New This Week
In this cross-cultural French comedy drama, a wealthy, middle-aged Frenchman rendered quadriplegic in a paragliding accident hires a younger man from a different race, culture, and neighborhood to be his caretaker. Francois Cluzet (Tell No One) and Omar Sy star for directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. (R) 122 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 106 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★1/2) —Greg Archer
ROCK OF AGES
Tom Cruise lands the plummy role of the aging, arrogant rocker at the center of this screen adaptation of Chris D’Arienzo’s pastiche stage musical cobbled together from vintage metal songs of the ’80s. Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are the young lovers chasing their dreams in L.A., ca 1987. Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand run the rock nightclub trying to resist a campaign to drive them off the Sunset Strip. Malin Akerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Paul Giamatti co-star, along with the songs of Journey, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Twisted Sister, and others. Glee-veteran Adam Shankman (Hairspray) directs. (PG-13) 123 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THAT’S MY BOY
Adam Sandler plays a slacker goofball, and Andy Samberg is the straight-arrow son he fathered in his teens who fled home for a grown-up life, now unhappily reunited in this dysfunctional family comedy from director Sean Anders. Leighton Meester and Susan Sarandon co-star. (R) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH
Ethan Hawke and the reliable Kristin Scott Thomas star in this contemporary thriller about a disgraced American writer/college lecturer who flees the US for Paris, and the mysterious widow with whom he becomes involved. Pawel Pawlikowski directs from the Douglas Kennedy novel. (R) 85 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE AT THE DEL MAR
Britain’s acclaimed National Theatre of London presents its 2012 Season digitally, in HD, to movie theaters worldwide. This week: FRANKENSTEIN Playwright Nick Dear goes back to the source material—Mary Shelley’s philosophical novel of science, hubris, revenge, good and evil—for this searing new drama about a wayward Creator and his innocent, yet reviled Creature. Danny Boyle directs. In a nifty twist, stars Benedict Cumberbatch (TV’s new Sherlock Holmes, among many other credits) and Jonny Lee Miller switch lead roles. Cumberbatch plays the Creature, and Miller plays Dr. Frankenstein this Sunday, June 17, 11:30 a.m. Miller plays the Creature, and Cumberbatch Dr. Frankenstein next Thursday, June 21, 7:30 p.m. At the Del Mar.
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: WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Paul Rudd, and Christopher Meloni star in this cult 2001 comedy about kids, campers and families on the loose in the last week of August in 1981. David Wain directs. (R) 97 minutes. 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: THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Thursday only (June 14), 9 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.
THE AVENGERS It takes a while to gain its momentum, but The Avengers manages to deliver a nice balance of thrills in a plot you can embrace. Moviegoers dig it—it made over $200 million in its opening weekend, smashing all records. So, what we get is cult titan Josh Whedon’s (Buffy, Angel, and Serenity) take on the Marvel comic book heroes trying to fight a war lauched by Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) bitter bro. Watch how well Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man) elevates the film with his witty bon mots—he’s given the best lines. But kudos to Chris Evans (Captain America) for holding his own here, too. Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk) is expertly cast as Dr. Bruce Banner. Meanwhile Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) round out the cast. This is pure summer movietime fun. Have a ball. (PG-13) 142 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL The perfect antidote to the summer blockbuster season, this is a wistful, humorous, grown-up story of love, loss, family, identity, and the ever-present whooshing of time’s wingéd chariot. Its splendid ensemble cast play Englishmen and women of a certain age, gobsmacked by circumstances, who decide to “outsource” their retirement to sunny, inexpensive India. Adapted from the novel, “These Foolish Things,” by Deborah Moggach, It’s directed with quiet affection and precision by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love; The Debt.) The plotlines are fairly predictable, and it all relies a bit much on inspirational messaging, but it’s still an enormous pleasure to watch pros like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and a deliciously acerbic Maggie Smith. (PG-13) 124 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
BERNIE A delight from beginning to end. Based on a true story, the comedy stars Jack Black as a mortician in small-town Texas who warms to a wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine). Matthew McConaughy co-stars for cult director Richard Linklater Take note of how well Linklater weaves together a compelling tale here using many of the real people who still live in the small town where Bernie’s scandal eventually unfolds.. (PG-13) 104 minutes. (HHH)—Greg Archer
