New This Week
From director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice; Atonement), and screenwriter Tom Stoppard comes this lush adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel of longing and consequences. Keira Knightley stars in the title role, a beautiful young woman of the highest social standing in Imperial Russia whose attraction to a dashing cavalry office (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) jeopardizes her marriage to a powerful government official (Jude Law), threatens her family, and scandalizes St. Petersburg society. Matthew Macfadyen, Olivia Williams, and Emily Watson co-star. (R) 130 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Presented for your holiday viewing: kids sliced and diced at a rave, mangled corpses, and a girl abducted to a torture chamber by a psycho killer. Emma Fitzpatrick and Josh Stewart star. Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are the perpetrators. (R) 83 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
KILLING THEM SOFTLY
Brad Pitt goes grunge to star in this crime thriller as a professional hit man hired by a local mob boss to track down and eliminate three dimbulbs who stole money at a Mob-protected card game. Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta co-star for director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). (R) 97 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
New Last Week
LIFE OF PI
The great Ang Lee—who never makes the same movie twice—adapts the bestselling novel of survival, courage, and unexpectd alliance by Yann Martel. Newcomer Suraj Sharma stars as the teenage boy traveling from India to Canada with his zookeeper parents and their animals who finds himself shipwrecked at sea in a single boat with an enormous Bengal tiger. (PG) 127 minutes. Starts today (Wednesday, Nov 21). Watch film trailer >>>
A young Marine, just back from Iraq, his teenage brother and their pals defend their hometown, Spokane, against a sneak attack by North Koreans in this action movie from stunt coordintor-turned-director Dan Bradley. Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, and Adrianne Palicki star in this reboot of the Reagan-era John Milius thriller about small-town US teens vs. Soviets. PG-13) 114 minutes. Starts today (Wednesday, Nov 21). Watch film trailer >>>
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS
When an evil genius plots against humankind, it’s up to a brotherhood of legendary heroes—Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost—to save the day, in this CGI family comedy from DreamWorks Animation. Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law head up the voice cast. Peter Ramsey directs. (PG) 97 minutes. Starts today (Wednesday, Nov 21). Watch film trailer >>>
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Bradley Cooper stars in this dramatic comedy as an unstable former teacher, recently released from a soujourn in an institution and trying to get a grip on his life again, who meets a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) as off-the-wall as he is. Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver play his long-suffering but supportive parents; Chris Tucker co-stars for director David O. Russell (The Fighter). (R) 122 minutes. Starts today (Wednesday, Nov 21). Watch film trailer >>>
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: WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY There’s no earthly way of knowing/which direction we are going in Mel Stuart’s faithful 1971 adaptation of the slyly subversive Roald Dahl children’s novel. Gene Wilder is great as the owner of a magical chocolate factory where good children are rewarded and naughty, greedy, nasty children are shown the error of their ways—big time! (G) 100 minutes. (HHH) —Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar
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. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/ltatm.
Movie Times click here.
Quite simply one of the best films of the year. Argo surpassses expectations and manages to do the unlikely job of morphing into both a political thriller and social commentary—and one that is oftentimes humorous. While most of the applause should go to Ben Affleck, who stars and directs this wonderfully executed fact-based tale about a covert CIA operation to rescue six fugitive American in Tehran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, the screenplay pops. Everything from the dialogue to the pacing is simply pitch perfect. Written by Chris Terrio, based on a selection from “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman, this is one film you should not miss. Watch how well both the screenwriter and Affleck draw us deep within the tale as the story chronicles the aftermath of Iranian militants seizing the U. S. embassy, taking 52 members of the U. S. diplomatic corps hostage. Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin may get Oscar noms for supporting roles. (R) 120 minutes. (HHHH)—Greg Archer.
Curtis Hanson (L. A. Confidential) and Michael Apted direct this winning tale, bringing the story of local surf legend Jay Moriarty to life. Jonny Weston plays Jay and Gerard Butler moprhs into his mentor, Frosty. boy who would be king of Mavericks. Take a life-building story filled with grief on both sides, mix in the right amount of teen angst and you find yourself in Chasing Mavericks, which also boasts a romantic storyline in which Jay meets his future wife Kim, all while learning the ropes to surf Mavericks. Sprinkle in the right amount of authenticity and you can see—perhaps feel—that Hollywood nailed it. Elisabeth Shue and Abigail Spencer co-star. (PG) (HHH1/2) —Danny Keith
Asian and Caucasian, male and female, black and white actors switch roles throughout this ambitious, visionary saga of love, loss, greed, slavery, and redemption through the ages, co-written and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Based on the David Mitchell novel, it risks becoming a stunt movie, with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, and many others appearing in multiple roles. But the movie is rich enough in ideas, plot, characters, and themes to keep us engaged. Having the same actors play diverse roles across five centuries of civilization also enhances the central motif of humanity facing the same moral, romantic and political issues in every era, where, as one character says, “the smallest crime or kindness” can have unknowable repercussions over time. Overwrought at times, yet strangely entertaining. (R) 172 minutes. (HHH)—Lisa Jensen.
Robert Zemeckis.directs an emotionally charged film headlined by Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot whose heroic efforts save the lives of passengers in a mid-air catastrophe. But did his drinking and drug use cause the crash? Unlikely. What makes Flight work so well is the fine balance Zemekis executes in a script that has just the right amount of levity as it ultimately unravels into a story of unrelenting addiction and the painful road to redemption. Melissa Leo, John Goodman, and Don Cheadle co-star (R) (HHH1/2) —Greg Archer
A LATE QUARTET
Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Catherine Keener deliver wonderful performances here as the tight-knit members of a successful New York City-based string quartet. But emotional issues, long buried and never quite dealth with, arise when one of the members faces a health crisis and is forced to consider retirement. The film, like most classical music pieces perhaps, grows on you—you never fully realize the depths its capable of until after you’ve experienced it. Yaron Zilberman directs. (R) 105 minutes. (HHH)—Greg Archer.
LIFE OF PI
Reviewed this issue. (PG) 127 minutes. (HHH1/2)
The beauty, and genius, of Steven Spielberg’s massive Civil War-era epic is the way it defies analogy to any specific statesman, party, or era, providing a cogent glimpse into the American political process itself, a view into the contentious state of American democracy, then as now, as timeless as it is fascinating. But the film’s greatness comes from Daniel Day-Lewis’ extraordinary performance in the title role, no ordinary statesman, but a moral visionary who musters the courage to prevail against impossible odds for the good of the nation. Hal Holbrook, Sally Field, David Strathairn and a delicious Tommy Lee Jones lead a sterling supporting cast, but Day-Lewis provides the film’s heart and soul. His Lincoln is savvy enough to wield great power, yet never loses the common touch, and Spielberg and company impress us with what a rare and laudable gift that is. (PG-13) 150 minutes. (HHH1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider in high school can relate to Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his own YA novel sensation about a troubled teen entering his freshman year desperately searching for someone to connect with before his internal demons swallow him up. Given some dark themes, the tone is surprisingly benign through most of the picaresque vignettes that make up the storyline, buoyed by solid performances from protagonist Logan Lerman and co-star Emma Watson. But Ezra Miller steals the movie as Lerman’s irreverent, gay mentor and friend. (PG-13) 103 minutes. (HHH) —Lisa Jensen.
A young Marine, just back from Iraq, his teenage brother and their pals defend their hometown, Spokane, against a sneak attack by North Koreans in this action movie from stunt coordinator-turned-director Dan Bradley. Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, and Adrianne Palicki star in this reboot of the Reagan-era John Milius thriller about small-town US teens vs. Soviets. PG-13) 114 minutes.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS
When an evil genius plots against humankind, it’s up to a brotherhood of legendary heroes—Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost—to save the day, in this CGI family comedy from DreamWorks Animation. Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, and Jude Law head up the voice cast. Peter Ramsey directs. (PG) 97 minutes.
John Hawkes (Winters Bone) may just get an Oscar nomination for his role here, playing a disabled man who turns to a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt in a stellar role) to lose his virginity—at age 38. Based on the autobiographical writings of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, the film has equal parts depth and intrigue and the script, penned by director Ben Lewin, is one of the finest to emerge out of Hollywood in quite some time. Tender and heartfelt, deep and emotional, this passionate tale commands your attention. William H. Macy (as a supportive priest) co-stars. Written and directed by Ben Lewin. (R) 95 minutes. (HHH1/2) —Greg Archer
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Bradley Cooper stars in this dramatic comedy as an unstable former teacher, recently released from a sojourn in an institution and trying to get a grip on his life again, who meets a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) as off-the-wall as he is. Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver play his long-suffering but supportive parents; Chris Tucker co-stars for director David O. Russell (The Fighter). (R) 122 minutes.
A dynamic performance from Daniel Craig, and sterling work from incoming director Sam Mendes conspire to make this one of the best James Bond films ever. This is a more vulnerable Bond, a man who has himself been shaken and stirred a few too many times and is no longer in peak condition, a man who’s begun to question if its all worthwhile. Yet he’s also a reinvented, revitalized Bond who puts the series right back in the game. Factor in a mesmerizing performance of grinning dementia from the great Javier Bardem as the chief villain, and you’ve got a ripping E-Ticket of a movie that pretty much never lets up. (PG-13) 143 minutes. (HHH1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN— PART 2
Twihards should reslish this fitting conclusion to the film franchise. Ironically, Kristen Stewart—as newly turned vamp Bella—has never looked and acted more alive. Still, director Bill Condon manages to wrap up the saga nicely, even though both Stewart and costar Robert Pattinson never really hold enough screen sizzle to make anybody over the age of 17 care about their characters’ fates. In this case, being hunted down by their arch nemesis Aro (a wonderfully wicked and savage Michael Sheen at his best). Their current dilemma—remember: it used to be Bella’s virginity and such—revolves around the happy couple’s offspring, a half-human/half-vampire girl whom Aro and Co. see as a threat to the vampire existence. And so it goes. There is good news: the film boasts one of the most surprising and clever endings found in any Twilight film. (PG-13) 115 minutes. (HH1/2) —Greg Archer.
This CGI-animated Disney comedy is one of the year’s most refreshing surprises—and a downright hoot to boot. Clever writing, a tight script and some brilliant CGI all merge together nicely here in a story the chronicles a villain in a popular video game who decides he wants to chuck convention, go against the grain and be something other than what he was programmed to be. Adults may see the metaphor and symbolism throughtout. John C. Reilly is the voice of Ralph. Strong supporting players include Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, and Jack McBrayer. Rich Moore directs this charming video game-themed delight. (PG) (HHH1/2) —Greg Archer