Film, Times & Events: Week of March 27

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Check out the movies playing around town.
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BACKCOUNTRY A young, urban couple—one an experienced backpacker, the other a newbie—goes camping in the Canadian wilderness in this fact-based adventure drama, where they are soon lost in the forest and menaced by scary creatures, human and ursine. Jeff Roop and Missy Peregrym star. Adam MacDonald directs. (Not Rated) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.

GET HARD Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart star in this comedy as a millionaire about to go to prison for fraud and the streetwise guy he hires to teach him how to be tough on the inside. Alison Brie co-stars for director Ethan Cohen. (R) 100 minutes. Starts Friday.

HOME A lovable purple alien from another world and a hip earth girl with a souped-up car become friends and allies in this family adventure comedy from DreamWorks Animation. Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez provide voices. Tim Johnson (Antz; Over the Hedge) directs. (PG) 94 minutes. Starts Friday.

IT FOLLOWS It’s back to ’50s-era morality in this indie horror thriller, in which a 19-year-old girl dares to have sex, which unleashes something nasty into her life. Maika Monroe stars for director David Robert Mitchell. (R) 100 minutes.

MERCHANTS OF DOUBT The so-called “experts” paraded into the public arena to denounce everything from climate change to the dangers of toxic chemicals and tobacco are the subject of this documentary. It’s a small group of nonprofessional, lobby-funded opinionators-for-hire, exposed by filmmaker Robert Kenner (based on the non-fiction book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway). (PG-13) 96 minutes. Starts Friday.

SERENA Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper team up again for this drama of passion and ambition from Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (After the Wedding; In A Better World). Set in the mountain country of North Carolina in the 1920s, it’s the story of young newlyweds carving out a timber and logging empire whose past comes back to haunt them. (R) 109 minutes. Starts Friday.

Film Events

CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Eclectic movies for wild and crazy tastes plus great prizes and buckets of fun for only $6.50. This week: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES With their father away in the Japanese Navy, and their mother killed in a bombing raid, two young children must survive on their own in the waning days of World War II in this 1988 animated drama from Isao Takahata. (Not rated) 88 minutes. In Japanese with English subtitles. At the Del Mar, Fri-Sat midnight only.

CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES Film buffs are invited to join us Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. in downtown Santa Cruz, where each week we discuss a different current release. For our location and discussion topic, please visit our Google Groups webpage:

Movie Times click here.

Now Playing

AN HONEST LIAR Reviewed this issue. (Not rated) 90 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

CINDERELLA Disney’s live-action reboot isn’t quite as fresh as last year’s Maleficent. The production values are luscious, and director Kenneth Branagh imbues the story with humor, tension, and emotional complexity. But Linda Woolverton, who wrote Maleficent, comes from a generation of women who grew up chafing against the passivity of Disney cartoon heroines. Chris Weitz, the scriptwriter here, provides personalities for both his heroine, and her Prince, but he doesn’t have the same feminist fire; he’s content to tell the same old story in much the same old way. Still, what it lacks in innovation, the film makes up for in sheer loveliness, performed by an engaging cast. (PG) 112 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT Shailene Woodley and Theo James return as Tris and Four in this second installment of the dystopian future trilogy based on the popular book series by Veronica Roth. Hunted by the leader of the Erudite ruling class (Kate Winslet), they race to unlock the secret of their fiercely class-based society. Octavia Spencer, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, and Ansel Elgort co-star for director Robert Schwentke. (PG-13) 119 minutes.

THE GUNMAN Sean Penn goes the Liam Neeson/action route in this thriller he also co-wrote and co-produced, directed by Pierre Morel (Taken). Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance co-star. 115 minutes.

QUEEN AND COUNTRY 30 years after Hope and Glory, the first installment of veteran director John Boorman’s cinematic memoir, comes this wry sequel. A decade after the events of the previous film, its English boy protagonist has grown into a youth conscripted into the Army during the Korean war, which he spends teaching typing on the base, chasing girls, and falling in love with film. Callum Turner and David Landry-Jones star. (Not rated) 115 minutes.

SPRING Part love story, part horror thriller, this story centers on an American (Lou Taylor Pucci) backpacking along the coast of Italy who’s drawn into a love affair of mythic proportions with a mysterious young Italian woman (Nadia Hilker). Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead direct. (Not rated) 109 minutes.

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