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Film, Times & Events: Week of Sept. 26

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Check out the movies playing around town.
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New This Week

BAGGAGE CLAIM Paula Patton stars in this comedy about an airline flight attendant who has 30 days and 30,000 frequent flier miles to find someone—anyone—to get engaged to before her younger sister's wedding. Casually sexist title suggests the masculine touch: David E. Talbert directs, from his own novel. Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, and Djimon Hounsou co-star. (PG-13) 96 minutes. Starts Friday.

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 The wacky inventor whose device turned water into food in the first Cloudy movie now has to save the world from a machine that merges food with animals, called "foodimals," in this animated sequel. (PG) 85 minutes. Starts Friday.

DON JON Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed this refreshing comedy in which he also stars as a guy whose penchant for Internet porn gets in the way of real connection with women. Of course, when he meets a lovely lady (Scarlett Johansson), things take a turn and the two attempt to give real relationship a try. Unrealistic expectations may mar that effort, but watch for the film’s biggest surprise— Julianne Moore, whose character creeps up on you and gives the film (and its main character) a chance to consider some real meaning and depth. This is a bold effort for Gordon-Levitt and he shows terrific promise as a filmmaker. Tony Danza, Brie Larson, and Glenne Headly also co-star. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★)—Greg Archer

ENOUGH SAID In this new comedy from Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing; Friends With Money), Julia Louis Dreyfus stars as a divorced mom and masseuse just venturing into a hopeful new relationship with a divorced father (James Gandolfini)—despite the opinions of her new massage client (Katherine Keener), who can't stop complaining about marriage and her own ex. Toni Collette and Ben Falcone co-star. (PG-13) 93 minutes. Starts Friday.

GOOD OL' FREDA Reviewed this issue. (PG) 86 minutes. (★★★ 1/2) Starts Friday.

RUSH Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star as real-life Formula One race car drivers and competitors James Hunt and Niki Lauda in Ron Howard's great big Hollywood biopic about the rivalry on the Grand Prix racetrack that consumed them during the 1970s. Peter Morgan (The Queen; Frost/Nixon) wrote the script. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara co-star. (R) 123 minutes. Starts Friday.


Film Events

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE It's a new season for Britain's acclaimed National Theatre of London, broadcasting highlights from its Fall 2013 Season digitally, in HD, to movie theaters worldwide. Live performances will be broadcast one Thursday evening a month, in the Grand Auditorium of the Del Mar, with encore performances the following Sunday morning. This week: OTHELLO Olivier Award-winning actors Adrian Lester (Othello) and Rory Kinnear (Iago) star in this new production of Shakespeare's eternal tragedy of rivalry, jealousy, and revenge. Nicholas Hytner directs. Introduction and opening remarks from Shakespeare Santa Cruz Artistic Director Marco Barricelli at 7 p.m. Broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. At the Del Mar, Tonight only (Thursday, September 26). Encore performance Sunday only (September 29), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz subscribers: $13.

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: INFINITY & CHASHU RAMEN Writer-director Kerwin Berk's fanciful comedy concerns an irascible 400-year-old spirit from Old Japan, and his apprentice, a young woman from the 1940s, who watch over the modern-day Japantown neighborhood in San Francisco. (Not rated) 85 minutes. Co-billed with the short film, The Virtues of Corned Beef Hash. This program is a fundraiser for the Santa Cruz Japanese Cultural Fair. Tickets are $12 at the door, $10 in advance at infinityandchashuramen.com/tickets/ At the Rio (1205 Soquel Ave, SC), Sunday only, (September 29), 1 p.m.

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:

BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE (PG) 90 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. Tonight: MEAN GIRLS . (PG-13) 97 minutes. (Thursday September 26) only, 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. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.


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Now Playing

AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS From the Terrence Malick school of evocative visual splendor comes this outlaw romance written and directed by David Lowery, a longtime art house editor whose work has mostly been in short films. Saints is drenched in atmosphere; frame for frame, it's often lovely to behold. But what exactly all this atmosphere is evoking is another matter. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play a novice robber and his pregnant girlfriend, separated by a four-year prison stretch. Amped up with plenty of backwoods Southern ambience, a dynamic fiddle, banjo and hand-clapping soundtrack, the story inches along on nuances but never quite explores what makes the characters tick. (R) 105 minutes. (★★ 1/2)—Lisa Jensen.

