Films This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With reviews and trailers.
NEW THIS WEEK
CONVICTION Reviewed this issue. (R) 107 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday
SAW 3-D Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, and Betsy Russell head the cast in yet another installment of the blade-happy horror franchise. Kevin Greutert directs. (R) 90 minutes.
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 ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Oh, Rocky! The granddaddy of all midnight movies totters back onscreen on its platform stilettos in this classic cult 1975 rock horror musical comedy. Tim Curry is irresistible in his corset, fishnet stockings, and purring, throaty vibrato; creator Richard O’Brien and Susan Sarandon co-star, along with a live cast to lead you in rice-flinging and dialogue recitation. Don’t dream it, be it. (★★★★) (PG)— 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: PSYCHO A generation of women swore off taking showers thanks to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful 1960 shocker, a shrewd, sophisticated, scary as hell, yet relatively bloodless forerunner of the slasher movie. Anthony Perkins gives a devastating tragi-comic performance as iconic, Mom-pecked Norman Bates. (R) 109 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. (Sat-Sun matinee only, 11 a.m. Admission $6. At Aptos Cinema.
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: REPO MAN The fate of an L. A. punker working for a seedy car repossession company is entwined with that of a carload of outlaw space aliens in this weird and original comedy from Alex Cox. It’s an L. A. of shabby, weedy landscapes, generic food, and narcotizing media, and there’s something absolutely crazy going on in every frame. Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton star. (R) 92 minutes. (★★★)— Lisa Jensen. Tonight (Thursday) 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.
EASY A Emma Stone headlines this tale about a clean-cut high school girl suddenly caught in a rumor mill. Branded a “slut”—how that happens is amusing, but know that she’s not—our gal studies The Scarlet Letter and so cleverly sticks it back to her critics. (PG-13) (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
HEREAFTER Three poignant stories converge in Clint Eastwood’s thoughtful and absorbing meditation on life, death, and what may follow. With a solid script by Peter Morgan, it stars the poised, lovely Cecile de France as a Parisian newswoman whose near-death experience alters the course of her life, and Matt Damon as a San Francisco forklift driver “cursed” with the ability to communicate with the dead. Frankie and George McLaren make an impressive debut as a working-class London schoolboy coping with loss and searching for answers. Eastwood directs with grace and authority, allowing the story and characters plenty of room to take root and transport us. The notion of a “conspiracy of silence” from entrenched organized religion about the true nature of the afterlife keeps viewers intrigued, and the storytelling engages throughout —from the subtle, playful eroticism of blind food-tasting in a SF cooking class to the spectacular staging of a rogue tsunami. Unlike 98% of the movies coming out of Hollywood these days, this one leaves you wanting more. (PG-13) 129 minutes. (★★★1/2)Lisa Jensen
HOWL 29-year-old Allen Ginsberg’s first reading of his incendiary poem in a San Francisco coffeehouse in 1955, the obscenity trial that followed, and the complex emotional journey Ginsberg took to write it are all celebrated in the ambitious, but wildly uneven film. Blessed with a fine performance by James Franco as Ginsberg, it offers a fascinating glimpse into a cultural era in transition, even though it fails as an attempted work of fiction; doc filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman stick too closely to court transcripts and interviews to stir up much drama. And lengthy animated sequences attempting to illustrate Ginsberg’s words with trippy visuals border on a Classics Comics Illustrated Howl. In a film so concerned with the power of provocative language, they’re a major annoyance. (Not rated) 90 minutes. (★★★)Lisa Jensen
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY It may feel like a Woody Allen at first, but this tale of am angsty teen who checks in to an adult mental health clinic for a week blossoms into a droll, surprisingly winsome coming-of-age comedy from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Keir Gilchrist shapes the young protagonist into a wry, honest commentator on his own failings who grows wiser and more self-deprecatingly funny as the story progresses. Zach Galifianakis is great as the brash inmate who not only mentors the younger man in life and love, but joins him in an emotional growth-spurt or two, and the subtext on how modern kids are pressured to achieve scholastic and financial “success,” at the expense of simply living their young lives, is well done. (PG-13) 101 minutes. (★★★) Lisa Jensen.
