Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
THE ART OF THE STEAL Reviewed this issue. Not rated. 101 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday.
CLASH OF THE TITANS In the beginning was the Greek myth of Perseus, made into a family-friendly ’80s adventure with retro-cool Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation and a feast of hammy acting. Now comes a hardcore (but still PG-13) action fx update with Sam Worthington as the half-mortal, half-god hero caught up in a war between the gods. With Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades, who cares about the rest of the plot? Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Jason Flemyng, Alexa Davalos co-star for director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk). (PG-13) 117 minutes. Starts Friday.
FURRY VENGEANCE Brendan Fraser returns to slapstick comedy as a real estate developer whose plans to subdivide a section of Oregon wilderness are upset when the wildlife critters decide to fight for their habitat. Broooke Shields co-stars. Roger Kumble directs. (PG) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Reviewed this issue. (R) 152 minutes. In Swedish with English subritles. (★★★1/2) Starts Friday.
See Review by Lisa Jensen & movie trailer >>>
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO? Tyler Perry’s sequel to his biggest non-Madea mainstream hit stars Perry and Janet Jackson in a story of four couples on their annual vacation in the Bahamas whose plans are disrupted by an ex-husband hoping to woo back his ex-wife. Louis Gosset Jr. and Cicely Tyson co-sar. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
Watch movie trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: BLOOD INTO WINE The mission of rocker Maynard James Keenan (from Tool and A Perfect Circle), and his vintner partner, Eric Glomski, to put Northern Arizona on the map as a legitimate player in the wine industry is the subject of this documentary from filmmakers Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke. Heralded by one wag at FilmCritic.com as “a rock ‘n’ roll version of Sideways.” At the Rio, tonight only (April 1).
CONTINUING SERIES: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMA Get an education in classic cinema—or just revisit some of your favorite oldies—presented as God intended, on a big screen in the dark. If you’ve only ever seen them on TV, don’t miss this new series of classic movie matinees unspooling each weekend at Aptos Cinema. This week: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA “I look like a dissipated girl!” observed Peter O’Toole on seeing himself onscreen for the first time in 40 years in David Lean’s 1962 epic. O’Toole was just 29 when he landed the plum role of T. E. Lawrence, an eccentric English officer who led the Arabs against the Turks in the Middle East during WWI. Alec Guiness, Omar Sharif, and Anthony Quinn head the supporting cast. (G) 228 minutes—Lisa Jensen. Sat-Sun matinee only. Admission $6. Call 688-6541 for showtimes. At Aptos Cinema.
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: THE BIG LEBOWSKI (★★1/2) (R) 117 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
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 discuss current flicks with a rotating series of guest moderators. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND The better you know the Alice books of Lewis Carroll, the more you’ll appreciate Tim Burton’s winsome, nutty (and mostly live-action) remix, which dares to imagine an entirely new story populated by Carroll’s enduring fantasy characters. Staying true to Carroll’s anarchic spirit, and giving us a teenage Alice (Mia Wasikowska) ripe for one last adventure before growing up, Burton and scriptwriter Linda Woolverton concoct a funny, girl-empowering saga that is often Carroll’s equal in drollery. Johnny Depp is sublimely silly and soulful as her spirit guide, the Mad Hatter, Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry provide arch and funny voices, and Helena Bonham Carter is hilarious as the tyrannical Red Queen. Ravishing and buoyant. (PG) 108 minutes. (★★★★) Lisa Jensen
AVATAR James Cameron nearly grabbed on Oscar trophy for this film—the highest grossing of all time—before The Hurt Locker took home the gold on Oscar night. Sam Worthington offers an impressive turn as a young war vet technologically altered to resemble native people–he’s sent in as a scout. Zoe Saldana is the indigenous tribeswoman. Sigourney Weaver also costars alongside Michelle Rodriguez. A riveting unforgettable ride with a powerful message that doesn’t feel overly preachy. (PG-13) 150 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE BOUNTY HUNTER Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston team up for this romantic action comedy about a scruffy bounty-hunter, the hot-shot reporter ex-wife he’s supposed to bring in after she jumps bail to get a story, and the world of trouble her risky murder investigation brings down on them both. Andy Tennant directs. (PG-13)
CHLOE All the elements should be in place for a classic, psycho-erotic suspense thriller in Atom Egoyan’s tale of a woman who sics a call girl on the husband she suspects of cheating. Julianne Moore skillfully portrays the wife’s complex need not only to confirm her husband’s infidelity but to participate in his erotic life, even by proxy. But Egoyan chooses to tack on an implausible thriller element which proves to be his film’s undoing; in an increasingly banal, yet incredible finale, the only thing held in suspense is the viewer’s disbelief. Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried co-star. (R) 96 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
CRAZY HEART Jeff Bridges is an actor of such wry, thoughtful subtlety who makes it all look so effortless, some viewers might miss the exquisite craftsmanship of his performance in Scott Cooper’s adaptation of the Thoman Cobb novel. Bridges plays broken-down country singer, “Bad,” with all the cantankerous brio and slightly shopworn charm of a hard life lived on the road. Plotwise, it’s a road we’ve all been down before, but happy surprises include the grown-up sensuality of Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Colin Farrell as a glitzy, but good-hearted country superstar. Songwriters Stephen Bruton and T Bone Burnett craft a beautiful repertoire of music for Bad, a song cycle essential to the storytelling that furthers plot and enhances character, which Bridges performs with ragged authority. (R) 111 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID Jeff Kinney’s serial graphic novel, a cult hit online, inspired this comedy about a nerdy 7th-grader (Zachary Gordon) keeping a diary of his daily exploits while trying to survive middle school. Robert Capron and Steve Zahn co-star for director Thor Freudenthal. (PG)
