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Film, Times & Events: Week of August 15

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Check out the movies playing around town.
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New This Week
THE EXPENDABLES 3 The old boys’ club of this geriatric action franchise expands to include Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Kelsey Grammer, Wesley Snipes, and Mel Gibson (as head villain), in addition to stalwarts Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kellan Lutz and mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey represent the tech-savvy young blood on the team. Patrick Hughes directs. (PG-13) 127 minutes. Starts Friday.

THE GIVER Brenton Thwaites stars as a youth who discovers that his seemingly perfect world of the future is just an illusion in this latest dystopian teen adventure based on a bestselling young adult novel (this one by Lois Lowry). Jeff Bridges co-stars in the title role as the eccentric hermit who keeps the town's library, its forbidden knowledge, and its secrets. Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift co-star. Phillip Noyce directs. (PG-13) 94 minutes. Starts Friday.

LET’S BE COPS Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. star in this action comedy as buddies who dress up as cops for a costume party and become the toast of the neighborhood—until their ruse gets them involved with real-life mobsters, criminals, and police corruption. Luke Greenfield directs. (R) 104 minutes. Starts Wednesday, Aug. 13.

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT Woody Allen’s second comedy set in France (after Midnight In Paris) unspools in the south of France during the 1920s jazz age, and stars Colin Firth as an Englishman investigating a possible swindle among the Cote d’Azur elite. Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater, and Marcia Gay Harden co-star. (PG-13) Starts Friday.


Film Events
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 p.m. and admission is free. For more information visit groups.google.com/group/LTATM.


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Now Playing

BOYHOOD Kudos to Richard Linklater for such a refreshingly audacious film. Linklater had the simple, yet brilliant idea to shoot a scripted story over a period of 12 years, allowing his cast—including his child protagonists—to age naturally onscreen. Ellar Coltrane (in the central role) was 7 years old when the film started shooting in 2002, 18 when it wrapped last year, and he’s compulsively watchable throughout. It sounds like a stunt, but watching these characters grow up before our eyes (including adults Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, both terrific, as the divorced parents), makes for a bold, moving, and utterly mesmerizing moviegoing experience. (R) 166 minutes. (****)—Lisa Jensen.

CHEF Jon Favreau wrote and directed this fun feast for foodies, in which he stars as a top chef who quits his job at an L.A. restaurant over creative differences with the owner (Dustin Hoffman). He goes on the road with a food truck, selling spicy Miami-style sandwiches with his sous-chef buddy (John Leguizamo) and his Internet-savvy 10-year-old son. Sofia Vergara is his sassy ex, and while the plot plays out exactly as you expect, the actors are engaging, the  story sizzles with Latin flavor, and the food looks great; trust me, you’ll come out jonesing for a fried Cubano sandwich. (R) 115 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

THE FLUFFY MOVIE Comic actor Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias stars in this concert film of his stand-up comedy act on his recent “Unity Through Laughter” tour. Filmed at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. (PG-13) 101 minutes.

GET ON UP James Brown blazes to life in this musical biography from Tate Taylor (The Help), mostly thanks to an incendiary performance by Chadwick Boseman. He doesn’t do his own singing, but Boseman captures the volatility, on and offstage, of the entity we recognize as James Brown; the flamboyance, the fierce ambition, and the uncompromising determination to be treated with respect. (He also dances up a storm!) There’s not much down time in the film’s two hours and eighteen minutes to get a sense of the man behind the persona, but Boseman makes that persona consistently dazzling. (And don’t miss Brandon Smith in two scenes as a fresh, flirty Little Richard.) (PG-13) 138 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY In this standalone Marvel Comics adaptation, an American pilot obtains a device coveted by a master villain as the key to universe domination, and assembles an eccentric gang of intergalactic warriors to protect it. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Lee Pace star, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper provide voices for CGI characters, and John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio Del Toro pop up in cameos. James Gunn directs. (PG-13) 121 minutes. 

HERCULES Dwayne Johnson stars as the muscleman of Greek mythology in this revisionist take on the classical myth, adapted from the graphic novel by Steve Moore. Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, and John Hurt co-star for director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour; X-Men: The Last Stand). (PG-13) 98 minutes.

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY Reviewed this issue. (PG) 122 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

INTO THE STORM A small Midwestern town is ravaged by an onslaught of tornados in a single day in this thriller, as storm-chasers, amateur and professional, document the mounting destruction. Richard Armitage (Thorin, in The Hobbit movies), Sarah Wayne Callies, and Max Deacon star for director Steven Quale. (PG-13) 89 minutes.

LAND HO! A pair of elderly, ex-brothers-in-law set off on a road trip across Iceland—from urban Reykjavik to the wilds of the outback—to recapture the spirit of their lost youth, in this English-language comedy from American filmmakers Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens. (R) 95 minutes.

LUCY Starting from the premise that humans use only 10 percent of their brain power, Luc Besson’s thriller stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman whose brain is experimentally amped up to bionic levels—turning her into (what else?) a merciless warrior. Morgan Freeman co-stars. (R) 90 minutes. 

A MOST WANTED MAN Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this political thriller adapted from the John Le Carre novel about an illegal Muslim immigrant in Hamburg who gets caught up in the international war on terror. Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, and Robin Wright co-star for director Anton Corbijn. (R) 122 minutes.

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE  The second installment of Disney’s Cars-in-the-sky franchise relocates hero Dusty (voice of Dane Cook) from the world of air-racing to a fleet of aerial firefighters protecting a national park. Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Wes Studi, and Captain Dale Dye provide additional voices. Roberts Gannaway directs. (PG) 83 minutes.

STEP UP ALL IN Most of the stars from the previous installments of this dance franchise (except for Channing Tatum, of course) reunite for a dance showdown in Las Vegas. Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, and Misha Gabriel Hamilton star for director Trish Sie. (PG-13) 112 minutes.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES In this mostly live-action reboot of the popular comic book series, New York City is in the grip of evildoers when four masked outcast brothers rise up out of the sewers to become heroes. Megan Fox stars as sympathetic, turtle-friendly girl reporter April O’Neil, and Will Arnett is her cameraman sidekick. Jonathan Liebesman directs. (PG-13)

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