Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
New This Week
Sounds like Mel Gibson may be perfectly cast as a successful exec who goes a little nuts as his life crumbles around him, to the point where he can only communicate with family and friends via a large bucktoothed beaver hand puppet. Jodie Foster directs, and also co-stars as the loyal, but long-suffering wife trying to help pull him back together. Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar nominee for Winter’s Bone) co-star. (PG-13) 91 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
This 1948 documentary of the famous 1945 Nazi war crimes trial was made for the U. S. Government under the auspices of the OSS War Crimes film unit headed by John Ford. Director Stuart Schulberg’s film is the ultimate courtroom drama, as well as detailing how the international prosecutors built their case against the Nazis using much of the propoganda film footage the Nazis themselves produced. This is a newly restored and reconstituted print of the film created by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky for presentation at the 60th anniversary of the Berlin International Film Festival. (Not rated) 80 minutes. In English, German, French, and Russian, with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD
Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 90 minutes. (★★1/2) Starts Friday.
Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush lead an international cast (including Ian McShane as Blackbeard, and Penelope Cruz as Blackbeard’s swashbuckling daughter) on a search for the fabled Fountain of Youth in this fourth romp in the franchise. Expect zombies swordplay, mermaids, comedy, and romance (but don’t be surprised if most of Tim Powers’ excellent sci-fi/fantasy novel from which it’s adapted goes MIA). Rob Marshall diects. (PG-13) 137 minutes. Midnight shows tonight only (Thursday, May 19). Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE PRINCESS OF MONTPENSIER
Veteran French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier (A Sunday In the Country; ‘Round Midnight) directs this lush historical drama set during the Protestant-Catholic civil wars of 16th Century France. Mélanie Thierry stars as a young woman learning to navigate the world and wargames of men. Although in love with her dashing cousin, she’s forced by her father into an arranged marriage with a nobleman she doesn’t know. When he leaves for the war, she’s left in the care of an aging courtier who despises war and schools her in the intricacies of court life. Lambert Wilson (the head monk in Of Gods and Men), and Gaspard Ulliel (the missing amnesiac lover in A Very Long Engagement) co-star. (Not rated) 139 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
In this samurai action sage from director Takashi Miike, a lone samurai is hired to take down a cruel and evil overlord, and assembles a ragtag crew of misfit warriors to help him storm the overlord’s fortress. Mayhem ensues. Koji Yakusho (Shall We Dance?; Babel), Takayuki Yamada, and Goro Inagaki star. (R) 141 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: THE BIG UNEASY Actor, satirist, and principal voice cast member on “The Simpsons” (he does Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Ned Flanders, among many others), Harry Shearer dons yet another Panama hat—as social activist—to personally present his new documentary to the Santa Cruz viewing audience. As a part-time resident of New Orleans, Shearer decided to investigate exactly why the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, with such devastating consequences, flooding entire communities and drowning scores of residents. What he finds, in scrupulously documented interviews with CGI maps and re-creations, is that this so-called “natural” disaster was in fact the result of years of incompetence, lax decision-making, sub-standard (or simply failed) equipment and various other kinds of ruinous skullduggery on the part of the Army Corps of Engineers, who not only built the original levess, but are now in charge of reconstruction. Meanwhile, allowed to “investigate” itself, the ACOE has removed or de-clawed several insiders, scientists and researchers who attempted to bring its culpability to light. A cautionary tale for any community situated close to the water. (Not rated) 98 minutes. Shearer will be live, onstage, to introduces the film. Tonight only (Thursday, May 19), 7:30 pm, at the Del Mar.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: UNDER THE BOARDWALK: A UKULELE LOVE STORY Starting out as an informal monthly gathering in the home of local book artists Peter and Donna Thomas, the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz has morphed into a 2000-member cult, as documented in Nina Koocher’s entertaining film. It’s full of music, uke lore, and interviews with founders Thomas and Andy Andrews, and members like Rick ‘Ukulele Dick’ McKee, Jayme Kelly Curtis (showing of her custom Hawaiian Koa wood uke with Santa Cruz redwood top), Ian Whitcomb, and many others. The late James Houston notes the “big-time connection” between Santa Cruz and Hawaii, and everyone celebrates the easiness of uke-playing in democratizing the making of music—”a participatory event, not a spectator sport,” says member Dave Egan. Peter Thomas calls the Uke Club “a place where people make bonds of friendship that weave their way out into the community.” Koocher’s film captures that fun and magical Santa Cruz vibe. (Not rated) 74 minutes. (★★★) Tuesday only (May 24), 7:30, p.m., at the Rio. Admission: $12 at the door; $10 advance at Streetlight Records or ninakoocherfilms.com.
