New This Week
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) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
FOOTNOTE Reviewed this issue. (PG) 103 minutes. In Hebrew with English subtitles. (★★★) Starts Friday.
THE LUCKY ONE 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. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
MARLEY Reviewed this issue (see cover story). (★★★★) (PG-13) 145 minutes. Starts Friday.
THINK LIKE A MAN Four hip, urban 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) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: APARNA SEN In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Indian Renaissance Man Rabindranath Tagore, lucky Santa Cruzans will get a chance to meet another Indian cultural treasure, actress, feminist and filmmaker Aparna Sen, live, in person, this weekend. Sponsored by the Satyajit Ray Film & Study Center (Ray FASC) at UCSC, Ms. Sen will appear at the Media Theater, UCSC, for a screening of a restored print of the one-hour dramatic film SAMAPTI (DENOUMENT) (1961), directed by Ray from a Tagore story, and featuring 16-year-old Sen in her film debut. Ms. Sen will give a talk on the Tagore heritage and answer questons after the screening. Admision is free. (At UCSC, Sat only, 5 p.m.) On Sunday, Ms. Sen will be at the Nickelodeon for a screening THE JAPANESE WIFE (2010), directed by Ms. Sen, about an Indian man in a long-distance love affair with his Japanese pen-pal. A Q & A with Ms. Sen will follow the screening. (At the Nickelodeon, Sun only, 2 p.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: FANTASTIC MR. FOX Roald Dahl’s children’s book gets an edgy adaptation from Wes Anderson. Done in fabulously retro stop-motion animation, it’s an ironic coming-of-age tale in which long-domesticated Mr. Fox (voiced with sly zest by George Clooney) starts giving in to his wild animal instincts as a last stab at carefree youth—jeopardizing the entire animal kingdom. Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Michael Gambon lead the rest of the voice cast in this giddy 2009 treat. (PG) 88 minutes. (★★★1/2)—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: GHOSTBUSTERS Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver get slimed in Ivan Reitman’s 1984 paranormal laugh-fest. Who ya gonna call? (PG) 107 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday (April 12) 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.
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.
BOY Set in 1984, this coming-of-age comedy/drama from New Zealand revolves around a young Maori boy who adores Michael Jackson on a collision course with his own dreams. Growing up with his kid brother and assorted cousins in the ramshackle rural home of their grandmother, the boy gets a dose of reality when the absentee father he idolizes bounces back into his life, a petty thief and con-man trying to put his life back together after a stint in prison. Maori writer-director Taika Waititi also stars as the prodigal rogue father. James Rolleston has the title role. (Not rated) 87 minutes.
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.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS 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.
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)
DETENTION Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook and Spencer Locke star in this self-styled “hipster teen horror comedy” as teens trying to survive senior year—literally—when the have to break out of detention to battle a slasher movie killer come to life. Joseph Kahn (Torque) directs. (R) 90 minutes.
DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX 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.
HUGO If you love silent movies as much as I do, you’ll love Martin Scorsese’s new family-friendly film, Hugo. And if you’re a fan of the delightfully nutty, hand-made fantasy movies of early French film pioneer Georges Melies, you’re in for a special treat: Scorsese’s film concludes with a fabulous montage of vintage, hand-tinted Melies footage. The story of an orphan boy (Asa Butterfield) living in a Paris railway station, ca. 1930, who finds he has something in common with a grumpy toy seller who turns out to be Melies (Ben Kingsley) is intriguing and visually splendid. It takes too long to get going; there’s too much slapstick comedy and too many 3-D objects lunging out of the screen. But the charm and exuberance of the scenes of Melies and company at work in their studio makes this celebration of early movie-making irresistible. (PG) 127 minutes. (★★★1/2)—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.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME Jason Segel stars in this surprisingly effective yet offbeat comedy about a thirtysomething slacker. Jeff lives in his mother’s basement and spends most of the time searching for signs from the Universe. His more grounded brother (a terrific Ed Helms) begins to unravel when he realizes his wife is cheating on him. And then there’s the remarkable Susan Sarandon, who co-stars as the guy’s Mom—she’s brilliant as usual. The entire work delivers a quirky look at how each of these people handle the sudden changes in perspective—about themselves, life, others—on one single day. This is a sweet, little gem. Written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus). (R) 83 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI If you can’t get enough of the loving preparation of food—even if you don’t like sushi—prepare to be seduced by this drool-worthy doc about an 85-year-old master sushi chef. Jiro Ono operates a 10-seat sushi bar in a Tokyo subway station—the first such humble establishment to ever earn 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. Filmmaker David Gelb follows Jiro and his eldest son, heir, and partner, Yoshikazu, on their daily rounds from home to fish market to kitchen, as the elder Ono philosophizes about the search for perfection in life, work, and sushi, while his dutiful and talented son faces the ever-mounting pressure of living up to his father’s legacy.(PG) 81 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles.(★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE KID WITH A BIKE 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.
LOCKOUT 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 minutes.
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.
THE RAID 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.
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN 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.
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)
TITANIC 3D 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.
21 JUMP STREET 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.
WRATH OF THE TITANS 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.