Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
.NEW THIS WEEK
THE BOUNTY HUNTER Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston team up for this romantic action comedy. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
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. (PG) Starts Friday.
REPO MEN This dark comedy buddy thriller is set in the near future, when artificial organs can be bought on credit like other appliances. But they can also be repossessed—with fatal consequences—if recipients fall behind on their payments. Jude Law stars. (R) 111 minutes. Starts Friday.
THAT EVENING SUN (R) 109 minutes. Starts Friday.
A PROPHET (UN PROPHÉTE) Reviewed this issue. (R) 155 minutes. In French with English subtitles. (★★1/2) Starts Friday
See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>
NEW SERIES THIS WEEK: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMA Admission is $6. This week: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Sat-Sun matinee only. 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: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. (R) 137 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
BROOKLYN’S FINEST Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, and Ethan Hawke star as NYPD cops in Brooklyn’s tough 65th Precinct heading for a showdown with destiny during one tumultuous week in this action drama from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). Will Patton, Lili Taylor, and Ellen Barkin co-star. (R) 133 minutes.
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
COP OUT Bruce Willis stars in this comedy about an NYPD police detective who recruits his partner (Tracy Morgan) to help him catch the perp when his rare, collectible baseball card is stolen. Adam Brody and Seann William Scott co-stars for cult director Kevin Smith (helming a script he didn’t write for the first time). (R) 110 minutes.
THE CRAZIES This latest remake of an old George Romero horror movie is an almost-but-not-quite zombie thriller in which a toxin starts turning the citizens of a sleepy Midwestern town into bloodthirsty homicidal maniacs. Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell star. (R) 101 minutes.
THE GHOST WRITER Roman Polanski returns to the noir suspense format that made his Chinatown such a masterpiece with this political thriller about a ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) hired to punch up the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). His predecessor on the project has met an untimely end, and the deeper the ghostwriter delves into the PM’s story, the closer he comes to secrets that could cost him his own life. Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Eli Wallach, and Tom Wilkinson co-star. (R) 109 minutes.
GREEN ZONE Matt Damon stars as a US Army officer who launches his own search for WMDS—and the truth—in a perilous Middle Eastern region, after discovering falsified intelligence reports. Jason Isaacs, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson co-star for director Paul Greengrass (United 93). (R) 115 minutes.
THE HURT LOCKER The year’s biggest surprise. It took home a Best 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, which 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 STATION Michael Hoffman’s lightly fictionalized account of Leo Tolstoy in his twilight years is a smart, gripping portrait of life and love in all their messy contradictions. Christopher Plummer is in fine form as the grandfatherly icon whose allegiance to the ideals of poverty, purity, and communal living put him in conflict with his privileged lifestyle. But the marvelous Helen Mirren as his wife, Sofya, is the spark who makes the story sizzle. Reviled as a greedy termagant by Leo’s pious followers (and as the only one who knows—and loves—the man he is inside) she’s refreshingly caustic about his premature “sainthood.” Paul Giamatti co-stars as her pompous antagonist in Leo’s inner circle; their battle for his soul never flags. (R) 112 minutes. (★★★1/2) 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. But as the incidents become more harrowing, the truly operatic scope of the drama is revealed. Stolzl’s mountain-climbing sequences are among the most epic, astounding and grueling ever committed to film. The climb depicted is mostly historical fact, but Stolzl also makes their tale a compelling study of the implacability of Nature in the face of such petty human notions as nationalism and glory. 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 (Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia) and other meddling family members on both sides from ruining their big day.. (PG-13) 101 minutes.
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF This series of YA novels by Rick Riordan delivers Logan Lerman as a troubled high schooler (a bit older than he was in the book) who discovers he’s related to the Greek gods of Mt. Olympus. (PG) 119 minutes.
REMEMBER ME Robert Pattinson de-fangs for this romantic urban drama about a young man estranged from his father (Pierce Brosnan), and at loose ends in New York City in the summer of 2001 until he meets a simpatico young woman (Emilie de Ravin). Chris Cooper and Lena Olin co-star for director Allen Coulter. (PG-13) 128 minutes.
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE Jay Baruchel stars in this wish-fulfillment fantasy about a nerdy guy who’s so flummoxed when the sexy girl of his dreams (Alice Eve) wants to hook up with him, he’s in danger of blowing the relationship out of sheer disbelief. Krysten Ritter, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, and T.J. Miller co-star. Jim Field Smith directs. (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.
THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF William Hurt is an ex-con trying to reconnect to his past on a road trip across Louisiana with a couple of teenagers. But his performance has a wary stillness that gives the story some weight. Kristen Stewart, however, plays a runaway teen on a single note of eye-rolling sarcasm. Eddie Redmayne manages some touching moments as the designated goofball whose vintage convertible brings the three traveling strangers together, and Maria Bello shows feisty, earthy poise in Hurt’s flashbacks. The film is based on a 1977 Japanese drama that was adapted from story by American journalist Pete Hamill (which also evidently inspired the pop song “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”). Unfortunately, director Udayan Prasad doesn’t add much to the bare bones of that story here. (PG-13) 102 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen