, the story sizzles with Latin flavor, and the food looks great; trust me, you’ll come out jonesing for a fried Cubano sandwich. (R) 115 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
EDGE OF TOMORROW It’s like a sci-fi Groundhog Day. When aliens invade the Earth, an untested Army Major (Tom Cruise) is sent to the front lines, and promptly killed—except he’s caught in a time loop, forced to keep experiencing the same battle over and over again. But each time he gets a little smarter about the enemy, and a little closer to turning the tide. Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, and Noah Taylor co-star for director Doug Liman. (PG-13)
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star in this screen adaptation of the bestselling John Green YA novel about teenagers who unexpectedly fall in love while undergoing cancer treatments. Josh Boone directs. (PG-13) 125 minutes.
IDA Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 83 minutes. In Polish with English subtitles. (***1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
MALEFICENT Reviewed by Lisa Jensen. The “evil fairy” and designated villain from Sleeping Beauty gets to tell her side of the story in Disney’s live-action revision, starring a formidable Angelina Jolie. The narrative stumbles, as in an ugly gratuitous battle sequence. But more than just an unhappy romance, the heinous act committed against Maleficent that hardens her heart has enormous symbolic weight for female viewers. Robert Stromberg directs. (PG) 97 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Reviewed by Richard Van Busack. The team embarks on a time-traveling mission to join forces with their younger selves in an epic battle for the future—or, in other words, a clever way to get both generations of the popular franchise characters onscreen at the same time. Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, and Peter Dinklage star, alongside series stalwarts Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. (PG-13) 131 minutes.