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: ARMY OF DARKNESS (R) 81 minutes (HH)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Saturday 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: WOMAN OF THE YEAR (Not rated) 114 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 FISHER KING (R) 137 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Tonight (Thursday, May 19) 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. Discussion begins at 7 pm
MOVIE TIMES 5/20–5/26
Del Mar Theatre 469-3220
Water for Elephants 2, 4:30, 7, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11:30am
Everything Must Go 2:50, 5, 7:20, 9:20 + Sat, Sun 12:40
The Beaver 3:10, 5:10, 7:10, 9:10 + Sat, Sun 1:10
Army of Darkness Friday & Saturday night Midnight showing
Meek’s Cutoff 4:30, 8:20
13 Assassins 4:15, 6:50, 9:20 + Fri-Sun 1:40
The Princess of Montpensier 3:30, 6:15, 9 + Sat, Sun 12:40
The Greastest Movie Ever Sold 3, 5, 7, 9:10 + Sat, Sun 1
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today 2:50, 6:40 + Sat, Sun 1:10
Aptos Cinema 426-7500
Queen to Play 4:20, 8:50 + Sat, Sun Noon
The Conspirator 2:40, 6:50, 9:15
I Am 5:10 + Sat, Sun 1
Win Win 2:10, 6:40
Green Valley Cinema 8 761-8200
Pirates of the Caribbean 3D 1, 4, 7, 10 + Fri-Sun 10am
Pirates of the Caribbean 35mm 1:10, 4:10, 7:10, 10:10 + Fri-Sun 10:10
Thor 3D 1:30, 4, 7, 9:30, + Fri- Sun 11am
Fast Five 1:30, 4, 7, 9:30 + Fri-Sun 11am
Bridesmaids 1:30, 4, 7, 9:30 + Sat, Sun 11am
Priest 1, 3, 5:05, 7:15, 9:30 + Fri-Sun 11:15am, 1:45, 4:15
Rio 1, 3, 5:05, 7:15, 9:30 + Fri-Sun 11:15am, 1:45, 4:15, 7, 9:30
Thor 35mm 1:40, 4:10, 7:10, 9:40, + Sat, Sun 11:10am
Cinelux Scotts Valley Cinema 438-3260
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Thurs 05/19 11:59
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Starting Friday 11:55am, 12:30, 3:15, 3:45, 6:30, 7, 9:30, 10:10
Thor 11:20am, 2, 4:40, 7:20, 10
Cinelux 41st Avenue Cinema 479-3504
Thor 3D 11am, 1:40, 4:20, 7:10, 9:45 + Wed no 9:45
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Thurs 05/19 11:59
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Friday 12:30, 3:45, 7, 10
Bridesmaids 11am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:20, 10:15 + Wed No 10:15
Santa Cruz Cinema 9 (800) 326-3264 #1700
Pirates of the Carribean 3D 1:15, 4:20, 7:25, 10:30
Pirates of the Carribean 2D
12:50, 1:40, 3:55, 4:45, 7, 7:50, 10:05, 10:55 + Mon-Wed no 12:50, 10:55
Thor 3D 1:30, 4:30, 7:15, 10:15
Thor 2D 11:45am, 1, 2:30, 3:45, 5:15, 6:30, 8, 9:15, 10:45
+ Mon-Wed no 11:45am, 10:45
Fast Five 1:05, 4:10, 7:40, 10:40
Rio 1:10, 3:35, 6:40, 9:05
Priest 3D 1:20, 6:50, 9:25
Priest 2D 11am, 3:50 + Mon-Wed no 11am show
Hangover 2 Midnight Showing Wed 08/25 12:01
Riverfront (800) 326-3264 #1701
Bridesmaids 1, 4, 7, 9:50 + Mon–Thurs no 1
Something Borrowed 12:45, 3:45, 6:45, 9:20 + Mon – Thurs no 12:45
AFRICAN CATS In the spirit of Earth (2009) and Oceans (2010), this third Earth Day-oriented offering from Disneynature turns the spotlight on the lives and social habits of two families of wild felines in the savannahs of Africa. I am SO there! (G) 90 minutes.
