Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
ANIMAL KINGDOM With Ben Mendelsohn, Jacki Weaver, James Frecheville, and Guy Pearce. Written and directed by David Michod. A Sony Classics release. Rated R. 113 minutes. (R) 113 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday. Reviewed this issue
CENTURION Wth Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Olga Kurylenko. Written and directed by Neil Marshall. A Magnolia release. Rated (PG-13). 97 minutes. (PG-13) 97 minutes. (★1/2) Starts Friday. Reviewed this issue
GOING THE DISTANCE Drew Barrymore and Justin Long star in this romantic comedy about a bi-coastal couple trying to sustain the thrill of their impromptu summer romance in New York City after she goes home to San Francisco in the fall. Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and Christina Applegate co-star for director Nanette Burstein. (R) 103 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
MACHETE Longtime Robert Rodriguez stalwart Danny Trejo finally gets his own starring role in this grindhouse genre action entry about a blade-wielding ex-Mexican Federale betrayed by his bosses who goes on a rampge of vengeance against those who set him up. Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan and Robert DeNiro costar for co-dirctors Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez. (R) 105 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR On hiatus until Sept. 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: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD One of the greatest Golden Age Hollywood swashbucklers.. (Not rated) 102 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. (Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
CONTINUING SERIES: FLASHBACK FEATURES Oldies and goodies on Thursday nights at the Cinema 9, presented by your genial host, Joe Ferrara. $5 gets you in. This week: SPIRITED AWAY (PG) 124 minutes. Tonight (Thursday) only, 8 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.
THE AMERICAN George Clooney stars in this suspense drama as an American assassin in Europe who takes a break from death for awhile to embrace life in a rural Italian village with a gorgeous woman (Violante Placido)—until his past begins to catch up with him. Anton Corbijn (Control) directs. (R) 103 minutes.
CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE It’s fun, but here’s hoping this franchise doesn’t have nine lives. In this sequel, a feline secret agent hatches a plan to rule the world. (PG)
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED British auteur J Blakeson makes a splash with this gutsy, disturbing, scrupulously well-honed little thriller, his rookie feature. It seems like a simple three-character drama about a crime, its perpetrators, and their victim, but a world of complications lurk beneath this surface, revealed in ever more subversive and flabbergasting increments as Blakeson spins a tale that’s equal parts noir suspense thriller, psychological drama, and fierce morality play. Stars Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston, and Gemma Arterton couldn’t be any better. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
EAT PRAY LOVE Julia Roberts, try as she might, cannot elevate Eat Pray Love to the heavenly place it so wants to reside at. Based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, the film stumbles mainly because co-writer director Ryan Murphy doesn’t evoke much believable emotion from Roberts.. Wait for Netflix. In the meantime, rent Under the Tuscan Sun, a better outing that tries to serve the same purpose. (★★) (PG-13) 140 minutes.
THE EXPENDABLES Sylvester Stallone directs himself (and every other action star they can still prop up behind an automatic weapon) in this shoot-em-up about skullduggery in South America when a group of mercenaries discover their mission to take down a ruthless dictator is fraught with complications. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis join in the fun, with a special guest appearance with soon-to-be ex-gov Arnold Schwarzenegger. (R) 103 minutes.
THE EXTRA MAN Kevin Kline in a winning role here. He stars as a broke but “sophisticated” New Yorker who gets by as a paid escort for wealthy older widows. Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) somehow becomes his protege—it’s some of Dano’s best work. This gem of an offbeat comedy has some real heart. Look for a surprisingly good Katie Holmes in a costarring role. John C. Reilly and Cathy Moriarty also star. Based on the Jonathan Ames novel. (R) 105 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
GET LOW Robert Duvall stages a cinematic love-feast for the profession he loves in this tall tale about an old backwoods, Depression-era hermit who decides to throw himself a “funeral party” while he’s still alive to participate. His gradually unfolding story provides a muted and involving setting for the rough-cut gem that is Duvall’s performance. He acts his heart out beneath his character’s taciturn façade, and if we catch him at it a bit too often, and other story elements don’t always add up, at least his entertaining performance is its own reward. Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek co-star for director Aaron Schneider. (PG-13) 100 minutes. (★★1/2)
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)
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 is a master thief who steals corporate ideas from the dreams of his victims. (Somebody give this man an Oscar soon.) He’s hired by a corporate giant to commit the perfect crime—implanting an idea into the dream of an heir of a business foe..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) Lisa Jensen
THE LAST EXORCISM It’s The Exorcist meets The Blair Witch Project in this shoestring horror melodrama about an evangelical preacher (Patrick Fabian) who agrees to allow a documentary crew to film his attempt to exorcise a demon out of a possessed young woman (Ashley Bell). Daniel Stamm directs. (PG-13) 87 minutes.
LOTTERY TICKET When a guy in the projects finds out he holds the winning numbers in a $370 million lottery, he has to defend his ticket against rapacious friends, family, and neighbors over a three-day weekend before he can claim his prize. Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, and Keith David star in this urban comedy from director Erik White. (PG-13) 99 minutes.
MAO’S LAST DANCER It’s really a tale of two dancers: Li Cunxin, a Chinese peasant boy sent to the Beijing Arts Academy toward the end of the Mao Zedong regime, became one of the most prominent ballet dancers in the world. Chi Cao is the phenomenal young Chinese ballet star who plays Li in Bruce Beresford’s heartfelt, rewarding film. The film sticks to the highlights of Li’s incredible journey, but dramatic resonance and Beresford’s beautifully shot dance sequences keep the viewer enchanted. (PG) 117 minutes. In English and subtitled Mandarin. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
NANNY McPHEE RETURNS Emma Thompson returns as the gnarly-looking, but magical nanny from Christianna Brand’s children’s book series; this time she comes to the aid of a young mother trying to cope with running the family farm, raising her own kids and their spoiled cousins while her husband is away at war. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Ralph Fiennes, and Maggie Smith co-star for director Susanna White. (PG) 109 minutes.
PIRANHA 3-D Director Aja Alejandre dives into this gore-spewing remake—in 3-D, natch—of the trashy 1978 horror thriller about prehistoric man-eating fish unleashed at a lakeside resort after a geological shift. Richard Dreyfuss, Elisabeth Shue, and Jerry O’Connell star. (R)
RESTREPO Co-directors Sebastian Junger (he wrote the non-fiction book, The Perfect Storm) and Tim Hetherington turn their documentary cameras on the soldiers on the ground, the “grunts” who do the heavy lifting and pay the steepest price in any war, at any time. Specifically, the film concerns a US Army platoon on a 15-month deployment who fight to establish an outpost in the volatile Korengal Valley in Afghnistan, and the daily struggle to defend it and each other from Taliban incursions. (R) 93 minutes.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD Michael Cera stars in this adaptation of the Bryan Lee O’Malley comic book series about a guy who has to cope with his new girlfriend’s seven ex-boyfriends. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, and Anna Kendrick co-star. Edgar Wright directs. (PG-13)
STEP UP 3-D The moves get even wilder in this third installment of the street-dancing saga, shot in Digital 3-D.. (PG-13)
THE SWITCH Don’t freak out—it’s not as bad as you think. Actually, it’s not so bad at all. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman headline this surprisingly heartwarming–albeit predictable, at times—romantic comedy about a single gal who wants to get pregnant. Bateman, her befuddled best (guy) pal somehow mixes up the sperm donation. Long story, but trust me, this is a sweet, little film. A perfect date movie and, perhaps, a light-hearted romp that illumintaes bonds that run deep. Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis co-star for directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck. (PG-13) (★★1/2)
TAKERS Idris Elba, Paul Walker, and Chris Brown lead a gang of thieves planning the $20 million heit of a lifetime; Matt Dillon is the cop determined to stop them. Hayden Christiansen co-stars for director John Luessenhop. (PG-13)
THE OTHER GUYS Trouble ensues for lowly NYPD precinct detectives Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg when they try to emulate their idols. But can the film rise above mediocrity? Not really. (PG-13) 107 minutes. (★★)
VAMPIRES SUCK Spoof-meisters Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (Scary Movie; Disaster Movie, etc.) try to horn in on the Twilight phenomenon in this parody of teen vampire movies. Matt Lanter, Jenn Proske and Chris Riggi star. (PG-13)