Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2011 Where are the next generation of filmmakers and animators coming from? Find out in these two complete, separate programs of this year’s Oscar-nominated short films from around the world (five live-action and five animated). LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS In this program, the darker impulses of children explored in The Confession, from the UK, and the Irish vignette The Crush, play off against the goofy, hipster magic realism of the US entry, God Of Love. More serious contenders are Na Wewe, from Belgium, a scathing satire of racial and ethnic divisions set in civil war-torn Burundi, and the cheeky and poignant Wish 143 (also from the UK), about a 15-year-old cancer patient with decidedly carnal ideas about his last wish. (Watch for the delightful Jim Carter in a wry turn as a sympathetic Anglican priest.) (Not rated) 102 minutes.
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS Pen-and-ink and soft colored pencil washes highlight the French Madagascar, a travel journal that comes to life on the “page.” An A-list cast (led by Helena Bonham Carter) lend their voices to the storybook whimsy of The Gruffalo (Germany/UK). From the US comes the savvy, hilarious Let’s Pollute!, praising how waste and consumption keep our economy strong, made in the spirit of those chirpy old classroom educational films of yore. But by far the most amazing and original is The Lost Thing, from Australia, in which a boy hunting bottle caps on the beach finds a strange creature—a giant red teakettle of a thing powered by rotary fan, gears, and cogs, with organic green tentacles and scuttling crab claws—and tries to find out where it belongs. Steampunk has never been so colorful, fresh and irresistibly silly; this one’s a gem. Rounding out the bill is Pixar’s Day & Night (paired up earlier this year with Toy Story 3D on local screens), along with two esteemed bonus animated shorts. (Not rated) 81 minutes. Starts Friday.
THE EAGLE Channing Tatum stars in this historical action drama as a
2nd Century Roman commander at the furthest outpost of Britain who ventures
into the lawless wilds beyond Hadrian’s Wall with his native Briton slave. (PG-13)
114 minutes. Starts Friday.Watch film trailer >>>
The most enduring love story of all time, enacted by…garden gnomes?
That’s the plan in this animated Disney family comedy. (G)
Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE ILLUSIONIST Reviewed this issue. (PG) 80 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday.
Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston star in this comedy
about a guy trying to land the woman of his dreams
(Brooklyn Decker) who ensnares his best
female buddy in an ever more elaborate lie when he begs her and her
kids to pose as his ex-wife and family. Longtime Sandler accomplice
Dennis Dugan directs. (PG-13) 116 minutes. Starts Friday.Watch film trailer >>>
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER Jon M. Chu directs. (G) Starts Friday.
Watch film trailer >>>
Movie Times 2/11–2/17
Del Mar Theatre 469-3220
Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films Program 5, 9:10 + Sat, Sun 11am
Blue Valentine 1, 6
The King’s Speech 1:40, 3:30, 4:20, 7, 8:30, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11:15am
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Midnight Showings Friday 2/11 & Saturday 2/12
Biutiful 3:30, 6:30, 9:20 + Fri, Sat, Sun 12:30
The Illusionist 1:10, 3:10, 5, 7, 8:50
Another Year 1:20, 4, 6:40, 9:10
Aptos Cinema 426-7500
The King’s Speech 2, 4:30, 7, 9:20 + Sat, Sun 11:30
The African Queen Saturday & Sunday Weekend Matinee Classic 10:30am
Green Valley Cinema 8 761-8200
No Strings Attached 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:15, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11am
From Prada to Nada 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:15, 9:25 + Sat, Sun 11am
Justin Beiber: Never Say Never in Dolby Digital 3D 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:20, 9:25 +Sat, Sun 11am
The Roommate 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:20, 9:25 + Sat, Sun 11am
Sanctum 1:30, 4:15, 7:05, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11:05am
Gnomeo and Juliet in 35mm 1:15, 3:15, 5:15, 7:15, 9:15 + Sat, Sun 11:15am
The Eagle 1:30, 4:25, 7, 9:20, + Sat, Sun 11:05am
Just Go With It 1:30, 4:30, 7, 9:25 +Sat, Sun 11:05am
Cinelux Scotts Valley Cinema 438-3260
Gnomeo and Juliet 11:10, 1:10, 3:10, 5:10, 7:10, 9:10 + Mon-Thurs no 11:10
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D
11:10, 1:40, 4:10, 6:45, 9:15 + Mon-Thurs no 11:10
Just Go With It 11:20, 2, 4:40, 7:20, 10 + Mon-Thurs no 11:20
The King’s Speech 11am, 1:30, 4:20, 7, 9:40 + Mon-Thurs no 11am
Cinelux 41st Avenue Cinema 479-3504
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D 11:10, 1:45, 4:15, 6:45, 9:10
Just Go With It 11:20, 2, 4:40, 7:20, 10
Black Swan 11:45, 4:30, 9:30
True Grit 2, 7
Santa Cruz Cinema 9 (800) 326-3264 #1700
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D
11:20, 1:45, 4:25, 7:10, 9:40 + Mon-Thur no 11:20
Gnomeo and Juliet 3D 12:15, 2:30, 4:45, 7, 9:10 + Mon-Thur no 12:15
The Eagle 11:15, 1:50, 4:30, 7:30, 10:10 + Mon-Thur no 11:15
Sanctum 3D 11:40, 2:15, 4:55, 7:35, 10:05 + Mon-Thur no 11:40
The Roommate 1, 3:10, 5:20, 7:45, 9:55
The Mechanic 1:05, 3:15, 5:30, 7:55, 10:15
No Strings Attached 11:30, 2:10, 4:40, 7:20, 9:50 + Mon-Thur no 11:30
The Green Hornet 2D 1:15, 4, 6:45, 9:30
True Grit 1:30, 4:05, 6:50, 9:25