THE GHOST WRITER Roman Polanski (Chinatown) still has it. In fact, this film is a masterpiece from beginning to end—even though I doubt the writer here (Ewan McGregor offering a stellar turn) would actually take the actions he takes in one of the film’s final frames. Best not to give that away. Polanski writes and directs this captivating—noir suspense at its best—political thriller about a ghostwriter (McGregor) hired to tweak the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan)—the predecessor on the project died “mysteriously.” Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Eli Wallach, and Tom Wilkinson co-star. (R) 109 minutes. (★★★★) Greg Archer
GREENBERG Life is messy. And there are few directors who can capture that truth to such winning ends as Noah Baumbach (The Squid and The Whale, Margot at the Wedding). In Greenberg, Baumbach guides Ben Stiller in a defining role that finds the star as a depressed, unemployed 40-year-old with more than his fair share of mental hang-ups. After deciding to house-sit for his brother in the Hollywood Hills, he bonds—rather awkwardly—with Greta Gerwig, his brother’s personal assistant. Rhys Ifans and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Baumbach’s wife) also star. This isn’t the a feel-good film, per se. It’s an illuminating portrait of how challenged we can all become when emotional issues are left to fester unattended. It’s also, at times, a moving portrait about regret and acceptance. With keen comedic nuances, Baumbach delivers an almost unnerving tale that leaves you both unsettled and curious for more by the time the credits role. (R) (★★★) Greg Archer
GREEN ZONE Matt Damon stars as a US Army officer who launches his own search for WMDS.(R) 115 minutes.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE Four middle-aged party animals pass out in a hot tub in the present day and wake up in 1986.. John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke star for director Steve Pink (High Fidelity). (R) 92 minutes.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON A sensitive Viking boy shocks his warrior tribe by suggesting that instead of slaying dragons, they should try to make the fiery wild beasts their allies.. (PG) 98 minutes.
THE HURT LOCKER The year’s biggest surprise. It took home a Best Picture Oscar trophy plus it made director Kathryn Bigelow the first woman to win honors as Best Director. This spellbinding outing chronicles a gruff Army officer (Jeremy Renner in a standout role) who joins a bomb unit in Iraq. This is a raw portrait of the soldiers’ ordeal if not a haunting look at what those in the service go through. The picture stands out on many levels—tension, suspense and intrigue are up there—but it truly wins points for its documentary feel, and for the fact that it comes without a symphonic soundtrack. You’re left to feel the emotions without the aid of music. Not to be missed. (Rated R) 130 minutes. (★★★★) Greg Archer
THE LAST SONG In this adaptation of yet another sentimental bestseller by the unstoppable Nicholas Sparks, Miley Cyrus stars as a New York teen forced to spend the summer in a southern beach town. (PG)
MOTHER South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s absorbing thriller is a virtuoso mix of dynamic action, precisely rendered emotions, and a complex worldview that both satirizes and mourns the junk and clutter, opportunism and corruption of modern daily life. Kim Hye-ja is wonderful as a middle-aged mom who will stop at nothing to save her mentally challenged young adult son from a murder rap. Bong assembles it all with sly humor, gentle heartbreak, and a couple of yowza moments that will leave viewers reeling, proving himself a masterful stylist of the human psyche. (R) 129 minutes. In Korean with English subtitles. (HHH) Lisa Jensen
NORTH FACE In Philipp Stolzl’s gripping dramatization of a true story, fresh-faced youths test their mettle against a ferocious opponent—the notorious north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. It’s 1936, and the Nazi propaganda machine eagerly promotes a pair of young German climbers who want to be first to the summit. Not rated. 126 minutes. In German with English subtitles. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
OUR FAMILY WEDDING America Ferrera and Lance Gross star as recent college grads who want to get married—if they can keep their competitive fathers. (PG-13) 101 minutes.
A PROPHET (UN PROPHÉTE) A recent Foreign Laguage Oscar nominee, this violent suspense thriller from Jacques Audiard follows a 19-year-old, non-practicing Muslim serving six years in a French prison who’s forced into a harrowing education in crime and punishment. Audiard is a stylist employing his art-house sensibility to a genre crime melodrama, and the film has plenty of pizzazz, even a macabre kind of whimsy, but the intensity of the violence can be an ordeal to watch. A brutal, visceral plunge into the abyss of criminal life. (R) 155 minutes. In French with English subtitles. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
REPO MEN This dark comedy buddy thriller is set in the near future, when artificial organs can be bought on credit like other appliances. Forest Whitaker, and Liev Schreiber co-star for director Miguel Sapochnik. (R) 111 minutes.
THE RUNAWAYS Twilight temptress Kristen Stewart morphs into a hard-driving Joan Jett—or tries to—and Dakota Fanning plays sex-kitten Cherie Currie in this biopic of rock’s first all-girl band, The Runaways. Actually, Fanning is the best thing in a film that never dives far enough beneath the surface. Still, what the movie lacks in real character development, it makes up for in enough punk rock, glam wonderment. Yes. There are moments to enjoy even though you never quite really care about these protagonists—Director Floria Sigismondi seems too fascinated with the allure that was Jett and history that the group made than really exploring the emotionally rich natures of Jett and Currie. Michael Shannon co-stars as Kim Fowley, the slick mastermind who helped make the group a sensation in the post-punk, mid-’70s L.A. rock scene. (R) (★★1/2)
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE Jay Baruchel stars in this wish-fulfillment fantasy about a nerdy guy who’s so flummoxed by the sexy girl of his dreams (Alice Eve) wants to hook up with him. (R) 104 minutes.
SHUTTER ISLAND Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo star in this thriller as a pair of U. S. Marshals in 1954 Boston investigating the escape of a murderess from a hospital for the criminally insane located on a remote island off the New England coast. (R) 138 minutes.