.Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

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THE MARTIAN Astronaut Mark Watney is left stranded on Mars after a storm hits and he’s presumed dead—but somehow, he maintains a pretty positive outlook on the whole thing, despite the fact that he only has enough food for 50 days, the terrain isn’t suited for agriculture, and it’ll take four years to get a message back to Earth. There are, of course, complications with attempts to rescue Watney but with such a stellar cast (can you say Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover a.k.a Childish Gambino?) we don’t even care if he dies at the end. Note: we have no idea if he dies at the end. Ridley Scott directs. (PG-13) 141 minutes.

SICARIO Emily Blunt is like the way cooler, less smiley version of Anne Hathaway. She’s British and she cries less. She can sing, play Queen Victoria, that super badass chick in Edge of Tomorrow, and everything in between. Did we mention that she’s the total package? Fawning aside, Benicio del Toro is also in this movie! He’s in charge of showing the young idealistic FBI agent the ropes as she struggles to understand the world of Mexican drug cartels. Denis Villeneuve directs. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro (R) 121 minutes.

THE WALK Can we all just chuckle a little at Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a French accent? Now that that’s out of the way—this is so not a film for anyone with fear of heights. It’s the totally true story of Philippe Petit, who decided to walk the void between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Of course it would take a Frenchman to pull off a totally illegal, renegade traverse over a wire at the height of 1,362 feet (no diss to the French, but it was complètement fou!). The documentary starring the real Petit, who’s still alive today, was harrowing enough. In IMAX 3D? We’ll stick to ground-level films, thank you very much. Robert Zemeckis directs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley co-star. (PG) 123 minutes.

WRENCHED (SPECIAL SCREENING): Edward Abbey started a different kind of environmental movement—the kind that would not sit down or shut up. He wrote the manual on how to get people’s attention on environmental issues, and not everyone liked it, nor the method of its madness, but his extreme protest actions inspired people to reclaim their Earth in whatever ways were necessary. Ventana Wilderness Alliance presents a special screening of this documentary at the Del Mar Theatre on Oct. 1. at 7 p.m. Edward Abbey, Dave Foreman, and Robert Redford co-star. (NR) 120 minutes.

Film Events

CONTINUING EVENT: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MOVIES Film buffs are invited Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. to downtown Santa Cruz, where each week the group discusses a different current release. For our location and discussion topic, go to: https://groups.google.com/group/LTATM.

Movie Times

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AMERICAN ULTRA Since 1953, the government has been running a top-secret project to control soldiers planted in civilian life. Now, agent Howell has been activated: only he doesn’t really know it yet, because he is way too high. Jesse Eisenberg plays the convenience store cashier who discovers a set of lethal skills he never knew he had when he kills some carjackers with a spoon. “There’s a chance I may be a robot,” he tells his girlfriend Phoebe, played by Kristen Stewart. Stewart might even crack that face with some more expressions than usual in what looks like a hilarious action comedy. Nima Nourizadeh directs. Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Connie Britton co-star. (R) 95 minutes.

A WALK IN THE WOODS Tired of death and funerals, Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) wants to hike the Appalachian Trail. But his his wife, played by the ever-lovable Emma Thompson, forbids him to go it alone, so after exhausting his list of old friends—who find going to the doctor for a colonoscopy adventure enough—he’s joined by Stephen, played by a perfect Nick Nolte. The duo appears to be a delightful match to defy geriatric expectations in the tale of one last hurrah, and Nolte, who has arguably never looked better, plays the old loon with such charm you’d think he’s finally found a role that suits him. Ken Kwapis directs. (R) 104 minutes.

BLACK MASS Just when you thought you’d seen Johnny Depp at his creepiest, he puts on jagged tiny teeth and a blondish receding hairline to become the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston. While it’s true that a terrible film can still feature a brilliant cast, Black Mass shows true promise with Depp as mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, Joel Edgerton as his ally in the FBI, Benedict Cumberbatch as his senator brother, and a smattering of genre crossovers like Adam Scott, David Harbour, and Corey Stoll. Scott Cooper directs. (R) 122 minutes.

EVEREST As eight Everest climbers make their way up the summit, a massive storm hits and it’s every man for himself. Goosebumps are inevitable when watching this harrowing tale of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and the survival attempts of two expedition groups. The star-studded (yet just gritty enough to be believable) cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, Robin Wright, and Keira Knightley. Baltasar Kormákur directs. (PG-13) 121 minutes.

HITMAN: AGENT 47 It’s funny because this looks like the serious version of American Ultra; Agent 47 is a genetically engineered super agent with a perfectly shaped head and a face that never smiles. Oh, he’s also been hired by that guy from Heroes to kill some lady but it turns out she’s just like him! A film where people say things like “He’s here … to kill you,” with dramatic pause, and “Pretty crazy, huh?” and characters have “subdermal titanium body armor”—leaving you to wonder if all the good lines have already been taken. But all sarcastic nitpicking aside, Hitman does look like a pretty decent kickass action flick. We hope the Homeland bad boy can deliver as leading gentleman, but if not Hannah Ware looks tough enough for the both of them. Aleksander Bach directs. Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto co-star. (R) 96 minutes.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 Last time Adam Sandler tried to make a movie, half the cast walked off the set, so it’s probably best that this time he leaves the directing to Genndy Tartakovsky, sticks to a children’s film and plays an
animated character so nobody can see his face. (Too mean? We say too true.) In the second round of Hotel Transylvania, Dracula is elated to be a grandvampire, except that Johnny and Mavis’ baby is half-vampire, half-human, and with his foofy mess of red curls, adorable face and very apparent lack of fangs, he’s not quite living up to his family legacy. Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez co-star. (PG) 89 minutes.

