New This Week
GET ON UP Hot off his impressive turn as Jackie Robinson in 42, Chadwick Boseman stars as another cultural icon, James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, in this music-drenched biography from director Tate Taylor (The Help). Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, and Tika Sumpter co-star. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY In this stand-alone Marvel Comics adaptation, an American pilot obtains a device coveted by a master villain as the key to universe-domination, and assembles an eccentric gang of intergalactic warriors to protect it. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Lee Pace star, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper provide voices for CGI characters, and John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio Del Toro pop up in cameos. James Gunn directs. (PG-13) 121 minutes. Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE It’s a new season for Britain’s acclaimed National Theatre of London, broadcasting highlights from its Winter 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: THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME Repeat broadcast of Simon Stephens’ stage adaptation of the bestselling novel by Mark Haddon, about a developmentally challenged 15-year-old boy trying to navigate the perilous adult world while investigating the death of a neighbor’s dog. Tony-winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse) directs. Matthew Barker, Niamh Cusack, and Luke Treadaway star. (Not rated) 160 minutes. At the Del Mar, Thursday only (July 31), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (Aug. 3), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare subscribers: $13.
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.
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.
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)
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.
BOYHOOD Reviewed this issue. (R) 166 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.
THE FLUFFY MOVIE Comic actor Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias stars in this concert film of his stand-up comedy act on his recent “Unity Through Laughter” tour. Filmed at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. (PG-13) 101 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LUCY Starting from the premise that humans use only 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.
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.
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.
WISH I WAS HERE A decade after directing his first indie hit, Garden State, Zach Braff returns to the big screen as director, co-writer, and star of this comedy about an underemployed, 30-something actor coping with an overworked wife (Kate Hudson), an ailing parent (Mandy Patinkin), and the challenge of home-schooling his two kids. Josh Gad co-stars. (R) 106 minutes.