New This Week
HAPPY FEET TWO
George Miller returns to direct this sequel to his popular animated penguin comedy of a few years back. Elijah Wood once again voices the dancing Emperor Penguin, Mumbles, trying to regain the respect of his own, non-dancing son while helping the wild creatures of Antarctica resist a threat to their habitat. Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon pop up in the voice cast. (PG) 100 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
An American college student (Anton Yelchin) and a British exchange student (Felicity Jones) fall truly, madly, deeply in love—and then face the struggle to keep their love alive when she's legally obliged to return home. Drake Doremus directs this thoughtful romantic drama that explores the joys and complexities of first love, a prize-winner for Best Picture and Best Actress at Sundance. (PG-13) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
MELANCHOLIA Reviewed this issue. (R) 136 minutes. (H) Starts Friday.
The filmmakers decided to stretch out the last book in Stephanie Meyers' teen melodrama into two films, to better milk the marriage of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire soulmate, Edward (Robert Pattinson)—not to mention their honeymoon sex and the portentous the birth of their baby—for all they're worth. Taylor Lautner returns as hunky werewolf Jacob for incoming director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters). (PG-13) 117 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
A one-night stand between two men who meet in a gay bar just before last call on a Friday night evolves into a deeper exploration of identity, values, and each other as the weekend progresses in this indie drama from Brit filmmaker Andrew Haigh. An award-winner at L. A. Outfest, SXSW Film Festival, and several other recent film festivals, it stars Tom Cullen and Chris New. (Not rated) 97 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: HOUSE (HAUSU) This recently rediscovered, 1977 Japanese cult classic from Nobuhiko Obayashi is celebrated for its surreal, absurdist storytelling in a sinister tale of a little girl and six friends visiting her aunt's spooky home. (Not rated) 87 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: THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI Orson Welles directs and stars in this slightly perverse 1947 thriller about a man who stumbles into a murder scheme with beautiful blonde Rita Hayworth. Best known for its dazzling chase scene through a funhouse hall of mirrors. (Not rated) 87 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Tonight only (Thursday, Nov 17), 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
Movie Times click here.
ANONYMOUS This is one movie from action director Roland Emmerich in which nothing blows up—except the crackpot theory that Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the canon of plays and sonnets historically attributed to William Shakespeare. This hothouse melodrama of Tudor intrigue, sex, and politics, is sheer humbuggery, history-wise, but still an entertaining spectacle: the costumes are exquisite, there are breathtaking overhead shots Elizabethan London, and it's populated by a bunch of attractive young actors on their way up. Irksome as it is in its central theory, it still conveys the era in all its messy splendor. (PG-13) 130 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.
IMMORTALS Reviewed this issue. (R) 110 minutes. (★★)
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
J EDGAR Clint Eastwood's wonderfully woven biographical drama on the social and political undercurrents that made up the iron fist of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, arrives—but not with a big bang. But with a whimper, either. Leonardo DiCaprio deserves attention—his J. Edgar Hoover is spot on in a performance that should usher in an Oscar nom. The film itself floats back and forth through time as Hoover preps a book about his life and times. Armie Hammer comes along for the ride—to winning ends—playing Hoover’s longtime associate, and suspected lover. This part of the tale is noteworthy because it offers some of the film’s best scenes—emotional ones that offer a glimpse into who the man really was (or could have been) and the personal sacrifices he had to make to forge ahead. The acting here is stellar but the pacing of the film suffers at times as Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) make their valiant attempt to shed light on a complex soul. Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas and Judi Dench co-star. (R) 137 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer
JACK AND JILL 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)
LOVE CRIME 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.
MARGIN CALL As gripping as it is haunting. 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
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.
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) —Greg Archer
THE SKIN I LIVE IN Pedro Almodóvar's unsettling new movie is not for the fainthearted. But this weird mix of Pygmalion and Frankenstein gets better in retrospect, as the viewer begins to appreciate the scope and intensity of its themes. This spicy cocktail of sex, obsession, gunplay and haunting secrets, becomes a compelling meditation on gender and identity, and how much each depends on the other. Almodóvar asks: what makes us who we are inside? Is it how we look on the outside? Or is there some unassailable core of identity that determines selfhood? Antonio Banderas brings presence and fortitude, menace and tenderness to the role of an eminent plastic surgeon with a dark secret obsession. Elena Anaya and Marisa Paredes are great in supporting roles. (R) 117 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. (★★★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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