Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
THE A-TEAM This week’s award for Remake-of-a-TV-Series-We-Wish-We-Could-Forget goes to this designated blockbuster about renegade ops pursuing their brand of kick-ass justice in an unjust world. Liam Neeson stars as the cigar-chomping team leader, a buff Bradley Cooper is pretty-boy “Face,” and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson plays Bosco “B. A.” Baracus, the role that made Mr. T a household name. Series alumni Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz show up in cameos; Sharlito Copley, Jessica Biel, and Patrick Wilson co-star for director Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces). (PG-13) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE KARATE KID In this remix of the popular kids’ martial arts franchise, Jaden Smith stars as a hip urban kid relocated from Detroit to China when his single mom takes a job in Beijing. When the class bully gives him a hard time at school, he gets lessons in discipline and self-esteem from humble janitor/king fu master Jackie Chan. Taraji P. Henson co-stars for director Howard Zwart. (PG) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
LOOKING FOR ERIC Reviewed this issue. (Not rated) 116 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday.
PRINCESS KA’IULANI Reviewed this issue. (PG) 100 minutes. (★★1/2) Starts Friday.
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: WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, and Christopher Meloni star in this cult 2001 comedy about kids, campers and families on the loose in the last week of August in 1981. David Wain directs. (R) 97minutes. Friday-Saturday midnight only. At the Del Mar.
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: A SHOT IN THE DARK Peter Sellers’ malapropping Fench accent has a life of it’s own in this second installment of Blake Edwards’ Inspector Clousseau comedy mystery series (after The Pink Panther) from 1964. Elke Sommer is the sexy straight girl. Henry Mancini provides the distinctive theme music. Fri-Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
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.
BABIES It’s all about the koochie koo here as the doc chronicles the first year in the lives of four infants from around the world. Filmmaker Thomas Balmès manages to create a fine bundle of joy here. (PG) 79 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
CITY ISLAND This one’s a gem—Moonstruck meets Mystic Pizza. But here, the life-pondering protagonist is Andy Garcia. He morphs into a Bronx prison guard with a big secret—he wants to act so he takes acting classes. This won’t sit well with this overbearing wife, Julianna Margulies. If you enjoy touching comedies about nutty families, you’ll dig this. Julianna Margulies, Emily Mortimer, Alan Arkin, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, and Steven Strait co-star. (PG-13) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION Beneath this somewhat lugubrious title (based on the Peter Cameron novel) is a most decorous and well-behaved literary adaption, entertaining and well-acted. Veteran director James Ivory brings his deft, classical touch to this tale of a graduate student in Uruguay seeking the rights to a literary biograohy from a family of eccentric expat artistes. The characters are more effective as thematic ideas, but the marvelous Laura Linney is a pleasure to watch, even in a film more impeccable than heartfelt. (PG-13) 114 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP Is art a joke? The answer is yes and no in this savvy, invigorating and wickedly entertaining doc. Video-obsessed Frenchman Thierry Guetta sets out to record the street art movement of the last decade, but when the result is unwatchable, one of his subjects, the notorious and elusive Banksy, takes over the footage. His insider’s viewpoint captures the evolution of art, culture, and politics in one sly, deft, subversive package. (R) 87 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK Jonah Hill stars as a low-level record company intern whose job it is to shepherd a flamboyant British rock idol (Russell Brand) to a concert at the Greek Theater during one wild L.A. day in this comedy from Nicholas Stoller. (R) 109 minutes.
