New This Week
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME
The pop queen gets her own movie, part concert doc, part day-in-the-life, in this 3D Valentine to her fans. Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz direct. (PG) Starts today (Thursday, July 5). Watch film trailer >>>
In this cross-cultural French comedy drama, a wealthy, middle-aged Frenchman rendered quadriplegic in a paragliding accident hires a younger man from a different race, culture, and neighborhood to be his caretaker. Francois Cluzet (Tell No One) and Omar Sy star for directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. (R) 122 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Wednesday (July 11).Watch film trailer >>>
Oliver Stone stages a comeback with this thriller about a couple of Yank pot-growers who go mano y mano against a powerful Mexican drug cartel when their mutual girlfriend is kidnapped. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta star. (R) Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
TO ROME WITH LOVE
There’s a temptation to compare this outing to writer-director Woody Allen’s last endeavor, Midnight in Paris—last year’s movie gem—but that would deflect from the charm and comedy you can find here. It’s a totally different ride yet very Allen-esque in its delivery as it revolves around a group lovers and dreamers in Rome. It’s the latter that takes center stage as much of the film wanders into the allure and romantic nature of Rome and how people tend to get swept away by it. Allen co-stars with Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, and Judy Davis, who’s offered the best lines here. The short vignettes work although the film tends to stumble here and there with its pacing and timing. But aside from that, the performances sparkle and it’s great to see Allen on screen again. (R) 102 minutes. Starts Friday (★★★)—Greg Archer. 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. Check ad this issue for this week's film. Friday-Saturday 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: DR. STRANGELOVE or HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMBStanley Kubrick's hilarious and disturbing 1963 farce about politics and politicians in the nuclear age couldn't be more timely. George C. Scott as a crazed U. S. General, Keenan Wynn as gung-ho Maj. Bat Guano, and Peter Sellers in three roles all contribute scathing comic performances. Slim Pickens rides into movie immortality as an all-American cowboy astride a descending A-bomb as if it were a fractious bronco. (Not rated) 93 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday only (July 5), 9 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.
Movie Times click here.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER Benjamin Walker dons the stovepipe hat and grabs a wooden stake as young Mr. Lincoln, determined to save the fledgling nation from the vampire menace, in this adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel. Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper co-star for Russian-born thriller director Timur Bekmambetov. (Not rated)
THE AVENGERS It takes a while to gain its momentum, but The Avengers manages to deliver a nice balance of thrills in a plot you can embrace. Moviegoers dig it—it made over $200 million in its opening weekend, smashing all records. So, what we get is cult titan Josh Whedon’s (Buffy, Angel, and Serenity) take on the Marvel comic book heroes trying to fight a war lauched by Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) bitter bro. Watch how well Robert Downey Jr. (as Iron Man) elevates the film with his witty bon mots—he’s given the best lines. But kudos to Chris Evans (Captain America) for holding his own here, too. Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk) is expertly cast as Dr. Bruce Banner. Meanwhile Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) round out the cast. This is pure summer movietime fun. Have a ball. (PG-13) 142 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer.
THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN it seems like only yesterday that Tobey Maguire was shouting "Woo-Hoo!" whilst rappelling between the skyscrapers of NYC, but there's already a newer, younger Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) ready to launch his own franchise. The plot goes all Dark Knight on us, with Peter delving into his painful past and the disappearance of his parents. Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans (as villain The Lizard) co-star for director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer). (PG-13) 138 minutes
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTELThe perfect antidote to the summer blockbuster season, this is a wistful, humorous, grown-up story of love, loss, family, identity, and the ever-present whooshing of time's wingéd chariot. Its splendid ensemble cast play Englishmen and women of a certain age, gobsmacked by circumstances, who decide to "outsource" their retirement to sunny, inexpensive India. Adapted from the novel, "These Foolish Things," by Deborah Moggach, It's directed with quiet affection and precision by John Madden (Shakespeare In Love; The Debt.) The plotlines are fairly predictable, and it all relies a bit much on inspirational messaging, but it's still an enormous pleasure to watch pros like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and a deliciously acerbic Maggie Smith. (PG-13) 124 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
BRAVE Reviewed this issue. (PG) 93 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Lisa Jensen.
