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Film, Times & Events: Week of Oct. 17

film_guide_iconFilms This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
With: Reviews,
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Santa Cruz area movie theaters >

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New This Week

A.C.O.D. Santa Cruz's own Adam Scott stars in this dysfunctional family comedy. (The title stands for Adult Children of Divorce.) Interviewed as a boy for a psychological study about the effects of divorce, he's dragged into the spotlight again by the same psychologist (Jane Lynch) trying to make a follow-up survey—to the dismay of his happily separated parents. Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, and Amy Poehler co-star for director Stuart Zicherman. (R) 95 minutes. Starts Friday.

CONCUSSION A thwack on the head by her son's baseball sends a 40-year-old suburban lesbian housewife on a journey into her own dark side and launches her into a double life as a high-priced escort in this tale of modern sexuality and mores from filmmaker Stacie Passon. Robin Weigert stars. (R) 93 minutes. Starts Friday.

ESCAPE PLAN Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger star in this action thriller about a structural engineer who builds the world's most secure prisons who is himself framed and jailed, and must then try to break out of an escape-proof prison he designed. 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel, and Sam Neill co-star for director Mikael Hafstrom. (R) 116 minutes. Starts Friday.

THE FIFTH ESTATE Revisit the material from Alex Gibney's recent WikiLeaks documentary, We Steal Secrets, in this fictionalization of the story from director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters). The always-watchable Benedict Cumberbatch stars as enigmatic WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, and Daniel Bruhl (currently onscreen in Rush) plays his partner, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, whose cyber platform for anonymous whistleblowing becomes a controversial tool for exposing skullduggery in high places. (R) 128 minutes. Starts Friday.

THE SUMMIT The worst climbing disaster in the history of the world's most treacherous mountain, K2, is the subject of this documentary. 24 climbers from international expeditions met at High Camp for the last leg of the climb in August, 2008, but only 13 survived. Filmmaker Nick Ryan tells their story, and that of one heroic climber who tried to rescue the others. (R) 95 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: MACBETH Kenneth Branagh stars as Shakespeare's tragic hero, undone by his own ambitions, and Alex Kingston co-stars as the formidable Lady Macbeth. Staged for eerie effect in a deconsecrated Manchester church. Rob Ashford and Branagh co-direct. (Not rated) 180 minutes. At the Del Mar, Thursday only  (October 17), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (October 20), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz subscribers: $13.

CONTINUING SERIES: NEW CULT FILMS AT THE DEL MAR In addition to its venerable Midnight Movie series of classics and favorites, the Del Mar launches another late-night weekend series devoted to strange and edgy cult films of more recent vintage. All the weirdness money can buy for just $6.50. This week: BIG ASS SPIDER! Product of a military lab experiment gone awry, a giant spider rampages through Los Angeles in Mike Mendez's 2013 throwback to the giant insect movies of the '50s. Lin Shaye, Ray Wise, and Greg Grunberg star. (PG-13) 80 minutes. Fri-Sat Late Show only. At the Del Mar.

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: THE SHINING "He-e-e-ere's Johnny!" cackles Jack Nicholson, slicing an axe through a door to terrorize wife Shelley Duvall in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 psycho-horror thriller based on the Stephen King novel. He's a blocked writer snowbound in an empty resort hotel out of season, driven nuts by evil forces—but with Nicholson, who can tell the difference? The mood is eerie, but Kubrick telegraphs all his biggest shocks over an excruciating two-and-a-half hour length. Still, a classic for Nicholson fans. (R) 146 minutes. (HH1/2)—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: PSYCHO A generation of women swore off taking showers thanks to Alfred Hitchcock's masterful 1960 shocker, a shrewd, sophisticated, scary as hell, yet relatively bloodless forerunner of the slasher movie. Anthony Perkins gives a devastating tragi-comic performance as iconic, Mom-pecked Norman Bates. (R) 109 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Thursday (October 17) 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. Movie junkies are invited to join in on Wednesday nights to pursue the elusive and ineffable meanings of cinema. Discussion begins at 7 pm and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.


Movie Times click here.


Now Playing

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.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Reviewed this issue. (PG-13) 134 minutes. (★★★1/2)

CARRIE The mighty Chloe Grace Moretz steps into the bloodstained pumps of Sissy Spacek in this update of the classic Brian De Palma horror thriller, from an early Stephen King novel. Relocated to the present day and the era of cyber-bullying, it's the story of a shy teen, smothered by her religious fanatic mother (Julianne Moore) whose telekinetic powers are unleashed by the cruelty of her peers. Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don't Cry) directs. ®

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. Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn direct. Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Neil Patrick Harris provide voices. (PG) 85 minutes.