IRON MAN 2 A fine outing, one that stumbles here and there, but the end result leaves you feeling as if you’ve just had some fun at the movies—and that’s just what this film is supposed to do. Robert Downey Jr. returns as billionaire inventor Tony Stark / Iron Man. This round has a new foe in Mickey Rourke, who creates similar Iron Man equipment. Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson co-star. (PG-13) 124 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
KILLERS Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher star in this romantic action comedy about a woman who discovers the new husband she married after a whirlwind courtship may be a professional assassin. Mr. And Mrs. Smith, anyone? Robert Luketic directs. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
MARMADUKE Sort of a live-action riff on the long-running, single-panel comic strip, this kiddie comedy features Owen Wilson as the voice of the Great Dane, Judy Greer and Lee Pace as his owners, and celebrity guest voices Kiefer Sutherland, Sam Elliott, Steve Coogan, and George Lopez among his various canine pals. Tom Dey directs. (PG)
MOTHER AND CHILD The lives of three women entwine and intersect in modern Los Angeles in this elliptical ensemble drama from Colombian-born filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia. Annette Bening is a woman who had to give up her child as a pregnant teenager. Naomi Watts is the daughter she never knew, a morally adrift, fast-track lawyer, and Kerry Washington is a wife unable to conceive who’s hoping to adopt a child. Jimmy Smits and Samuel L. Jackson co-star. (R) 126 minutes. Starts Friday.
PLEASE GIVE Nicole Holofcener is becoming the bard of upper middle-class, white ineffectuality. Her angsty new comedy considers liberal guilt in New York City among clueless, privileged characters whose behavior ranges from merely baffling to downright unpleasant. Holofcener coaxes some nice performances out of her players (Catherine Keener, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt), but she never digs deeply enough into her themes or characters; she settles for wistfulness over insight. (R) 90 minutes. (★★) Lisa Jensen
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME Jake Gyllenhaal goes the action blockbuster route as the swashbuckling hero of this adventure fantasy based on a popular video game. He plays a prince in ancient Persia who teams up with a mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) to gain possession of a magical sword and keep its powers out of the clutches of the bad guys. Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina co-star for director Mike Newell. (PG-13) 116 minutes.
ROBIN HOOD Ridley Scott unites with Russell Crowe in this wry, thoughtful integrity and his formidable presence to this Robin, an archer in the army of Richard Lionheart fighting the war against tyranny at home. Cate Blanchett is a piquant and feisty Marion. We’d like to see more archery in the battle scenes, and at least one proper love scene would be nice; still, this is a persuasive tale that ends where the legend begins. (PG-13) 140 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS) This Oscar-winner for 2010 Best Foreign Language film is a fascinating, unforgettable mystery that grabs you in the beginning and doesn’t let go—not so much because of its “thrills” but more because of the emotionally rich landscape filmmaker Juan Jose Campanella allowa us to move through with a rarely felt grace and dignity. There were times I simply forgot I was watching a movie. It’s a testament to superb storytelling if not a brutal reminder of how watered-down typicaly Hollywood films tend to be. But this isn’t “typically” and nor does it come from Hollywood. The Argentinean mystery-drama, based on the novel by Edouardo Sacheri, takes place in 1999 and revolves around a befuddled police detective who decides to reopen a savage murder case that took place in a Buenos Aires suburb back in 1974. He soon finds himself embroiled in a trail of conspiracy, cover-up and corruption. Take note of the beautiful nuanaces found in the acting of Ricardo Darin, Soledad Villamil and Pablo Rago. This is one film you’ll relish. In Spanish with English subtitles.. (★★★★) Greg Archer
SEX AND THE CITY 2 It’s more like Sex in the Sand when Carrie and the girls travel to Morocco in this second big-screen installment of the femme-bonding glamour and shoe-fest franchise. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis star, along with all the usual suspects. Michael Patrick King directs. (R) 146 minutes.
SHREK FOREVER AFTER It’s a wonderful life for everybody’s favorite green ogre—until he screws things up and sees what life would have been like for his loved ones if he’d never been born—in this fourth installment of the fractured fairy tale franchise. Directed by Mike Mitchell, this entertaining chapter (the first one to be shot in 3-D), plunges Shrek in an alternate Far Far Away land after his Faustian bargain with demonic Rumplestiltskin (a bravura comic vocal performance from Walt Dohrn). The fizziest fun, as usual, is in the silly little throwaway visual details and the acute pop song cues that keep the viewer chuckling throughout. (PG) 93 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen.
SPLICE Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star in this sci-fi thriller as a pair of genetic research scientists whose secret gene-splicing experiments create a mysterious humanoid being with strange powers. Delphine Chanéac co-stars for director Vincenzo Natali. (R) 104 minutes.