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Film, Times & Events: Week of March 27

film_guide_iconFilms This Week
Check out the movies playing around town.
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New This Week

BAD WORDS Reviewed this issue. (R) 89 minutes. Starts Friday.

CESAR CHAVEZ Actor Diego Luna directs this fictionalized biographical drama about the life of the civil rights leader and organizer of the United Farm Workers union in the grape vineyards and lettuce fields of California. Michael Peña stars as Chavez; America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, and John Malkovich have featured roles. (PG-13) 98 minutes. SPECIAL EVENT, opening night: Q&A with local activists who were friends and allies of Chavez in the 1960s and '70s. Panelists include Susan Samuels Drake, Bob Fitch, Jerry Kay, and Francisco Serna. Q&A begins after the 7:15 showing of Cesar Chavez, Friday night, March 28. Starts Friday.

ENEMY Reviewed this issue. (R) 90 minutes. (★ ★)—Lisa Jensen. Starts Friday.

THE LUNCHBOX In this award-winning debut feature from Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra, a young Mumbai housewife hoping to spice up her stale marriage, and a middle-aged widower about to retire strike up a correspondence and unexpected friendship when the boxed lunch she prepares for her indifferent husband at work is mistakenly delivered to the wrong man. Nimrat Kaur is poised and affecting as the lonely wife. The always great Irffan Khan combines the wry world-weariness of vintage William Powelll with the banked sensuality of a Raul Julia.This is an interactive bittersweet romance; how it ends depends on if you see the glass as half full or half empty. (PG) 104 minutes. (★ ★ ★ )—Lisa Jensen. Starts Friday.

NOAH Darren Aronofsky directs his first Biblical epic, in which Russell Crowe stars as the man who faces ridicule to build a giant ark to save human and animal life when God sends 40 days and nights of rain to flood the world. Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins co-star. (PG-13) 138 minutes. Starts Friday.

SABOTAGE Arnold Schwarzenegger and his elite DEA task force check into an infamous drug cartel "safe house," but they don't check out as members of the team keep turning up dead. David Ayer directs this action-movie update of a vintage Agatha Christie story. Sam Worthington, Terrence Howard, and Olivia Williams co-star. (R) 109 minutes. Starts Friday.

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: PAGAN FILM SERIES Community Seed, a self-described "non-denominational" organization serving the Santa Cruz pagan community, teams up with the Guerrilla Drive-In pop-up movie theatre collective to present this four-month (one screening per month) series of films featuring pagan-related themes. This week: ORFEO NEGRO (BLACK ORPHEUS) This moody, romantic 1959 update of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth with the pulsing samba beat is set in vibrant Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. A young bus conductor (Breno Mello) descends into the hellish Rio underworld to reclaim the woman he loves (the beauteous Marpessa Dawn). French filmmaker Marcel Camus directs. Music by Luis Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim. (PG) 100 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Friday only (March 28), 8 p.m. at SubRosa, 703 Pacific Avenue. Free.

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: PRINCESS MONONOKE Encroaching human civilization angers the forest gods and threatens the balance of nature in this animated 1997 retelling of a Japanese folk tale from acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Clare Danes, Billy Cruddup, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett, Gillian Anderson and Billy Bob Thornton provide voices. (PG-13) 134 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.

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.


Film Events

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: PAGAN FILM SERIES Community Seed, a self-described "non-denominational" organization serving the Santa Cruz pagan community, teams up with the Guerrilla Drive-In pop-up movie theatre collective to present this four-month (one screening per month) series of films featuring pagan-related themes. This week: ORFEO NEGRO (BLACK ORPHEUS) This moody, romantic 1959 update of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth with the pulsing samba beat is set in vibrant Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. A young bus conductor (Breno Mello) descends into the hellish Rio underworld to reclaim the woman he loves (the beauteous Marpessa Dawn). French filmmaker Marcel Camus directs. Music by Luis Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim. (PG) 100 minutes. (★★★★)—Lisa Jensen. Friday only (March 28), 8 p.m. at SubRosa, 703 Pacific Avenue. Free.

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: PRINCESS MONONOKE Encroaching human civilization angers the forest gods and threatens the balance of nature in this animated 1997 retelling of a Japanese folk tale from acclaimed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Clare Danes, Billy Cruddup, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett, Gillian Anderson and Billy Bob Thornton provide voices. (PG-13) 134 minutes. Fri-Sat midnight only. At the Del Mar.

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

BLOOD TIES Clive Owen stars as an ex-con and Billy Crudup is his younger brother, a cop, trying to help him put his life back together in this drama  of impossible family dynamics from Guiallaume Canet (Tell No One). James Caan co-stars as their father, along with Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, and Zoe Saldana. (R) 144 minutes.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB Golden Globe-winner Matthew McConaughey scores as a brash, profane antihero in the true story of Ron Woodroof. A coke-snorting, womanizing, blue-collar Texan, diagnosed as HIV-positive in the 1980s and given 30 days to live, he defied his death his sentence for years to become a pioneer in making "unapproved" drugs from out of the country available to his local AIDS community. Jean-Marc Vallée's film unspools as a tale of bizarre alliances and unexpected heroism as pugnacious, yet affecting as its protagonist. Jared Leto won a Supporting Actor Golden Globe as a feisty transvestite who becomes Woodroof's business partner. (R) 117 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.

DIVERGENT Veronica Roth’s bestselling YA trilogy begins on screen. Breathy music and a plodding script tend to weigh down the endeavor, but overall, there’s enough to appreciate and it does hold your interest. Shailene Woodley (a bit miscast here) stars as Tris Prior, a young woman categorized as Divergent—unaligned with any group—in a society that maintains control by dividing people into distinct factions based on their personality traits. Theo James, Ashley Judd, Zofi Kravitz, Miles Teller, and Kate Winslet co-star. Neil Burger (The Illusionist) directs. (PG-13) (★★1/2) —Greg Archer.