AUSTENLAND Keri Russell stars as woman in thrall to the fabled BBC production of Pride and Prejudice who spends her life savings to visit the faux Regency world of a Jane Austen theme park in this romantic comedy from Jerusha Hess (she co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite), in her directing debut. JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, and Jane Seymour co-star. (PG-13) 97 minutes.

BATTLE OF THE YEAR A team of Angelinos enter an international hip-hop dance competition, determined to bring the trophy home to America in this fictionalized music drama from director Benson Lee (who also directed the source material, dance doc Planet B-Boy). Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso, Josh Peck and Chris Brown star. (PG-13) 109 minutes.

BLUE JASMINE In Woody Allen’s latest, Cate Blanchett shines in one of the best performances of her career. It’s also one of Allen’s best films. Set in San Francisco, this dynamic drama—with touches of comedy—revolves around the a depressed and privileged East Coast socialite (Jasmine) whose fall from grace is hard and messy. Jasmine finds refuge in her sister’s apartment in San Francisco but soon, other dramas unfold. Watch how well Allen, who also wrote the outing, uses flashback to illuminate such a tighty-wound, unforgettable individual. Sally Hawkins also stars (as Jasmine’s sister) alongside. Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C. K., Bobby Cannavale, and Andrew Dice Clay. (PG-13) 98 minutes. (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer

THE BUTLER Director Lee Daniels (Precious) weaves together a compelling tale based on the real-life story of a longtime White House Butler. Forest Whitaker does an exceptional job capturing the grace and dignity of a man who has served numerous presidencies. Although the film chronicles a great deal of events that took place during the 1960s, it manages to evoke enough empathy and compassion for Whitaker’s Cecil and his family, primarily Oprah Winfrey, who stands out considerably here. Still, as much as there is here, you still wonder what the film experience may have been like had the script and Daniels probed even just a little deeper into Cecil’s psyche. Regardless, the film boasts one of the most enjoyable star-studded casts to hit the screen in some time. (PG-13) 133 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer

DRINKING BUDDIES This film doesn’t follow the predictable pace or tone of most light-hearted romantic tales—and boy, is that refreshing. If you want to experience a film that captures the art of relationship—platonic, romantic and all the fine lines and quirky twists of fate that test them—this is the film to see. With alcohol—pass a beer, bud—as its main platform, Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson star as friends and co-workers in a craft brewery. They're buddies at work and at the bar but each is in a relationship with someone else. Watch how well director Joe Swanberg pulls you along this journey, forcing you to take note of your own expectations, and, as the film illuminates, choose to step into romantic reality rather than fantasy. Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston co-star. (R) 90 minutes. Starts Friday. (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer

ELYSIUM Director Neill Blomkamp, won raves with District 9 back in 2009 and he infuses some of that same grit in this near-futuristic thriller in which the top 1 percent live a privileged life of beauty and ease on a posh man-made habitat in the sky. Meanwhile everyone else subsists in poverty on the ruins of Earth below. Matt Damon nails his performance as a factory drone led into a scheme to break into the habitat to bring equality to all. The film unravels with gripping intensity and you are invested in the outcome of the characters. Oddly, Jodie Foster never quite gives a convincing performance, but the remainder of the supporting cast is just as riveting as Damon. (R) 102 minutes. (★★★)—Greg Archer

THE FAMILY Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a couple of Mafia insiders relocated with their teenage kids to Normandy, France, in the Witness Protection program after testifying against the mob. Tommy Lee Jones co-stars as the crusty US agent trying to help them blend in this black comedy thriller from Luc Besson. Dianna Agron and John D’Leo play their kids. (R)

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 Original stars Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, and Lin Shaye return to the dark side in this horror sequel about a family struggling against deadly forces in the spirit world. James Wan directs. (PG-13) 105 minutes.