BRIDESMAIDS One the best comedies of the year. Clever. Well written. Wonderfully executed. Kristen Wiig, who also cowrotes this comedy, plays a romantically-challenged woman suddenly caught in her best friend’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding arrangements.. Determined to be the best maid of honor, she, naturally, screws up. All that ensues is hilarious. But the film actually sports some real heart and, quite smoothly, delivers a sobering look at what women go through in relationships—of all kinds. This has to be one of the best supporting casts to hit the screen in a long tims. Beyond Rudolph, the typically tepid Rose Byrne outdoes herself. There’s Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and an amazing Melissa McCarthy—watch out for this one! The late Jill Clayburgh also co-stars. Wiig co-Paul Feig directs. (R) (★★★) Greg Archer
THE CONSPIRATOR Robin Wright’s fierce dignity as a boarding house proprietress charged with conspiracy in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and James McAvoy as the conflicted Union war hero defending her at a military tribunal, highlight Robert Redford’s historical drama. The witch-hunt to blame and punish scapegoats in times of national crisis make the story timely, but Redford is too meticulous a craftsman to beat us over the head with these comparisons; he lets the story unfold at its own pace, with his usual eye for period detail and sense of restraint. There may be a whiff of staid earnestness about the whole thing, but the actors are engaging, the story is gripping, and the film achieves moments of quiet power. (PG-13) 123 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
EVERYTHING MUST GO Will Ferrell stars in this comedy-drama as a guy who loses his job on the same day his wife kicks him out and throws all his stuff out on the lawn. He decides to take up residence in his front yard indefinitely, selling off his possessions in an ongoing yard sale, as he tries to figure out how to rebuild his life. Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, and Laura Dern co-star for rookie writer-director Dan Rush. (R) 96 minutes.
FAST FIVE Don’t freak out: It’s actually pretty good. I gave up on the franchise after the first sequel, but alas, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel team up again for another zoom fest that warrants another look. It’sa nice look, actually—fast cars (of course) motorcycles, unlawful acts and a wildly inviting bank heist. How can you resist? Good news: The script is well written and the characters are all engaging. And all this set against a sexy backdrop in Rio. Nice. Added to the mix this round: Dwayne (Rock) Johnson, who plays a federal agent on “Fast” team’s trail. Justin Lin directs. (PG-13) 130 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
HANNA Saoirse Ronan (Atonement; The Lovely Bones) stars in this action thriller as a 16-year-old girl raised in the wilds of Finland by her ex-CIA op father (Eric Bana) and dispatched on a deadly mission across Europe, pursued by agents dispatched by a sinister spymaster (Cate Blanchett). Olivia Williams and Tom Hollander co-star for director Joe Wright (Atonement). (PG-13) 111 minutes.
I AM An uplifting doc that dares to ask: What’s right with the world? Filmmaker Tom Shadyac, who was more of a mainstream film director, seems to want to come to terms with life here—he survived a tragic accident and suddenly got to thinking more deeply. There are some fine moments in the film and it works because the director takes us along his journey, rather than trying to force feed us his opinions. (PG) 76 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
JANE EYRE Mia Wasikowska is a poised, yet fiercely self-directed Jane to Michael Fassbender’s wry, stormy Rochester in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s fresh take on the evergreen, Victorian-era Gothic romance. It’s a deeply felt, beautifully wrought little gem of mood and sensibility. Moira Buffini’s smart script mines every nuance of feeling out of Charlotte Bronte’s story, spoken and otherwise; together, the filmmakers resist every temptation to resort to overheated melodrama, weaving instead a compelling narrative of urgent emotional suspense. (PG-13) 120 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
JUMPING THE BROOM It’s downtown meets uptown when the working-class, urban family of groom Laz Alonso and the priveliged family of bride Paul Patton converge for the wedding on Martha’s Vineyard. Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine are the mothers-in-law-to-be. Salim Akil directs. (PG-13)
MEEK’S CUTOFF Well-composed, full of respect for the natural world, and concerned with minute, almost non-verbal relationships, Kelly Reichardt’s historical drama set in the Oregon Territory ca. 1840s follows a small wagon train in search of the Willamette Valley. She’s at her best conveying the stoic resolve of the pioneers and the sheer arduousness of life on the trail, but there’s not much going on onscreen (despite capable actors like Michelle Williams and Will Patton). Part morality play, part vaguely realized political allegory, with a few trace elements of proto-feminism sprinkled in, it’s still little more than a premise that never develops into an actual story. (PG) 104 minutes. (★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
PRIEST In a dystopian future (is there any other kind?) in an alternate universe, a loner priest (Paul Bettany) defies church law to hunt the vampire brood who kidnapped his niece. Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, and Maggie Q co-star for director Scott Charles Stewart (Legion). (PG-13) 87 minutes.
