New This Week
Who wrote Shakespeare's plays? This film argues in favor of Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, and delves into Elizabethan court conspiracies to explain why he was forbidden to claim the credit. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day; 2012) is an odd choice for director, but the movie looks lush. Rhys Ifans and Jamie Campbell Bower (in flashback) play Oxford; Vanessa Redgrave and her real-life daughter, Joely Richardson, play Queen Elizabeth as mature monarch and fiery youth. (PG-13) 130 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Reviewed this issue. (R) 101 minutes. (★★1/2) Starts Friday.
This heartbreaking story of a 10-year-old girl, caught up in the insanity of the Vel d'Hiv round-up of Jewish citizens in Paris in July, 1942, packs an emotional wallop, especially in the persuasive performance of little Melusine Mayance. The parallel present-day story of an American investigative journalist in Paris is less convincing; Kristin Scott Thomas is effective, but her character's marital and family issues are less compelling. French director Gilles Paquet-Brenner finesses some of the tale's more harrowing moments with admirable discretion, but fumbles the denoument, a poorly-conceived finish to an otherwise powerful drama. (PG-13) 111 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Watch film trailer >>>
Channing Tatum stars in this cop thriller as a young officer with New York's finest assigned to a precinct in his old neighborhood who's threatened by an old secret. Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche and Al Pacino co-star for director Dito Monteil. (R) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, and Alan Alda star in this comedy about a bunch of guys who lose their savings in the shady schemes of a wealthy financier, and decide to get even by robbing his luxury penthouse apartment. Matthew Broderick, Judd Hirsch, Téa Leoni and Gabourey Sidibe co-star for director Brett Ratner. (PG-13) 104 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
John Cho and Kal Penn return as the luckless slacker buddies, facing grown-up, holiday season responsibilities with typical immaturity, in this third installment of their misguided adventures. Neil Patrick Harries, Paula Garces, and David Krumholtz co-star for incoming director Todd Strauss-Schulson. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
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: SPACE JAM Michael Jordan co-stars with Bugs Bunny in this comic live action/animated 1996 adventure that fuses sci-fi, basketball and laughs. Bill Murray, Theresa Randle, Marvin the Martian and the voice of Danny DeVito pop up in the featured cast. (PG) 88 minutes. 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: GOODFELLAS Martin Scorsese's sophisticated 1990 gangster epic is effectively subversive in showing how mob ethics (conspicuous consumption, the brutal manipulation of power) only reflect the warped values of America in general. Told through the exuberant eyes of gangster wannabe Ray Liotta, it's a bracing mix of violence. glamour, and a lot of sly, deadpan humor. Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco and Oscar-winner Joe Pesci star (R) 146 minutes. (★★★1/2))—Lisa Jensen. Tonight only (Thursday, Nov 3), 8 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 discuss current flicks with a rotating series of guest moderators. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit www.ltatm.org.
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BLACKTHORN Mateo Gil directs spare, soulful tone poem on the iconography of the West, honor among thieves, and redemption. The fiercely iconic Sam Shepard is perfectly cast as the aging outlaw formerly known as Butch Cassidy, now called James Blackthorn and living peacefully in the Bolivian countryside. He takes a young Spanish bandito (Eduardo Noriega) under his wing and shares his views on honor, friendship, and life, but there's nothing warm and fuzzy about where this movie is going. (A shootout between three women is particularly hair-raising). Stephen Rea is terrific as a drunken old gringo who's wasted his life in fruitless pursuit of Butch and Sundance, but now embraces the quiet life away from the "war" the corporate railroads waged against the outlaws. Director Gil moves the action smoothly along through some luscious Bolivian landscapes to the stark, yet righteous conclusion of this moody, elegiac film. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
DRIVE Ryan Gosling's commanding presence fuels this lean, stylish suspense thriller. He plays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for petty criminals, forced to go on the offensive after a job goes awry. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn; costarring. Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
50/50 His own brush with cancer inspired comedy producer Will Reiser to pen this tender, thoughtful and humane comedy disguised as a raunchy guy farce—complete with Seth Rogen as the cancer patient's horndog buddy. In real life, Rogen and Reiser are friends, and Reiser has written him a typically gauche comic part. But the film belongs to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who racks up another wry, disarming, perfectly life-sized performance as a 27-year-old radio writer suddenly facing mortality. Directed by Jonathan Levine, the film never pokes fun at cancer or cancer patients, but it does offer up a bracing and humorous manual on coping with life's surprises. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
FOOTLOOSE Everybody ... cut it loose. Why Hollywood insists on resurrecting modern pop culture “classics” and making them worse than the originals, escapes me. The first film worked because its star, Kevin Bacon, had real charm. You liked the dude. Not so much with newcomer Kenny Wormald or DWTS babe Julianne Hough—they both illuminate the kind of souless, depth-free creatures our current culture tends to idolize; even compete for. (PG-13) 113 minutes. (★1/2)—Greg Archer.
THE IDES OF MARCH A perfect George Clooney trifecta: he directs, co-writes and stars in this winning political drama playing a candidate in a pivotal Ohio presidential primary. It’s Ryan Gosling though that, once again, steals the show, delivering a priceless performance playing a young press secretary (Ryan Goslin) who happens to stumble into a political scandal. Great supporting cast. Great script. Plenty of intrigue. Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei co-star (R) 101 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer
IN TIME I’m tempted to be generous and add an extra 1/2 star in this troubled tale—the movie lingered after I left the theater so kudos to the writers for somehow making an impact. The story itself eerily mirrors today’s Occupy Wall Street movement, where “spread the wealth”/hold head honchos responsible is such a thick theme. Here, it’s the near future. Nobody ages any more. The currency: time itself. Justin Timberlake plays the poor guy—literally— who stumbles onto a fortune in “time.” But the police, or "time-keepers" are fast on his trail. There’s hints of Bonnie & Clyde in writer-director Andrew Niccol’s (Gattaca; The Truman Show) story. The downfall? The dialogue stumbles and there are a few holes in the plot. It’s a quirky mess, when it all comes down to it but an intriguing one at that—you somehow can’t help but be interested in watching how it will all unravel. Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy star (PG-13) 109 minutes. (★★)—Greg Archer
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN Rowan Atkinson is back in another episode of his international spy spoof comedy series. Rosamund Pike and Dominic West co-star for director Oliver Parker. (PG) 101 minutes.
MARGIN CALL An A-list cast stars in this dramatic thriller about members of an elite Wall Street investment firm going into a desperate tailspin during the first 24 hours of the 2008 financial meltdown. Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, and Stanley Tucci star for director J. C. Chandor. (R) 105 minutes.
MONEYBALL In Bennett Miller's entertaining screen adaptation of Michael Lewis' non-fiction book, "moneyball" refers to the old-school way baseball has been run over the last 40 years, where celebrity players' salaries skyrocket into the millions, and only the richest teams who can afford the most expensive players ever win championships. Brad Pitt makes a tasty little feast out of the part of Billy Beane, iconoclastic GM of the Oakland As, who in 2002 assembles a group of inexpensive players from spare parts and leftovers, according to computerized stats, who go on to make major league history. A wry, engaging David vs. Goliath tale that pays homage to the "romance" of baseball without resorting to the usual sentimental clichés. (PG-13) 133 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman direct the third (and possibly final) installment of the renegade webcam thriller series. In this prequel, twin girls befriend an unknown entity that lives in their home. (Not Rated)
PUSS IN BOOTS Hail great storytelling. You’ll find it here. Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the orange swashbuckling cool cat he made so popular in the Shrek films. The good news? There’s plenty to appreciate in director Chris Miller’s animated prequel about Puss' life before he teamed up with Shrek and Donkey. Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Sedaris and Billy Bob Thornton lend supporting voices but it’s the story that really shines. Puss, apparently, had a stellar friendship with Humpty Dumpty—they become like “brothers” in an orphanage. Later in life, when they’re reunited, Humpty convinces Puss to help him steal some magic beans (a la Jack and the Beanstalk) from Jack and Jill and ... Oh, go see it for yourself. An ejoyable ride from beginning to end with clever twists. (PG) 90 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer.
REAL STEEL It's by-the-numbers in every possible way, plot-wise, but Shawn Levy's workmanlike saga of tarnished dreams and redemption coasts along on the considerable appeal of Hugh Jackman, playing tough and tender as a broken-down fight promoter who gets one last chance to turn his life around. Set in a near future when robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring. (PG-13) 127 minutes. (★★★)—LIsa Jensen.
THE RUM DIARY Johnny Depp returns to Fear-and-Loathing mode in this adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel (begun in 1959, but not published until the late '90s), a lightly fictionalized account of the author's early stint as a reporter for a run-down newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Amber Heard, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, and Richard Jenkins co-star. Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I) directs. (R) 120 minutes.
TAKE SHELTER Jeff Nichols taps into the potent national zeitgeist of fear in this story of a young Midwestern husband and father (the persuasively edgy Michael Shannon) who's gradually crippled by his mounting terror of—well, whatever it is that's out there. In an often striking portrait of the effects of rampaging fear on one man, and the ripple effect it has on his family, loved ones, and community, Nichols generates plenty of dread for its own sake, but that's not the same as telling a coherent story. He succeeds in replicating the suffocating panic of non-stop fear, but the film as a whole is mostly a premise in search of a story. (R) 120 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
THE THING Another retread for the venerable pulp horror thriller, this one purports to be a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter version, showing what happened when an alien spacecraft crashed into a Norwegian research station in Antarctica, unleashing terror on the unsuspecting scientists. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, and Ulrich Thomsen star for director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. (R) 103 minutes.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS Almost everything that could possibly go wrong, did, in Paul W. S. Anderson's misbegotten attempt to turn Alexandre Dumas' elegant classic into a cheesy, CGI-laden superhero franchise. You'll cringe at the concept of Musketeers as ninja assassins, committing mayhem with soulless efficiency; it's half an hour into the movie before anybody even draws a sword. Anderson makes an oily bouillabaisse out of Dumas' sprightly storyline, adding a steampunk element (plans for a 17th Century flying ship stolen from the "Da Vinci Vault") too heavy-handed to be fun. Just as full of hot air is Andrew Davis' jokey, creaky dialogue. Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson and Luke Evans are terrific as Athos, Porthos, and Aramis—in the fleeting moments they get to play the characters Dumas wrote—but they deserve a better movie. (PG-13) 110 minutes. (★)—Lisa Jensen.
THE WAY The title of Emilio Estevez's wistful road movie of self-discovery refers to "El camino de Santiago," the way of St. James, the route across northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de la Compostela. Martin Sheen is wry and affecting as an LA eye doctor walking the route with the ashes of his adventurer son in a mismatched group of modern pilgrims. The movie engages as a glorious travelogue of ancient villages and folkways (it was shot on location in France and Spain), and in the little discoveries the characters make about themselves and each other as they travel along. It also may have viewers itching to follow the route, just to see who they might discover within when they leave their familiar selves behind. (PG-13) 115 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
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