now in theaters
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUEL Thanks a lot, kids. Apparently enough of you saw the 2007 live-action adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks that the studio is bringing Jason Lee and the shrill CGI rodents back for more butchering of 2009’s biggest songs and 1997’s hippest slang. Rated PG. 92 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. (Not reviewed) AVATAR James Cameron’s newest adventure is about an ex-soldier (SamWorthington) who uses a synthetic body to infiltrate a race of giant blue aliens and help the military tap into their natural resources. The script is stale and the film is an hour too long, but the planet of Pandora is the most fully realized fictional world that’s ever been put up on screen. Rated PG-13. 162 minutes. Screens in digital 3-D at Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Robert Benziker) THE BLIND SIDE This crowd pleaser recounts the story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless Memphis teen who, after being taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family, went on to become an NFL draft pick. It’s a feel-good yarn that would be nauseating if it weren’t true, but it scores the extra point for not going long into melodramatic territory. Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, and Ray McKinnon give solid performances, and the film is the first movie with a female lead to make more than $200 million at the box office. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden) THE BOOK OF ELI DenzelWashington plays a survivor of the apocalypse who has spent the ensuing 31 years guided by voices in his head to carry the world’s only remaining Bible west. He must negotiate a landscape largely identical to the one in The Road, but he has a livelier time, thanks in part to the entertaining psychopath Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who wants the book so he can rule the world. The movie is fast-paced, with some stylish visuals and plenty of action; it’s also ponderously righteous and wildly silly, with leaps of logic to try the patience of a saint. Rated R. 118 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. ( Jonathan Richards) BROKEN EMBRACES Pedro Almodóvar has spent decades crafting billets-doux to film, and while not his finest, this may be his most passionate and reverential.
Penélope Cruz plays Lena, an actress and mistress to tycoon Ernesto ( José Luis Gómez) who gets a part in director Mateo Blanco’s (Lluís Homar) latest film. She and Mateo fall in love, but Ernesto is jealous and vengeful. Almodóvar tells their tale through flashbacks, conjuring up passion and humor in a noirish drama of the Hitchcockian persuasion. Rated R. 127 minutes. In Spanish with subtitles. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden) DAYBREAKERS It’s the year 2019, and the world is populated by vampires. With the blood supply running out, vampire scientist Edward (Ethan Hawke) meets some humans (led by a campyWillem Dafoe) who may have a cure for vampirism. Now, if only Edward’s corporate and military bosses let him develop it. Daybreakers is based on a silly premise, but it’s a stylish movie, packed full of smart sci-fi and horror details and featuring a nifty, noir-ish look that’s all cigarette smoke, dark suits, and shadows. As long as you’re not scared of some gore and B-movie dialogue, this film is a nice surprise. Rated R. 98 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker) FANTASTIC MR. FOX Filmmaker Wes Anderson proves to be a perfect match for children’s author Roald Dahl as he and a talented team of voice actors and stop-motion animators bring Dahl’s novella about a crafty fox and three nasty farmers to life. They’ve managed to make a film that is herky-jerky and slightly surreal in the classic stop-motion tradition. It’s perfect for adults and children without pandering to either audience. Rated PG. 87 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker) EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES A listless construction about a desperate circumstance — a frequently terminal disease that strikes children— and the lengths to which one family went to help discover a cure. Based on the true story of a pharmaceutical exec (Brendan Fraser) who quit his job to set up a biotech research company to find a cure for his children’s illness. Harrison Ford plays the crusty old scientist who may have the key. Rated PG. 106 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. ( Jonathan Richards) See review, Page 38. DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS? Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker play a separated married couple who are thrust into the government’s witness protection program after they witness a murder. They’re sent outWest to hide, where they try to mend their relationship and milk cows. Grant and Parker give it their all, but a poor script and lackluster direction weigh the whole thing down. Rated PG-13. 