Sept. 16 2014 06:38 PM

New romance with Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy leads our rundown of movies screening around town

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby - Them

People grieve in vastly different ways. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them spins this idea into a sublime meditation on one couple's experiences grappling with the loss of a child. Ned Benson's ambitious melodrama is unique in that it reduces the usual heightened emotions of the genre down to a quiet simmer. 

In the opening scene, we see Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) at their happiest, having dinner at a swanky restaurant before gleefully running out on the check. They end up giggling on the grass in Central Park, illuminated by a bed of fireflies. Seconds later, a distraught Eleanor rides across one of New York City's highest bridges, abandons her bike and jumps over the side.

It's a deeply sad sequence of isolation and panic, one that stands in direct contrast to the dream-like prologue. Here we have one of many examples where polar-opposite emotions and experiences clash. But unlike the two leads of Claude Lelouch's classic French romance A Man and Woman, the poster for which hangs in Eleanor's bedroom, Benson's troubled couple spends much of the film toiling alone.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them—which opens Friday, Sept. 19—explores the procedures of transition, how and why we make decisions during times of emotional distress. The characters' parents, played by William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert and Ciarán Hinds, are important to forming this process.

However, the bulk of the film's power rests on the chemistry and courage of Chastain and McAvoy, each of whom conveys a combination of intimacy and rage that feels vibrant even during the quietest moments. Both actors give restrained performances that match Benson's melancholic aesthetic, creating a demure yet affecting way of looking at the collapse of two worlds that used to be one. 

Opening

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Liam Neeson scours the dark underbelly of the city in Scott Frank's ghoulish crime film, looking for the killer of a drug kingpin's beautiful wife. 

My Old Lady: Kevin Kline plays an American who inherits an apartment in Paris that houses a mysterious resident. It co-stars Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith. 

Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation: Documentary about one of the most famous architectural projects ever, Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Screens through Sept. 24 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.   

Take Me to the River: The Memphis music scene gets an in-depth documentary that follows a new album featuring legends from Stax Records. Screens through Sept. 25 at the Ken Cinema.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them: James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain play a couple who try to reclaim their relationship after experiencing a traumatic event. 

The Maze Runner: In this science-fiction film, a community of boys tries to escape an elaborate maze after being kidnapped and having their minds erased. 

The Skeleton Twins: Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play estranged twins who reunite after both escape death on the same day. 

The Zero Theorem: Christoph Waltz stars as a genius computer programmer in Terry Gilliam's mad-hatter film set in a fantastical future dystopia. Screens through Sept. 25 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.  

This is Where I Leave You: Four grown siblings are forced to return home after their father passes away and states in his will that they must all live under the same roof for a week. It stars Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda. 

Tusk: In this horror film by director Kevin Smith, a writer goes missing after interviewing a mysterious seafarer, causing his best friend and girlfriend to follow in search. 

One time only

Chicken with Plums: The filmmakers of Persepolis return with this stunning parable about a broken-down musician trying to find hope in his later years. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Scripps Ranch Library.

Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band: Painter and multitalented musician Llyn Foulkes is on the precipice of obscurity at age 70. This documentary follows his tenacious journey to be remembered. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Pearl Peep's Movie Choice: What kind of movie mood will Pearl be in? Your guess is as good as ours. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

La Costa Film Festival: The program includes 43 feature films, after-parties and a tribute to Ed Harris. Runs Thursday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 21, at various locations. Get details at lacostafilmfestival.org. 

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead: Joe Cross decides to change his unhealthy lifestyle and lose 100 pounds in this documentary about the modern healthcare crisis. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at various theaters. Get details at fathom
events.com. 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: In Howard Hawks' masterpiece, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell convince a gaggle of adoring men that blondes have the most fun. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, through Saturday, Sept. 20, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Looking for a perfect first date? Take your guy or gal to the most famous late-night movie ever made, a true litmus test for any relationship. Screens at midnight on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Ken Cinema. 

M: Fritz Lang's horrifying moral tale stars Peter Lorre as a child killer who's captured by people who are out for blood. Screens at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, at Arclight La Jolla. 

