New This Week
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 93 minutes. In French with English subtitles. (★★★1/2) Starts Friday.
In a crime-ridden, futuristic American city, where cops called Judges have absolute authority to enforce the law, legendary Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) and trainee, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) plunge into the urban war zone to sabotage a powerful drug ring. This is the second reboot of the long-running comic book for the screen; the first starred Sylvester Stallone in 1995. Lena Headey co-stars for director Pete Travis (Vantage Point). (R) 95 minutes. Starts Friday.Watch film trailer >>>
END OF WATCH
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as LAPD partners, patrolling the men streets of South Central Los Angeles in this gritty slice-of-life cop drama that plunges the viewer into the midst of the action via surveillance cameras, video footage, and various other hand-held devices. Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera co-star for director David Ayer (Training Day). (R) 109 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
Jennifer Lawrence stars in this supernatural thriller as a teenage girl who moves into a new house with her single mom (Elisabeth Shue), where they are drawn into the nasty vibe of the sinister house next door. Max Thieriot and Gil Bellows co-star for director Mark Tonderai. (PG-13) 101 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
In a fictional story loosely based on the rise of the Scientology movement, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a returning WWII vet who begins espousing a Cause to rationalize the horrors of warfare and understand the meaning of life. Joaquin Phoenix co-stars as a Navy vet at loose ends after the war drawn in by the charismatic “Master,” who begins to doubt the Cause even as its supporters grow more fervent. Amy Adams and Jesse Plemons co-star. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia; There Will; Be Blood). (R) 137 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
Clint Eastwood stars as an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves on one last scouting mission with an unexpected companion—his fast-track lawyer daughter (Amy Adams). Justin Timberlake co-stars in this baseball/family drama from rookie director Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s longtime producing partner. (PG-13) 111 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: RADICAL REELS TOUR The most outrageous mountain sport films from the 36th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival make up this special one-night-only program. Enjoy the best short action films on skiing, boarding, climbing, biking, kayaking and more. Proceeds benefit the UCSC Recreation Scholarship Fund. For listing of films, visit ucscrecreation.com. At the Rio, Saturday only (September 22), 7 p.m. Tickets available at santacruztickets.com, or at UCSC Recreation, Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, or Family Cycling Center.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DELMAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: DRIVE Ryan Gosling’s commanding presence fuels this lean, stylish 2011 suspense thriller; he plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for petty criminals, forced to go on the offensive after a job goes awry. Director Nicolas Winding Refn has his own smart ideas about crafting suspense and delivering thrills. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
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: VERTIGO Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 thriller is a masterful mix of suppressed eroticism, passionate obsession, dizzying camera work and complex plotting. James Stewart is a private eye with a crippling fear of heights, and Kim Novak turns up the steam in a mysterious dual role. (PG) 128 minutes. (HHHH)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday only (September 20), 9 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
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 ltatm.org.
Movie Times click here.
ARBITRAGE Richard Gere stars in this suspense thriller as a financial wheeler-dealer in way over his head trying to unload his business, conceal his infidelity from his wife, and cover up an inconvenient crime before his empire comes crashing down. Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, and Tim Roth co-star for writer-turned-director Nicholas Jarecki. (R) 100 minutes.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILDRarely has a coming-of-age story been told with such engrossing originality as in this remarkable first feature from Benh Zeitlin, infused with elements of fairy tale, folklore and magic realism. At it’s center is a tiny dynamo named Quvenzhané Wallis, the non-professional actress who stars as a philosophical six-year-old girl living with her volatile Daddy in the Southern Delta when a giagantic storm throws Nature out of balance. Wallis is onscreen in every scene, and we never get tired of her poignant, expressive little face. In a story brimming with themes and metaphors, it offers a compelling portrait of a marginalized lowland community coming together with quiet resolve in the face of catastrophe. But it’s the child’s viewpoint—an irresistible mix of awe, trepidation, and grit—that makes the film so special. (PG-13) 91 minutes. (★★★1/2) —Lisa Jensen.
THE BOURNE LEGACYIt takes a while to get moving, but once it does, the film captures some of the magic found in the previous Bourne adventures. Out: Matt Damon. In: Jeremy Renner as a super soldier running for his life. Rachel Weisz lends him a hand against bad guys Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Oscar Isaac. Bourne alums Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn have cameos. (PG-13) 135 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer.
THE CAMPAIGNThis election-year comedy that never quite gets out of its own way and if often played over the top when it doesn’t need to do so. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis star alongside. John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Cox for director Jay Roach. (R) 85 minutes. (HH)—Greg Archer. COMPLIANCE Craig Zobel’s fact-based drama tells the harrowing story of a prank caller pretending to be a cop who convinces a fast-food restaurant manager and her employees to brutally punish an innocent young co-worker he claims stole from a customer. (R) 90 minutes. (★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY Henry Cavill (soon to be seen as the new Superman) stars in this action thriller as a Wall Street trader up against sinister forces in Madrid after his family is kidnapped while on holiday in Spain. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver co-star; Mabrouk El Mechri (JCVD) directs. (PG-13) 93 minutes.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISESIn this final installment of Christopher Nolan’s brooding bat opera, Christian Bale is still worth watching; as conflicted Bruce Wayne, he regains the will to restore honor and heroism to the Bat legacy, and save a besieged Gotham City—whether they like it or not. Anne Hathaway is a wry, sassy Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific as a smart young beat cop who rekindles Bruce’s tarnished idealism, and Michael Caine, as loyal butler Alfred, infuses his scenes with warmth and intelligence. But Tom Hardy’s Bane is a ho-hum villain, a bald, masked brute with inexplicable motives and indecipherable dialogue (we miss the intense danse macabre between Batman and Heath Ledger’s magnificent Joker over the thin line between good and evil, hero and villain), and the usual chaotic vehicle chases, extreme shootouts, and massive explosions weigh things down. But a great kicker, plotwise, and a satisfying coda ends things on a high note. (PG-13) 164 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Jean-Claude van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, even Chuck Norris surface in the cast.. (R) 102 minutes..