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS A young barn owl from a peaceful forest is taken to training school to learn how to fight a powerful enemy to the owl race in this animated adaptation of the childrens’ book series by Kathryn Lasky. Zack Snyder (300) directs; Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony LaPaglia, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, and Geoffrey Rush provide voices. (PG)
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel star in this romantic comedy-drama as two career-oriented singles who dislike each other (but have friends in common) who are thrown into a contentious relationship when they become co-guardians of a suddenly orphaned baby girl. Josh Lucas and Christina Hendricks co-star fir director Greg Berlanti. (PG-13) 112 minutes.
MY SOUL TO TAKE 16 years after a serial killer wreaked havoc in a small town, a new crop of teens start disappearing in this horror thriller from Wes Craven. (R) 107 minutes.
NOWHERE BOY Celebrate the early years that made John Lennon such a complex, driven, caustic and vital man in this ambitious biographical drama. Skillfully directed by Sam Taylor Wood, from a sensitive script by Matt Greenhalgh, the focus is not on the birth of an icon, but on the struggle of a conflicted teenage boy to become himself; emotionally as well as musically, the film hits all the right notes. Aaron Johnson as John gives a performance bursting with sass, heart, and deadpan bravado; he finds his own emotional truth every moment he’s onscreen. Kristin Scott Thomas is marvelous as his fiercely loving, yet undemonstrative Aunt Mimi. Raucous, moving and full of fine (pre-Beatle) R&B music. (R) 98 minutes. (★★★★) | Lisa Jensen
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 Tod Williams takes over as director in this hasty sequel to Oren Peli’s 2009 no-budget horror mega-blockbuster. Peli produces this new tale of skullduggery in the dark, captured on the family webcam. This time, a dog, AND a baby are involved. Yikes. (R) 91 minutes.
RED Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich make for a fun entourage of ex-CIA ops in this cheeky take of the DC Comics graphic novel. The plot finds their lives in jeopardy—somebody is trying to silenece them. A fun ride although a far stretch for the imagination, Robert Schwentke’s direction pays off. So too does Mary-Louise Parker in a costarring role.. (PG-13) 111 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer
SECRETARIAT Another famous racehorse gets the biopic treatment. Diane Lane stars Penny Chenery, the housewife and mother who reluctantly takes over her father’s stables in 1973, and helps foster the young horse who will become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. John Malkovich co-stars as trainer Lucien Laurin. Randall Wallace directs. (PG)
THE TOWN Ben Affleck directs this impressive Boston-based crime saga—he also cowrote it. As a disillusioned member of a pack of armed robbers, he opts to pursue a romance with a bank teller (Rebecca Hall) the clan briefly kidnapped, perhaps because of what he thinks his fellow crime buddy ( Jeremy Renner in another winning role) might do to her. Watch for how well Affleck builds on the suspense and gives a story we can be invested in. Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. Jon Hamm co-stars. (R) 130 minutes. (★★★1/2) Greg Archer
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN This persuasive new doc from Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) paints the ongoing decline in the American school system as a problem as devastaing as global warming. Standing up for preventive education as an antidote to crime, violence, joblessness, and prison (in the face of bureacracy, inertia, and hopelessness), Guggenheim cites the effectiveness of charter schools among low-income kids, personalizes his argument with stories of plucky, real-life children struggling for a future, then suggests how to get involved at the community level and work for the change our children and our own futures depend on. (PG) 104 minutes. (★★★1/2) Lisa Jensen
YOU WILL MEET A TALL, DARK STRANGER The cast is A-list cast but this a Woody Allen B movie. It never rises to the ocassion, which is surprising because there’s such juicy material here. Still, this new comedy of romantic entanglements has moments, thanks to Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones, a recently divorced couple—he ventures off to pursue a younger gal (Lucy Punch in a great role), and she’s seeking solace in the hands of a quirky, questionable medium. Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin costar—Watts plays Hopkins’ and Jones’ daughter. Antonio Banderas is also on hand. The movie hopes to remind us of how fickle the winds of fate actually are and, truthfully, how naive we are to our own circumstances and destinies—sort of like floating feathers trying and failing to live grounded lives. Allen seems to say that our own foolishness gets in the way—of everything. Some good moments, but the film doesn’t wander as deep as it could with such a rich subject. (R) 98 minutes. (★★1/2) Greg Archer