LOLA VERSUS Greta Gerwig (last seen in Damsels In Distress) stars in this character comedy that could have been more uniquely imagined. (For a more believable, better written look at young women, check out Lena Dunham in HBO’s wonderfully crafted series, Girls.) The drama revolves around woman (Gerwig) whose fiance dumps here, leaving her to reevaluate her life. There are some fine performances here from Zoe Lister-Jones, Joel Kinnaman, Hamish Linklater, Debra Winger and Bill Pullman but the film doesn’t do the best job of convincing us that anybody’s motivations here are real or authentic—some of the scenes seem pieced together purposely rather than organically. Still, a great cast.. (R) 86 minutes. (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED The vagabond zoo animals are still trying to get home to New York City in this third installment of the popular animated franchise. Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon direct. (PG)
MAGIC MIKE So very Steven Soderbergh and also so very surprising. Judging by the previews, you would think this film is another Hollywood cookie-cutter caper. But alas, it’s not. And the dialogue and pace of the film immediately assure you of that from the get-go. Channing Tatum plays a man who moonlights as a male stripper—culling from his own life experience. He’s the mentor to new kid, Alex Pettyfer, who, emits about as much charm as a tired hounddog—the man is horribly miscast. Matthew McConaughey also stars as the leader of a male posse of strippers. The film could use even a little more depth—although the kind you find here does lure you in—but it eventually stumbles and feels like a latter day Flashdance by way of a more mature Showgirls. Still, hats off—or is that thongs?—to Soderbergh and company for keeping us interested in more than the guy’s muscles here. (R) (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
MEN IN BLACK 3 A refreshing improvement from the first sequel. Here, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reunite with director Barry Sonnenfeld and bring Josh Brolin along for the ride. There’s still that battle of aliens vs. man going on, but this time, time travel is tossed into the mix as Smith’s Agent J jumps back in time to save the day. Brolin plays Jones' characterin 1969 to winning ends. Alice Eve, Emma Thompson, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga grace the screen, too. Fun. (PG-13) 106 minutes. (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
MOONRISE KINGDOM This could be Wes Anderson’s (Rushmore; Fantastic Mr. Fox) to date. it’s a quriky little love story revolving around two 12-year-olds and boy, does it have a lot of heart. Set in 1965 in a sleepy New England coastal community, the two young ones run off together. Meanwhile, the entire town is tossed into an upheaval trying to find them. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman all co-star. Willis plays the island cop; Norton a troubled scout master and Murray/McDormand the young girl’s mother. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward so beautifully inhabit their roles that you don’t want them to leave the screen. Anderson also co-wrote this outing, which, could turn into one of the summer’s more memorable offerings. (PG-13) 97 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer.
PEOPLE LIKE US One of those rare big screen comedy-dramas that pulls you into its universe, writer-director Alex Kurtzman's film is based on his real-life experience discovering he had a half-sister he never knew about. Chris Pine stars as a shady businessman charged to deliver an inheritance to his half-sibling (Elizabeth Banks), a befuddled single mom trying to raise her young son. A refreshing and heartwarming surprise. (PG-13) 115 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer.
PROMETHEUS Enjoyable, interesting and engaging, yet lacks some spark. Still, this prequel of sorts to Alien is Ridley Scott at his finest, weaving together a curious sci-fi thriller that ponders the state of human evolution. (My sense is that the sequels, if any, may be better). Noomi Rapace (the original girl with the dragon tattoo) is a scientist here, who hopes to uncover the mystery of human life on Earth and after traveling with a posse to a remote space outpost, the gang quickly gets into trouble. Michael Fassbender (nice, playing an android) and Charlize Theron (mastering another steely role) co-star. (R) 124 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer
ROCK OF AGES This may surprise everybody: Tom Cruise is the best thing in the movie. What we’re left with in director Adam Shankman’s (Hairspray) outing is a bloated tale, packed to the brim with too many ’80s songs—although they are fun—but very little opportunity to really care about the people we are watching. Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones co-star. Julianne Hough is horribly miscast as the newbie in L.A., hoping to make it as a singer. While some of the production numbers are wonderfully choreographed, ultimately, the film falls flat—like a rock. (PG-13) (★★) —Greg Archer
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD It'll be tough not to think of this as Melancholia with laughs—and heart. With a giant asteroid hurtling toward Earth, predicted to crash-land in only 21 days, the law of the jungle quickly prevails. Ditched by his wife, mild-mannered insurance salesman Steve Carrell, and his flamboyant neighbor, homesick Brit Keira Knightley, hit the road in hopes of finding someone to connect with before it's too late. Connie Britton and Adam Brody co-star for writer/director Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). (R) 100 minutes.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN Only those whose entire idea of fairy tales comes from Disney cartoons will be shocked by the dark, violent edge in this revisionist take on the oft-told tale. Those familiar with the horrific nature of the original tales from Grimm and Perrault will get the vibe in Rupert Sanders' brooding, often gorgeous film. It does fall apart in the idiotic battle-siege finale, and they could have used a warmer, more empathetic actress than angsty Kristen Stewart as Snow White, but Charlize Theron is marvelous as the Evil Queen, and Chris Hemsworth scores as the Huntsman, a would-be assassin who becomes Snow White's ally. (Read my full review next week.) (PG-13) 127 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.
TED Mark Wahlberg stars in this offbeat comedy about a boy and his bear—the childhood teddy who comes to life and accompanies him everywhere well into his adult life. Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi, and Patrick Warburton co-star. Co-writer/director Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy; American Dad) also provides the voice of Ted. (R)
THAT'S MY BOY Adam Sandler plays a slacker goofball, and Andy Samberg is the straight-arrow son he fathered in his teens who fled home for a grown-up life, now unhappily reunited in this dysfunctional family comedy from director Sean Anders. Leighton Meester and Susan Sarandon co-star. (R)
YOUR SISTER'S SISTER Mark Duplass racks up another winning performance—he also stars in Safety Not Gauranteed—here as a guy grieving the loss of his brother. His brother’s ex (Emily Blunt in a wonderful role) offers him the family’s rural vacation home to “chill” and its there he meets an unexpected guest—Rosemarie Witt playing Blunt’s lesbian sister. The previews aleady tell you there’s a drunken night of getting to know each other between Duplass and Witt, but the real fun begins when Blunt arrives the next day and the duo attempt to keep everything secret. Blunt has a secret, too, and part of what makes this one of the more memorable films of the year is the way writer/director Lynn Shelton (Humpday) creates such emotionally rich characters. Shelton also knows that less is more and in tne hands of a less competant filmmaker, this movie could have felt entirely too nuerotic, insular and suffocating—most of the scenes happend between the three priciple players in the vacation home in the woods. This film is a wonderful, fully imagined surprise. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★1/2) —Greg Archer.
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