Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO Reviewed this issue Rated PG. 90 minutes. ★★★ (out of four) A film by Lucy Walker. A Magnolia Pictures release. Rated PG. 90 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>
FAREWELL As in his haunting, heartbreaking last film, Joyeux Noel, French filmmaker Christian Carion again adapts an amazing true story for the screen in this Cold War thriller. In 1981, a disillusioned KGB agent (the great Emir Kusturica), in search of a better life for his people, opens up discreet communications with a French engineer in Moscow for the trading of state secrets—setting the stage for events that would ultimately led to the fall of the Soviet Union (among other consequences). Guillaume Canet and Willem Dafoe co-star; Fred Ward pops up in the role of President Ronald Reagan. (Not rated) 113 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
MIDDLE MEN Luke Wilson stars as Jack Harris, a business troubleshooter who, in 1995, gets more than he bargained for when he helps a couple of young entrepreneurs (Giovanni Ribisi and Gabriel Macht) start up what becomes the first internet porn company. James Caan and Kelsey Grammer co-star in this true story from director George Gallo. (R) 105 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE OTHER GUYS Trouble ensues for lowly NYPD precinct detectives Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg when they try to emulate their idols—a tough, savvy, fearless dynamic duo of rock star cops (Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson)—on a big case. Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, and Steve Coogan co-star in this action comedy from director Adam McKay. (PG-13) 107 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
STEP UP 3-D The moves get even wilder in this third installment of the street-dancing saga, shot in Digital 3-D. Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, and Sharni Vinson head the cast as a group of multicultural NYC dancers whe enter a competition with the world’s best hip-hop dancers. Jon M. Chu directs. (PG-13) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
TWELVE Joel Schumacher directs this adaptation of the Nick McDonell novel about a teenage drug dealer (Chace Crawford) whose life starts going south when his cousin is murdered and his best friend is arrested for the crime. Rory Culkin, Emma Roberts, and 50 Cent co-star. (R) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR On hiatus until September 17, 2010.
CONTINUING SERIES: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMA If you’ve only ever seen them on TV, don’t miss this series of classic movie matinees unspooling each weekend at Aptos Cinema. This week: DR. ZHIVAGO David Lean’s 1964 epic, based on the Boris Pasternak novel, stars dashing young Omar Shariff as a Russian doctor whose love for both devoted wife Geraldine Chaplin and beautiful aristocrat Julie Christie plays out against the drama of the Russian Revolution. Full of all the grandeur and romance for which MGM was justly famed. (PG-13) 207 minutes (with intermission). (★★★) Lisa Jensen (Sat-Sun matinee only, 10:30 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
CONTINUING SERIES: FLASHBACK FEATURES Oldies and goodies on Thursday nights at the Cinema 9. $5 gets you in. This week: FULL METAL JACKET In this 1987 outing, Stanley Kubrick examines two microcosmic episodes of the Vietnam War era—the brutality of a Marine boot camp and the battle for Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive—and comes up with his most coherent, effective movie since Dr. Strangelove: raucously vulgar, grisly, horrific, and full of perfectly pitched suspense. Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin and Vincent D’Onofrio star. (R) 116 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen Tonight (Thursday) only, 8 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
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.
AGORA The seeds of genuine tragedy lurk in the story of Hypatia, a famed female scholar and teacher in 4th Century Alexandria martyred for the cause of reason and learning in an era of faith-based zealotry. Rachel Weiss delivers a lovely, grounded Hypatia, and the film has the stately beauty of a Roman fresco. But director Alejandro Amenábar’s storytelling lacks the urgency of the times; relationships are unconvincing and bombastic music reduces it all to melodrama. Still, Almenábar limns a chilling portrait of faith-based absolutism, and the film succeeds in showing the futility of religious warfare. (Not rated) 127 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE In this family comedy featuring high-tech puppet animas with CGI-animated talking mouths, a feline secret agent hatches a plan to rule the world, launching an uneasy alliance between cats and dogs to save themselves and their beloved owners. Christina Applegate, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, James Marsden, Bette Midler and Nick Nolte contribute voices. Brad Peyton directs. (PG)
CHARLIE ST. CLOUD Zac Efron stars in this bittersweet tale as a young man so shaken up when he loses his kid brother in an accident that he retreats into a fantasy world, where the brothers can still spend their days together. Kim Basinger plays his worried mom; Amanda Crews is the girl who might snap him out of it. Based on the novel by Ben Sherwood. Burr Steers (Igby Goes Down) directs. (PG-13)
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS To get a rung up on the corporate ladder, young business exec Paul Rudd invites nerdball Steve Carell to his boss’ annual dinner party for the terminally weird in this comedy from Jay Roach (Meet The Parents; Meet the Fockers). (PG-13)
DESPICABLE ME It’s about the de-grinching of a befuddled criminal who uses an army of minions to thwart justice. Steve Carell voices the main character; Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, and Jermaine Clement are also on board. (PG) 95 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE Good news for fans of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: the two protagonists from that film (played by the same actors, the excellent Mikael Nyqvist and the incendiary Noomi Rapace) return in this sequel, the second Swedish film made from the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Incoming director Daniel Alfredson crafts a fleet, taut thriller from this “second act” book. (R) 129 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
GROWN-UPS Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider star in this comedy about five former high school buddies reunitie. (PG-13) 102 minutes.