DARK SHADOWS When I first discovered this revamp of the famous soap from the 1960s and ’70s was being remade by Tim Burton, and that it would be more campy and comedic in tone, I scoffed. Still, after sitting through two hours of watching Johnny Depp as vampire Barnabus Collins, I was taken in—but not fully. The film has its flaws, one of them being that it really doesn’t give us a posse of characters with whom we can be emotionally invested. Beyond that, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Depp plays the 200-year-old vampire to winning ends—Barnabus is ressurected to be at the helm of his latter-day dysfunctional family. Michelle Pfeiffer also stars (in a role she seems to be sleepwalking through) as the clan’s matriarch. Helena Bonham Carter (typically fun and memorable) plays quirky Dr. Julia Hoffman. And Eva Green does her best as the spiteful witch Angelique, whose magic continues to loom over the family. But those who recall the original may long for less camp and more drama—there are some shades of that here, and you can see glimpses of what could have also been an effective thriller, but Burton leans more on a formulaic approach. (PG-13) 120 minutes. (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
HYSTERIA Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy star in this period comedy about the young Victorian-era doctor who invented the vibrator as a medical device for women diagnosed as “hysterical.” The story and characters are almost completely fabricated, but director Tanya Wexler’s uneven, yet entertaining film deftly captures late 19th Century (male) attitudes toward women and female sexuality; it’s a kind of fantasia on the idea of the vibrator, and its potential function as a revolutionary tool for women attempting to claim some shred of selfhood in an era entirely dominated by male authority. Rupert Everett contributes droll comic support, and while the script relies on too many double-entendres and overly-pat feminist speeches, the film provides a quaint and alarming glimpse into a historical moment of epic male/female misunderstanding. (R) 100 minutes. (HHH)—Lisa Jensen.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED The vagabond zoo animals are still trying to get home to New York City in this third installment of the popular animated franchise. This time, they’re crossing Europe under cover of a traveling circus. Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Sacha Baron Cohen return as the main voice cast; Frances McDormand, Martin Short, and Jessica Chastain provide guest voices. Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon direct. (PG)
MEN IN BLACK 3A refreshing improvement from the first sequel. Here, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reunite with director Barry Sonnenfeld and bring Josh Brolin along for the ride. There’s still that battle of aliens vs. man going on, but this time, time travel is tossed into the mix as Smith’s Agent J jumps back in time to save the day. Brolin plays Jones’ characterin 1969 to winning ends. Alice Eve, Emma Thompson, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga grace the screen, too. Fun. (PG-13) 106 minutes. (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
PEACE, LOVE, & MISUNDERSTANDING It’s an old story: free-spirited hippie parent vs. straight-arrow adult child. And it doesn’t get much fresher in this well-meaning but unconvincing generation-gap comedy from director Bruce Beresford. But it does have a knockout performance from Jane Fonda as a feisty, aging hippie in Woodstock, NY. Catherine Keener can’t make much sense out of her role as Fonda’s dour, disapproving lawyer daughter, but Elizabeth Olsen is excellent as Keener’s wry, poised daughter. And then there’s Fonda, teaching the kids to smoke a bong, howling at the full moon, and dispensing wisdom, regret, and absolution that feels hard-won and genuine. (R) 96 minutes. (★★1/2) —Lisa Jensen.
PROMETHEUS Enjoyable, interesting and engaging, yet lacks some spark. Still, this prequel of sorts to Alien is Ridley Scott at his finest, weaving together a curious sci-fi thriller that ponders the state of human evolution. (My sense is that the sequels, if any, may be better). Noomi Rapace (the original girl with the dragon tattoo) is a scientist here, who hopes to uncover the mystery of human life on Earth and after traveling with a posse to a remote space outpost, the gang quickly gets into trouble. Michael Fassbender (nice, playing an android) and Charlize Theron (mastering another steely role) co-star. (R) 124 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN Only those whose entire idea of fairy tales comes from Disney cartoons will be shocked by the dark, violent edge in this revisionist take on the oft-told tale. Those familiar with the horrific nature of the original tales from Grimm and Perrault will get the vibe in Rupert Sanders’ brooding, often gorgeous film. It does fall apart in the idiotic battle-siege finale, and they could have used a warmer, more empathetic actress than angsty Kristen Stewart as Snow White, but Charlize Theron is marvelous as the Evil Queen, and Chris Hemsworth scores as the Huntsman, a would-be assassin who becomes Snow White’s ally. (Read my full review next week.) (PG-13) 127 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.