FROZEN This Nordic entry in the animated "Disney Princess" franchise (loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen) delivers two princesses, one handsome prince, and a roguish, wisecracking commoner. How these couples do (or do not) match up is part of the fun in this  surprising scenario cooked by scriptwriter Jennifer Lee and her co-director Buck Jones. Oscar winner for Best Song (“Let It Go”) (PG) 108 minutes. (★★★) —Lisa Jensen.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL There’s plenty of fun and whimsy to be had here in Wed Anderson’s delightful new comedy. Much like Moonrise Kingdom unraveled in a quirky splendor, so, too, does The Grand Budapest Hotel, which chronicles the unlikely friendship between a revered European hotel concierge, Gustave H  (Ralph Fiennes) and his lobby boy. Everything from the era—between two menacing wars—to the fictional setting of the Republic of Zubrowka pepper the tale, which unfolds, layer by layer (a story within a story within a story) much like a Russian doll. Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and other Anderson grads join the fun. R) 100 minutes. (★★★1/2) —Greg Archer.

THE LEGO MOVIE What an imaginative romp this is—and somewhat of a big reveal at the end, too. Expect sequels. But first, expect to be thoroughly entertained in one of the most inventive, big-screen outings of—what?— America’s favorite construction toy? It all works quite nicely. Heroic LEGO minifigures band together to stop an evil tyrant here. Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman lend their voices for co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs).It’s a spirited, entertaining family outing, but adults will dig the humor and other pop culture references. A nice balance indeed. But what stands out, beyond the concept—one would think it implausible—is the clever plot and writing itself. That, perhaps, is the biggest surprise of all. (PG) 94 minutes. (★★★1/2)—Greg Archer

THE MONUMENTS MEN George Clooney co-wrote and directed this fact-based story in which he stars as the leader of an unlikely team of art professionals (curators, historians, etc.) on a mission to rescue a treasure trove of European art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, and Cate Blanchett co-star. (PG-13) 119 minutes.

MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN Here’s something to wag your tail about. A big-screen endeavor of one of the more popular cartoon shorts seen on the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show. The story: Mr. Peabody—brilliant as he is—and “son” Sherman do the time-traveling thing via the WABAC machine,but when Sherman and his schoolmate make mischief in the past it's up to Peabody to put a a cosmic band-aid on the mess so that the entire space-time continuum doesn’t remain messed up for good. On screen, things translate well and there’s plenty to keep everyone—including adults—completely interested, even though, halfway through, the outing does lag a bit. Ty Burrell is terrific as Peabody. Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, and Mel Brooks also lend their voices. Rob Minkoff (The Lion King) directs. (PG) 90 minutes.  (★★1/2)—Greg Archer.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED In this continental caper comedy, the gang takes their dubious act on the road in Europe—not realizing their tour is a front for a series of heists perpetrated by their shifty new manager (Ricky Gervais) and his accomplice, Constantine, a Kermit lookalike known as "The World's Most Dangerous Frog." Add songs, extravagant production numbers and a cavalcade of celebrity cameos and you have vintage Muppet mania, suitable for kids, but with enough witty asides to amuse the grown-ups. James Bobin directs. (PG) 112 minutes. (★★★)—Lisa Jensen.

NEED FOR SPEED Aaron Paul stars as a street racer who enters a cross-country race bent on revenge against the ex-partner who sent him to prison, while outrunning bounty hunters after the price on his head. It's based on the video game. Dominic Cooper and Imogen Poots co-star; Scott Waugh directs. (PG-13) 130 minutes.

NON-STOP I smell another franchise. The good news: The film manages to hold your interest—it’s not that bad at all. The bad news: Well, prepare to suspend belief, particularly at one of the film’s more climactic moments at the end. Liam Neeson plays an air marshal on a commercial transatlantic flight. He’s befuddled, depressed and has had a rough go of things of late, but here, he’s trying to outwit an a terrorist intent on killing passengers until his ransom demands are met. That all of the demands are done via text is a nice touch. And the film offers a fun throwback to those ’70s disaster films. Julianne Moore comes along for the ride, but is given little to do, considering her caliber. Anson Mount, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o (in a wasted role) co-star for director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown; Orphan). Still, the film packs a punch here and there. (PG-13) 106 minutes  (★★1/2)—Greg Archer

PHILOMENA Steve Coogan plays a jaded, unemployed journalist opposite the divine Judi Dench in a story based on the real-life events of a British woman searching for the son she was forced to give up when she was very young. (PG-13) 98 minutes. (★★★) —Greg Archer

SON OF GOD The life and passion of Jesus is the subject of this theatrical film, edited down from the 2013 TV mini-series The Bible. Diogo Morgado has the title role. Christopher Spencer directs. (PG-13)

300:RISE OF AN EMPIRE The action epic begun in 300 continues in a new chapter in which a Greek general attempts to unite all the states of Greece against the invading Persian navy. Noam Murro directs. (R) 103 minutes.

THE WIND RISES From beloved Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki comes this lyrical tribute to real-life engineer Jiro Horikoshi (PG-13) 126 minutes.

TYLER PERRY'S SINGLE MOMS CLUB Five real house-moms of Atlanta overcome their differences and form a support group to help each other cope with life, kids, and potential romance in Tyler Perry's latest. Nia Long, Amy Smart, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Zulay Henao, and Cocoa Brown star. (PG-13) 111 minutes. 

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