103 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Robert Nott) INVICTUS Morgan Freeman captures the dignity, compassion, and wisdom of Nelson Mandela in director Clint Eastwood’s beautifully crafted film. It’s an account of the strategy used by the new South African president in 1994 to bring together a country riven with post-apartheid resentment and fear by focusing on the national rugby team’s pursuit of theWorld Cup. Predictably feel-good but filled with subtle touches and fine performances, particularly by Matt Damon as the team captain. Rated PG-13. 134 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) LEAP YEAR Romantic comedies are hardly ever surprising, but this lame addition to the canon offers little that’s memorable other than scenery. Amy Adams is ill-suited for the role of petulant type-A American Anna, who follows her boyfriend (Adam Scott) to Dublin, where, on Feb. 29, tradition “allows” women to propose marriage. She enlists the help of scruffy, churlish Declan (Matthew Goode); the two mock, insult, and argue with each other until, naturally, they fall in love. Rated PG. 97 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden) THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is a showman with astonishing powers of the imagination that open up a fantastical world. So, for that matter, is writerdirector Terry Gilliam, the onetime animation wizard of Monty Python whose best films (and this is one of them) make a bit of magic. The movie is haunted by the death of its star, Heath Ledger, during shooting, but the solution Gilliam found to replace him does honor to his friend. Rated PG-13. 122 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe; Storyteller, Taos. ( Jonathan Richards) LEGION First-time feature director Scott Stewart attempts to present an intriguing mix of horror, biblical prophecy, and thrills in this story of Armageddon and a fallen angel, Michael (Paul Bettany). When God orders his army of angels to destroy humanity, Michael descends from heaven to protect an unborn child who holds the key to mankind’s survival. Despite some cheap visual thrills IT’S COMPLICATED This frothy comedy from writer/director Nancy Meyers revolves around a naughty bit of adultery involving a man (Alec Baldwin) having sex with his wife (Meryl Streep). The complication arises from the fact that she’s not his current wife. There’s nothing wildly original here, but it’s funny, and it lets us escape for a couple of hours into a world where everything is beautiful, even advancing middle age. Rated R. 118 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) and riveting action, the weak script, crude editing, throwaway characters, and recycled plot mechanisms make Legion about as intriguing as an episode of Davey and Goliath. Rated R. 100 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Rob DeWalt) See review, Page 38. PLANET 51 This computer-animated feature centers on an astronaut (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who lands on a planet full of little green men living in their version of 1950s America. It’s a silly alien-invasion story in which humans are the alien. Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman, and John Cleese also supply voices. Rated PG. 91 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed) THE LOVELY BONES Fans of Alice Sebold’s novel have been eagerly awaiting this adaptation, directed by Peter Jackson. Fourteenyear-old Susie Salmon narrates the story of her happy family life and how one afternoon, a man from her neighborhood rapes and murders her. From the afterlife, she watches as her family and friends attempt to cope with her death and find her killer. The film is visually interesting, but success must have warped Jackson’s sense of restraint and his ability to construct a solid story. Rated PG-13. 135 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Laurel Gladden) NINE Rob Marshall’s latest musical is adapted from a 1982 Broadway production based on Federico Fellini’s 1963 film 8½ , and it has wandered far from the original source of inspiration. Daniel Day-Lewis tries his best, but the musical numbers are all duds, and a supporting cast of gifted actresses is squandered. Rated PG-13. 110 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker) PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPPHIRE Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is a poor, illiterate,
obese teen who lives in Harlem with her abusive mother (Mo’Nique). She’s about to be kicked out of school when her principal tells her about a school where she can pursue her GED. With its cornucopia of misery, Precious almost seems like a new type of horror film, but it succeeds thanks to superior performances and by running on realistic hope rather than syrupy optimism. Rated R. 110 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden) THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Disney returns to hand-drawn animation in this beautifully rendered fable. When handsome prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) pulls into New Orleans in search of a wealthy bride, his plans are dashed by a voodoo witch doctor (Keith David) who turns him into a frog. A woman