THE INTERN Robert De Niro is the intern and Anne Hathaway is his boss. Yes, yes, we know—role reversal, oh, the irony! (Of the Alanis Morissette variety, obviously.) Chortles aside, Robert De Niro could bring a certain element of heartwarming nostalgia to this critique of the baby-driven entrepreneurial movement behind modern tech companies and startups. Or the whole thing could just be a big old schmaltz fest with Hathaway crying a lot. We all know how she loves to cry. Nancy Meyers directs. Rene Russo co-stars. (PG-13) 121 minutes.

LEARNING TO DRIVE Ben Kingsley plays a Sikh driving instructor who, through wise parables and street know-how, teaches a New York writer with marriage troubles how to take the wheel, both on the road and in the rest of her life. Patricia Clarkson, Jake Weber, Sarita Choudhury, Grace Gummer and Samantha Bee from The Daily Show co-star. Isabel Coixet directs. (R) 90 minutes.

MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS Oh, oh, oh, it’s Littlefinger from Game of Thrones and the Effy from BBC’s Skins—plus that adorable kid also from Thrones. Memorable faces aside, the movie’s about a bunch of children who escape an experimental facility and venture out into the desolate landscape of “The Scorch,” where they’re hunted. And … zombies? It’s a teen flick, but it still looks better than those Shailene Woodley Hunger Games knockoffs. Wes Ball directs. Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster co-star. (PG-13) 131 minutes.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- ROGUE NATION At this point, audiences may be thinking it’s Tom Cruise in another of these franchise films that is truly impossible (did they get him in a lifetime deal with the devil?), although, as far as action franchises go, needing to eradicate a rogue international organization with equally skilled agents sounds creative enough. At least all the characters surrounding Cruise—from Simon Pegg’s unflinching wit to the best British pout of 2015 (we’re looking at you Rebecca Ferguson) to the incandescence of Alec Baldwin’s face—make up for the tired resurrection of Ethan Hunt. Christopher McQuarrie directs. Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jeremy Renner co-star. (PG-13) 131 minutes.

THE NEW GIRLFRIEND Laura and Claire have been friends since they were children, inseparable since their youngest moments, so it comes as a devastating blow when Laura suddenly becomes ill and dies, leaving behind her husband, David, to raise their newborn daughter. Claire soon discovers that David has had a secret all along in this dramatic exploration into identities, secrets, and hidden lives—which looks very dramatic and very French. François Ozon directs. Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier, Raphaël Personnaz co-star. (R) 108 minutes.

NO ESCAPE An American family relocates overseas to embark on what they think will be an exciting new life—maybe a little too exciting, as they quickly find themselves in the epicenter of a military coup. Owen Wilson, who’s currently in post-production for Zoolander 2 (so it’s OK to find his genre-hopping unexpected), plays Jack Dwyer with Lake Bell as his on-screen wife. With two kids in tow they try desperately to flee the crumbling country but just as they think they’ve escaped, obstacles meet them at every turn. John Erick Dowdle directs. Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, and Owen Wilson co-star. (R) 103 minutes.

THE PERFECT GUY Leah is at the top of her game—good job, great boyfriend, genuine friends—but, she wants the house with the kids as well. When her all-star boyfriend doesn’t measure up, she moves on—right into the arms of the oh-so-suave Carter, who, at first glance, seems completely perfect. Except Carter (played by the gorgeously blue-eyed Michael Ealy) has got a temper, and when Leah tries to distance herself she finds that he’s not all that easy to get rid of. David M. Rosenthal directs. Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, and Morris Chestnut co-star. (PG-13) 100 minutes.

STONEWALL Regardless of who threw the first brick in the pivotal moments of the 1969 Stonewall riots, it’s a story that is crucial to this nation’s history. It’s also just as important to remember the transgender leaders of color that many argue have been written into supporting roles in this film when, in reality, they led the movement—like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who many debate might have thrown that first brick, instead of the white gay male in Stonewall. Controversy aside, it’s a glimpse into horrendous brutality and discrimination against LGBTQ members, and the most visible—though not the first—point in history where they took a stand against it. Roland Emmerich directs. Jeremy Irvine, Jonny Beauchamp, Joey King co-star. (R) 129 minutes.

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON “Speak a little truth and people lose their minds”—not everyone was ready for what N.W.A. had to say when the young Compton rappers hit the scene in the late ’80s. Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella rapped about living with one eye open and the daily realities of hood politics. Played here by Ice’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown Jr., their story as perhaps the most controversial and outspoken hip-hop group in history has reached mythic status. But the film picks and chooses how it wants to remember these icons—conspicuously erasing, for instance, Dre’s history of violence against women. F. Gary Gray directs. (R) 147 minutes.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. This Cold War-era action-comedy reads James Bond-ish parody with just the right amount of eye candy and CIA/KGB crossover bravado—all with perfectly chiseled chins which, since it does harken back to the 1964 original, we’ll forgive. Guy Ritchie directs. Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander co-star. (PG-13) 116 minutes.


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