New This Week
GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA Early on, Gore Vidal formed strong opinions on the promise of American democracy, as conceived by the Founding Fathers, and the gradual corruption of that democracy by the forces of money and power. Vidal spent all of his life as a celebrated novelist, essayist, playwright, commentator, and bon vivant trying to warn the American people of the ways their democracy was being eroded out from under them—an urgent warning that continues from beyond the grave in Nichols D.Wrathall’s absorbing documentary on Vidal’s life and celebrated times. (Not rated) 83 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen. Starts Friday.
OBVIOUS CHILD Jenny Slate stars as an aspiring stand-up comic trying to navigate real life, in all its unpredictable messiness (a lost job, an unwanted pregnancy) with the same fearless aplomb she applies to her stage act. Gaby Hoffman and Jake Lacy co-star for writer -director Gillian Robespierre. (R) 85 minutes. Starts Friday.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION The giganto-bot franchise gets a reboot with a new cast of humans to interact with the CGI stars. Mark Wahlberg plays an auto mechanic who finds a forgotten spare part that morphs into a Transformer— and it’s game-on once more for a planet-trashing showdown between Autobots and Decepticons. Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing , Kelsey Grammer, and Sophia Myles co-star for director Michael Bay. Bring your earplugs. (PG- 13) 166 minutes. Starts Friday.
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.
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.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST Director and co-writer Seth MacFarlane stars in this spaghetti Western spoof as a cowardly sheep rancher who has to manufacture some courage fast when he comes between a seductive mystery woman (Charlize Theron) and her notorious outlaw husband (Liam Neeson).Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sarah Silverman co-star. (R)
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.
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 and 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 unchartered 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.
IDA This Polish film from Pawel Pawlikowski is a small miracle of economic storytelling, emotional complexity and astonishing scope. Both an intimate drama and an unsentimentalized look back on two tumultuous decades of Polish history as told over the course of a few days in the life of a young woman, it’s everything we want a film to be—focused, beautifully composed, surprising, and powerful. Agata Trzebuchowska is lovely as a convent- raised orphan; Agata Kulesza is superb as the wayward aunt who reveals the truth of her Jewish family history. (PG- 13) 80 minutes. In Polish with English subtitles. (***1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
JERSEY BOYS Reviewed this issue. (R) 134 minutes. (**1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
MALEFICENT 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.
THE ROVER In a lawless, desolated Mad Max-style near future, a loner (Guy Pearce) wandering the backroads loses his car to a gang of thieves. Robert Pattinson co-stars as a wounded
thief left behind who Pearce forces into helping him track down the gang. Directed by David Michod, whose first film was the tough Aussie crime drama Animal Kingdom. (R) 102 minutes.
THINK LIKE A MAN TOO Most of the cast from the 2010 sleeper rom-com hit are back in a plot that takes them all to Las Vegas for a wedding. Expect plenty of chaos to ensue on the way to the altar. Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, and Jerry Ferrara star for returning director Tim Story. (PG-13) 106 minutes.
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.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST In this doomsday scenario, Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine is sent into the past to enlist the mutants’ younger selves in an epic battle for the future.James McAvoy steals his scenes as a despondent, cynical younger Charles Xavier who has to be coaxed back into (psychological) fighting trim, and Evan Peters is a riot as Quicksilver (a refreshing touch in such a dark story). But returning original director Bryan Singer can no longer maintain the focus on the personal stories that have always fueled the franchise, and the robot apocalypse finale is more exhausting than cathartic. Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Peter Dinklage co-star, alongside series stalwarts Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. (PG-13) 131 minutes. (**1/2)—Lisa Jensen.