New This Week
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY
Chinese contemporary artist, cultural icon, and uncompromising social critic Ai Weiwei is profiled in this documentary from Beijing-based filmmaker Alison Klayman. Shot from 2008 to 2010, the film is sweeping in scope, yet intimate in detail as Ai prepares for major museum exhibitions and bonds with his family, while coping with increasingly public and bitter political clashes with the Chinese government. (R) 91 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE BOURNE LEGACY
How do you continue a successful film franchise when the star opts out? When Matt Damon outgrew the Jason Bourne role, series screenwriter-turned-director Tony Gilroy and company simply invented a new amnesiac protagonist with fearsome paramilitary skills and inserted him into the same fictive landscape. Jeremy Renner stars as the heir to Bourne. Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Oscar Isaac join the cast, alongside series veterans Albert Finney, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn. (PG-13) 135 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
This election-year comedy stars Will Ferrell as a slick, long-term congressman who has to defend his seat against a naive stooge (Zach Galifianakis) put up by a couple of shady, zillionaire CEOs in hopes of gaining influence over the district. John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Cox co-star for director Jay Roach. (R) 85 minutes. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
FAREWELL MY QUEEN
German-born actress Diane Kruger stars as Austrian-born Marie Antoinette, dutiful wife of France's extravagant Louis XVI, who sees her life of privilege threatened in the early days of the French Revolution in this opulent historical drama from filmmaker Benoit Jacquot. The story unfolds from the feminine viewpoint of Marie and her ladies-in-waiting and attendants. Léa Seydoux (Midnight In Paris) and Virginie Ledoyen co-star. (R) 100 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Starts Friday. Watch film trailer >>>
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton star in this fanciful Disney family comedy about a young small-town couple whose dream of starting a family is answered when a magical boy shows up on their doorstep. Dianne Wiest, Ron Livingston, M. Emmet Walsh and newcomer CJ Adams co-star for director Peter Hedges (Dan In Real Life; What's Eating Gilbert Grape). (PG) 100 minutes. Starts Wednesday (August 15). 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: LOGAN'S RUN In this iconic 1976 adaptation of William F. Nolan's sci-fi novel, youthful inhabitants of a seemingly idyllic domed city of the future live to amuse themselves—until age 30, when they are extinguished in the name of sustainable population. Michael York and Jenny Agutter star as "runners" trying to escape to a better world outside. (PG) 119 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. Call theater for this week's movie. Thursday only (August 9), 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.
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THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN With his goofy, youthful sense of righteousness, Andrew Garfield pumps fresh new spider venom into the role of teenage Peter Parker in this new reboot of the franchise from director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). It's an origin story in which the teen science nerd and shutterbug investigates the skullduggery his parents were up to at the time of their mysterious plane crash; the trail leads to his father's former partner (Rhys Ifans), a scientist whose work in inter-species genetics turns him into the maniacal evildoer, The Lizard. Meanwhile, spider-bitten Peter faces more than the usual teen identity crisis trying to take responsibility for his new web-slinging powers. Neither Garfield nor designated girlfriend Emma Stone look like high school kids, dubious plot holes include Peter wandering behind the scenes at a top-secret facility unnoticed, and a sterile, high-tech lab set up in a sewer, and too often in the web-slinging scenes, the CGI Spidey gets lost in all the flash and dazzle of the cityscapes. But Denis Leary does a wry turn as the police chief, and the movie scores points for exuberance. (PG-13) 136 minutes. (HHH) —Lisa Jensen.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD Rarely has a coming-of-age story been told with such engrossing originality as in this remarkable first feature from Benh Zeitlin, infused with elements of fairy tale, folklore and magic realism. At it's center is a tiny dynamo named Quvenzhané Wallis, the non-professional actress who stars as a philosophical six-year-old girl living with her volatile Daddy in the Southern Delta when a giagantic storm throws Nature out of balance. Wallis is onscreen in every scene, and we never get tired of her poignant, expressive little face. In a story brimming with themes and metaphors, it offers a compelling portrait of a marginalized lowland community coming together with quiet resolve in the face of catastrophe. But it's the child's viewpoint—an irresistible mix of awe, trepidation, and grit—that makes the film so special. (PG-13) 91 minutes. (HHH1/2) —Lisa Jensen.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL The 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. (HHH) —Lisa Jensen.
