Film, Times & Events: Week of April 26

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Check out the movies playing around town.
With: Reviews, RAMPART
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New This Week

film coriolanusCORIOLANUS Ralph Fiennes makes his directing debut with a modern-dress version of Shakespeare’s brooding military drama about a Roman general driven out of the city by the starving populace who enters into a reluctant alliance with his sworn enemy to stage a coup. Fiennes stars in the title role; Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jessica Chastain co-star. (R) 122 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>film fiveyear

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star in this modern comedy as a long-engaged, two-career couple who just can’t seem to make time in their busy lives to set a date and get hitched. Segel and director Nicholas Stoller co-wrote the screenplay.  Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mimi Kennedy, and Jacki Weaver co-star. (R) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

film goonGOON Seann William Scott  stars in this sports comedy as an underachieving Boston bouncer who’s brawling ability lands him a spot on a semi-pro Canadian hockey team, and a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his excessively accomplished family. Jay Baruchel and Liev Schreiber co-star for director Michael Dowse. (This was a fan favorite at this year’s Secret Film Festival at the Del Mar.) (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>film thepirates

Gideon Defoe’s comedy novelette “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists” was the inspiration for this stop-motion adaptation from Aardman Animation (beloved creators of Wallace and Gromit). Hugh Grant voices the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain, who’s quest to win the Pirate of the Year award brings him into contact with Charles Darwin on board the Beagle. Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, and Imelda Staunton contribute supporting voices. Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt direct. (PG) 87 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

film rampart
Reviewed this issue. (R) 108 minutes. (★★) Starts Friday.

film theraven
THE RAVEN John Cusack stars as Edgar Allen Poe, famed author of the macabre, in this period thriller. When a string of serial murders based on Poe’s most horrific works rocks Victorian-era Baltimore, a young police detective (Luke Evans) enlists the author himself to help him stop the reign of terror. Alice Eve and Brendan Gleeson co-star. James McTeigue (V For Vendetta) directs. (R) 110 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

film safeSAFE Jason Statham stars in (surprise!) another action thriller, this time playing a tough-guy ex- cage fighter defending a young Chinese girl with a priceless numerical code committed to her memory from the Forces of Evil who want to get their hands on it. Catherine Chan and Chris Sarandon co-star for director Boaz Yakin. (R) 94 minutes. Starts Friday. film undefeatedWatch film trailer >>>

UNDEFEATED  Like the underprivileged, rural southern high school football team it depicts, this doc by Daniel Lindsay and T. J. Martin came from out of nowhere to crush the competition for this year’s Best Documentary Feature Oscar. The film follows one season in the lives of the hard luck Manassas Tigers, from North Memphis, Tenn., under the incisive, character-confirming guidance of volunteer coach Bill Courtney. Football doesn’t “build character,” he tells his team early on. “Football reveals character.” The interwoven stories of three young players in particular make this a dramatic and entertaining ride. (PG-13) 113 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>

Film Events

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 LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING Load up on double espressos for this first installment (2001) of Peter Jackson’s epic Tolkien trilogy (to unspool in its entirety over the next three weeks of midnight shows). It’s an orgy of battles, blood and more battles, hobbits and heroes, wizards, dragons, elves, fairies and one spectacular Gollum, Viggo’s chiseled cheekbones, and Orlando’s long blond braids. (PG-13) 178 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Friday-Saturday midnight only. At the Del Mar.

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: TOUCH OF EVIL Writer-director Orson Welles is hideously mesmerizing as a corrupt sheriff in this lurid 1958 noir thriller about murder and mayhem at the MexiCali border. With Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, and Marlene Deitrich. (PG-13) 112 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday (April 26) 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.

Movie Times click here.

Now Playing

AMERICAN REUNION After American Pie 2, and American Wedding, the original cast from the first American Pie reconvene for this fourth installment of the comedy franchise. At their high school reunion in East Great Falls, Michigan, Jim, Oz, Stifler and the gang catch up with each other and unravel a few tangled threads. Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott, Tara Reid and Natasha Lyonne head the cast for co-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Rated R.

