Film, Times & Events: Week of June 6

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BILL W This 2012 documentary produced and directed by Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino explores the life and legacy of William G. Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Using archival video and audio, interviews, and select re-enactments, the filmmakers chart Wilson’s life from a down-and-out drunk on the brink of death to a pathfinder helping others kick their addiction. (Not rated) 104 minutes.  (One night only, Mon, June 10, 7 pm, at the Nickelodeon.)

THE INTERNSHIP Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn team up in this comedy about a couple of mid-life salesmen trying to jump-start new careers in the intern program at Google, where they face tough competition from a crop of bright young nerd-geniuses. Rose Byrne and John Goodman co-star for director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum; Date Night). (PG-13) 119 minutes. Starts Friday.

THE PURGE In a crime-riddled society of the near-future, one 12-hour period each year is devoted to an experiment in survival-of-the-fittest eugenics, where murder and other self-regulating actions can be committed without fear of punishment. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) star  in this thriller as a couple facing an intruder on the night of the annual lockdown. James DeMonaco directs. (R) 85 minutes. Starts Friday.

SIGHTSEERS An innocent attempted camping holiday turns into something far more surreal and sinister in this mayhem-laced comedy from director Ben Wheatley. Stars Alice Lowe and Steve Oram co-wrote the script about a sheltered woman dominated by her mum who agrees to trek around Yorkshire and the Lake District in a camper with her loose-cannon boyfriend. (Not rated) 88 minutes. Starts Friday.

STORIES WE TELL Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 108 minutes. (★★ 1/2) Starts Friday.

SYRUP Amber Heard and Shiloh Fernandez star as rival ad agency execs who try to team up for a billion-dollar project in this black-comedy satire of marketing and branding in the modern world. Aram Rappaport directs; based on the novel by Max Barry. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday.

THIS IS THE END Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson head a cast of celebrities playing themselves in this self-referential apocalypse comedy written and directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg; they’re all holed up together at Franco’s fortress-like mansion when the end of the world occurs out beyond the gates. (R) 107 minutes. Starts Wednesday (June 12).

WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Julian Assange, founder of the controversial WikiLeaks website, and Pfc. Bradley Manning, who used it to download thousands of classified US military documents, revealing plenty of government skullduggery, are the subject of this new documentary by Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning non-fiction filmmaker whose previous credits include Taxi To The Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and the terrific Hunter S. Thompson bio, Gonzo. (R) 130 minutes. Starts Friday.

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: FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF John Hughes serves up his usual goulash of smart, hip kids vs. idiotic adults in this 1986 comedy about a fun-loving high school senior who outsmarts his indulgent parents and his psychotic principal to ditch school for a day of benign adventures in downtown Chicago. Matthew Broderick is buoyant enough to get away with most of it (except for too many smug asides to the camera). (PG-13) 103 minutes. (★★ 1/2)—Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat 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: ARMY OF DARKNESS This third installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series (from 1993) doesn’t make enough of its time-travel premise; as the American battling zombies in medieval Britain, Bruce Campbell’s macho boorishness is the movie’s only joke. Campbell squeezes some laughs out of the big lummox anyway and some of the skeleton fx are well done (and some not). More jokey than witty, at least the movie doesn’t take itself at all seriously. (R) 81 minutes. (HH)—Lisa Jensen.   Tonight only (Thursday, June 6), 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 pursue the elusive and ineffable meanings of cinema. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit

Movie Times click here.

Now Playing

AFTER EARTH A thousand years after cataclysmic upheaval has forced human life to abandon the planet for a distant star, a decorated General and his untested teenage son (Will Smith and Jaden Smith) crash-land on Earth. It’s up to the boy to outwit bizarre mutant animals and an alien menace to try to save his injured father and get them home again. M. Night Shyamalan directs. (PG-13) 100 minutes.

AT ANY PRICE Generations collide in this family drama about a Middle American farmer (Dennis Quaid), who’s worked all his life to make the family farm a success, and the son (Zac Efron) who would rather drive race cars for a living. Kim Dickens, Heather Graham, and Clancy Brown co-star for director Ramin Bahrani. (R) 105 minutes.

BLANCANIEVES Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 104 minutes. English subtitles. (★★★ 1/2)—Lisa Jensen.

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP Robert Redford offers a fine turn here as star and director in a political thriller that effectively illuminates how much has changed in America (revolt, activism) and how much hasn’t (political shenanigans). The film has its flaws, but the story and the performances carry it to nice heights. Redford plays a man who has been living under a false name for 40 years to conceal his former identity as a Weather Underground activist during an incident in which a bank guard was killed. Shia LeBeouf morphs into a young reporter here eager to know the whole story. Look for captivating performances by Julie Christie and Susan Sarandon in particular. Chris Cooper Nick Nolte, and Anna Kendrick co-star. (R) 125 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer

DISCONNECT You don’t experience many movies like this coming out of Hollywood lately, so when you do, it’s best to take notice and relish the journey. Much like Crash exposed the decay of social mores with its colliding parallel storylines, Disconnect brilliantly captures the lack of real connection taking place in a world that, ironically, appears to be more “connected” through technology. But, as we already know, people aren’t more “connected.” They’re more disconnected, in fact, and here, we find a gaggle of loose and sometimes lost souls searching for something substantial that can’t quite articulate. There’s a cell phone addict unable to communicate in real life and issues of bullying, porn, and personal information leaked online. And all of it merges so wonderfully in a hypnotic tale that finds its actors—Jason Bateman, Andrea Riseborough, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgard, Paula Patton, Max Thierot (of Bates Motel, who shines here!)—turning in some of the finest performances of the year. Some may find the ending a tad over-dramatic, but it fits the tone of the captivating modern-day opera that director Henry-Alex Rubin so wonderfully creates. (R) 115 minutes. (★★★★) —Greg Archer

EPIC Chris Wedge (one half of the brain trust on the Ice Age franchise) directs this animated family adventure about a teenage girl (voice of Amanda Seyfried) transported into a magical forest realm where she leads a battle of the meek and good against the forces of Evil. Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Chris O’Dowd and Steven Tyler contribute voices. (PG) 102 minutes.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, Ricky Gervais, and Sofia Vergara lend their voices to this animated comedy about a heroic astronaut from a far-off planet who flies to the rescue when he receives an SOS from Planet Earth. Veteran storyboard artist Cal Brunker directs. (PG)

FRANCES HA Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) directs this cinematic love letter to his partner and muse, Greta Gerwig, who stars in this postmodern comedy as a recent Ivy League grad in New York with vague ambitions to become a dancer and discover her path in life. Mickey Sumner (daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler) plays her best girlfriend. Co-scripted by Baumbach and Gerwig, it’s shot in stylish black-and-white. (Not rated) 86 minutes.

42 Newcomer Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson, the first African American ballplayer to cross the color line into Major League Baseball, suiting up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946. Harrison Ford co-stars as Dodger GM Branch Rickey, whose policy against racism changes the game forever. Written and directed by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, A Knight’s Tale). (PG-13) 128 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer.

THE GREAT GATSBY With florid visual stylist Baz Luhrmann in the driver’s seat, this slick, shiny roadster could be a head-on collision of inappropriate styles, or a brilliant reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American Jazz Age classic. Fortunately, the more self-conscious stylistic touches—like jarring Jay-Z rap music—mostly occur early on. Once the stage is set, Luhrmann ditches most of his tricks, letting the characters and their agendas propel the story for a surprisingly faithful and urgent account of Fitzgerald’s enduring tale of class, money, and shipwrecked dreams. Leonardo DiCaprio’s delusional Gatsby comes complete with alluring smile, mystery, and vulnerability intact. And Luhrmann’s attention to period detail is fabulous, from the gorgeous black and white Warner Bros. logo to the Deco-licious costumes and production design. (PG-13) 142 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

THE HANGOVER PART III Unable to let sleeping dogs lie, director Todd Phillips once again reassembles his cast from the first two Hangover movies. No bachelor party this time; the buddies are escorting the defiantly inane Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to rehab. (R) 100 minutes. (★ 1/2)—Lisa Jensen.

IN THE HOUSE In this new thriller from stylist Francois Ozon (8 Women; Swimming Pool), a teenage boy insinuates himself into the household of a classmate to write essays about the family for his French professor—with unsettling consequences for all. Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Emmanuelle Seigner star. (R) 105 minutes. In French with English subtitles.

IRON MAN 3 The secret weapon in this franchise has always been Robert Downey Jr., whose ironic, deadpan aplomb in the face of utter chaos has fueled more memorable series moments than an entire army of jet-propelled suits. What makes this installment such an entertaining load of hooey is incoming director Shane Black giving Downey plenty of room to deliver his special brand of crisp, pungent commentary. Sure, it’s too long, and too full of random stuff blowing up, but Black keeps the focus on the character of Tony Stark, creating ample opportunity for Downey to rise to the occasion as Stark loses his invincibility and has to literally pick himself up and rebuild his equipment and his psyche from scratch. (PG-13) 130 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.

KON-TIKI Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4300-mile journey across the Pacific in a balsa wood raft in 1947 is the subject of this new fiction film from Norse directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg. The story concerns Heyerdal’s Herculean efforts to secure funding and a fearless crew to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized Polynesia, along with the incredible journey itself. (PG-13) 118 minutes.

MUD Jeff Nicholls’ hypnotic tall tale simmers with danger, disillusion, humor, and heart, and Matthew McConaughey’s star performance radiates all of the above. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland are astonishingly good as two 14-year-old boys growing up on the banks of the Mississippi in rural Arkansas who get involved in the crazed romantic schemes of a disheveled desperado called Mud. Filmmaker Nicholls infuses the movie with a shrewd sense of place, and McConaughey’s Mud maintains the tension between dangerous and fascinating, while also making the character convincingly lovelorn and vulnerable. It’s a lovely piece of work, in an entertaining yarn of fathers, sons, and surrogates. PG-13. 130 minutes. (★★★ 1/2) —Lisa Jensen.

NOW YOU SEE ME Fun, playful and clever, this engaging little romp never takes itself too seriously—and you shouldn’t take it that seriously either. Leaps of faith (a theme that moves throughout) are required and, at times, it can feel as if the biggest disappearing act is the plot, but this film about a team of slick stage illusionists who pull off bank heists in the middle of their performances works, overall. It moves quickly, too, as the gang is pursued by FBI and Interpol agents. Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave (brother of James and boasting more “movie star” allure) Franco, and Woody Harrelson are the magicians. Morgan Freemanand Melanie Laurent costar. Michael Caine pops up. But watch how well Mark Ruffalo manages to take on his role, playing the FBI hotshot who continues to get fooled. (PG-13) (★★★) —Greg Archer.

OBLIVION Tom Cruise heads to the futre in this energetic ride that boasts a curious pace and a story that, while choppy at times, somehow works enough to make you think about it after you’ve left the theater. Still, it smacks of Sci-Fi goulash, with plot points from Independence Day, Armageddon and Blade Runner, among others, filling its tapestry. Morgan Freeman seems wasted here, but hey—we never tire of seeing him. The plot: Cruise is a part of a duo known as the mop-up crew in a post-apocalyptic Earth after aliens have destroyed much of the planet’s resources. Earth won the war but the planet was left virtually unlivable. Or so we think. (PG-13) 126 minutes. (★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer.

PEEPLES Craig Robinson stars in this comedy about a regular guy who crashes the vacation home in the hamptons of his girlfriend’s snooty family.. (PG-13) 95 minutes.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES Director Derek Cianfrance, who weaved Blue Valentine into the stunning tapestry it was, proves himself in his second film. It stars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a generational drama that does not quite move in linear fashion. Instead we’re given moments in time where Cianfrance  evokes a certain mood, steering audiences into considering how one’s fate can often be predetermined by family, residence, social constraints and unresolved emotional issues. Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider hoping to support his new family but his intentions venture off course when he delves into a series of daring crimes. Meanwhile, Cooper plays an ambitious rookie cop suddenly lured into the corrupt judicial system. Can he create a sea change by doing the right thing? Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, and Ray Liotta co-star. (R) 140 minutes. (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer.

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST Mira Nair (The Namesake; Monsoon Wedding) dirtects this adaptation of the Moshin Hamid novel about an upwardly mobile young Pakistani man out to make his fortune on Wall Street whoe life, career, and relationship with his American girlfriend all begin to crumble in the culturally divisive aftermath of the 9-11 Twin Towers attacks. Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, and Kiefer Sutherland star. (NR) 128 minutes.

THE SAPPHIRES Set in1968, an Aboriginal girl group from the outback morphs into a Motown-style quartet thanks to a down-on-his-luck promoter (Chris O’Dowd) and gets sent to entertain the U.S. troops in Vietnam. There’s a great deal of heart in this film. It also creates a believable backstory for the girls, which allows us to become invested in what transpires for them. Based on a true story, the film is “feel-good” but also well-crafted. A sheer delight. Chris O’Dowd, Jessica Mauboy, and Deborah Mailman star for director Wayne Blair. (PG-13) 103 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer

SIMON KILLER A recent American college grad (Brady Corbet) flees to Paris after an unhappy love affair and is drawn into increasingly fraught encounters with a sexy prostitute (Mati Diop) in this edgy drama of sex, lies, and identity. Antonio Campos directs. (Not rated) 101 minutes.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Riveting and ambitious, director J.J. Abrams continues to impress—and surprise—in this new Star Trek caper, the second in the official movie franchise reboot. Fortunately, the reboot has legs—or, in this case, warp speed. Loaded with a wild array of special effects, this film takes off and keeps going, unrelentless in its action and visual breadth. Fortunately, all of that doesn’t detract from the main story, which finds Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine in fine form) and his Eneterprise crew (Zachary Quino as Spock still steals many scenes) attempting to hunt down a dangerous villian (Benedict Cumberbatch) after a brutal terrorist attack. Many surprises await, and it’s nice to see that the filmmakers continue to weave in the new reality that this Trek lives in—which is a slightly altered timeline from which the original Trek characters existed.  (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer.

WHAT MAISIE KNEW In this modern-day reboot of the Henry James novel, Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore star as a divorcing couple (he’s an art dealer; she’s an aging rock star) too self-absorbed to consider the effects of their bitter custody battle on their watchful six-year-old daughter (Onata Aprile). Alexander Skarsgard and Joanna Vanderham co-star for co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End). (R) 99 minutes.

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