MUSEUM HOURS Anyone who has ever haunted an Old World museum with a rich collection of Late Middle Ages and Renaissance paintings may find herself strangely beguiled by this meditation on art and life, past and present, and the many ways and places in which they intersect. In Jem Cohen's thoughtful film, a museum guard at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (with a taste for Bruegel) and a Canadian visitor become allied art explorers, soaking up the pictures and viewing art through the lens of life (and vice versa). (Not rated). 107 minutes. In German (with English subtitles) and English. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US Tween-oriented musical biopic for swoony fans of the British boy band put together by Simon Cowell and launched on the X-Factor TV show. Morgan Spurlock (of all people!) directs. (PG) 92 minutes.

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS Logan Lehrman returns in the title role from Rick Riordan's popular YA series as an ordinary kid who discovers he's the son the sea god, Poseidon. (PG) 106 minutes.

POPULAIRE In this period French comedy set in 1958, a girl from the provinces gets a job in the city. She's hopeless as a secretary, but such a speedy typist that her handsome boss decides to groom her for a typing competition. Romain Duris and Deborah Francois star. Berenice Bejo (The Artist) co-stars for director Regis Roinsard. (R) 111 minutes. In French, English and German (with English subtitles).

PRISONERS Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this tense crime drama as a husband and father whose little daughter has disappeared, and a veteran detective who is determined to crack the case before the father does something rash. Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano co-star for Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies). (R) 153 minutes.

RIDDICK Vin Diesel returns as the intergalactic escaped convict first introduced in Pitch Black.  (R) 119 minutes.

SALINGER Shane Salerno's documentary takes a peek into the secret life of the late, famously reclusive author of The Catcher In the Rye, piecing together his life in seclusion and pondering the fate of the novels he continued to write—but not publish—for years after he dropped out of the scene. Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen, Tom Wolfe, and Gore Vidal are among the interviewees. (PG-13) 120 minutes.

SHORT TERM 12 Brie Larson stars in this buzz-worthy indie drama as a young supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teens who begins to find herself through her interactions with a couple of lost, troubled kids. John Gallagher Jr., Keith Stanfield, and Kaitlyn Dever co-star for director Destin Cretton. (R) 96 minutes.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW The writers of 500 Days of Summer have another hit here. This contemporary love story about a charming teen with no future plans who lives for the moment and his unlikely romance with a "nice girl" who doesn't date, reads sci-fi, and dreams of the future is stellar. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) star for director James Ponsoldt. (R) 95 minutes.  (★★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer.

THANKS FOR SHARING Another take on redefining the modern family from screenwriter Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right) in his directing debut. Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad star as three men recovering from addiction who become a support team for each others' victories. Gwyneth Paltrow, Joely Richardson, and Alecia Moore play the women in their lives. (R) 112 minutes.

THÈRÉSE In this handsome and elegantly mounted period drama, Audrey Tatou stars as a young woman entangled in bourgeois dynastic obligations in the southwest French countryside in the 1920s. It's a part that calls for brisk intelligence, but not much warmth, quiet desperation, and a soupcon of cold fury, and Tatou plays every note with striking precision. Adapted from the 1927 novel, Thèrése Desqueyroux, by Francois Mauriac, this is the final offering from the late French filmmaker Claude Miller, who shapes it into an engrossing portrait of psychological turmoil in an era of simmering cultural upheaval. (Not rated) 110 minutes. In French with English subtitles. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.

WE'RE THE MILLERS None of the characters have morals, but if its slapstick you crave, then this could be your ticket. A drugdealer (Jason Sudeiks) tries to move a shipment of pot from Mexico into the states by recruiting an unlikely group of strangers to pretend tio be an innocent American family. Jennifer Aniston and Emma Roberts co-star in a film directed by Rawsomn Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball). Proving once again that “more” is just too much, the film’s incessant need to go over the top deprives it of truly flying high. Still, there are some fun—and even funny—scenes.  (R) 110 minutes. (★★)—Greg Archer

THE WORLD'S END Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite with director Edgar Wright for the third time in this final installment of the trilogy begun with Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. Expect their patented mix of cheeky satire and apocalypse as the friends set out on a drinking marathon to conclude at their favorite pub, The World's End, only to run afoul of an unexpected menace. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike co-star. (R) 109 minutes. (★★ 1/2)—Greg Archer

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