THE BURNING PLAIN Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga (longtime scriptwriter for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on films like Babel and 21 Grams) directs this multi-layered drama about various disparate, but obscurely interconnected people along the border towns of New Mexico, in search of love and redemption. Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, and John Corbett co-star. (R) 111 minutes.
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CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY (R) 127 minutes. (★★★1/2)
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THE INVENTION OF LYING Ricky Gervais co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in this romantic comedy about an alternative world where everyone always tells the truth—until Gervais' sad-sack character discovers the joys and unexpected complications of lying. Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Jeffrey Tambor, and Fionnula Flanagan co-star; Rob Lowe and Tina Fey have featured roles. (PG-13) 100 minutes.
TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 Pixar's frisky, funny, cleverly-written animated series about the secret life of toys when the kids who love them are not around returns to the big screen for a two-week engagement—in 3D! Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Jon Cusack, and Kelsey Grammer head the voice cast, for director John Lasseter. See them big, and get psyched up for Toy Story 3, due in theaters in June, 2010. (G) (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
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WHIP IT Think of Whip It as somewhat of a Cinderella story, a coming-of-age tale where the happy ending is all about discovering what you love, who you are and what lengths you will go to remain true to yourself. Hard not to like that. But Drew Barrymore hits a creative homerun in her directorial debut. Whit It shines for a number of reasons. What Barrymore is able to do, and do well, is give her audience somebody—and something—to care about. Enter the embraceable Ellen Page. As a small-town Texas gal, she’s the proverbial everywoman. She finds her bliss by accident at an Austin roller derby girl night. Soon, she’s part of the team as "Babe Ruthless.." Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig and Juliette Lewis (all delivering fine performances) costar alonside Jimmy Fallon, Landon Pigg, and Barrymore herself. This is the feel-good film of the season. (PG-13) 111 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
ZOMBIELAND Poor Jesse Eisenberg just can't seem to get off the boardwalk. First, he starred in Adventureland, and now, in this new zombie horror comedy, he plays a self-confessed coward forced to team up with macho Woody Harrelson in shepherding a group of refugees to a distant amusement park, where they hope to be safe from the encroaching zombie menace. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin co-star for rookie director Ruben Fleischer. (R) 83 minutes.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FILM DISCUSSION WITH MORTON MARCUS Join film scholar, poet, and raconteur Morton Marcus, at the (Nickelodeon or Del Mar) this Saturday for an incisive discussion of a current movie. This week: THE BURNING PLAIN Special film screening at 11 am. Discussion begins at 1 pm, and is free and open to the public. For more information call 426-7500, or check Nickelodeon/Del Mar ad this issue.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: ITALIAN FILM SERIES Contemporary and classic Italian films highlight this series (one Sunday a month) organized by the Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz to promote Italian culture and language. This Week: La ragazza del lago (THE GIRL BY THE LAKE) Tony Servillo stars in this 2008 mystery as a detective from Southern Italy investigating a murder at a remote northern lake. Based on a novel by Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum. Andrea Molaioli directs. (Not rated) 95 minutes. In Italian, with English subtitles. At the Vets Hall (846 Front Street, downtown Santa Cruz), Sunday only, 7 pm. Suggested donation: $5.
CONTINUING SERIES: MIDNIGHTS @ THE DEL MAR Only $6.50. This week: FIGHT CLUB Brad Pitt stars as a charismatic nutball who introduces stressed-out worker drone Edward Norton to life on the edge in the urban underworld of illegal, bare-knuckle boxing in this cult foray into rampant machismo from David Fincher. (R) 99 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.
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