named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) wishes upon a star and kisses the frog, but she gets a lot more than she bargained for. Rated G. 95 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Rob DeWalt) THE RED SHOES Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s classic film about the consuming passion of art has been brilliantly restored. The movie has magnificent performances from Moira Shearer, as the ballerina who dances The Red Shoes and then can’t stop, and Anton Walbrook, as the ballet impresario for whom there is no religion but dance. In 1948, The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “There has never been a picture in which the ballet and its special, magic world have been so beautifully and dreamily presented.” The verdict hasn’t changed. Not rated. 133 minutes. The Screen, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) THE ROAD Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel about a father and son in a desperate, post-apocalyptic America is adapted for the screen by writer Joe Penhall ( Enduring Love) and director John Hillcoat ( The Proposition), and they do about as good a job as you could ask. They hit the major themes, the landscapes look stunning, and Viggo Mortensen contributes a moving lead performance. However, you’re never unaware that you’re watching a movie, which weakens the experience. Rated R. 111 minutes. DreamCatcher, Española. (Robert Benziker) SHERLOCK HOLMES Robert Downey Jr. combines wit, intellect, and an action hero’s physical virtuosity in a tour-de-force updating of the sleuth of Baker Street. Despite a few laggard moments, director Guy Ritchie has pulled off an entertaining coup in giving us a Holmes for the 21st century by digging back to the original and adding a few bells and whistles. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) A SINGLE MAN Loosely based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel of the same name, this highly anticipated debut from fashion designer and sometime Santa Fe resident Tom Ford recounts a day in the life of George (Colin Firth), a literature professor mourning the death of his longtime lover (Matthew Goode). As you might expect, the film is meticulously tailored and beautifully styled— sometimes overly so— but it’s also touching and heartbreaking. Colin Firth’s performance is a pinnacle of his career thus far. Rated R. 101 minutes. CCA Cinematheque, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden) THE SPY NEXT DOOR Jackie Chan pitches a bit more of his cinematic credibility into the kidmovie abyss (in the spirit of 2002’s The Tuxedo) as Bob Ho, an undercover CIA agent. Ho must protect the kids of his bride-to-be from Russian terrorists— and share screen time with Hannah Montana’s dad (Billy Ray Cyrus). The film, which was shot in New Mexico, barely keeps the tots entertained or engaged. Rated PG. 92 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. (Rob DeWalt) TOOTH FAIRY Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as a jaded minor-league hockey player who’s summoned to Fairyland for reckless “dissemination of disbelief” and sentenced to two weeks’ Tooth Fairy duty. His professional gear includes invisibility spray, shrinking paste, and amnesia dust, which anyone in the audience over the age of 6 will wish for. Even though its script was “crafted” by five screenwriters, the movie feels like a cheap knockoff of The Santa Clause filled with puns, double entendres, and sickly sweet dare-to-dream messages. Rated PG. 101 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Laurel Gladden) YOUTH IN REVOLT Michael Cera excels as Nick Twisp, a teenager so shy and awkward that he invents a bad-boy alter ego to land the local cutie at the trailer park (Portia Doubleday). The young lovers make a pleasant couple, and the movie is nicely weird, but it is a bit too in love with its weirdness and could use a few straight men in the considerable comic cast. Rated R. 90 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker) UP IN THE AIR With his third feature, director Jason Reitman ( Juno) delivers a comic winner with undertones of contemporary angst. Ryan Bingham (an impeccable George Clooney) spends most of his life on planes, happily traveling to the cities where he fires people as a hired gun for downsizing corporations. Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga are brilliant as the two women in Ryan’s life. Rated R. 109 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards) THE YOUNG VICTORIA Emily Blunt is lovely and strong-minded as the young Vic, and Rupert Friend is a charming Prince Albert once he overcomes a first meeting with the Queen apparent in which he plays the awkwardness rather than trying to disguise it. Outstanding supporting work comes from Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, and Paul Bettany. With a literate script by Julian Fellowes ( Gosford Park) and fluid but sometimes self-conscious direction from Jean-Marc Vallée, this biopic is informative, elegant, and lushly romantic. Rated PG. 104 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards)