THE FOURTH KIND Milla Jovovich stars in this paranormal thriller as an investigator who uncovers a mother lode of videotaped evidence of 40 yers of alien abductions in Nome, Alaska. Elias Koteas and Will Patton co-star for director Olatunde Osunsanmi. (PG-13) Starts Friday.
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THE BOX Cameron Diaz and James Marsden star as a couple who discover a mysterious box on their doorstep that confers instant wealth on whoever opens it—but only at the cost of someone else’s life. Based on the Richard Matheson story, “Button, Button.” Frank Langella co-star for director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko). (PG-13) 115 minutes. Starts Friday.
THE DAMNED UNITED Michael Sheen turns in another beautifully callibrated performance as a real-life character from recent British history: legendary 1970s soccer manager Brian Clough, notorious in Britain for his ego, his gift of gab, and his skill in shepherding hopeless Third Division teams from the north of England into stunning and impossible championships. Director Tom Hooper navigates the story’s fragmented time frame with skill and clarity, while scriptwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen; Frost/Nixon) delivers a bracing, near-epic drama of supreme hubris, profound vindication, and dazzling chutzpah. But mostly this witty and merrily profane film rackets along on the charismatc brio of Sheen, who is marvelous fun to watch throughout. (R) 97 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Starts Friday.
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DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL Jim Carrey gets the motion-capture treatment from director Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express) in this animated action retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale about an old miser shown the error of his ways on Christmas Eve. Carrey plays Ebenezer Scrooge, and all three Christmas spirits. Gary Oldman appears as Bob Cratchit and Marley’s Ghost; Colin Firth is nephew Fred; Bob Hoskins is Mr. Fezziwig. (PG) Starts Friday.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS A dream cast headlines this nutball Cold War comedy based on the non-fiction bestseller by Jon Ronson. Ewan McGregor plays a reporter befriended by a mysterious Special Ops agent (George Clooney) who claims to be part of an experimental U. S. military unit developing psychic warfare to control the enemies’ minds. Jeff Bridges is the out-there founder of the unit; Kevin Spacey is a rival psychic with his own personal militia. Directed by Grant Heslov (who co-wrote Good Night And Good Luck with Clooney). (R) 93 minutes. Starts Friday.
UNTITLED Reviewed this issue. (R) 96 minutes. (★★★) Starts Friday. See Review by Lisa Jensen >>>
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: BOYHOOD SHADOWS Filmmakers Terri DeBono and Steve Rosen (whose documentaries Beyond Barbed Wire and My Name Is Belle were popular the Pacific Rim Film Festival audiences) co-direct this new documentary on surviving childhood abuse. This film screening is a benefit for the Survivors Healing Center. Laura Dare will perform live before the screening. At the Rio (DAY) only, (SHOWTIME) 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: LABYRINTH David Bowie as the wicked Goblin King, and a herd of cheerfully bizarre muppet critters play out a familiar coming-of-age quest plot that owes more to Alice and Oz than it can ever repay. A teenage Jennifer Connelly is the heroine of the 1986 Jim Henson fantasy, and cheeky dialogue by screenwriter Terry Jones provides some fun. (PG) 101 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
CONTINUING SERIES: FLASHBACK FILMS @ the CINEMA 9 To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Monty Python troupe, this week’s offering is MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN. A rollicking satire of everything from cult fanaticism and hypocritical revolutionaries to Hollywood Biblical epics, this is the saga of Brian of Nazareth, born in the stable next door, who spends his life being mistaken for the Messiah. The Python’s deliver their usual dry wit and manic style. Terry Jones directs. (R) 94 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen. At the Cinema 9, Thursday only, 8 p.m.
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.