I AM LOVE In her long, illustrious career in independent film, Tilda Swinton’s roles have ranged from the sublime (Orlando) to the ridiculous (Female Perversions). There are elements of both in this Luca Guadagnino film, a langorous Italian family drama Swinton also co-produced; gorgeous location shooting in Milan and the San Remo countryside, and rapturous depictions of food, border on sublimity, but the overheated melodrama of the storytelling finally skews the film in the other direction. (R) 120 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. (★★1/2)
INCEPTION One of the best pictures of the year. Sublime, hypnotic and downright thought-provoking. Most of all, director Christopher Nolan (Memento; The Dark Knight). creates an intelligent sci-fi thriller that–imagine this—doesn’t play down to its audience. Leonardo DiCaprio headlines the outing,playing a master thief who steals corporate ideas from the dreams of his victims. (Somebody give this man an Oscar soon.) DiCaprio’s beleagured Dom is hired by a corporate giant to commit the perfect crime—implanting an idea into the dream of an heir of a business foe.. The movie takes its time to set up the ultimate heist and then the fun begins. Nolan reportedly spent a decade writing this spectacle and, clearly, time has been his champion. The last hour of the movie is a wild, intoxicating ride that, aside from all the superior special effects, challenges its audiences to ponder the idea of reality, the significance of dreams and the potency of the subconscious mind. Delicious brain candy. Take time to chew on it long after you leave the theater. Take note: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Berenger deliver powerful turns here. Michael Caine co-stars. (PG-13) 150 minutes. (★★★★) Greg Archer
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT Nic and Jules are a devoted, long-married couple raising their two kids in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Their family has its quirks, but the kids respect their parents, each other, and themselves. That this movie is NOT about the fact that Nic and Jules are a lesbian couple is just one of the things that make Lisa Cholodenko’s family comedy so fresh, fun, and appealing. A sublimely subtle Annette Bening and warm, disarming Julianne Moore star. Mark Ruffalo is great as the anonymous sperm donor “dad” who disrupts their family life. These kids may have two moms, but this perceptive tale of family dynamics should resonate with anyone who’s ever been a parent, a spouse, or a child. (R) 106 minutes. (★★★1/2)
THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE Nicolas Cage stars in this fantasy adventure as a modern-day sorcerer in New York City. Trying to save the city. Jay Baruchel, from She’s Out Of My League, costars. (PG)
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE It’s war between the good vampires of the Cullen clan and an invading force of evil bloodsuckers in this third installment of the overheated romantic tween franchise. (PG-13) 124 minutes.
TOY STORY 3-D The passage of time is the subtext in this typically whimsical, hilarious, and poignant adventure that celebrates the magical world of a child’s imagination, and ponders the inevitability of growing up and letting go. Veteran Pixar director Lee Unkrich maintains the delicate balance between action, comedy, and heart. (G) 103 minutes. (★★★★ Lisa Jensen
WILD GRASS Undaunted at 87, veteran French filmmaker Alain Resnais (Hiroshima Mon Amour; Last Year at Marienbad; Stavisky) directs this offbeat romance about a sixty-something father in search of connection and a middle-aged dentist and amateur pilot who meet over a lost wallet. André Dussolier, Sabine Azéma, and Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) star. (PG) 104 minutes. In French with English subtitles.
WINTER’S BONE This nerve-rattling exercise in dread and redemption knocked the bejeebers out of everyone at this year’s Sundance festival. Directed with grit and assurance by Debra Granik, it’s a Southern Gothic noir thriller: taut, scary, more than a little creepy, and strangely poignant. Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as a 17-year-old Ozark mountain girl struggling to keep the remnants of her family together against a rising tide of chaos in this tough-minded morality play with plenty of twists and turns. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2)