New This Week
Sort of like Crash in cyberspace, this thriller offers colliding parallel stories of online dysfunction, from a cell phone addict unanble to communicate in real life to issues of bullying, porn, and personal info leaked online. Jason Bateman, Andrea Riseborough, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgard, and Paula Patton star. Henry-Alex Rubin directs. (R) 115 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Newcomer Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson, the first African American ballplayer to cross the color line into Major League Baseball, suiting up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. Harrison Ford co-stars as Dodger GM Branch Rickey, whose policy against racism changes the game forever. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale). (PG-13) 128 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
Two “It” boys of the moment, Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, star in this generational drama from filmmaker Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). A motorcycle stunt rider lured into a string of daring bank robberies to support his new family runs afoul of an ambitious rookie cop trying to stay clean as the protégé of a corrupt detective; the choices each man makes affect their grown sons years later. Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, and Ray Liotta co-star. (R) 140 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
If you feel like you never quite got Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, you’re not alone. In this new documentary, a clutch of observers dissect the 30-year-old horror movie in all its deeper allegorical and symbolic meanings in pursuit of various explanations. Stephen King, Tom Cruise, Keir Dullea, and the late Kubrick himself pop up in archival footage. Rodney Ascher makes his feature doc debut. (Not rated) 102 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE SAPPHIRES In Reviewed this issue (PG-13) 103 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★)
SCARY MOVIE V
It’s the satire franchise vs. the Paranormal-type home video horror motif in the fifth outing for the spoof comedy series (with some digs at Black Swan and the Fifty Shades phenomenon long the way). Simon Rex, Ashley Tisdale, Molly Shannon, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan pop up in the cast for director Malcom D. Lee. (PG-13) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
James McAvoy stars in this new thriller from Danny Boyle as an art auctioneer who enables a criminal gang to steal a priceless painting. The ever-menacing Vincent Cassel plays the gang leader who hires a hypnotherapist to delve into the auctioneer’s troubled psyche when he can’t remember where he hid the painting—with increasingly bizarre results. Rosario Dawson co-stars. (R) 101 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: 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 Winter/Spring season is “Set in Rome Over Five Decades.” This Week: HABEMUS PAPUM (WE HAVE A POPE) Nanni Moretti (Dear Diary) directs this poignant 2011 comedy about a cardinal chosen to succeed the late pope who doesn’t really want the job. Michel Piccoli stars as the reluctant pontiff; Moretti appears as the psychiatrist called in to talk him into it. (Not rated) 104 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. Logan Walker, film studies lecturer at SJSU, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (April 11), 7 pm. Free.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun. This week: THE EIGHTH ANNUAL SECRET FILM FESTIVAL Get out your blankeys and bunny slippers and prepare to settle in for the duration for the eighth installment of this popular cult event, the best 12-hour film festival in town. The concession stand is open all night as five fabulous films never before seen in Santa Cruz, hand picked by the crackerjack Del Mar selection committee, unspool for your eyes only before their official release dates. Actual film titles cannot be named (that’s why they’re secret!), but previous SFF premieres have included MirrorMask, Lars And The Real Girl, Let The Right One In, and The Darjeeling Limited. Don’t be the last kid on the block to see the coolest new movies of the season. Get in line now. Admission is $14 in advance, or $15 at the door, this week only. Saturday (April 13) midnight to Sunday (April 14), noon.
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: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES Rich yuppie Steve Martin and boorish traveling salesman John Candy endure an ill-fated cross-country holiday journey together in John Hughes mostly dull-witted and predictable 1987 comedy. (R) 93 minutes. (HH)—Lisa Jensen. Tonight only (Thursday, April 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 pursue the elusive and ineffable meanings of cinema. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.
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ADMISSION The good news is this comedy about a straight-arrow admissions officer for Princeton University stars Tina Fey, one of the sharpest and most personable of screen comediennes. The bad news is, she didn’t write the script. Based on the novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, it hits all the expected plot points from goofy to heartwarming as Fey’s character faces her disappointing life, her feminist nutball mother (a funny Lily Tomlin), and a bright young applicant (Nat Wolff) who may be the son she once gave up for adoption. Paul Rudd is appealing, as usual, as the alternative high school honcho sponsoring the boy, but never is it suggested that this bright, self-motivated kid might be better off NOT going to stuffy, preppy Princeton, so the story misses the chance to take an innovative turn. Paul Weitz directs. (PG-13) 110 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE CALL Halle Berry headlines this surprisingly effective thriller that manages to pull viewers in and keep them interested. Berry plays a 911 operator who, after spending six months getting over a traumatic call gone bad, once again becomes the only lifeline for another young woman who has been abducted. Of course, one must suspend belief as the film unravels, especially and when Berry decides t search for the missing girl herself. Still, despite its flaws, Berry is exquisite—although you wonder why she’s being given these roles, especially after nabbing an Oscar more than a decade ago. Evie Thompson, Abigail Breslin, and Morris Chestnut co-star. Brad Anderson (The Machinist; Transsiberian) directs. (R) (★★1/2) —Greg Archer
THE CROODS A prehistoric family sets out to find a new home when their idyllic primordial homeland is threatened in this animated family adventure from DreamWorks. Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, and Catherine Keener provide voices. Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders direct. (PG) 98 minutes.
EVIL DEAD Sam Raimi had a hand in producing this remake/update of his 1981 cult horror hit about a group of unwary friends at a remote cabin who start fooling around with a Book of the Dead and falling prey to nasty demonic possession. Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, and Lou Taylor Pucci star for director Fede Alvarez; expect a female survivor this time around with Diablo Cody helping to cook up the script. (R) 91 minutes.