FINDING NEMO 3DIt’s a 3D makeover for Pixar’s 2003 animated hit, a gorgeous and funny underwater fantasy about a timid daddy clownfish (voice of Albert Brooks) searching for his missing son in and around Australia’s spectacular Great Barrier Reef. (G) 100 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
HIT & RUN Dax Shepard wrote and co-directed this road comedy in which he stars as a former getaway driver who breaks out of the witness protection program. Kristin Bell, Tom Arnold and Bradley Cooper co-star. David Palmer co-directs. (R) 100 minutes.
HOPE SPRINGSA wonderfully underplayed gem. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are the long-married couple who venture off to an intensive, week-long couples retreat in hopes of recapturing the sizzle their relationship once had. Streep is stellar here; Jones even better as her reluctant husband. The film is believable and embraceable.. Steve Carrell co-stars as a famous couples therapist in this comedy from David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada). (PG-13) 100 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer
THE INTOUCHABLES In this cross-cultural French comedy drama, a wealthy, middle-aged Frenchman rendered quadriplegic in a paragliding accident hires a younger man from a different race, culture, and neighborhood to be his caretaker. Francois Cluzet (Tell No One) and Omar Sy star for directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. (R) 122 minutes. In French with English subtitles.
LAWLESS The excellent credentials of Australian director John Hillcoat (The Proposition; The Road), along with an impressive cast, recommend this Prohibition-era gangster melodrama. Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf head a family of moonshining brothers in the American south fending off a crooked lawman (Guy Pearce) and a powerful gangster (Gary Oldman) who want a cut of their profits. Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, and Mia Wasikowska co-star. (R) 115 minutes.
LITTLE WHITE LIES Oscar-winners Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and Francois Cluzet (The Intouchables) head an impressive ensemble cast in this French comedy-drama about a group of Parisians who go on holiday every year to one couple’s beach house on the southwest coast of France. But this time, due to unexpected circumstances, facades begin to crack and longstanding secrets bubble to the surface. Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) directs. (Not rated) 154 minutes. In French with English subtitles.
MOONRISE KINGDOMThis could be Wes Anderson’s (Rushmore; Fantastic Mr. Fox) to date. it’s a quriky little love story revolving around two 12-year-olds and boy, does it have a lot of heart. Set in 1965 in a sleepy New England coastal community, the two young ones run off together. Meanwhile, the entire town is tossed into an upheaval trying to find them. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman all co-star. Willis plays the island cop; Norton a troubled scout master and Murray/McDormand the young girl’s mother. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward so beautifully inhabit their roles that you don’t want them to leave the screen. Anderson also co-wrote this outing, which, could turn into one of the summer’s more memorable offerings. (PG-13) 97 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton star in this fanciful Disney family comedy.. (PG) 100 minutes.
PARANORMAN In this stop-motion animated horror comedy, an outcast boy who can talk to the dead gets his chance to be a hero when his town is invaded by zombies. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, and John Goodman head the voice cast. Sam Fell and Chris Butler direct. (PG) 101 minutes.
THE POSSESSION It’s kind of a new riff on the old genie-in-a-bottle story when a schoolgirl buys an antique box at a yard sale. Instead of a wish-granting genie, she unlocks a nasty spirit who puts her under a curse. (PG-13) 92 minutes.
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION Returning franchise veterans Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez join forces to kick some serious zombie butt in this fifth installment in which the battle against the sinister Umbrella Corporation continues. Paul W. S. Anderson directs. (R) 95 minutes.
ROBOT & FRANKFrom the trailer, you’d think this was a madcap comedy about an aging ex-jewel thief and his new robotic accomplice in crime. Yes, these elements do figure into the plot, but beneath the laughs—and there are plenty of them, thanks to yet another knockout performance from Frank Langella—this sly debut feature from director Jake Schreier is a surprisingly poignant meditation on age, friendship, family, and the role of memory in defining who we are. Its near-future setting lets Schreier have fun satirizing the pop culture of tomorrow, but the underlying story of family dynamics and friendship are just as compelling. (PG-13) 105 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
SAMSARARon Fricke and filmmaking partner Mark Magidson (Baraka) are back with another breathtaking, if at times uneven visual tone poem on who we are and how we live in the world. Shot over five years, in twenty-five countries on five separate continents, it was also shot entirely on 70 mm film, which means the images are captured with astonishing clarity, color, and nuance. As long as Fricke sticks to the natural world—steaming volcanoes, vast drifting deserts of sand or canyons of snow—or contemplates the inanimate majesty of, say, ancient ruins, his results are literally awesome. It’s only when he succumbs to the urge to over-editorialize his images (either with staged sequences or obvious juxtapositions) that the movie’s spell is broken. (PG-13) 102 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
SLEEPWALK WITH MEReal-life stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia co-wrote, co-directed and stars in this inventive narrative comedy about an aspiring stand-up comic who also—you guessed it—sleepwalks thanks to a sleep disorder. But there’s so much more to this amusing tale than that as he comes to term with what direction to take his life—on all levels. Lauren Ambrose also stars,. while battling an increasingly intrusive—and metaphorical—sleep disorder. (Not rated) 90 minutes (★★★) —Greg Archer
THE WORDS Bradley Cooper stars in this romantic drama about an author who achieves enormous success with the publication of an acclaimed novel he did not actually write.(PG-13) 96 minutes.