Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
THE WARRIOR’S WAY Korean martial artist Dong-gun Jang (last seen in the overwrought, but rapturous The Promise) stars in this Eastern Western as an Asian warrior seeking only peace who finds he can’t escape violence in a small, one-horse town. Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, and Danny Huston co-star for director Sngmoo Lee. (Not rated) 100 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Other movies that are now playing reviewed this Issue.
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 NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS The art of stop-motion puppet animation takes a giant leap into the id in this delicious, classic 1993 holiday fantasy from producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick. Jack Skellington, master of the revels in the spooky land of Halloween Town, decides to take over Christmas Town and do Yuletide his way. The result is a delirious fable that sets merrily macabre Halloween ghoulishness on a collision course with the innocent wonder of Christmas. (PG) 76 minutes. (★★★1/2)—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: BEN HUR William Wyler’s enormous 1959 Roman epic, set during the time of Christ, earned a whopping 11 Oscars. Charleton Heston stars as the stalwart Jewish hero, destined for many trials at the hands of his boyhood friend-turned-oficious Roman enforcer (Stephen Boyd), before they square off once and for all in the climactic chariot race (all stunts, no CGI) that remains a marvel of movie action. (Not rated) 222 minutes. (★★★)— Lisa Jensen. (Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
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.
BURLESQUE Reviewed this issue. .
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
FAIR GAME A powerful tale and the stars align for its headliners Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. Watts plays CIA op Valerie Plame, who was outed by the Bush Administrtion for revealing the truth about the Iraqi WMD scam. Penn plays her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, whose New York Times opinion piece about his wife’s investigation cost Plame her entire career if not the safetry of her undercover identity. Director Doug Liman takes the audience on a gripping tale. (PG-13) 106 minutes. (★★★) Greg Archer
FASTER A double cross, a heist gone wrong, and an ex-con out for revenge are the ingredients of this latest Dwayne Johnson action thriller. Maggie Grace, Carla Gugino, and Billy Bob Thornton co-star for ditrector George Tillman Jr. (R)
FOR COLORED GIRLS Stage-to-screen auteur Tyler Perry offers up his take on the beloved Ntozoke Shange stage hit. (R)
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST This third and final installment of the Swedish film trilogy based on the globally bestselling Stieg Larsson novels completes the story of hacker-turned-avenging angel Lisbeth Salander. This third act is mostly devoted to resolutions, and meting out just deserts, but even with less thunderting action, there’s plenty of breathtaking suspense as Lisbeth and her allies launch their stealth investigation to tumble the clandestine, corrupt inner circle of Sweden’s power elite—or die trying. Michael Nyqvist is again on hand as her rumpled, savvy reporter ally, but what makes the series such a rush is the depiction of strong women who stand their ground in a social order where casual misogyny is so deeply ingrained, it’s scarcely noticed. And in her third outing as tough, resourceful, implacable Lisbeth, actress Noomi Rapace proves why she’s cinema’s Woman of the Year for 2010. (R) 147 minutes. In Swedish with English subtitles. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1 This brooding and foreboding first half of the last book in J.K. Rowling’s epic series (Part 2 comes out next summer) plays out like a middle act, and it’s not for the uninitiated. But director David Yates scrupulously re-introduces beloved characters and weaves in threads from the past to construct a solid foundation for the epic showdown to come. There’s enough action and comedy to keep things moving, but the focus is on the Passion of Harry (the endearing Daniel Radcliffe), the interior journey by which he comes to grips with his destiny, and what it means not only to himself, but to the larger world. As in the book, lengthy sojourns in empty landscapes drag down the middle of the story while Harry and pals are on the lam, but Yates finds a lyrical, heartbreaking plateau at which to conclude this first half and gear up for the grand finale. (PG-13) 147 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen
LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS Reviewed this issue.
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 Diane Keaton is wasted here. Harrison Ford fairs better and Rachel McAdams shines. The movie? Not so much. It’s not your father’s Broadcast News. McAdams plays an energetic TV producer attempting to revive the lowest-rated national morning show. She hopes to do that by teaming up a TV vet (Ford) with the show’s fluff host (Keaton). This is a romantic comedy so things are kept light. Still, you can’t help but wonder that the filmmakers really missed their chance to make a statement about how journalism has been gutted. And with stars like Ford and Keaton, imagine how well that could have played out. Alas, they bury the creative lead. Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum co-star for director Roger Michell (Notting Hill). (PG-13) 107 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
THE NEXT THREE DAYS When a woman (Elizabeth Banks) is wrongly convicted of murder and sent to prison, her frazzled husband (Russell Crowe) hatches a desperate scheme to break her out, in this action thriller from Paul Haggis. Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Brian Dennehy co-star. (PG-13)
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
SKYLINE When irresistible lights from an unknown source start beaming down on L. A., a plucky band of survivors fights back before the entirte populaton 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)
THE SOCIAL NETWORK One of the best, if not the best, films of the year. Smart, savvy and downright engaging. Is it true? It doesn’t really matter. This story about Facebook’s inception works. (It’s based on the non-fiction Ben Mezrich book “The Accidental Billionaires.”) Harvard undergrad Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), experiements in interactive blogging, which quickly morphs into a revolutionary process in which people can communicate with each other. Meanwhile, he gets sued for strealing the idea. Aaron Sorkin’s script is remarkably tight and the acting stands out—Justin Timberlake offers the best performance playing Napster founder. David Fincher directs. (PG-13) 120 minutes.(★★★★) Greg Archer
TANGLED The folks at Disney come up with a new take on the Rapunzel story in this animated comedy adventure. When a charming young thief (voce of Zachary Levi) breaks into her tower prison, the feisty teen heroine (voice of Mandy Moore) uses the rogue as a means of escape for heself and her 70 feet of magical hair. Ron Perlman and Brad Garret provide additional voices. Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid) wrote the songs. Byron Howard and Nathan Greno direct. (G)
UNSTOPPABLE Horrible title but a surprisingly good film. Director Tony Scott hits the mark in a tale based on a true story. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine play unlikely partners who find themselves having to stop a half-mile long, runaway train packed with combustible toxic chemicals. (Ain’t that always the case, though.) Rosario Dawson is on fire here. (PG-13) (★★★) Greg Archer