Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
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. Starts Friday. (★★★1/2)
THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 114 minutes. (**1/2) Starts Friday.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE WEIRD Three Korean outlaws searching for a treasure map run afoul of the Japanese army and Chinese bandits out in the desert. (Not rated) 130 minutes. In Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, with English subtitles. Starts Friday.
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME Jake Gyllenhaal goes the action blockbuster route for director Mike Newell. (PG-13) 116 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SEX AND THE CITY 2 It’s more like Sex in the Sand when Carrie and the girls travel to Morocco. (R) 146 minutes. Starts Thursday.
SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD George Romero’s zombie army continues to run amok. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Only $6.50. This week: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. (R) 109 minutes. Friday-Saturday midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMA. This week: SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN Arguably the best movie musical ever, this 1952 classic celebrates the early days of Hollywood. (Not rated) 103 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES . 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
DATE NIGHT Tina Fey and Steve Carrell are pitch perfect in this surprisingly clever action comedy that could have easily stumbled into the creative abyss. (PG-13) 88 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Noomi Rapace is riveting as the kick-ass young heroine of this bracing Swedish thriller, based on the Stieg Larsson novel. Directed with kinetic verve by Niels Arden Oplev, it combines a mystery plot about a missing heiress and an expose of moral and political corruption among the male power elite, with a compelling study of the unlikely bond between a scruffy investigative reporter (Michael Nyqvist) and a tough young computer hacker (Rapace). (R) 152 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
THE GOOD HEART It’s hard to imagine what the good intentions were behind this hybrid little oddity. It plays out as a stylized parable from Icelandic filmmaker Dagur Kari about a misanthropic bar owner (Brian Cox) and a homeless youth (Paul Dano) in an unidentified urban city inhabited by metaphorical archetypes. (★) Lisa Jensen.
HARRY BROWN A superb performance by Michael Caine (is there any other kind?) can’t quite justify this Death Wish retread about an old codger, newly widowed, who gets so fed up with random youth violence in his tough council flats neighborhood, he decides to put his wartime Marine training to good use and do something about it. Caine is gentlemanly and persuasive, and his victims are slimy vermin who kill and torture for fun, yet director Daniel Barber can’t escape the queasy moral center of any vigilante potboiler: who decides who is righteous enough to act outside the law? Every nutball with a weapon believes his cause is just. Emily Mortimer co-stars as a caring, but ineffectual police inspector. (R) 103 minutes. (★★) Lisa Jensen
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
KICK-ASS The Mark Millar comic series comes to life. (R) 117 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
JUST WRIGHT A physical therapist (Queen Latifah) falls for a pro basketball player (Common) whom she’s healing through a sports injury in this romantic comedy from director Sanaa Hamri. Paula Patton co-stars. (PG)
LETTERS TO JULIET Consider it the ultimate date movie. And, while the film is predictable, at times, it manages to evoke enough authentic emotion to make it worthy of your attention. This multi-generational romance chronciles the tale of a young American (Amanda Seyfried) in Verona, Italy, who discovers a 50-year-old letter addressed to Juliet—yes,. Shakespeare’s Juliet—and then decides to reunite the letter’s author (Vanessa Redgrave in a surprisingly pitch-perfect role) with her long-lost love (Franco Nero). Gael Garcia Bernal and Christopher Egan co-star in this feel-good tale. The critic in gives the film (HH1/2) but the hopeless romantic in me says: (PG) (★★★) Greg Archer
MACGRUBER Who would have thought? A recycled SNL skit that actually makes to the big screen—and isn’t that bad? Believe it. Will Forte reprises his role as a mullet-haired ex-military, Special Forces op. Here, he’s lured out of retirement to bring down an evildoer (Val Kilmer offering a fine turn) who’s into nuclear weapons. Kristen Wiig reprises her role as MacGruber’s side-kick and Ryan Phillippe joins the team, offering some groundedness. In the most curious, often surprising ways, MacGruber works as a viable film outing. It’s a light-hearted comedy that avoids playing things over the top—all of the time. Yes, behold the character development—even if it is modest, it somehow raises the film from the inane and allows the filmmakers to evoke some empathy for Forte’s nutty yet well meaning protagonist. Jorma Taccone directs. (R) 99 minutes. (HH1/2) Greg Archer
OCEANS This second event in the new Disneynature series is a marvelous journey into a rarely-seen inner space that can be just as alien, otherworldly, and weirdly beautiful. (G) 100 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
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
SHREK FOREVER AFTER Reviewed this issue. (PG) 93 minutes. (★★★)
TERRIBLY HAPPY In this film noir from Denmark, a cop suffers a nervous breakdown and retreats to a small town to recover—only to stumble upon secrets, skullduggery and murder. The official Danish entry in the 2010 Academy Awards Foreign Language division. (Not rated) 90 minutes. In Danish with English subtitles.
WHEN YOU’RE STRANGE The explosive career of ’60s rock icons Jim Morrison and The Doors is explored in this music doc by Tom DiCillo Morrison considered himself quite the auteur as well, and since he never went anywhere without his camera, DiCillo’s film teems with never before seen footage shot by the Lizard King himself, from experimental short films to private backstage footage. Concert footage from the group’s L.A. origins to their world tours propels the music-driven narrative (as opposed to the usual talking head interviews), with narration provided by Johnny Depp. A weirdly compelling, impressionistic view of rock celebrity in general, and the amazingly original, fleetingly brilliant phenomenon that was The Doors in particular. (R) 90 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen (R) 127 minutes.