Movies & Film Events: Week of Dec. 9th

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




The two youngest kids from the Narnia series (Georgie Henley and Skander Keynes) bring a cousin along for the ride in their third adventure in C.S. Lewis’ magical universe. This time, they fall into a painting and find themselves on board ship with dashing Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) for a voyage to the end of the world. Liam Neeson again provides the voice of Aslan, the lion; Tilda Swinton returns as the scheming White Witch. Michael Apted directs. (PG) 115 minutes. Starts Friday.
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Ben 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 ther sense of worth. John Wells directs. (R) 109 minutes. Starts Friday.


TAMARA DREWE Reviewed this issue. (R) 111 minutes. (★★★1/2) Starts Friday.



Indie filmmaker Lena Dunham wrote and directed this eccentric comedy in which she stars as a recent college grad unable to figure out what to do next who moves back in with her artsy parents in New York City. Laurie Simmons (Dunham’s real-life mom) co-stars. (Not rated) 98
minutes. Starts Friday.film_tourist

THE TOURIST Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie team up with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (director of the superlative German drama, The Lives of Others) for this thriller set in glorious Venice. Depp plays an American on vacation who’s drawn into a sinister plot by sexy mystery woman Jolie. Skullduggery ensues. (PG-13) 104 minutes. Sarts Friday.
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SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES  The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz is back with a monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme this fall is “Directors of Italian Neorealism,” introduced by Dr. William Park, Faculty Emeritus, Sarah Lawrence College. This Week: LA STRADA One of the most acclaimed and heartbreaking early films by the great Federico Fellini, this 1954 allegorical fable is set in a circus. Brutish strongman Anthony Quinn buys winsome, simple-minded waif Giuletta Masina to work in his act, but complitions arise in the person of clown/trapeze artist Richard Basehart. (Not rated) 108 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (Dec 12), 7 pm. Free.

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 Carlo Stage and screen director Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) sets this dynamic new production of the Verdi classic, starring Robert Alagna, Marina Poplavskaya, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. LIVE: Saturday, December 11th, at 9:30 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: WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Don’t expect a sugar coating in Mel Stuart’s faithful 1971 adaptation of the slyly subversive Roald Dahl children’s novel. Gene Wilder is great as the owner of a magical chocolate factory where good children are rewarded and naughty, greedy, nasty children are shown the error of their ways—big time! (G) 100 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: AUNTIE MAME Rosalind Russell flounces around to boisterous effect as the wisecracking New York socialite unexpectedly saddled with the raising of her orphaned young nephew in this vibrant 1958 adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ autobiographical novel. Morton DaCosta directs in lavish Cinemascope; La Russel was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (and won a Golden Globe). (Not rated) 143 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.

Now Playing

BURLESQUE It’s a mess. But you can’t really walk away hating it. Cher shines. Christina Aguilera—not so much. Although the diva is powerful as a singer here whose talents help reboot a failing burlesque club on Sunset Strip. Cher plays the club’s matron. The script appears to have benefitted from a script doctor because some scenes appear as if they’re wandering nowhere and yet, surprisingly, are saved from ruin. All of the performances are superior. The story—not the case. Rated R. (★★)—Greg Archer .

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 led to an investigation on his Plame, eventually costing her entire career if not the safety 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)

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 Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway make for a great couple. The script surprises in this love story. Rated R. (★★)1/2 Greg Archer

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. (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 Reviewed this issue. (PG) 100 minutes. (★★★)
Lisa Jensen

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

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.(Saved FGB)

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