now in theaters
AJAMI This tough, gritty Israeli movie has a lot of things going for it, but clarity is not one of them. Ajami shuffles a deck of narrative cards and deals them forward and backward. Stories stop and start, overlap, reverse, and sidestep one another. It’s a patchwork tale of drugs, feuds, love, and death in the mean streets of Ajami, a multiethnic, multifaith ghetto in Jaffa. Grim and sometimes muddled, the movie packs a powerful punch. Not rated. 120 minutes. In Hebrew and Arabic with subtitles. CCA Cinematheque, Santa Fe. ( Jonathan Richards)
ALICE IN WONDERLAND Tim Burton’s uninspired foray into Wonderland features some nice character design and choice work by a cast of mostly British actors, but that’s it. As a sequel to the Lewis Carroll books, not an adaptation, it features an older Alice (Mia Wasikowska) and a lame Lord of the
Rings-style plot. But most surprising, the visual style is dim, drab, and muddy — perhaps the looking glass needs some Windex. Screens in 2-D. Rated PG. 108 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe;
DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos . (Robert Benziker)
AVATAR James Cameron’s adventure, which won three Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography, is about an ex-soldier (Sam Worthington) who uses a synthetic body to infiltrate a race of giant blue aliens and help the military tap into its natural resources. The script is stale, and the film is an hour too long. To put it bluntly, now that the 3-D prints are gone, it’s not worth seeing. Rated PG-13. 162 minutes. Regal
North, Santa Fe. (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 scores the extra point for not going long into melodramatic territory. Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes. Regal
North, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden)
THE BOUNTY HUNTER Those annoying ads you’ve seen with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler have subsided now that the annoying movie is here. Butler
plays a bounty hunter who is hired to bring in his ex-wife (Aniston) — you can fill in the blanks from there. Rated PG-13. 106 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Reel Deal, Los Alamos; Storyteller, Taos. (Not reviewed)
CHLOE A woman (Julianne Moore) suspects that her husband (Liam Neeson) is cheating, so she hires a young prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him. What ensues is a mild variation of Fatal Attraction with a Sapphic twist. This is an artsy, pretentious sexual thriller, directed by Atom Egoyan, that immediately calls to mind direct-to-video erotic films of the 1990s that starred Tanya Roberts, Shannon Tweed, and Andrew Stevens. Moore does what she can with the shallow role assigned her; the rest of the cast mostly makes concerned or crazy faces as they slog through the nonsense. Rated R. 96 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Robert Nott)
CRAZY HEART Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake, an aging country-music singer traveling the bumpy downhill road of a washed-up, broken-down career. He finds redemption through a pretty young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her little boy. Crazy Heart doesn’t have much of a story, and what it has we’ve seen before, but Bridges’ fine performance — which won him the Best Actor Oscar — almost saves it. Rated R. 112 minutes.
Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española. (Jonathan Richards)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID The cartoon figures of Jeff Kinney’s highly popular illustrated novels are brought to flesh and blood with affection for the material and good humor. Greg (Zachary Gordon) is the kid, who feels that he’s destined for greatness and can’t understand why all his attempts to gain middle-school popularity backfire. Wimpy Kid can be too over-the-top, but it’s a goofball of a film that is sure to please not just the young readers of the books but anyone who occasionally feels that they’re surrounded by idiots. Rated PG. 120 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe;
DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Robert
THE GHOST WRITER The title character (Ewan McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of a politically beleaguered former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) in an isolated island mansion. This is a solid but not sensational thriller directed and co-written by the man who gave us gripping films such as Repulsion (1965) and Chinatown (1974). It falls apart near the end, but until then, it’s a jolly good show. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes.
Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Robert Nott)
GREEN ZONE Director Paul Greengrass and actor Matt Damon, who teamed up for the last two Bourne films, present a thriller staged in 2003 Iraq. Damon plays Roy Miller, a soldier who is sick of men dying while looking for weapons of mass destruction that don’t exist. He complains to his superiors and opens up one heck of a can of worms. Green Zone is heavy on exposition, but it’s a strong military thriller. Rated R. 115 minutes.
Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker)
GREENbERG Noah Baumbach’s latest drama requires a lot of patience but exudes enough charm to carry it through. It’s the story of a depressed neurotic (Ben Stiller) who agrees to do a six-week house-sit in Los Angeles and finds himself contemplating the notion of love for the first time. Stiller’s performance is annoying, but Greta Gerwig scores as a young woman adrift in a world that seems to have no use for her — which doesn’t stop her from chugging along, hoping that something or someone will tow her into port. Rated R. 107 minutes. Regal
DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Robert Nott) See review,
HOT TUb TIME MACHINE John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, and Rob Corddry play a quartet of losers who find a hot tub that transports them back to the 1980s, where they have a chance to fix past errors. The production design crew does a nice job of creating an atmosphere that isn’t quite of the 1980s but rather of bad 1980s comedies. But the gross-out humor is rarely funny, and Corddry works overtime for almost no laughs. The goofy premise and presence of Cusack keep it entertaining, though not as much as the title promises. Rated R. 100 minutes. Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe;
DreamCatcher, Española; Storyteller, Taos. (Robert Benziker) See review, Page 44. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Based on a book by Cressida Cowell, this refreshing animated adventure spares us the tired elements of wisecracking animals and toilet humor and instead delivers a fully engaging coming-of-age tale. Viking teenager and wannabe dragon slayer Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) sets out to earn the respect of his father (Gerard Butler) and his townspeople by killing a fire-breathing beast. But things do not go as planned, and Hiccup befriends his intended prey (by Odin’s beard!). The tendency to let breathtaking environments and action sequences rather than simple objects be the center of the film’s 3-D focus make it worth the extra cash. Rated PG. 98 minutes. Screens in digital 3-D at Regal
Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Reel Deal, Los Alamos. Also screens in 2-D at Regal
Stadium 14, Santa Fe. (Rob DeWalt)
THE HURT LOCKER Kathryn Bigelow is one of Hollywood’s best action directors. Here, with a script by journalist Mark Boal, she delivers a taut drama about a trio of Explosive Ordnance Disposal soldiers. It’s not depressing, it’s not too violent, and it doesn’t address the politics of war beyond the notion that a lot of people are going to die. It was the big winner on Oscar night, taking home six statuettes, including those for Best Picture and Best Director. Rated R. 131 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Robert Nott)
THE LAST SONG It’s been a couple of months since Dear John dethroned the mighty Avatar from its reign as the top movie in the country. Get ready for more gentle weeping, because here is another film based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. This one centers on a father (Greg Kinnear) who hopes to reconnect with his daughter (Miley Cyrus). Rated PG. 107 minutes. Regal
Stadium 14, Santa Fe; DreamCatcher, Española; Reel Deal, Los Alamos; Storyteller, Taos. (Not reviewed)
THE LAST STATION Over the latter part of his life, Leo Tolstoy was known not just for his novels but also for the philosophy of pacifism, egalitarianism, and celibacy to which he gave his name. The movie shows the epic struggle between the writer (Christopher Plummer) and his wife of almost 50 years (Helen Mirren). The third point of the triangle is the calculating Chertkov (Paul Giamatti), who is more Tolstoyan than Tolstoy and wants the copyrights of his work for the public
domain. Rated R. 110 minutes. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe; Taos Center for the Arts, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, 575-758-2052. ( Jonathan Richards)
THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND
THE PENTAGON PAPERS This is the story of Daniel Ellsberg, the RAND analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret government report that concluded that the war could not be won, to The New York Times in 1971. Narrated by Ellsberg, the film’s subject may be old hat to those who lived through it, but today it makes for an eye-opening history of an age when the irrepressible conscience of one highly connected man could actually sway public opinion on a war. Saturday and Sunday, April 3 and 4, only. Not rated. 94 minutes. The Screen, Santa Fe. (Casey Sanchez)
OUR FAMILY WEDDING Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia play men whose children are getting married. The fathers initially hate each other, but they learn that African Americans and Mexican Americans both think that love is peachy and that it’s funny when people fall into swimming pools. Rated PG-13. 90 minutes.
DreamCatcher, Española. (Not reviewed)
A PROPHET Malik (Tahar Rahim) arrives in prison with virtually no history and little personality. Over his six-year sentence, he grows into a man under the thumb of Corsican mobster César (the great Niels Arestrup), who openly regards Malik as a “stupid Arab,” even while entrusting him with increasingly important tasks. Jacques Audiard’s film is an examination of the influx of Muslims into France and an indictment of the notion of prison as rehabilitation as well as a gangster flick and coming-of-age fable. Rated R. 155 minutes. In French, Arabic, and Corsican with subtitles. Regal DeVargas, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker)
REMEMBER ME In this overly maudlin film, Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson puts his well-developed brooding skills to work as Tyler, a scruffy young man who’s angry at the world, especially his emotionally closed-off father (Pierce Brosnan). After Tyler ends up in jail for mouthing off to a cop (Chris Cooper), his asinine roommate (Tate Ellington) suggests he woo the cop’s daughter ( Lost’s Emilie de Ravin) to get even. Rated PG-13. 128 minutes. Regal North, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden)
REPO MEN In the future, you will be able to purchase mechanical organs for transplant. If you do not make the hefty payments on time, repo men will come and retrieve the organ. Repo man Remy (Jude Law), who needs a heart transplant, finds his old partner (Forest Whitaker) after him. Rated R. 111 minutes. Regal
North, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE Finally, here’s a comedy that celebrates the phenomenon of men who date women who are much more attractive than them. Wait, isn’t that every romantic comedy? Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl. Dudley Moore and any of his female leads.
She’s Out of My League tackles the material directly and is raunchier about it. Rated R. 104 minutes.
Regal North, Santa Fe. (Not reviewed)
SHUTTER ISLAND The latest expertly crafted collaboration between director Martin Scorsese and actor Leonardo DiCaprio is also one of the best thrillers in years, filmed in the noir-horror tradition of producer Val Lewton. It tells a tale of two U.S. marshals who investigate an escape at an island asylum for the criminally insane and discover that everything there is not as it seems. Rated R. 138 minutes.
Regal Stadium 14, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker)
A SINGLE MAN This debut from fashion designer Tom Ford recounts a day in the life of George (Colin Firth), a literature professor mourning the death of his longtime lover (Matthew Goode). The film is meticulously tailored and beautifully styled — sometimes overly so — but it’s also heartbreaking. Rated R. 101 minutes.
CCA Cinematheque, Santa Fe. (Laurel Gladden)
THE WHITE RIBBON This is a portrait of what appears to be a pastoral village in 1913-1914 Germany. As this is a film from filmmaker Michael Haneke ( Caché), life in the burg is anything but idyllic. In his examination of generational conflict and a country on the brink of war, Haneke doesn’t lament the loss of innocence — he argues that we are never innocent. Rated R. 144 minutes. In German with subtitles.
CCA Cinematheque, Santa Fe. (Robert Benziker)
You don’t know what you’ve got till you marry him: from left, Tasha Smith, Janet Jackson, and Sharon Leal in
Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, at Regal Stadium 14 in Santa Fe and DreamCatcher in Española