Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
BARNEY’S VERSION Paul Giamatti so wonderfully inhabits his character here and deserves the Golden Globe he nabbed for it. Based on Mordecail Richler’s winning novel, Giamatti morphs into a self-involved TV producer here whose penchant for drinking (too much) and womanizing doesn’t quite make him an ideal catch. But fate is kind to this anti-hero and delivers to him the woman of his dreams—Rosamund Pike in a stunning, graceful performance that so beautifully illuminates what “loving” somebody actually looks like. Barney doesn’t realize it, but he’s been given a gift from the Gods with his new love in that it presents him with the possibility to leap—let’s make that crawl—out of his narcissistic way of being and actually care about something, and somebody, other than himself? Can he do it? One of the smartest, well written films to come along in quite a while. Minnie Driver, and Rachel Lefevre star as ex-wives here; Dustin Hoffman co-stars as Barney’s father. Richard J. Lewis directs. (R) 132 minutes. Stats Friday. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer Watch film trailer >>>
BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON Martin Lawrence straps on the pumps and the wig once again as an FBI agent going undercover in drag. PG-13) 107 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
CEDAR RAPIDS Newcomer Ed Helms stars in this indie comedy, a recent Sundance favorite, about an innocent, small-town insurance agent sent by his company to a big convention in Iowa who falls in with a bunch of jaded old pros out to show him the ropes.(R) 86 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
I AM NUMBER FOUR Alex Pettyfer stars in this sci-fi thriller as a teenager with disturbing special powers on the run from sinister forces trying to destroy him. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
UNKNOWN It’s Liam Neeson in take-charge mode as a doctor on vacation in Berlin who’s injured in a car crash, and wakes up to find that his wife doesn’t recognize him. (PG-13) 113 minutes. Starts Friday.
Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENTS THIS WEEK:
AND THE OSCAR SHOULD GO TO… Join Wallace Baine, of the Sentinel, Bruce Bratton, of Brattononline.com, and yours truly, Lisa Jensen, at the Nickelodeon this Sunday (Feb 20) for a discussion of this year’s Oscars. 11 am, and is free and open to the public. Call 426-7500, or check Nickelodeon/Del Mar ad this issue for more information.
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 ROOM (R) 99 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: WEEKEND MATINEE CLASSICS AT APTOS CINEMA If 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: BLACK ORPHEUS. (PG) 100 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
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 (R) 117 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Tonight (Thursday) only, 8 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. 7pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.
Movie Times 2/18–2/24
Del Mar 469-3220
Cedar Rapids 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 + Sat-Mon noon
The King’s Speech 1:40, 4:20, 7, 9:30 + Sat-Mon11:15 am
Barney’s Version 1:10, 4, 6:40, 9:20
The Room Midnight Showings Friday 2/18 & Saturday 2/19
Black Swan 9
Biutiful 3:30, 6:30, 9:20 + Sat-Mon 12:30
The Illusionist 1:10, 3:10, 5, 7, 8:50 + Sat, Sun 11:15 am
Another Year 1:20, 4, 6:40, 9:10
Academy Award Nominated Live Action Short Films 1:30, 5:15
Academy Award Nominated Animated Short Films 3:30, 7:15
Special Event Screening: Boyhood Shadows Sat 11 am
Aptos Cinema 426-7500
Gnomeo and Juliet 2:20, 4:10, 6, 7:50, 9:30 + Sat-Mon 12:30
The King’s Speech 2, 4:30, 7, 9:20 + Sat-Mon 11:30 am
Black Orpheus Saturday & Sunday Weekend Matinee Classic 10:45 am
Green Valley Cinema 8 761-8200
I Am Number Four 1:25, 4:30, 7:05, 9:20 + Sat, Sun 11:10 am
Unknown 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:20, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11am
Justin Beiber: Never Say Never in 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