FROM UP ON POPPY HILL Reviewed this issue. (PG) 91 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
JURASSIC PARK 3D The dinosaurs will be even more killer in 3D, running amok on a tropical island “theme park” in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 fx extravaganza based on the Michael Crichton novel. Homo sapiens co-stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum don’t have much to do, but as popcorn-chomping entertainment, the movie delivers the goods. (PG-13) 127 minutes. (★★★)
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, and Channing Tatum power this testosterone frenzy where the elite fighting force not only faces its mortal enemy, Cobra, but battles sinister forces within its own government. Jon Chu directs. (PG-13) 110 minutes.
GINGER & ROSA In Sally Potter’s thoughtful and involving drama, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is the backdrop before which two teenage girls in London struggle to come of age. The remarkable Elle Fanning and a very affecting Alice Englert star in a simple, yet potent story about teenage girlfriends, mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, and all the ways those delicate balances can be tipped, one way or another, during the perilous dance of growing up. The plot may seem a bit far-fetched at times, and the hair and clothes are not always accurate for the era, but there’s something so touching about the authenticity of these young female voices and their nameless, formless yearning that will speak to anyone who has ever been a 17-year-old girl. (PG-13) 90 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE HOST It could be Invasion of the Bodysnatchers for teens in this first adaptation of a new book series by Stephanie Meyer (the Twilight Saga), in which a plucky teen girl romances two hot guys while trying to outwit a sinister force that robs people of their memories and takes over their bodies. Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, and Jake Abel star for director Andrew Niccol. (PG-13)
NO A powerful and dynamic film with Gael Garcia Bernal as the helm. This dramatized true story revolves around Rene Saavedra, an ambitious Chilean ad man who was recruited in 1988 to spearhead a crucial ad campaign designed to oust dictator Augusto Pinochet—with a “no” vote at the polls. It’s a compelling outing from beginning to end and also includes television and other film foortage from the era. Pablo Larraín directs. (R) 118 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
ON THE ROAD There are about 45 minutes of a great movie in Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s famed beat odyssey: in the very beginning and the end, when we hear snippets of Kerouac’s dynamic “bop” prose. In between lies an increasingly frantic and pointless gallop back and forth across North America; it successfully mimics the characters’ headlong pursuit of sex, drugs, jazz, and alcohol, but without the transformative power of Kerouac’s words, we’re stuck watching repetitive scenes of frenzied partying, which soon pales as a spectator sport. Still, actors Sam Riley, Garret Hedlund, and Tom Sturridge (fictional surrogates for Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg) work hard, and Viggo Mortensen steals his scenes as the others’ profane patron saint (read: Willam S. Burroughs). (R) 124 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN Morgan Freeman is the President in jeopardy after a terrorist attack traps him in the White House. Gerard Butler is a “disgraced former Presidential guard” and Aaron Eckhart is a national security honcho who team up to get him out in this action thriller from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). (R)
OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Sam Raimi’s lavish prequel imagines the witches and the wizard of Oz in their heedless youth, its mood and texture heavily influenced by the beloved 1939 MGM film. James Franco is fun as the cheesy carnival magician destined to become the wizard (and savior) of Oz, although his superficial character never takes enough of a journey. Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams are three delectable young witches. Despite some slow-going, dubious plotting, and an unresolved strain of moral ambiguity, the cheeky dash of Raimi’s film, and his affection for the source, makes for a mostly entertaining trip down the yellow brick road. (PG) 130 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
SIDE EFFECTS Obfuscation is the name of the game in Steven Soderbergh’s intricate and twisty new thriller. This dark tale of sex, lies, and pharmaceutical skullduggery is a masterpiece of misdirection, artfully calibrated so that the viewer—like the film’s overly medicated characters—often has no idea what may or may not be going on. Jude Law gives a fine, supple performance in the pivotal role of a psychiatrist drawn into a murder scandal after prescribing an experimental drug to a patient (the equally dexterous Rooney Mara). And beyond the thriller plot, Soderbergh delves with relish into the larger milieu of a society in which external medication is promoted as the answer to every problem—real or imagined. (R) 106 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK Oh, Bradley Cooper … methinks you may be miscast here, but somehow this dramatic comedy works. Cooper morphs into an unstable former teacher, recently released from an institution after a bad break-up from his wife. He meets a young gal (Jennifer Lawrence, who can do no wrong these days) who is just as quirky as he is. Love, intimacy and moving on are the themes. If only Cooper—or is it his character?—weren’t so grating on the nerves. Cooper lacks believability here and you get the sense he was handed the script as a means to make a quirky Bradley Cooper caper. Worse—you feel as if he doesn’t believe the performance. Otherwise, a compelling cast and plot brighten the story. Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence on her Oscar win. David O. Russell (The Fighter) directs. (R) 122 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer
SPRING BREAKERS Girls go wild in this new comedy from the ever-idiosyncratic Harmony Korine (Mr. Lonely) about four college coeds who ditch their boring campus and commit a robbery to finance their spring break in Florida—bringing them into the orbit of a dubious rapper/criminal/drug-dealer (James Franco) with an agenda. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine star. (R) 94 minutes.
UPSIDE DOWN If Juan Solanas’ ambitious, interplanetary sci-fi romance were in print, it would be an outline, not a complete novel. The grand sweep of the story is there, climactic scenes are plotted out exactly where they should be, and marvelous, fanciful, poetic images decorate key passages. What’s missing are the details in concept that would make it all plausible, and a final polish on the dialogue that would bring this unique story to life. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst are star-crossed lovers on twin planets whose love defies gravity and a fierce caste system. But Solanas misses the chance to infuse his tale of opposite worlds locked in eternal conflict with the kind of edge that might give it deeper resonance. (PG-13) 103 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.