Film, Times & Events: Week of Oct. 11th

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New This Week

film argoARGO 
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this fact-based thriller about a covert CIA operation to rescue six fugitive American in Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, after Iranian militants seized the U. S. embassy and took 52 members of the U. S. diplomatic corps hostage. Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman co-star. (R) 120 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

film boom

Kevin James stars in this comedy as a onetime college wrestler, now a biology teacher in an underfunded high school, who starts moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter to earn money for the school’s imperiled music program. Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek co-star for director Frank Coraci. (PG) 105 minutes. Starts Friday.  Watch film trailer >>>

film paperboy

In this Southern gothic film noir from director Le Daniels (Precious), investigative reporter Matthew McConaughey dives into the psychic swamp of 1960 South Florida to try to prove a Death Row inmate (John Cusack) innocent of murder. Heating up the action are Zac Efron as the reporter’s kid brother, and Nicole Kidman as a bombshell with a thing for prisoners. (R) 106 minutes. Starts Friday.  Watch film trailer >>>

film seven

Martin McDonagh won a well-deserved screenplay Oscar in 2008 for his scathingly funny, fiercely moral In Bruges. Now he’s back with more boys behaving badly in this dark comedy about a struggling Hollywood screenwriter (Colin Farrell) drawn unwillingly into the LA criminal underground after his nutball buddies (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) steal a mobster’s prize Shih-Tzu. Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, and Olga Kurylenko co-star. (R) 105 minutes. Starts Friday.  Watch film trailer >>>

film sinister

Ethan Hawke stars as a true-crime novelist trying to solve the mystery of how and why a family was murdered in his new home—before his family suffers the same fate—in this supernatural horror thriller. Juliet Rylance and Fred Dalton Thompson co-star for director Scott Derrickson (The Day The Earth Stood Still). (R) 110 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>


Film Events

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE It’s a new season for Britain’s acclaimed National Theatre of London, broadcasting highlights from its Fall 2012/Winter 2013 Season digitally, in HD, to movie theaters worldwide. Live performances will be broadcast one Thursday evening a month, in the Grand Auditorium of the Del Mar, with encore performances the following Sunday morning. This week: THE LAST OF THE HAUSSMANS Julie Walters stars in this new dysfunctional family comedy from playwright Stephen Beresford. Walters play an aging ex-hippie matriarch visited by her two wayward grown children, a granddaughter, and a couple of locals for a summer of drinking, nostalgia, recrimination, inappropriate romances, and broken dreams. Helen McCrory and Rory Kinnear co-star. Howard Davies directs. At the Del Mar, Thursday only (October 11), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (October 14), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz subscribers: $13.

CONTINUING SERIES: MOVIES AT THE MUSEUM: WEIRD SCIENCE The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History launches a new eco-themed film series screening the second Friday of each month. This quarter (through December) the themes is “Weird Science.” Revisit some popular cult/horror movies, preceded by a brief, informal talk on the bizarre real-life facts behind the fiction. This week: SHAUN OF THE DEAD A chronic slacker tries to eradicate an invasion of the flesh-eating undead in this cheeky 2004 British horror comedy. Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, and Penelope Wilton star; Edgar Wright directs. (R) 99 minutes. Yves Tan, Faculty, Department of Biology, Cabrillo College, will talk about transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (Kuru from Papua New Guinea), a real-life affliction that comes from eating brains! Friday only (October 12), 8 p.m. At the SC Natural History Museum, 3505 East Cliff Drive, SC. Donation suggested at the door.

CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: THE LOST BOYSJason Patric gets involved with Kiefer Sutherland’s cool teen vampire tribe in a California beach town much like ours in Joel Schumacher’s entertaining 1987 goth comedy thriller with a killer soundtrack. Featuring such iconic local landmarks as the Boardwalk, the beach bandstand, Pogonip, and the original Atlantis Fantasyworld comic shop interior. (R) 97 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: THE BIG LEBOWSKI The Dude loafs again in this perennial midnight favorite. Jeff Bridges stars as the Venice Beach bowling bum who takes slacking to absurd new depths in this deadpan 1998 comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen. John Goodman and Steve Buscemi co-star. (R) 117 minutes. (HH1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday only (October 11), 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 7pm and admission is free.For more information visit www.ltatm.org.

Movie Times click here.

Now Playing

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.

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.

FRANKENWEENIE 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 deceased) 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.

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 

LIBERAL ARTSMaybe you can’t go back to college again. Whether or not you should want to is the driving force that propels Josh Radnor’s thoughtful, funny comedy, as the ferment of campus life, with all its drama, romance, and terror, is re-examined by a 35-year-old protagonist who’s still having a hard time coming of age. Radnor also stars as a man returning to his small-town alma mater for the retirement party of a favorite prof who falls for a poised, 19-year-old coed (the persuasive Elizabeth Olsen) while succumbing to the idealism of his own lost youth. Within this simple storyline, Radnor crafts an elegant, witty, and recognizably real meditation on growing up, letting go, and self-discovery. (Not rated) 97 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 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 ORANGES 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.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Reviewed this issue) 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.

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 

TAKEN 2 Liam Neeson returns as the unstoppable ex-CIA op getting into yet more trouble abroad; this time, he and his wife are abducted by the father of one of the kidnappers he killed while tracking down his daughter in Paris. Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and Rade Serbedzija star for director Olivier Megaton. (PG-13) 91 minutes.

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).

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