.Film, Times & Events: Week of October 10

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New This Week
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY An 11-year-old boy (Ed Oxenbould), experiencing the worst day of his life, discovers bad luck may be contagious in this Disney comedy based on the Judith Viorst kids’ novel. Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell, and Megan Mullally co-star for director Miguel Arteta. (PG) 81 minutes. Starts Friday.

DRACULA UNTOLD Luke Evans stars as the medieval lord who sacrifices everything to protect his people in this origin story of the infamous vampire. Sarah Gadon and Dominic Cooper co-star. Gary Shore directs. (PG-13) 92 minutes. Starts Friday.

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THE GUEST Dan Stevens (formerly of Downton Abbey) stars in this thriller about a mysterious stranger who enters into the life of a family by claiming to be a comrade-in-arms of their son, who died in action in Afghanistan. (R) 99 minutes. Starts Friday.

JIMI: ALL IS BY MY SIDE Andre Benjamin (of OutKast) stars as Jimi Hendrix in this dramatized portrait of two eventful years in his life (1966-67), from back-up guitarist at New York City’s Cheetah Club to his success in London, and explosive appearance at the Monterey Pop festival. Imogen Poots and Hayley Atwell co-star. Written and directed by John Ridley (who also wrote 12 Years A Slave). (R) 116 minutes. Starts Friday.

THE JUDGE Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall have ample opportunity to chew up the scenery and each other in this courtroom drama about a big city lawyer who returns to the family home to defend his father, the town judge, from a charge of murder. Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thornton co-star for director David Dobkin. (R) 141 minutes. Starts Friday.

KILL THE MESSENGER  Jeremy Renner stars in this fact-based drama about reporter Gary Webb, whose career, family, and life are threatened when he uncovers a story about the CIA’s covert role in smuggling arms to Contra rebels in Nicaragua, and importing crack cocaine into California. Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, and Michael Sheen co-star. Michael Cuesta (Homeland) directs. (R) 112 minutes. Starts Friday.

PRIDE In 1984, an organization of hip, young gay activists from London relocates to a provincial Welsh mining town to support striking members of the National Union of Mineworkers and their families in this fact-based comedy of clashing cultures. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Dominic West head the cast. Matthew Warchus directs. (R) 120 minutes. Starts Friday.

ONE CHANCE James Corden stars in this true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant who earned a chance to live his dream singing opera on Britain’s Got Talent. Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook, and Colm Meaney co-star for director David Frankel. (PG-13) 103 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 current 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: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Gillian Anderson stars as fragile Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster fills out the undershirt as Stanley, and Vanessa Kirby co-stars as Stella in Benedict Andrews’ production of the Tennessee Williams drama. (Not rated) 180 minutes. At the Del Mar, Thursday only  (Oct. 9), 7:30 p.m. Encore performance Sunday only (Oct. 12), 11 a.m. Admission: $15. Seniors, students, and Santa Cruz Shakespeare subscribers: $13

SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEK: FALL ITALIAN FILM SERIES The Dante Alighieri Society of Santa Cruz returns with its monthly series of Italian films (one Sunday a month) to promote Italian culture and language. The current theme is “The Journey.” Please visit folkplanet.com/dante/films.html for information on this month’s film. In Italian with English subtitles. Logan Walker, film studies lecturer at SJSU, will introduce the film and conduct an after-film Q&A. At Cabrillo College, VAPA Art History Forum Room 1001, Sunday only (October 12 ), 7 pm. Free.

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. This week (Oct 8): GONE GIRL. 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
ANNABELLE Move over, Chucky. The creepiest onscreen doll since Talky Tina lurks at the center of this horror shock-fest. The trouble begins when a young husband buys an unfortunate gift for his pregnant wife. Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, and Alfre Woodard star. John R. Leonetti (The Conjuring) directs. (R) 99 minutes.

THE BOXTROLLS Alan Snow’s children’s book, Here Be Monsters, is the basis for this animated family film about quirky creatures who live beneath the streets of a quaint English town, and the human boy they’ve raised as their own (voice of Isaac Hempstead Wright, better known as Bran Stark on Game of Thrones), who comes to their aid when the town villain threatens their community. Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Tracy Morgan and Simon Pegg contribute additional voices. Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable direct. (PG) 96 minutes.