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 After the fuzzy motivations and unconvincing friendships of her recent films, writer-director Nicole Holfcener is back on track with this wry, engaging, life-sized romantic comedy. This time, she moves personal relationships to the forefront—romantic, parental, and marital—along with her trademark friendships between women. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is at her most appealing and least snarky, as a long-divorced single mom unexpectedly trying to navigate the dating game, and the late, beloved James Gandolfini charms in a rare romantic role. The reliable Catherine Keener co-stars in a cautionary tale about allowing our friends' opinions to color (and possibly subvert) our own instincts. (PG-13) 93 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

GRAVITY A couple of astronauts on a routine mission outside their spacecraft suddenly find themselves adrift in space, tethered to each other, and no longer in contact with mission control. Where can they go? What can they possibly do? The variety of answers may surprise you in this smart, lean, elegantly composed and utterly gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller from filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. Neither sci-fi nor space opera—and far more than simply a star vehicle for appealing headliners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney—it's more like a space procedural in which ordinary people pit their own human ingenuity against ever more incredible and daunting odds. Awesome on so many levels, it will put you in orbit. (PG-1). 90 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

INEQUALITY FOR ALL Robert Reich, economist, professor, and tireless advocate for America's dwindling middle class, takes center stage in this Jacob Kornbluth documentary explaining in no uncertain terms how the income gap between the super-rich and everybody else is devastating the American way of life. Should be smart, caustic and informative, if Reich's You Tube vignettes are any indication. (PG) 85 minutes.

INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED Mexican film and TV tar Eugenio Derbez directed and stars in this dramatic comedy as a footloose bachelor stunned when an old flame drops off an infant daughter at his doorstep who rallies to fight for custody six years later when the birth mother returns. Jessica Lindsey and Loreto Peralta co-star. (PG-13) 122 minutes.

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.

MACHETE KILLS Robert Rodriguez directs the second installment of a planned action trilogy starring Danny Trejo as a badass ex-Mexican Federale who's recruited by the President to stop a madman's scheme to spread war and anarchy across the planet. Alexa Vega, Mel Gibson, and Jessica Alba co-star. (R) 107 minutes.

METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER This concert film featuring the veteran metal band comes complete with a fictional subplot about a young roadie (Dane DeHaan) on an errand for the band during the show who finds himself on a phantasmagorical journey. Nimrod Antal (Kontroll) directs. (R) 94 minutes.

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.

PULLING STRINGS The day after she rejects his application for a visa for his little daughter, an American diplomat in Mexican City falls into an improbable romance with a footloose Mariachi musician who tries to change her mind in this cross-cultural comedy. Jaime Camil and Laura Ramsey star. Pedro Pablo Ibarra directs. (PG) 110 minutes.

ROMEO AND JULIET This generation gets its own version of Shakespeare's enduring romantic tragedy, from Italian filmmaker Carlo Carlei, working from a script by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park; Downton Abbey). Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth are the star-crossed lovers. Stellan Skarsgard, Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, and Lesley Manville (as the Nurse) pop up in supporting roles. Shot on location in Verona, Italy. (PG-13) 118 minutes.

RUNNER RUNNER Justin Timberlake is a poor grad student who goes broke after hacking into a private online poker game, and Ben Affleck is the smooth operator running the game off the coast of Costa Rica from whom he tries to get satisfaction. Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie co-star in this crime thriller from director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer). (R) 91 minutes.

RUSH Four-star movies are hard to come by, so relish this. True, everyone has their own likes and dislikes but whatever you may feel about auto racing, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with how Director Ron Howard’s film is executed. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star as real-life Formula One race car drivers and competitors James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Bruhl stands out particularly here, but both actors lose themselves in their roles. That, coupled with Howard's keen eye and style, make this one of the director’s best efforts in his entire career. As for the story, it traces the rivalry on the Grand Prix race track that consumed the racers during the 1970s. Peter Morgan (The Queen; Frost/Nixon) penned the script. Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara come along for the ride. What works best here is the intensity and mood Howard creates. A memorable ride indeed. (R) 123 minutes. (★★★★)—Greg Archer.

WADJDA A rare film shot entirely in conservative Saudi Arabia by female director Haifaa Al-Mansour, this winsome tale revolves around an enterprising 10-year-old girl who enters a Koran recitation contest—whose contestants are usually all boys—to earn money for a bicycle she wants to beat her friend in a race. Waad Mohammed stars. (PG) 98 minutes. In Arabic with English subtitles.

WE'RE THE MILLERS None of the characters have morals, but if its slapstick you crave, then this could be your ticket.  Jason Sudeikis and. Jennifer Aniston. (R) 110 minutes. (★★) —Greg Archer

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