Movies & Film Events: Week of Nov. 11

film_guide_iconFilms This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.


Doc director Ondi Timoner travels the world with Bjorn Lomborg (author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center scientific think tank) on Lomborg’s quest to develop rational, sensible, and economically viable solutions to global warming. (Not rated) 88 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

Naomi Watts stars as CIA op Valerie Plame, outed by the Bush Administration for telling the truth about the Iraqi WMD scam by which the government was propelling us into war. Sean Penn co-stars as her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, whose op-ed piece the New York Times about his wife’s investigation cost Plame her career and the protection of her covert identity. Lest we forget: Bush-era politics at their sleaziest. Doug Liman directs.   (PG-13) 106 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>


THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST Reviewed this issue. (R) 147 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. Starts Friday.

movies_monstersMONSTERS This inventive and imaginative tale is full of surprises. You might believe it’s just a take off of last year’s headturner District 9, because it gives us a tale about alien life forms in the modern world—yes, aliens have crash-landed and been ghettoized in Central America. Enter a beleaugered journalist who agrees to escort a trapped American tourist through a hazardous infected zone in Mexico to the U. S. border. The film has some fine suspense, but what will surprise you the most is how cleverly it hits you on an emotional level. It’s not all about guts and gore. We walk away questioning our humanity, yes, but better still, we walk away contemplating our built-in assumptions and prejudices, in general. An attention-grabber at many film fest, you really do want to check this winning story out. Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy star for writer-director Gareth Edwards. (R) 94 minutes. Fri-Sat late shows only at the Del Mar. (★★★)  Greg Archer Watch film trailer >>>


SKYLINE When irresistible lights from an unknown source start beaming down on L. A., a plucky band of survivors fights back before the entire population is sucked up in a sinister rapture in this sci-fi thriller from directors Colin Strause and Greg Strause. Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson star. (PG-13) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>


UNSTOPPABLE It’s Denzel Washington vs. a half-mile long, runaway train packed with combustible toxic chemicals and heading for the city in this action thriller from director Tony Scott. Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson co-star. (PG-13) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

Film Events
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: BAG IT! Suzan Beraza directs this wry and timely doc about America’s love affair with the plastic bag and its consequences. Onscreen tour guide Jeb Berrier will be on hand to discuss the making of the film. Pre-sale tickets available at www.saveourshores.org/ Tickets are $5 online up to Nov 15, or $7 at the door. At the Del Mar, Wednesday only (Nov 17) 7 p.m.

CONTINUING SERIES THIS WEEK: THE MET: LIVE IN HD AT THE CINEMA 9 Digital broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera projected live, onscreen, Saturday mornings throughout the season (with repeat encore re-broadcasts, as noted). Tickets: $24 general, $22 senior for the live broadcasts; $18 for everyone for the encores. This week: DON PASQUALE  Donizetti’s comic opera is lustily sung by Anna Netrebko and John Del Carlo in this acclaimed new production by Otto Schenk. James Levine conducts. LIVE: Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 10:00 a. m.

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: EDWARD
SCISSORHANDS Johnny Depp brings sweetness, gravity, innocence and an accomplished sense of physical comedy to the role of a mechanical youth with pruning shears for hands—the ultimate outsider—in Tim Burton’s wacko and wonderful 1990 comic fable. The emotions are pure and primal, the mood lyrical and the humor deliciously absurd. But it’s Depp’s lovely performance as Edward—forsaken by his creator (a droll Vincent Price), seduced and then rejected by the “normal” world—that speaks to the frog prince, misfit teen or misunderstood artiste in all of us. (PG-13) 105 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. 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: THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI Psychological tension and sprawling action highlight David Lean’s 1957 epic about Allied prisoners in a Japanese POW camp at odds with their captors and each other over building a bridge. Oscars went to the film itself, Lean, Pierre Boulle’s script, Malcolm Arnold’s famous whistling march theme, and star Alec Guinness as a by-the-book British officer cracking under the strain. William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Sessue Hayakawa co-star. (Not rated) 161 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: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH John Cusack, Catherine Keener, a secret portal into the mind of John Malkovich, and a street corner marionette version of Abelard And Heloise—what’s not to like? All from the gloriously twisted brain of writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze. (R) 112 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. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights to discuss current flicks with a rotating series of guest moderators. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.

Now Playing
CONVICTION Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell act their hearts out in this true story of Betty Anne Waters and her brother Kenny:  she’s a high school dropout who puts herself through law school to free him from a life sentence in prison for a murder she’s sure he didn’t commit. Minnie Driver is wonderful as  wisecracking fellow law student. Tony Goldwyn directs at a brisk pace in this humane, unsurprising, but satisfying drama. (R) 107 minutes. (★★★)
Lisa Jensen

DUE DATE  Director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) delivers a wild outing but fails to give Due Date the same seemless flow as his previous film, which was also an outlandish endeavor. The Hangover worked so well because it seemed to know when NOT to play things over the top. There were more subleties whereas in Due Date, things tend to cause an eyeroll. Still, this is one funny ride and thanks to the great turns by Robert Downey Jr.—playing an expectant father desperately hoping to get home in time for the birth of his first kid—and Zach Galifianakis, you can’t walk away not enjoying yourself. Michelle Monaghan, Juliette Lewis, and Jamie Foxx co-star. (R) 95 minutes. (★★1/2)  Greg Archer

FOR COLORED GIRLS Stage-to-screen auteur Tyler Perry offers up his take on the beloved Ntozoke Shange stage hit. What was originally a seven-woman collection of poetic monologues is now performed by full cast of women and men, headed by Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, and Macy Gray. (R)

HEREAFTER Three poignant stories converge in Clint Eastwood’s thoughtful and absorbing meditation on life, death, and what may follow. With a solid script by Peter Morgan, it stars the poised, lovely Cecile de France as a Parisian newswoman whose near-death experience alters the course of her life, and Matt Damon as a San Francisco forklift driver “cursed” with the ability to communicate with the dead. Frankie and George McLaren make an impressive debut as a working-class London schoolboy coping with loss and searching for answers. Eastwood directs with grace and authority, allowing the story and characters plenty of room to take root and transport us. The notion of a “conspiracy of silence” from entrenched organized religion about the true nature of the afterlife keeps viewers intrigued, and the storytelling engages throughout —from the subtle, playful eroticism of  blind food-tasting in a SF cooking class to the spectacular staging of a rogue tsunami. Unlike 98% of the movies coming out of Hollywood these days, this one leaves you wanting more. (PG-13) 129 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen

INSIDE JOB The shady scenario by which the American financial services industry crashed the U.S. economy and fomented international financial collapse in September, 2008, is examined in excoriating detail in Charles Ferguson’s cogent documentary. Operating on the principle that we, the people, can’t get even unless we get good and mad, Ferguson’s succinct and important film scrutinizes the unholy alliance of banks, insurance providers, savings and loan companies, financial rating services, and Wall Street insiders placed inside the Treasury Department, and the 30-year process by which they all conspired to ruin the American economy and bilk U.S. tax-paying citizens out of billions in the name of corporate greed. (PG-13) 110 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen

MEGAMIND In this animated 3-D comedy from DreamWorks, when a superhero (voice of Brad Pitt) hangs up his cape, it’s up to his longtime adversary, scheming villain Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell) to save the city from an even more diabolical evildoer. Tina Fey and Jonah Hill also contribute voices. (PG) 96 minutes.

MORNING GLORY Rachel McAdams stars in this romantic comedy as a plucky young TV producer attempting to revive the lowest-rated national morning show by teaming up a veteran hard-news anchor (Harrison Ford) with the show’s perky, fluff-journalist host (Diane Keaton). Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum co-star for director Roger Michell (Notting Hill). (PG-13) 107 minutes.

NOWHERE BOY Celebrate the early years that made John Lennon such a complex, driven, caustic and vital man in this ambitious biographical drama. Skillfully directed by Sam Taylor Wood, from a sensitive script by Matt Greenhalgh, the focus is not on the birth of an icon, but on the struggle of a conflicted teenage boy to become himself; emotionally as well as musically, the film hits all the right notes. Aaron Johnson as John gives a performance bursting with sass, heart, and deadpan bravado; he finds his own emotional truth every moment he’s onscreen. Kristin Scott Thomas is marvelous as his fiercely loving, yet undemonstrative Aunt Mimi. Raucous, moving and full of fine (pre-Beatle) R&B music. (R) 98 minutes. (★★★★) | Lisa Jensen

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 Tod Williams takes over as director in this hasty sequel to Oren Peli’s 2009 no-budget horror mega-blockbuster. Peli produces this new tale of skullduggery in the dark, captured on the family webcam. This time, a dog, AND a baby are involved. Yikes. (R) 91 minutes.

RED Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich make for a fun entourage of ex-CIA ops in this cheeky take of the DC Comics graphic novel. The plot finds their lives in jeopardy—somebody is trying to silenece them. A fun ride although a far stretch for the imagination, Robert Schwentke’s direction pays off. So too does Mary-Louise Parker in a costarring role.. (PG-13) 111 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer

SAW 3-D Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, and Betsy Russell head the cast in yet another installment of the blade-happy horror franchise. Kevin Greutert directs. (R) 90 minutes.

SECRETARIAT Another famous racehorse gets the biopic treatment. Diane Lane stars Penny Chenery, the housewife and mother who reluctantly takes over her father’s stables in 1973, and helps foster the young horse who will become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. John Malkovich co-stars as trainer Lucien Laurin. Randall Wallace directs. (PG)

STONE Robert DeNiro plays a parole officer looking forward to retirement, and Edward Norton is a wily convicted murderer coming up for a parole hearing who needs to convince him he’s reformed in this drama of passion and betrayal, crime and punishment. Frances Conroy and Milla Jovovich co-star as the women in their lives. John Curran directs. (R) 105 minutes.

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