Gnomeo and Juliet 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 11:10 am
Just Go With It 1:30, 4:30, 7, 9:25 + Sat, Sun 11:05am
Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son 1:05, 3:10, 5:15, 7:15, 9:25 + Sat, Sun 11 am
Cinelux Scotts Valley Cinema 438-3260
Gnomeo and Juliet 1:10, 3:10, 5:10, 7:10, 9:10 + Fri-Mon 11:10 am
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in 3D 1:30, 4, 6:30, 9 + Fri-Mon 11 am
Just Go With It 2:10, 4:45, 7:20, 10 +Fri-Mon 11:20 am
Unknown 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30 +Fri-Mon 11:30 am
Cinelux 41st Avenue Cinema 479-3504
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D 11 am, 1:30, 4, 6:30, 9
Just Go With It 11:10 am, 1:45, 4:20, 7, 9:30
I Am Number Four 11:10 am, 1:45, 4:20, 7, 9:30
Santa Cruz Cinema 9 (800) 326-3264 #1700
A Man for All Seasons Flashback Feature ~ Th 2/24 8
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D 1:55, 4:20, 6:50, 9:20 + Fri-Mon 11:30 am
Gnomeo and Juliet 3D 2:25, 4:40, 7, 9:10 + Fri-Mon 12:15
Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son 2:35, 5:05, 7:40, 10:15 +Fri-Mon noon
I Am Number Four 2:15, 4:50, 7:30, 10:05 +Fri-Mon 11:45 am
The Eagle 1:35, 4:15, 7:15, 9:50
The Fighter 1:15, 4, 7:20, 9:55
The Roommate 2:45, 5:15, 7:50, 10:10 + Fri-Mon 12:20, Th no 7:50, 10:10
No Strings Attached 2, 4:30, 7:05, 9:35 + Fri-Mon 11:35 am
True Grit 1:30, 4:05, 6:45, 9:25
Riverfront (800) 326-3264 #1701
Just Go With It 3:45, 6:45, 9:25 + Fri-Mon 12:45
Unknown 4:15, 7, 9:45 + Fri-Mon 1:15
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED SHORT FILMS, 2011(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.
ANOTHER YEAR Mike 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)
BIUTIFUL The 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 SWAN Haunting, 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 VALENTINE Billing 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 EAGLE Reviewed ths issue. (PG-13) 114 minutes. (★★)
GNOMEO AND JULIET The most enduring love story of all time, enacted by…garden gnomes? That’s the plan in this animated Disney family comedy. (G)
THE ILLUSIONIST Sylvain Chomet’s lovingly hand-drawn animated feature is an artifact of another era. With the look of old-school cel animation in which every frame is a mini work of art, its subject is the bygone era of postwar vaudeville in a story adapted from an unproduced script written decades ago by Jacques Tati. That it’s told almost without dialogue (sound and music, yes, but few discernible words) adds much to its wistful whimsy and charm. (PG) 80 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
THE GREEN HORNET Seth Rogan stars in this remix of the old DC comic (by way of the 1960s TV show). (PG-13) 119 minutes.
THE FIGHTER Christian 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 NADA This Latina update of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility stars Camilla Belle and Alexa Vega. (PG-13) 107 minutes.
THE KING’S SPEECH If 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) Lisa Jensen
JUST GO WITH IT Most people would never realize this because it wasn’t promoted much in the press, but this film is actually a reboot of the ’60s film Cactus Flower, which starred Walter Matthau and shot Goldie Hawn to fame. The good news? For an Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston comedy, it’s really not that bad. Sandler is a guy trying to nab an attractive gal (Brooklyn Decker) and eventually must lure his female buddy/coworker in an elaborate scheme to do so. He begs her to “play” his ex-wife. She’s got kids. He didn’t count on that secret getting out. It takes a while to warm up to the film, but after 30 minutes, the pacing and the comedy click in and both leads generate some fine chemistry. Great supporting players, too. Dennis Dugan directs. (PG-13) 116 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER You’ve seen the videos. Now see the teenage You Tube phenomenon on the big screen (in 3D). .(G).
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
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