New This Week
CHILD 44 Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace star in this thriller set in Stalin’s Soviet Union about a disgraced member of the military police investigating a string of horrific child murders. Daniel Espinoza (Safe House) directs. (R) 137 minutes. Starts Friday.
DESERT DANCER The true story of dancer-choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian inspired this fiction film in which the young dancer defies the oppressive regime in his native Iran to form a secret underground company learning its moves from banned videos of Michael Jackson and Gene Kelly. Reece Ritchie stars as Afshin; Freida Pinto co-stars for director Richard Raymond. (PG-13) 104 minutes. Starts Friday.
EX MACHINA A smart programmer at a huge Internet research giant wins a contest to spend a week with the company’s genius boss, where he’s asked to evaluate the CEO’s seductive new A.I. experiment. Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander star for writer-turned-director Alex Garland (who wrote 28 Days Later, and Sunshine). (R) 110 minutes. Starts Friday.
MONKEY KINGDOM Hot on the heels (or paws) of the previous Disneynature films Earth, Chimpanzee, African Cats, and Bears, comes a new Earth Day doc about a monkey clan in South Asia. Tina Fey narrates for co-directors Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill. (G) 81 minutes. Starts Friday.
PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 Kevin James is back aboard his Segway in this belated sequel to the 2009 comedy hit. This time he heads to Las Vegas for a last, pre-college outing with his teenage daughter and winds up facing a whole new cast of foes. Raini Rodriguez co-stars for director Andy Fickman. (PG) 94 minutes. Starts Friday.
TRUE STORY This drama is based on the true story of disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel who became obsessed with finding out the truth about accused murderer Christian Longo after Longo stole Finkel’s identity. Jonah Hill and James Franco star as Finkel and Longo; Rupert Goold directs. (R) 99 minutes. Starts Friday.
UNFRIENDED Chat room friends find themselves stalked online by an evil entity using the account of their dead friend in this horror thriller from director Levan Gabriadze. (R) 82 minutes. Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: IT’S A WILD LIFE In celebration of Earth Day, renowned local wildlife photographers and filmmakers Kennan and Karen Ward present their newest documentary, a recent hit at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Filmed over seven years along our very own Central Coast, it explores the rich diversity of life in Big Sur, from a nest of rare California condors and a resourceful one-eyed bobcat to a colorful human caretaker of the land and its wildlife. “You haven’t seen Big Sur until you have seen this movie.”—U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, Representing California’s Central Coast. (Not rated) 60 minutes. Friday only, at the Rio, 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets at Tomboy (next door to the Rio) or at brownpapertickets.com. Doors open at 7 p.m.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz returns with its monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme for the Winter/Spring 2015 season is “The Strength of Women.” This week: IO SONO LI (SHUN LI AND THE POET). Andrea Segre directs this 2011 film about the unlikely friendship between a Chinese immigrant working as a bartender on the outskirts of Venice, and a fisherman, a Slav immigrant nicknamed “The Poet.” Not rated. 98 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. Logan Walker, film studies lecturer at SJSU, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (April 19), 7 p.m. Free.
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: HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE Japanese anime legend Hayao Miyazaki directs this 2005 magical fable about a young girl who falls in love with a mysterious young wizard, only to be transformed into a 90-year-old woman by a jealous witch (voice by Lauren Bacall). Girl and wizard take refuge in his walking fortress in hopes of breaking the spell. Emily Mortimer, Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Billy Crystal and Blythe Danner provide voices in this English language version. Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones. Pixar’s Pete Docter directs. (PG) 110 minutes. 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:https://groups.google.com/group/LTATM
Movie Times click here.
DANNY COLLINS Al Pacino stars as a past-his-prime ’70s rocker with a chance to get a grip on his wayward life after he discovers an undelivered letter written to him 40 years ago by John Lennon. Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale and Christopher Plummer co-star for writer-turned-director Dan Fogelman (he wrote Crazy Stupid Love and The Guilt Trip). (R) 106 minutes.
THE HUNTING GROUND The ongoing epidemic of rape on America’s college campuses is examined in this unflinching documentary from director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering (The Invisible War). The film explores the way institutions turn a blind eye to the “rape culture,” and the climate of official denial, the impact on victims and their families, and measures being taken in the fight for justice. (PG-13) 90 minutes.
THE LONGEST RIDE Another romantic Nicholas Sparks novel comes to the screen in this story of an older man trapped in a car crash interwoven with the lives of a young couple in love. Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson and Jack Huston star. George Tillman Jr. directs. (PG-13) 139 minutes.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star in this new comedy from Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale; Frances Ha) as a “middle aged” couple of New Yorkers (they’re in their 40s) on a collision course with upheaval and introspection when they are befriended by a hip, spontaneous younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). (R) 94 minutes.
WHITE GOD In this allegorical Hungarian drama, a 13-year-old girl whose father drove off her pet dog becomes the leader of a pack of wild dogs that threatens the peace of the city. Kornél Mundruzcó directs. (R) 121 minutes.
WOMAN IN GOLD Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 109 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.