New This Week
AND SO IT GOES Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton star in this autumnal rom-com from director Rob Reiner. He plays a crusty, misanthropic realtor suddenly saddled with taking care of a granddaughter he never even knew he had. She’s the empathetic neighbor he tries to palm the child off on, hoping to resume his selfish life uninterrupted. Newcomer Sterling Jerins co-stars. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
BOYHOOD Critics are going nuts over this audacious idea for a movie from Richard Linklater. It’s a scripted drama about family life and growing up in the new millennium, but it was shot over a period of 12 years while the actors age in real time. Ellar Coltrane goes from age six to 18 in the lead role. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette co-star. (R) 166 minutes. Starts Friday.
HERCULES Dwayne Johnson stars as the muscleman of Greek mythology in this revisionist take on the classical myth, adapted from the graphic novel by Steve Moore. Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, and John Hurt co-star for director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour; X-Men: The Last Stand). (PG-13) 98 minutes. Starts Friday.
I ORIGINS Writer-director Mike Cahill and star Brit Marling, from Another Earth, re-team for this metaphysical sci-fi drama about a molecular biologist and his lab partner, studying the evolution of the eye, who stumble upon a discovery that challenges everything they think they know about reality, science, and spirituality. Michael Pitt, Steven Yeun, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey co-star. (R) 113 minutes. Starts Friday.
LUCY Starting from the premise that humans only use 10 percent of their brain power, Luc Besson’s thriller stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman whose brain is experimentally amped up to bionic levels—turning her into (what else?) a merciless warrior. Morgan Freeman co-stars. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday.
A MOST WANTED MAN Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this political thriller adapted from the John Le Carre novel about an illegal Muslim immigrant in Hamburg who gets caught up in the international war on terror. Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright co-star for director Anton Corbijn. (R) 122 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 p.m. and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.
Movie Times click here.
BEGIN AGAIN Writer-director John Carney (Once) tries to make lightning strike again in this musical romance. Keira Knightley stars as a small-town girl struggling in the Village folk scene of New York after her rising star boyfriend (Adam Levine) dumps her. Mark Ruffalo is a scruffy, former record exec who wants to make her a star. (R) 101 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
JERSEY BOYS Director Clint Eastwood makes no attempt to disguise the stage origins of his film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. Why tamper with success? To his credit, he insisted on casting three of the Four Seasons in his film with alumni from various stage productions (including Tony-winner John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway). These guys can all sing like the dickens, and the movie sounds great. If there proves to be more backstory than the film can handle, still, it’s an entertaining songfest with a breakout performance by Vincent Piazza as ne’er-do-well Tommy DeVito. (R) 134 minutes. (**1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
LIFE ITSELF Reviewed this issue. (Not Rated) 115 minutes. (***)—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.
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.
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE The second installment of Disney’s Cars-in-the-sky franchise relocates hero Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) from the world of air-racing to a fleet of aerial firefighters protecting a national park. Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Wes Studi, and Captain Dale Dye provide additional voices. Roberts Gannaway directs.
(PG) 83 minutes.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY It’s hard to imagine what would constitute “anarchy” within the premise of this-near-future horror franchise in which, one night a year, the authorities look the other way while vigilantes are free to run amok in the streets and murder at will. (Hmmm…maybe it’s not so “futuristic” after all…) Nevertheless, writer-director James DeMonaco is back with a new cast of potential victims. Zach Gilford, Frank Grillo, and Kiele Sanchez star. (R) 103 minutes.
SEX TAPE Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in this comedy about a married couple trying to spice up their romantic life; shooting a private video of themselves trying out every position in The Joy of Sex leads to a night of hysteria as they try to prevent their video from going viral. Jake Kasdan directs.
(R) 90 minutes.
TAMMY Melissa McCarthy stars in this road comedy as a mild-mannered store clerk who loses her job and ditches her cheating husband to hit the road with her crusty, hard-drinking grandma (Susan Sarandon). Dan Aykroyd and Mark Duplass co-star for actor-turned-director Ben Falcone. (R) 97 minutes.
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.
VENUS IN FUR Adapted from the stage play by David Ives, which was inspired by the works of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (the Austrian writer who put the “M” in S&M), Roman Polanski’s two-character drama is a witty meditation on sex and sexism, and the corruption of the notion of love by less wholesome desires. Essentially a dialogue between an actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) arriving late for an audition, and a touchy director (Mathieu Amalric) in an empty Paris theater after hours, it doesn’t trade in graphic sex; instead, it’s something far more cerebral, smart, and surprising. (Not rated) 95 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.