New This Week
THE HOMESMAN Tommy Lee Jones directs this western drama in which he co-stars as a bedraggled drifter roped into helping a tough-minded frontierswoman (Hilary Swank) transport three half-addled pioneer women across the brutal, dangerous Nebraska Territories to sanctuary in the east. Mamie Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Meryl Streep co-star. (R) 122 minutes. Starts Friday.
THE PYRAMID Have some horror for the holidays when a U.S. archeological expedition unearths an ancient pyramid buried under the Egyptian desert, and—guess what?—unleashes an ancient evil. James Buckley, Ashley Hinshaw, Amir K, and Christa Nicola star for director Gregory Levasseur. (R) 89 minutes. Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz returns with its monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme for the fall 2014 season is “The Journey.” Please visit folkplanet.com/dante/films.html for information on this month’s film. In Italian with English subtitles. Logan Walker, film studies lecturer at SJSU, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (Dec. 7), 7 p.m. Free.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: AKIRA Futuristic anime set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, based on the graphic novel by Katsuhiro Otomo. (R) 124 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES Movie junkies are invited to join this informal movie discussion group on Wednesday nights to pursue the elusive and ineffable meanings of cinema. NOTE: This week only, the group meets at Pizza My Heart, 1116 Pacific Avenue. (Will return to the Del Mar next week.) This week’s movie (Dec. 3): THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Discussion begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.
Movie Times click here.
BIRDMAN or THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE Michael Keaton is inspired casting for this black comedy about a movie actor, once famed for playing an onscreen superhero called Birdman, trying to reinvent his career and himself by mounting a serious Broadway play. Filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu delivers dark, but often scathingly funny observations on pop culture, celebrity, and priorities, but with plenty of nifty style. Fine performances, especially from Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, and Keaton himself. (R) 119 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 Reviewed this issue. (R) 108 minutes. (*1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
INTERSTELLAR Christopher Nolan’s speculative fiction epic begins in a too-near future where climate change is eroding Earth’s resources. Matthew McConaughey plays an engineer/ex-astronaut who joins a team of explorers flying through a wormhole on a quest to find another habitable planet for the human race. Lengthy sequences of hardware lumbering through space slow things down, but the prickly human element keeps us involved. The science of space/time travel may be more trouble than its worth, but it’s still a voyage worth taking. Rated R. 169 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.
THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR In this animated family comedy, the lovable goofball penguins from the Madagascar franchise get their own movie, in which they are recruited as international spies. Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, and Christopher Knight provide the main voices; Benedict Cumberbatch voices their mysterious spymaster. Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith direct. (PG) 92 minutes.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING The image of science icon Stephen Hawking slouched in his motorized wheelchair, communicating through his robotic voice synthesizer, is so well-known, it’s difficult to imagine him any other way. But that changes with this smart, funny, and tender biographical drama from director James Marsh. Beginning with Hawking as a vigorous young grad student at Cambridge, it tells the enduring love story of Hawking and his first wife, Jane. Oscars may loom for the exceptional performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in a film that celebrates tenacity—in life, love, and ideas. (PG-13) 123 minutes. (****)—Lisa Jensen.