The Big Lebowski Flashback Feature ~ Thursday 2/17 8:00 PM
Met Opera Live ~ Nixon in China Saturday 2/12 10:00 AM
Riverfront (800) 326-3264 #1701
The Fighter 1, 4, 6:45, 9:20 + Mon – Thurs no 1
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK:
WINTER ITALIAN FILM SERIESThe Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz is back with a new monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme this time is “Italian Directors of the ’60s.” Each monthly film is introduced by Dr. William Park, Faculty Emeritus, Sarah Lawrence College. This Week: L’ECLISSE (THE ECLIPSE) Michelangelo Anonioni directs Monica Vitti and Alain Delon in this moody 1962 meditation on love and desire about a young literary translator in Rome who drifts into an affair to satisfy her physical needs. (Not rated) 126 minutes. In Italian with English sub titles. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (Feb 13), 7 pm. Free.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAREclectic movies for wild & crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT (R) 104 minutes.(★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMAIf you’ve only ever seen them on TV, don’t miss this series of classic movie matinees unspooling each weekend at Aptos Cinema. This week: THE AFRICAN QUEEN (★★★★) —Lisa Jensen. Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
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: PRETTY IN PINK It’s back to the ’80s with Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, and Harry Dean Stanton. (PG-13) 96 minutes. Tonight (Thursday) only, 8 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
CONTINUING SERIES THIS WEEK: THE MET: LIVE IN HD AT THE CINEMA9 Digital broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera projected live, onscreen, This week: NIXON IN CHINA LIVE: Saturday, Feb, 12, 2011, at 10 a.m.
CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIESThis informal movie discussion group meets at the Del Mar mezzanine in downtown Santa Cruz. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.
ANOTHER YEARMike Leigh’s absolutely wonderful new film unfolds during the changing seasons of a single year, as time inevitably marches on. Sly, scruffy, robust Jim Broadbent and compassionate earth-mother Ruth Sheen play a long and happily married couple. Delicate tension is wrought from the desperation with which their aging, less fortunate friends are lured to the nurturing flame of their happiness and stability. Lesley Manville gives a fearless and devastating performance as a lonely divorcee with a demeanor of brittle perkiness who keeps pushing the boundaries, desperately trying to upgrade from work mate to surrogate family status. Leigh famously workshops his story ideas with his casts to arrive at a script, and there’s not a false syllable in the entire movie; every frame has the ache and vitality of real life. Despite the wistful melancholy of its theme, this is a delicious, savvy, and resonant film, peppered with irreverent wit and real feeling. Do not miss it. (PG-13) 129 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. (Read a longer review at ljo-express.blogspot.com)
BIUTIFULThe wonderful Javier Bardem gives a performance of furious grace as a man clawing a living out of the urban underbelly of Barcelona who discovers he has only a short time left to straighten out his messy life for the sake of his beloved children. Brooding and heartfelt, this is a dark, often despairing vision of life on the fringe from the always provocative Alejandro González Iñárritu, yet infused throughout with tenderness, compassion, and a sense of spiritual redemption. The determination of Bardem’s character to cling to his better nature aginst all odds becomes profound in this haunting, deeply layered film. (R) 148 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
BLACK SWANHaunting, hypnotic, sexy. Natalie Portman, who nabbed a Golden Globe for her career-defining role here plays an eager ballerina—tough on the outside, fragile on the inside. After landing the prime role of the Swan Queen in a re-imagined production of “Swan Lake,” Nina soon grows suspcious of what’s unfolding around her. Is her fellow ballerina (Mila Kunis) after her role? Watch for how well directer Darren Aronofsky uses these brilliant talents (Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel and Winona Ryder) among them) to craft one of the year’s best—a gripping psycho-sexual thriller that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. (R) 110 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
BLUE VALENTINEBilling itself as “a love story,” this unsettling drama begins after most conventional love stories have concluded, when happily ever after has morphed into stuck forever. Nothing in the movie sounds scripted; the dialogue comes out with a raw edge that feels (often almost painfully) real. Acted with aching quicksilver precision by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a conflicted young married couple, this prickly drama from Derek Cianfrance pokes into the raw wound of disappointed dreams and desires while grappling with the elusive nature of love, and why and how it can just as easily slip away. (R) 114 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
THE COMPANY MENBen Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones star in this contemporary drama about a year in the lives of three corporate suits downsized out of their jobs trying to come to grips with their lives, their families, and their sense of worth. John Wells directs. (R) 109 minutes.
