Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
THE DUEL Reviewed this issue. (Not rated) 95 minutes. (★★) Starts Friday.
EAT PRAY LOVE Julia Roberts stars in this adaptation of Liz Gilbert’s bestselling memoir about the year she took off to travel around the world in search of spiritualism, romance, and fabulous food. Note: the PG-13 rating warns of “rear male nudity” in a cast that features James Franco, Billy Crudup, and Javier Bardem. My warning? Get in line now. Viola Davis and Richard Jenkins also co-star for director Ryan Murphy. (PG-13) 140 minutes. Starts Friday.
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. Starts Friday.
THE EXTRA MAN Kevin Kline stars as a threadbare, yet dapper New Yorker who earns his living as a paid escort for wealthy older widows in this offbeat comedy from Shari Springer Berman and Robert Rulcini (American Splendor). Paul Dano co-stars as a provincial schoolteacher and wannabee playwright in the midst of an identity crisis who is taken in and reluctantly mentored by Kline in the school of life. Katie Holmes, John C. Reilly, and Cathy Moriarty co-star in this adpatation of the Jonathan Ames novel. (R) 105 minutes. Starts Friday.
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 AnnaKendrick co-star. Edgar Wright directs. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
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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: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. (G) 127 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: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Not rated) 129 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. 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.
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. (PG-13)
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO It’s tough to make room on one’s plate for any more urgent issues. But you might as well grab an ice cream scoop and plop the issue of nuclear disarmament smack on top of all the others, according to Lucy Walker’s profoundly disturbing and persuasive documentary. Assuming her audience already knows what a nuclear holocaust would be like, Walker devotes most of her film to the much more frightening story of the global proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials, and the ease with which they can be stolen, smuggled, and/or built—by anyone with a grudge against anyone else. A lucid and important wake-up call for a still-urgent issue. (PG) 90 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS Oh, it’s so easy to see how this must have worked much better as a French comedy, which actually inspired it. Paul Rudd teams with Steve Carell who embraces his inner nerdball. The premise finds Rudd, who’s trying to work his way up in his company. He must impress his boss by attending the boss’ annual dinner party where “idiots” are made fun of. There are some surprisingly sweet moments here and some of the schtick in Schmucks works but, once again, Hollywood often lacks the depth and quirky nuances to pull of a redux that requires both ingredients. Jay Roach (Meet The Parents; Meet the Fockers) directs (PG-13) (★★1/2) Greg Archer
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
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.
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
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.. 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) Lisa Jensen
THE OTHER GUYS Trouble ensues for lowly NYPD precinct detectives Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg when they try to emulate their idols.. (PG-13) 107 minutes.
SALT A surprisingly fascinating thriller. It’s as if The Bourne Identity crawled under the covers with, well, Angelina Jolie. The temptress stars as a CIA agent wrongfully (or maybe not?) accused of being a Russian spy. There are many twists and turns here and Jolie is pitch perfect in a stellar role in a film that is captivating from beginning to end. And these days, there aren’t many movies that are capable of doing that. Directed by Phillip Noyce.(R) 99 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
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)
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)