New This Week
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 Andrew Garfield returns for another outing as Peter Parker, college student-turned-web-slinging crime fighter, in this second installment of the rebooted franchise. Jamie Foxx is on board as powerful villain, Electro, with shady ties to OsCorp, the monolithic empire founded by the father of Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan). Emma Stone is back as love interest Gwen, and Sally Field returns as Aunt May for returning director Marc Webb. (PG-13) 140 minutes. Starts Friday.
BLUE RUIN A throwback to the age of true indie sleeper hits like the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, this thriller tells the story of a mysterious misfit who returns to his hometown seeking revenge, and gets a lot more than he bargained for. (R) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.
DANCING IN JAFFA Filmmaker Hilla Medalia (To Die In Jerusalem) directs this documentary about famed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine taking his Dancing Classrooms project back to the city of his birth, Jaffa, where he teaches a mixed class of 10-year-old Jewish and Palestinian children to dance and compete together, in hopes of breaking down the political ideologies that separate them. Not rated. 100 minutes. In English, Arab and Hebrew. Starts Friday.
THE FACE OF LOVE Annette Bening and Ed Harris star in this psychological drama about a long-married woman and recent widow who becomes obsessed with a man who looks exactly like her late husband. Robin Williams and Amy Brenneman co-star for director Arie Posin. (PG-13) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.
WALK OF SHAME Elizabeth Banks stars in this comedy as an aspiring TV news anchorwoman who finds herself stranded in L.A. the morning after a one-night stand without a phone, car, ID or money with only hours to get to the interview that will launch her career. James Marsden and Gillian Jacobs co-star for director Steven Brill (Little Nicky; Drillbit Taylor). (R) 95 minutes. Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE It’s a new season for Britain’s acclaimed National Theatre of London, broadcasting highlights from its Spring 2014 Season digitally, in HD, to movie theaters worldwide. Live performances will be broadcast one Thursday evening a month, in the Grand Auditorium of the Del Mar, with encore performances the following Sunday morning. This week: KING LEAR Simon Russell Beale stars in Shakespeare’s enduring tragedy as an aging king driven mad by the malevolent greed and ambition of two of his three daughters and heirs. Filmmaker Sam Mendes (American Beauty; Skyfall) returns to the stage to direct. At the Del Mar, Thursday only (May 1), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (May 4), 11 a.m. Also screens Thursday, May 15, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 18, 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare subscribers: $13.
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: AMERICAN BEAUTY Kevin Spacey is fun as a hapless corporate drone liberating himself from the mundane in Sam Mendes’ absurdist 1999 satire of suburban life. But the movie is never profound, merely sarcastic, cartoony, facile, and overly smug about the pathetic lives onscreen. (R) 122 minutes. (★★1/2) —Lisa Jensen. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
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 groups.google.com/group/LTATM.
Movie Times click here.
BEARS The folks at Disneynature chime in with their annual Earth Day wildlife doc (after Chimpanzee, African Cats, etc.), which follows a year in the life of two Alaskan grizzly bear mothers shepherding their cubs through the changing seasons. Narrated by John C. Reilly. Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey direct. (G)
BRICK MANSIONS The late Paul Walker stars in this action/crime drama as a Detroit cop who teams up with an ex-con in a notorious neighborhood to stop a crime lord from taking over the city. David Belle and RZA co-star for director Camille Delamarre (longtime editor for Luc Besson). (PG-13)
DRAFT DAY Kevin Costner stars as the general manager of a Cleve-land football team facing major professional and personal decisions during the fateful day of the NFL Draft. Jennifer Garner, Denis Leary, Frank Langella, Sam Elliot, and Chadwick Boseman co-star. Ivan Re-itman directs. (PG-13) 110 minutes.
DIVERGENT It’s back to the dystopian future in this adaptation of the bestselling Veronica Roth YA trilogy. Shailene Woodley stars as Tris Prior, a young woman categorized as Divergent—unaligned with any group—in a society that maintains control by dividing people into distinct factions based on their personality traits. Theo James, Ashley Judd, Zoﬁ Kravitz, Miles Teller, and Kate Winslet co-star for director Neil Burger (The Illusionist). (PG-13)
DOM HEMINGWAY Jude Law stars as a scruffy, rude-boy safecracker on the loose in London, looking to collect what’s owed him after keeping his mouth shut during 12 years in prison, in this black crime comedy from Richard Shepard (The Matador). The ever-entertaining Richard E. Grant co-stars as his wisecracking partner-in-crime. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is on hand as his estranged daughter. (R) 93 minutes.