THE DILEMMARon Howard attempts comedy with this tale of best buds with a big problem: Vince Vaughn is afraid to tell pal Kevin James that James’ with (Winona Ryder) is cheating on him. Channing Tatum, Jennifer Connelly, and Queen Latifah co-star. (PG-13).
THE GREEN HORNETSeth Rogan stars in this remix of the old DC comic (by way of the 1960s TV show). (PG-13) 119 minutes.
THE FIGHTERChristian Bale and Mark Wahlberg turn in surprisingly good performances in this fact-based boxing saga, based on a true story. The duo play half brothers Dicky Ecklund and Micky Ward in a working-class town. Walberg is the fighter everybody roots for but can’t seem to make it on his own without his family meddling. Bale delivers another career defining performance as the druggie brother everybody hoped would have succeeded more after a stellar boxing win. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo (terrific as the brothers’ controlling mom) co-star. Directed by David O. Russell. (R) 114 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
FROM PRADA TO NADAThis Latina update of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility stars Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega as a pair of spoiled sisters who lose their income after the death of their fathered and are forced o move in with their estranged aunt in East L. A. Angel Gracia directs. (PG-13) 107 minutes.
THE KING’S SPEECHIf you’re looking for a gorgeously mounted entertainment, a compelling history lesson, a wry comedy of manners, or just a jolly game of Name That Actor, prepare to gobble down Tom Hooper’s juicy and rewarding true story about an accidental monarch struggling to conquer a private affliction that makes public life a nightmare. The formidable Colin Firth queues up for his next Oscar nomination as the prince who will be George VI, cursed with a crippling stammer just when the nation needs a strong, confident leader. Geoffrey Rush is great as the eccentric speech therapist who earns his trust. A marvelous Helena Bonham Carter leads a Who’s Who of splendid British thesps in supporting roles. (R) 118 minutes. (★★★1/2)
THE MECHANIC Jason Statham stars as—surprise!—an “elite hit man” who reluctantly takes along a new young protégé (Ben Foster) on a mission of vengeance in this action thriller from director Simon West (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider). Donald Sutherland co-stars. (R) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED It’s a miracle that Ivan Reitman’s silly romantic comedy recovers at all from its absurd premise. (She wants sex without romance; he gallantly tries to play along, even though they’re crazy about each other.) That it actually becomes sort of charming is due entirely to the appeal of stars Natalie Portman, an agile comedienne, and especially Ashton Kutcher. (R) 110 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
127 HOURS When a freak accident left rock climber Aron Ralston stranded at the bottom of a deep crevice, his right hand pinned between the rockface and an immovable boulder, he had to make an impossible decision: forfeit his arm or lose his life. A man immobilized in a narrow crevice for five days may not sound like promising material for a moving picture, but Danny Boyle ramps up the suspense and makes something both kinetic and gripping out of Ralston’s story. Swooping in and out of Ralston’s memories, the material in his video camera, and his delirious fantasies, Boyle keeps the narrative pace brisk and the action intense. In the starring role, James Franco captures not only Ralston’s up-for-anything cockiness, but his wry wit and unalloyed courage as well. (R) 94 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
THE RITE Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Anthony Hopkins stars as an old Vatican priest steeped in arcane lore who teams up with a doubting younger priest (Colin O’Donoghue) in the exorcism of a possessed young girl. Alice Braga, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds, and Rutger Hauer co-star for director Mikael Håfström (1408). (PG-13) 107 minutes.
THE ROOMMATE Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet star in this thriller about a nice college coed paired up with the roomie from Hell. Christian E. Christiansen directs. (PG-13)
SANCTUM James Cameron was one of the producers of this undersea thriller about a cave-diving expedition forced deep into an underwater labyrinth (R) 109 minutes.
TRUE GRIT The Coen Brothers reimagine the old John Wayne western as a vehicle for Jeff Bridges. He plays broken-down, one-eyed U. S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, hired by a determined 14-year-old girl to track down the villain (Josh Brolin) who killed her father. Matt Damon plays a Texas Ranger on the trail of the same scoundrel. Hailee Steinfeld plays the justice-minded young girl. (PG-13) 110 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE WAY BACK Imagine a 4000-mile trek on foot from Siberia to Mongolia, across the Gobi Desert to Tibet, and over the Himalayas into India. It’s an incredible journey supposedly made by a handful of escapees from a Soviet prison camp in 1941, as depicted in this absorbing drama on the collision and collusion of man and Nature from the formidable Peter Weir. Whether the 1956 book, “The Long Walk,” on which the film is based, by Soviet gulag survivor Slavomir Rawicz, is fact or fiction, this epic tale of survival inspires Weir’s visionary sense; he and his longtime cinematographer Russell Boyd chart this harsh terrain in dozens of breathtaking vistas. But it’s the labyrinth of human dynamics that keep the viewer engrossed, thanks to a tough, sinewy performance from Ed Harris, the resourceful Jim Sturgess, and wild-card Colin Farrell. (PG-13) 133 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen