New This Week
Tim Burton revisits the short he made back in film school in this stop-motion, black-and-white, 3D animated feature about a boy and his (recently deaceased) dog. In an homage to James Whale’s classic Frankenstein, young Victor sews the pooch back together and reanimates him in his basement lab. Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, and Winona Ryder provide guest voices. (PG) 87 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Reviewed this issue. (Not rated) 97 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday.
This adult comedy charts the repercussions among two neighbor families in suburban New Jersey and their twenty-something daughters when one daughter embarks on a romance with an older friend of her parents. Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Leighton Meeser, and Adam Brody star for director Julian Farino. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Logan Lehrman, Emma Watson (from the Harry Potter franchise) and Ezra Miller (We Need To Talk About Kevin) team up in Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his cult novel about an introverted high school freshman still reeling from the suicide of his best friend who falls in with a couple of arty nonconformist seniors. (PG-13) 103 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Liam Neeson returns as the unstoppable ex-CIA op getting into yet more trouble abroad. Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and Rade Serbedzija star for director Olivier Megaton. (PG-13) 91 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz returns with its monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme for the Fall season is “A Seventies Look at Italian Fascism.” This Week: CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI (CRISTO SI FERMATO A EBOLI) Francesco Rosi directed this 1979 drama about real-life anti-fascist doctor Carlo Levi (Gian Maria Volante), exiled to a remote village in the Italian countryside in 1935, who begins to appreciate the wisdom and vitality of his peasant neighbors. Irene Papsas co-stars. (Not rated) 150 minutes. In Italian with English sub titles. Film professor and author Dr. William Park, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (October 7), 7 pm. Free.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: REEL ROCK 7 Four short films on extreme rock-climbing worldwide are offered up in this one-night-only traveling film event. Climbing locales include the American West, Catalunya, Spain, Mt. Meru in India, and Yosemite. At the Rio, Friday only (Oct 5) 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym, or $12 at the door. Visit www.reelrocktour.com for more info.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAREclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: PULP FIC-TION. (R) 154 minutes. (★★1/2)— Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: FLASHBACK FEATURESOldies and goodies on Thursday nights at the Cinema 9, presented by your genial host, Joe Ferrara. $5 gets you in. This week: INTO THE WILD (R) 153 minutes. (★★★1/2) Thursday only (October 4), 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. For more information visit www.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.
BACHELORETTEI adore Rebel Wilson, who also stars in the upcoming Pitch Perfect. But what a waste of her talent here. In this Hangover/Bridesmaids rip-off, a trio of bridesmaids—none of which have any redeeming qualities—spin out of control. Wilson is the bride and you wonder why her character would even remain friends with the self-involved, narcissistic troika. Written and directed by Leslye Headland, from her stage comedy. (This must have worked better on stage.) (R) 90 minutes. (★1/2) —Greg Archer.
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.
BELOVED (LES BIEN-AIMÉS) Love is in the air in this romantic French drama about a mother and daughter attempting to navigate their respective love lives. While the mother considers rekindling an affair from her past, her daughter tries to choose between a commitment-shy musician and an ex who can’t let go. Real-life mother and daughter Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni star; Ludivine Sagnier co-stars as Deneuve’s younger self in flashbacks. Christophe Honoré (Love Songs) directs. (Not rated) 139 minutes.
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 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. 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.
DREDD 3D 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.
END OF WATCH Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena 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.
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.
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
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA It’s a monster’s ball in this animated family comedy about a plush resort run by Count Dracula where monsters can get away from pesky humans and relax. But trouble brews when an ordinary guy accidentally comes across the hotel and falls for the count’s daughter. Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, and Steve Buscemi head the voice cast. Genndy Tartakovsky directs. (PG) 92 minutes.
THE 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.
THE MASTERWhile it seems to have its own wildly original vitality at first, it’s soon clear that filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson is relying on powerhouse acting to distract the audience away from the lack of substance or meaning or plot in his script. Alcoholic postwar lost soul Joaquin Phoenix and imperious nutball cult leader Philip Seymour Hoffman spend over two hours engaged in a bizarre danse macabre that fails to drive the movie anywhere. (Only Jonny Greenwood’s jittery, propulsive music provides an illusion of dramatic intensity.) Once they meet, that’s it for story development. The rest is skilful tracking shots, elaborate vistas (in 70mm), and improbable details, all adding up to not much. (R) 137 minutes. (★★) Lisa Jensen
LOOPERJoseph Gordon-Levitt continues do no wrong in the roles he takes on lately. In this futuristic time-warp thriller he morphs into a hitmam for the mob. His job: eliminate “Loopers” like himself when their allotted time comes to an end and they must be sent back in time to get murdered. (His next target is himself, which sends the plot sailing in wild directions, of course.) It does bring up the question: Why not just eliminate the Loopers in the future instead of sending them back in time? (Time travel is such a bitch, anyway.) There would be no reason to watch this mindbending and, at times, gripping caper if the plot unfolded that way. But for all of its loopy plot points, the film can’t keep you stimulated or invested all of the time. Best bets: the acting, surprisingly. Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels co-star for director Rian Johnson (Brick). That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film develops a cult following. (R) 108 minutes. 137 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
MOONRISE KINGDOM This 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 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.
SAMSARA Ron 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
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.
WON’T BACK DOWN Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Holly Hunter star in this fact-based drama about concerned mothers and teachers who band together to revitalize a failing Pittsburgh inner city school. Oscar Isaac and Rosie Perez co-star for director Daniel Barnz (Beastly). (PG).