BULLY Lee Hirsch’s gripping doc focuses on real-life teen heroes and heroines struggling (or failing) to survive the taunting, humiliation and abuse from their peers in middle/high school. Most heartbreaking are stories of kids who committed suicide rather than endure any more bullying, and their devastated families; most frustrating is the lack of any kind of effective intervention (from teachers, cops, bus drivers, clueless administrators, even parents) to stop it. It’s impossible not to empathize with these kids and what they go through every single day, but it would have been interesting had Hirsch also investigated some of the bullies. At least, with it’s new PG-13 rating, those who most need to see this film, can—bullied kids who need to know they’re not alone, and bullies and bystanders who need to see the consequences of their actions. (PG-13) 99 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

Five pals on vacation plus a remote woodland cabin equals trouble in this horror thriller written by cult favorite Joss Whedon and writing partner Drew Goddard (making his directing debut). Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison and Jesse Williams star, with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. (R) 95 minutes.

CHIMPANZEE The folks at Disneynature are back with this narrative wildlife doc about an adorable baby chimp inadvertently separated from his community in the African jungle, and the adult, loner chimp who takes the youngster under his wing. Made in association with the Jane Goodall Institute and supposedly “based on a true story.” Tim Allen narrates. Series veterans Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield co-direct. (G) (★★★) —Lisa Jensen

THE DEEP BLUE SEA A lovely, haunting performance by Rachel Weisz is its own reward in this dark, stylized, claustrophobic depiction of a love triangle in postwar England. Directed as an impressionistic mosaic by Terence Davies, from the Terence Rattigan stage play, it dispenses with backstory and explication to focus on the plight of a woman at war with herself, facing a choice between her sane, stable marriage to a judge (Simon Russell Beale) considerably older than she, and her latent discovery of unbridled physical passion in the arms of a younger, but psychologically wounded ex-RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston) who can’t regain his footing once the war is over. (R) 98 minutes. (Saved XF)

Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, and Danny DeVito lend their voices to this updated animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ fanciful, ecological-themed story about a tree-loving creature trying to stop destructive humans from destroying the environment. Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda direct. (PG) 94 minutes.

Father-son friction between rival Talmudic scholars is at the heart of this offbeat Israeli comedic drama about family, ambition, and recognition within the cloistered realms of Academia. Written and directed by American-born Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar, the film toddles along at its own measured pace, yet becomes engrossing as the moral dilemma at its core shapes up. It’s not pacing, but the film’s wry humanity that earned it a Foreign Language Oscar nomination this year. Cedar spins his tale with plenty of cinematic flourishes, and deserves big kudos for not wrapping it all up too neatly. (PG) 103 minutes. In Hebrew with English subtitles. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

THE HUNGER GAMES The much-hyped film version of Suzanne Collins’ hit YA novel trilogy has winning moments, thanks to  Jennifer Lawrence, who morphs into teenager Katniss Everdeen (Kat) in a seemingly futuristic world. Kat takes her sister’s place in the lineup of a barbaric (and required) endeavor that places a boy and girl from each of the nation’s 12 districts to fight each other to the death until a sole survivor is deemed the winner. (Naturally, it’s filmed for Reality TV.) Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson co-star for director Gary Ross (Big, Pleasantville, and Seabiscuit). The film never allows as to really know that deeply (thereby care for) the characters because it’s trying to pack in as much story and action as it can. Still, it’s an engaging ride and a sobering look at how the shakey morals of govenment can erode an entire culture. (PG-13) 142 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer.

The always interesting Cecile De France (L’Auberge Espagnole; Hereafter) stars in this character drama from the Belgian Dardenne Brothers (Lorna’s Silence). In a rural French village, a rebellious youth (Thomas Doret)  abandoned by his father in the town orphanage is taken under the wing of the local hairdresser (De France). She comes from a similarly mixed-up childhood, and wars for his soul against the darker, more destructive forces leading him on. (Not rated) 87 minutes. In French with English subtitles.

The great Guy Pearce diversifies his acting portfolio with this sci-fi action thriller about a man wrongly incarcerated in a US space prison who can win his freedom if he rescues the president’s daughter when nutball inmates take over the prison. Maggie Grace co-stars for directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger. (PG-13) 95

Zac Efron stars as a young veteran just back from Iraq searching for the real-life version of a woman whose photograph was his “lucky charm,” keeping him alive in the war. Taylor Schilling and Blythe Danner co-star in this romantic drama from the prolific pen of Nicholas Sparks, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine). (PG-13) 101 minutes. minutes.