QUEEN TO PLAY A middle-aged wife, mother, and hotel maid on the luscious island of Corsica unexpectedly discovers herself while learning the game of chess in this charming and contemplative French drama with a touch of magic realism. Sandrine Bonnaire plays the heroine as poised and pragmatic, yet simmering with untapped potential, who responds intuitively to the intricacies and strategies of chess as if to a lover’s carress. (Soon, she’s obsessively moving jars and salt shakers in chess patterns across her kitchen table; mopping a black and white tiled floor, she can’t resist hopping from square to square.) Kevin Kline (speaking French throughout) provides solid support and an air of mystery as a longtime expatriated and reclusive American chess master who helps launch her toward a new definition of herself. Rich in spirit and sensibility, it’s an assured directing debut from longtime screenwriter Caroline Bottaro. (Not rated) 97 minutes. In French with English subtitles. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
RIO Brazilian animation director Carlos Saldanha (the first three Ice Age movies) turns to more familiar turf with this CGI comedy about a domesticated pet macaw (voice of Jesse Eisenberg) on the adventure of a lifetime with a free-spirited female (Anne Hathaway) and a flock of exotic wild birds in Rio de Janeiro. Jamie Foxx, Jane Lynch, George Lopez, and Will i Am contribute voices. (PG) 96 minutes.
SOMETHING BORROWED Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love) shines—as she always does—playing a single New York attorney whose attraction to her best friend’s (Kate Hudson) fiance grows increasingly more complicated. Hudson is, well, Hudson here, but it’s Goodwin’s charm and that sort of achy-breaky heartbreak over a man she can’t have that seems to win the audience over. Based on the Emily Giffin novel, the film could have benefitted from some tweaks in the script—it tends to drag—but as romantic comedies go, this one tends to be pretty endearing. Colin Egglesfield and John Krasinskli co-star for director Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door). (PG-13) 113 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
THOR Chris Hemsworth stars as the mythical Norse warrior god of the long-running Marvel comic, banished to Earth to live among humans, whom he must protect from an evil villain. Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Kat Dennings co-star; Kenneth Branagh (of all people!) directs. (PG-13)
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS The bones of a satisfying romantic suspense story underlie Francis Lawrence’s evocative film adaptation Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel about passion and mayhem under the Big Top during the Depression 1930s. The movie may not be one hundred per-cent effective in its storytelling or its central romance, but it’s steeped in period atmosphere and conveys a keen sense of the knockabout gypsy life of a traveling circus. Robert Pattinson is appropriately youthful, stalwart, and gutsy as the veterinary student taken in to tend the circus animals. His relationship with Reese Witherspoon’s glamorous bareback rider never quite catches fire (although Christophe Waltz’s silky psychosis as her owner/ringmaster husband generates plenty of tension) but Pattinson’s deep affection for Rosie, the soulful elephant, is most convincing. Theirs is the most passionate and tender relationship in the film, and hers the story we care most about. (R) 122 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
WIN WIN Paul Giamatti stars in, yet again, a standout film about a character trying to come to terms with what life is handing him. GIamatti is a lawyer and volunteer high school wrestling coach who winds up caring for a displaced teen (newcomer Alex Shaffer). He decides to mold the boy into a star athlete. There’s an interesting back story, too, about the boy’s grandfather and mother.. Written and directed by quirk-meister Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent; The Visitor). Amy Ryan, Jeffrey Tambor, Bobby Cannavale, and Melanie Lynskey co-star. (R) 106 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer