New This Week
It's all some flummery about a madman king (Mickey Rourke) of ancient Greece who wants to wipe out mankind and depose the gods, but who cares? If the director of the extraordinary The Fall, Tarsem Singh, is dabbling in Greek mythology, I am so there. Luke Evans, Henry Cavill, and Frieda Pinto star. (R) 103 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
If you'd rather pay good money to NOT see Adam Sandler in drag, then this comedy may not be for you. Sandler stars as an LA adman and his own flamboyant twin sister, whose annual Thanksgiving visit drives her brother nuts. Katie Holmes co-stars. Dennis Dugan directs. (PG) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as J. Edgar Hoover, the enigma who was for 50 years the face (and iron fist) of the FBI. Armie Hammer co-stars as his longtime associate, and suspected lover, in Clint Eastwood's biographical drama on the dark side of power. Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, and Judi Dench co-star. Dustin Lance Black (Milk) wrote the script. Director Eastwood composes the score. (R) 137 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this French mystery thriller as a ruthless executive who makes life hell for her new young assistant. Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool) co-stars as the assistant who turns the tables in unexpected ways when her boss claims credit for one of her ideas—setting the stage for an epic psychological battle of cunning, deceit, and ambition. (Not Rated) 104 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE SKIN IN I LIVE IN Reviewed this issue. (R) (117 minutes) (★★★1/2) Starts Friday.
SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: WINTER ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz is back with a new monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The theme this time is "Set in Sicily" This Week: SALVATORE GIULIANO Francesco Rosi directs this 1961 neo-realist drama that explores the life of the legendary criminal against the backdrop of the Sicilian underworld. (Not rated) 125 minutes. In Italian with English subtitles. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (November 13), 7 pm. Free.
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: GHOSTBUSTERS Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver get slimed in Ivan Reitman's 1984 paranormal laugh-fest. Who ya gonna call? (PG) 107 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen. 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: SHAUN OF THE DEAD It's zombies lite as a chronic slacker tries to eradicate an invasion of the flesh-eating undead in this cheeky 2004 British horror comedy. Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, and Penelope Wilton star; Edgar Wright directs. (R) 99 minutes. Tonight only (Thursday, Nov 10), 8 p.m., at the Cinema 9.
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ANONYMOUS Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 130 minutes. (★★★)
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. (R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
FOOTLOOSE 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
MARGIN CALL With its exceptional writing, less-is-more vibe and pitch-perfect pacing—so moody, so tension-filled—it so eerily mirrors the state of Wall Street’s mood swings today, and the players whose decisions ultimately allow things to either prosper or plummet. It’s all about the latter here in a thriller revolving around an elite Wall Street investment firm sent into a wild tailspin during the first 24 hours of the 2008 financial meltdown. An A-list cast shines here: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, and Stanley Tucci star for director J. C. Chandor. Powerful. (R) 105 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer
MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE Elizabeth Olsen gives an impressively shaded performance s a young woman whose sense of selfhood is as fractured as the film's title; a runaway from a cult and its hypnotic psycho leader (the excellent John Hawkes), she's literally trying to find herself. Unfortunately, the film also suffers from an identity crisis. It wants to be a thriller, a character study, and even a domestic family drama, but it never quite hits its marks in any department. There's plenty of menace to go around, mostly told in flashbacks, but because the character remains as elusive to the filmmaker (and the viewer) as she is to herself, there's little to anchor audience interest in her story. (R) 101 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
PUSS IN BOOTS Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the orange swashbuckling cool cat he made so popular in the Shrek films. 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.
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 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. 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.
TOWER HEIST Fun and yet, you walk away thinking it could have been just a little better? Why? Is that we’re now immune to a constant outpouring of flash and fun—think Hangover, Bridesmaids—that we can’t stomach a slower-paced comedy? Or is that while the premise rocks, sometimes the delivery stumbles? Still, this is a robust affair starring Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, and Alan Alda. A comedy cum modern-day Robin Hood tale, it find the folks who lost their savings in shady schemes of a wealthy financier (Alda) seekling vengeange. How they manage to get that is most amusing. Matthew Broderick, Judd Hirsch, Téa Leoni have smaller roles here but look for Gabourey Sidibe to turn in a good performance as a housekeeper. Brett Ratner directs. (PG-13) 104 minutes. (★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen
A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS 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.
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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