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER In 2007, John Maloof, a real estate agent in the Chicago area, bought some miscellaneous boxes at an estate auction—and stumbled into one of the greatest discoveries in 20th Century photography: the previously unknown, but amazingly prolific work of amateur street photographer Vivian Maier. In this fascinating doc, Maloof exposes her work to the light of day at last, along with the mystery shrouding the artist herself. The portrait of that emerges of Maier (who made her living as a nanny/housekeeper) is compelling in its oddity. That so much of her work was never even developed (much less exhibited) suggests it was the process, not the outcome that was important to her. And isn’t that what art is all about? (Not rated.) 83 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL There’s plenty of fun and whimsy to be had here in Wed Anderson’s delightful new comedy. Much like Moonrise Kingdom unraveled in a quirky splendor, so, too, does The Grand Budapest Hotel, which chronicles the unlikely friendship between a revered European hotel concierge, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) and his lobby boy. Everything from the era—between two menacing wars—to the fictional setting of the Republic of Zubrowka pepper the tale, which unfolds, layer by layer (a story within a story within a story) much like a Russian doll. Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and other Anderson grads join the fun. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 Marlon Wayans is back in this sequel to the 2013 horror spoof about a guy who keeps picking women with paranormal demons to exorcise. Jaime Pressly and Cedric the Entertainer co-star for returning director Michael Tiddes. (R).
HEAVEN IS FOR REAL Just in time for Easter comes this screen adaptation of the non-fiction book by Todd Burpo about his 4-year-old son who survived a near-death experience and came back full of detailed stories about the other side. Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, and newcomer Connor Corum star for director Randall Wallace. (PG) 100 minutes.
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 90 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
JOE Nicolas Cage stars in this gritty contemporary drama as a tough ex-con trying to get by who enters into a protective relationship with hard-luck teenager Tye Sheridan (Mud). David Gordon Green directs, from the novel by Larry Brown. (R) 117 minutes. (Saved FGB)
THE LUNCHBOX In this award-winning debut feature from Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra, a young Mumbai housewife hoping to spice up her stale marriage, and a middle-aged widower about to retire strike up a correspondence and unexpected friendship when the boxed lunch she prepares for her indifferent husband at work is mistakenly delivered to the wrong man. Nimrat Kaur is poised and affecting as the lonely wife. The always great Irffan Khan combines the wry world-weariness of vintage William Powelll with the banked sensuality of a Raul Julia.This is an interactive bittersweet romance; how it ends depends on if you see the glass as half full or half empty. (PG) 104 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
NOAH Darren Aronofsky’s massive drama is sort of a philosophical disaster movie. There are passing references to Eden, but no specific geography or time frame, while the mostly ravaged and desolate pre- or post-industrial landscape could be the ancient past or the distant future. This is the Bible as dystopian sci-fi epic. And most of the time that works pretty well, especially in the first hour or so, as Aronofsky sets up his eco-parable about human folly and violence vs. the wonders of nature. It isn’t until much later—in the endless battle to defend the ark against an army of marauders, or in the oddly flat, almost silly coda—that the narrative drive springs a leak and the movie starts to flounder. Still, Russell Crowe delivers his usual, reliable mix of dynamic screen presence and robust physicality in the title role. (PG-13) 138 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
OCULUS A sinister antique mirror leads to mayhem and murder in this horror thriller from director Mike Flanagan. Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff star. (R) 104 minutes.
THE OTHER WOMAN Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jamie Lannister) gets up to more shenanigans in this revenge comedy about a woman who discovers that her boyfriend is not only married, but seeing yet another woman on the side. Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton are the wronged women who become allies in retribution. Nick Cassavetes directs. (R) 109 minutes.
THE QUIET ONES In this horror thriller, a university professor and his students conducting experiments on a young woman at a secluded estate outside of London uncover something dark and sinister. Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, and Olivia Cooke star for director John Pogue. (PG-13) 98 minutes.
THE RAID 2: BERANDAL This sequel to the 2011 action thriller The Raid: Redemption finds the young Indonesian SWAT team member going undercover into Jakarta’s criminal underground to set up a double-sting of both the crime syndicate and corrupt officials within his own police department. Iko Uwais stars for returning director Ga-reth
THE RAILWAY MAN Is revenge really sweet? This is the central question in Jonathan Teplitzky’s handsome, quietly moving drama adapted from the 1995 memoir by Eric Lomax, who, as a young British army officer, survived brutal conditions in a Japanese POW camp during World War II. Jeremy Irvine and Colin Firth deliver self-effacing complexity playing Lomax as a youthful POW and a damaged middle-aged man who decides to confront his Japanese tormentor decades after the war. This film doesn’t pack a wallop; instead, it invites its audience to consider our own notions of justice, morality and forgiveness. (R) 116 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
RIO 2 The parrots from the first film are relocated from the simmering samba of Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon jungle in this family-friendly animated sequel. Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, will.i.am, Jermaine Clement, Rodrigo Santoro, and Jamie Foxx are back in the voice cast, joined by Andy Garcia, Rita Moreno and Bruno Mars. Carlos Saldanha is back in the director’s chair. (G) 101 minutes.
TRANSCENDENCE Johnny Depp stars in this original sci-fi thriller as a scientist with a terminal illness who hooks his brain up to a computer to preserve his mind and gains unexpected powers. Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman co-star. Acclaimed cinematographer Wally Pfister (he won an Oscar for Inception) makes his directing debut. (PG-13) 119 minutes