MARLEY While Marley bio docs abound, the first-person retelling of intimate moments earns this film bragging rights as the definitive Bob Marley documentary. The film succeeds because, with Marley’s oldest son, Ziggy, on board as a producer, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) enjoyed unprecedented access to Marley’s closest friends, family members and colleagues. The resulting film delivers a lush, layered and deeply personal portrait, including a number of photos, recordings and film footage never before released on a mass scale. (PG-13) 145 minutes. (★★★★)—Laurel Chesky.

MIRROR MIRROR Did you hear the one about Snow White and the Seven Stooges? That’s the prevailing sensibility in this fractured fairy tale from the sometimes-brilliant director Tarsem Singh. He injects plenty of visual pizzazz and a nifty grrrl power element, but the emphasis on campy slapstick is almost as fatal as a poison apple to the project. Julia Roberts is a skilled comedienne; she gets the most out of every acidic aside as the Evil Queen, but she’s never sinister, just catty. And without at least some attempt at dramatic tension at its core, the movie plays out as one big joke. Still, kudos to Tarsem for casting authentic dwarf actors in the roles; their diverse individuality keeps their part of the tale intriguing, despite the low-comedy script. And their relationship to banished princess Snow White (Lily Collins)—they’re highwaymen who teach her cunning, swordfighting, and survival—is the most interesting part of the story. (PG) 106 minutes, (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.

Welshman Gareth Evans directs this high-octane testosterone frenzy of blood, guts, and action, filmed (and set) in Indonesia, about a SWAT team battling its way up 15 floors of a fortress-like apartment building to capture a drug lord protected by an army of psychos. Iko Uwais and Joe Taslim head the cast. (R) 101 minutes. In Indonesian with English subtitles.

Ewan McGregor stars in this clear-headed, yet open-hearted romantic comedy-drama about impossible dreams and unlikely alliances. It’s directed by Lasse Hallstrom with his usual touch of warm fuzziness, spiced up with a dash of political satire, and a frisson of cross-cultural utopianism. But the themes never intrude too deeply on the film’s sneaky sense of fun. McGregor and the winsome Emily Blunt are Westerners helping a wealthy, visionary sheikh who wants to create a greenbelt complete with cold-water salmon in the Yemeni desert. Amr Waked is terrific as the philosophical sheikh; Kristin Scott Thomas is a riot as a wisecracking PR liaison. (PG-13) 111 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

THINK LIKE A MAN  Four men decide to strike back when their women start psyching them out, romance-wise, following the advice in the popular book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” by comedian Steve Harvey. Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Jerry Ferrara, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, and Regina Hall star for director Tim Story (Fantastic Four; Barbershop). (PG-13)

THE THREE STOOGES No, it’s not a biopic or a doc. It’s a comedy update in which three modern TV actors play Larry (Sean Hayes), Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Curly (Will Sasso), in a goofball plot about a trio of janitors trying to save the orphanage in which they were raised. Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, and Larry David pop up in the supporting cast for the directing Farrelly Brothers (Bobby and Peter). (PG)

You know the story: boy meets girl. Ship goes down. Girl loses boy, but her heart will go on (and on and on). Now it’s all been digitally remastered in 3D so James Cameron can rack up another few billions (unless spending that last hour on board the sinking Titanic proves to be a little too immersive an experience). Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star, as if you didn’t know. (PG-13) 194 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

The most memorable thing about the old ’80s TV cop show was that it launched the career of teen heartthrob Johnny Depp. Tough to imagine how it will be retooled as an action comedy for stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum; nevertheless, they play undercover cops somehow passing as high school students on the trail of a drug ring. Hill conceived the story; Phil Lord and Chris Miller direct. (R) 110 minutes.

The Titans clash once again in this new installment of the sword-and-sorcery franchise in which Olympian gods battle each other like punch-drunk gladiators for control of the earth and the souls of mankind. Sam Worthington returns as warrior hero Perseus, Liam Neeson is Zeus and Ralph Fiennes is the duplicitous Hades. Rosamund Pike and Bill Nighy co-star for director Jonathan Liebesman. (PG-13) 99 minutes.

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