BRAVE So many fairy tales feature a wicked stepmother, or negligent parents, it's refreshing to see one devoted to the loving, if sometimes fraught relationship between a mother and daughter. Underlying the magic, adventure, and comedy in this Disney- Pixar collaboration is a family tale in which a girl's best friend proves to be her mother—and vice-versa. That rare Disney cartoon spun from a completely original story (by co-director Brenda Chapman), it's the first "Disney Princess" movie that doesn't feature a romantic interest. Feisty, appealing young Scot Merida isn't waiting for her prince to come; she's too busy finding herself. Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly provide lively voices, and the feminine/feminist viewpoint gives the story a cheeky, modern YA vibe. (PG) 93 minutes. (HHH1/2) —Lisa Jensen.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES In this final installment of Christopher Nolan's brooding bat opera, Christian Bale is still worth watching; as conflicted Bruce Wayne, he regains the will to restore honor and heroism to the Bat legacy, and save a besieged Gotham City—whether they like it or not. Anne Hathaway is a wry, sassy Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific as a smart young beat cop who rekindles Bruce's tarnished idealism, and Michael Caine, as loyal butler Alfred, infuses his scenes with warmth and intelligence. But Tom Hardy's Bane is a ho-hum villain, a bald, masked brute with inexplicable motives and indecipherable dialogue (we miss the intense danse macabre between Batman and Heath Ledger's magnificent Joker over the thin line between good and evil, hero and villain), and the usual chaotic vehicle chases, extreme shootouts, and massive explosions weigh things down. But a great kicker, plotwise, and a satisfying coda ends things on a high note. (PG-13) 164 minutes. (HHH)—Lisa Jensen.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS Zachary Gordon returns as Greg the beleaguered young hero of the title in this third installment of the franchise. Taking place during summer vacation, this one is based on the third and fourth books in Jeff Kinney's popular tween series, "The Last Straw" and "Dog Days." Devon Bostick (as brother Roderick) and Steve Zahn (as father Frank) co-star for director David Bowers. (PG) 94 minutes.
HOPE SPRINGS It could be a match made in Heaven: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a long-married couple who venture off to an intensive, week-long couples retreat (okay, she drags him along) in hopes of adding some zing to their relationship. Steve Carrell co-stars as a famous couples therapist in this comedy from David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada). (PG-13) 100 minutes.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT Ray Romano, John Leguizamo ad Denis Leary return as the principal voice cast. Guest voices are provided by Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Joy Behar, Wanda Sykes, Peter Dinklage, and Nicki Minaj. Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier direct. (PG) 87 minutes.
THE INTOUCHABLES 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.
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. (HHH1/2) —Greg Archer.
NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS Longtime Young fan and documentarian Jonathan Demme (he also made the excellent Neil Young: Heart of Gold) filmed the last two nights of Young's solo world tour in Toronto in May, 2011, for the concert portion of this new doc. In between are snippets of conversation between Young and Demme on the long drive down from Young's home in Omemee, Ontario, in which the singer comments on his life, music, and career. (PG) 87 minutes.
RUBY SPARKS Reviewed this issue. (R) 104 minutes. (HHH)
STEP UP REVOLUTION Expect more hoodies, baseball caps, and flying tennies in this fourth installment of the dance franchise.
TED Brace yourself—it’s actually pretty good. Mark Wahlberg headlines this quirky comedy that comes from the mind of Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy). And the tale about a boy and the childhood teddy who comes to life and accompanies him everywhere well into his adult life is engaging and humorous. MacFarlane also had a hand in the script, and the film’s pace and dialogue are crisp with few scenes feeling wasted at all. Mila Kunis, Giovanni Ribisi (a wonderful performance here), and Patrick Warburton co-star. MacFarlane also provides the voice of Ted. (R) (HHH) —Greg Archer
TOTAL RECALL Colin Farrell does his best in this reboot that orginally starred Arnold Schwarzenegger but nothing feels that new or inspired here. The plot, from the classic Philip K. Dick story, "I Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” mirrors much of the 1990 film with a few tweaks added but the script relies too much on swear words and big explosions, and Len Wiseman’s (the Underworld series) direction seems only to copy the cookie cutter big budget blockbusters Hollywood seems to love producing. An A for over-acting goes to and Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston and Jessica Biel. Still—and surprisingly—Farrell delivers the most grounded performance here. (PG-13) 118 minutes. (H1/2) —Greg Archer
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 (HHH) —Greg Archer.
THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES It's like the trashiest "reality" TV show ever. But there's no prize for the best or the biggest in The Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield's train-wreck fascinating documentary on the wages of conspicuous consumption. It's ostentation for its own sake when one of the riches men in America, time-share mogul David Siegel, and his trophy wife, Jackie, attempt to build themselves a palace—only to find themselves on a collision course with an economic reality they helped to create. Call it a cautionary tale, or call it Karma, but it makes for a compulsively watchable, if chilling, glimpse into the bizarre private fantasy lives of the 1%. (PG) 100 minutes. (HHH)—Lisa Jensen.
THE WATCH Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade star in this sci-fi buddy comedy as four suburban dads in the Midwest who form a neighborhood watch group to get out of the house once a week, only to find themselves on the front lines when outer space aliens start taking over the town. Rosemarie DeWitt and Billy Crudup co-star for director Akiva Schaffer. (R)
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