THE EQUALIZER Denzel Washington stars as a mysterious vigilante for justice, and Chloe Grace Moretz is the oppressed young woman who needs his help in this action thriller from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). (R) 128 minutes.

GONE GIRL Gillian Flynn’s hot, hot, hot bestselling thriller comes to the screen with Ben Affleck as the suddenly abandoned spouse of a wife (Rosamund Pike) whose disappearance starts to provoke plenty of media speculation. Flynn adapts her own book for director David Fincher (Fight Club; The Social Network). Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry co-star. (R) 145 minutes.

HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS  Simon Pegg stars as a caring but ineffectual psychiatrist whose patients aren’t getting any less miserable who decides to go on a global search for the key to true happiness. Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno, and Christopher Plummer co-star for director Peter Chelsom. (R) 114 minutes.

THE MAZE RUNNER The dystopian-future YA novel by James Dashner comes to the screen with Dylan O’Brien as a youth who finds himself one of 60 teenage boys imprisoned behind a gigantic maze. But their situation alters when a mysterious girl lands in their midst. Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster co-star for director Wes Ball. (PG-13) 113 minutes.

DOLPHIN TALE 2  The young dolphin rescued in the first movie and given a prosthetic tail becomes the object of more human concern when her handlers have to find her a new aquatic companion or lose her to another aquarium. Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, and Harry Connick Jr. return for director Charles Martin Smith. (PG)

THE DROP Tom Hardy stars in this crime drama as a Brooklyn bartender trying to make some easy money funneling cash to neighborhood mobsters when everything goes badly awry. Dennis Lehane adapted the script from his own short story. Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini co-star for director Michaël R. Roskam. (R) 106 minutes.

LEFT BEHIND Nicolas Cage stars in this modern Apocalypse tale about chaos on Earth after the Rapture, based on the insanely popular Christian book series. Lea Thompson, Cassi Thomson, and Chad Michael Murray co-star for director Vic Armstrong. (PG-13) 110 minutes.

MY OLD LADY The plot revolves around an inherited Paris apartment with a well-entrenched female tenant who is not prepared to budge. But that’s just the beginning in this often wry, but largely bittersweet dramatic comedy from Israel Horovitz, adapting and directing his own stage play. Horowitz pares the story down to essentials—a three-part chamber piece on loss, regret, and the collateral damage unthinkingly wrought by one generation on the next, expertly played by stars Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith, and Kristin Scott Thomas. (PG-13) 107 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

THE SKELETON TWINS Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play estranged twins who are forced to reunite due to unusual circumstances and grudgingly begin to take stock of their failed lives and broken relationship. Luke Wilson and Ty Burrell co-star for director Craig Johnson. (R) 93 minutes.

TRACKS Reviewed this issue. Mia Wasikowska stars in this fact-based story of a lone woman who decides to trek across 2000 miles of desert in the Australian outback with only her dog and four camels for company. Adam Driver co-stars as the National Geographic photographer who decides to document her journey. John Curran (The Painted Veil) directs. (PG-13) 120 minutes.

THE TRIP TO ITALY In this follow-up to The Trip (2011), Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return as lightly fictionalized versions of themselves, comedian buddies this time on a luscious-looking culinary road trip to Italy. Orchestrated by director Michael Winterbottom, with a funny script largely improvised by its stars, the laughs are consistent, and the wistfulness of the framing story—touching as it does on such issues as age, talent, friendship, and mortality—is effectively done. Not to mention the gorgeous scenery and great-looking food, more than enough to inspire viewers to tag along. (Not rated) 108 minutes. (***)—Lisa Jensen.

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU A typically dysfunctional family of grown siblings, spouses and in-laws gather for an uneasy shiva after the family patriarch passes on in this star-studded “dramadey” directed by Shawn Levy. Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, and Rose Byrne star. (R) 103 minutes.

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Liam Neeson stars in this adaptation of the gritty Lawrence Block novel about an ex-NYPD cop now operating as an unlicensed private investigator tracking lowlifes through the city’s underbelly. Dan Stevens, David Harbour, and Boyd Holbrook co-star for director Scott Frank (The Lookout). (R)

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