New This Week
CALVARY Reviewed this issue. (R) 105 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen. Starts Friday.
IF I STAY Based on Gayle Forman’s bestselling YA novel, the story revolves around a teenage girl whose life literally passes before her eyes in a moment that changes things forever. Chloe Grace Moretz stars as the heroine trying to determine if and how to go on with her life. Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, and Joshua Leonard co-star for director R. J. Cutler. (PG-13) 106 minutes. Starts Friday.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR Almost a decade after the original film brought Frank Miller’s black-and-white, neo-noir graphic novel universe to the big screen, Robert Rodriguez is back with this belated sequel, with more hardcore guys and dames looking for trouble. Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, and Power Boothe return from the original cast. Provocative newcomers include Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Eva Green. Miller himself co-directs. (Not Rated) 102 minutes. Starts Friday.
WHAT IF Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star in this comedy as a couple of young urbanites who meet through friends and click instantly. But the path to romance is complicated by her live-in boyfriend (Rafe Spall), so they try to settle for becoming best friends instead. Adam Driver and Megan Park co-star. Michael Dowse directs. (PG-13) 98 minutes. Starts Friday.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL Jim Caviezel star as legendary high school football coach Bob Ladouceur in this fact-based sports drama about how he coached the East Bay’s De La Salle Spartans to an unprecedented 12-year, 151-game winning streak. Laura Dern, Alexander Ludwig, and Michael Chiklis co-star for director Thomas Carter (Coach Carter). (PG) 115 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.
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BOYHOOD Kudos to Richard Linklater for such a refreshingly audacious film. Linklater had the simple, yet brilliant idea to shoot a scripted story over a period of 12 years, allowing his cast—including his child protagonists—to age naturally onscreen. Ellar Coltrane (in the central role) was 7 years old when the film started shooting in 2002, 18 when it wrapped last year, and he’s compulsively watchable throughout. It sounds like a stunt, but watching these characters grow up before our eyes (including adults Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, both terrific, as the divorced parents), makes for a bold, moving, and utterly mesmerizing moviegoing experience. (R) 166 minutes. (****)—Lisa Jensen.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 The old boys’ club of this geriatric action franchise expands to include Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Wesley Snipes, and Mel Gibson (as head villain), in addition to stalwarts Sylvester Stallone, Jason Stratham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kellan Lutz and mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey represent the tech-savvy young blood on the team. Patrick Hughes directs. (PG-13) 127 minutes.
GET ON UP James Brown blazes to life in this musical biography from Tate Taylor (The Help), mostly thanks to an incendiary performance by Chadwick Boseman. He doesn’t do his own singing, but Boseman captures the volatility, on and offstage, of the entity we recognize as James Brown; the flamboyance, the fierce ambition, and the uncompromising determination to be treated with respect. (He also dances up a storm!) There’s not much down time in the film’s two hours and eighteen minutes to get a sense of the man behind the persona, but Boseman makes that persona consistently dazzling. (And don’t miss Brandon Smith in two scenes as a fresh, flirty Little Richard.) (PG-13) 138 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
THE GIVER Brenton Thwaites stars as a youth who discover that his seemingly perfect world of the future is just an illusion in this latest dystopian teen adventure based on a bestselling YA novel (this one by Lois Lowry). Jeff Bridges co-stars in the title role as the eccentric hermit who keeps the town’s library, its forbidden knowledge, and its secrets. Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift co-star. Phillip Noyce directs. (PG-13) 94 minutes.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY In this standalone 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.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY Engaging performances—especially from the sublime Helen Mirren and Indian national treasure Om Puri—spice up this unsurprising, yet enjoyably romantic foodie film. The location is irresistible, a sun-drenched corner of the South of France where an upstart family-run Indian eatery sets up shop across the street from a venerable French restaurant. Dreamy-eyed Manish Dayal and frisky Charlotte Le Bon make a charming romantic couple. And there’s plenty of good-looking food, from haute cuisine to vivid massala-spiced Indian dishes to simple French country cooking, presented with enough relish to make it all go down smoothly. Lasse Hallstrm directs. (PG) 122 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
INTO THE STORM A small Midwestern town is ravaged by an onslaught of tornados in a single day in this thriller, as storm-chasers, amateur and professional, document the mounting destruction. Richard Armitage (Thorin, in The Hobbit movies), Sarah Wayne Callies, and Max Deacon star for director Steven Quale. (PG-13) 89 minutes.
LET’S BE COPS Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. star in this action comedy as buddies who dress up as cops for a costume party and become the toast of the neighborhood—until their ruse gets them involved with real-life mobsters, criminals, and police corruption. Luke Greenfield directs. (R) 104 minutes.
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.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT Woody Allen’s second comedy set in France (after Midnight In Paris) unspools in the South of France during the Jazz Age 1920s, and stars Colin Firth as an Englishman investigating a possible swindle among the Cote d’Azur elite. Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater, and Marcia Gay Harden co-star. (PG-13)
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.
STEP UP ALL IN Most of the stars from the previous installments of this dance franchise (except for Channing Tatum, of course) reunite for a dance showdown in Las Vegas. Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, and Misha Gabriel Hamilton star for director Trish Sie. (PG-13) 112 minutes.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES In this mostly live-action reboot of the popular comic book series, New York City is in the grip of evildoers when four masked outcast brothers rise up out of the sewers to become heroes. Megan Fox stars as sympathetic, turtle-friendly girl reporter April O’Neil, and Will Arnett is her cameraman sidekick. Jonathan Liebesman directs. (PG-13)