Fading Gigolo: John Tuturro decides to prostitute himself out to wealthy women in order to make a living after his flower shop goes bankrupt. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, at San Diego Public Library. 

Cinemanovels: A woman curates a memorial film retrospective for her deceased father and realizes how much his work has influenced her. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

In Secret: Elizabeth Olson is one unhappy camper in this period melodrama about unrequited love and desire. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at the Mission Valley Public Library. 

Crazy Bitches: A group of vain women learn the true lesson of beauty as they're picked off one by one during a weekend getaway. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Hillcrest Cinemas.

The Goonies: They never say die. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Now Playing

A Five Star Life: A woman works as a luxury-hotel inspector and, despite her dream job, pines for a relationship of substance. 

Besos de Azucar: Two precocious children must overcome their awful parents in this dark comedy by director Carlos Cuaron. Ends Sept. 18 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Dolphin Tale 2: Even a dolphin needs to find love. 

No Good Deed: Idris Elba plays an ex-con with dangerous intentions who seduces Taraji P. Henson's devoted housewife in Sam Miller's erotic thriller.

The Drop: When a robbery goes wrong, a low-level thug (Tom Hardy) must lean on friends and enemies alike to survive. It's the final film starring James Gandolfini. 

The Notebook (Le Grand Cahier): Twins travel with their mother to stay with family in order to avoid the horror of World War II. There they encounter their evil grandmother, who forces them to do slave labor for food and shelter. Ends Sept. 18 at the Ken Cinema.

A Letter to Momo: After her father dies, a young Japanese girl moves to a seemingly tranquil island off the coast of Japan, where she encounters supernatural occurrences. Ends Sept. 18 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

Innocence: Boarding school turns out to be a horrifying experience for a traumatized young woman looking for solace after her mother is killed.

The Identical: Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta star in this drama about twin brothers who are separated at birth and then reconnect as adults involved in the music business. 

The Last of Robin Hood: Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline) begins a torrid love affair with an underage girl (Dakota Fanning) in the waning years of his life. Ends Sept. 18 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

The Remaining: A wedding celebration is suddenly disrupted by apocalyptic events that have religious implications. 

As Above / So Below: Note to self: Don't venture into the underground catacombs of Paris. It's bad for one's health.

Frank: A fragile musician (Michael Fassbender) wearing a gigantic papier-mâché head leads an eccentric rock band all the way to the SXSW music festival, where all hell breaks loose. Ends Sept. 18 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

Love is Strange: Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have been a couple for nearly 40 years. But when George loses his job, the two are forced to separate and live with friends in cramped New York City apartments, forever altering their relationship. 

The November Man: Pierce Brosnan returns to super-spy duty, this time as a top CIA assassin facing off against his best protégé. 

The Trip to Italy: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon gallivant around Italy, eating and yapping wise in Michael Winterbottom's new comedy.

If I Stay: After a car accident, a young woman has an out-of-body experience that leads her to a life far different than she ever imagined. 

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return with another noir mash-up about killers, corrupt politicians and gorgeous women.

When the Game Stands Tall: Jim Caviezel plays high-school football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle Spartans from obscurity to an amazing 151-game winning streak. 

Calvary: One day a troubled Irish priest (Brendan Gleeson) is threatened during confession, sending him into a downward spiral of sin and doubt. Ends Sept. 18 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

Expendables 3: The 1980s have officially reassembled for the third time to blow explosions into your face. 

Let's Be Cops: Two goofball friends posing as cops for a costume party get sucked into a night of debauchery and danger. 

The Giver: Lois Lowry's classic young-adult novel about a not-so-utopian future gets the big-screen adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. 

What If: Young people sit around and talk about love and friendship and wonder why nothing makes sense. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan.

The Hundred-Foot Journey: The proprietor of a famous French restaurant (Helen Mirren) clashes with the family running a new Indian eatery down the street. 

Into the Storm: An onslaught of unprecedented tornados touches down and causes havoc in the Midwest. Global warming is a real bitch. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Watch out for Raphael. He's a party dude.  

Get on Up: The James Brown biopic we've all been waiting for from the director of The Help

Guardians of the Galaxy: American pilot Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his rowdy alien crew become objects of a manhunt after stealing a valuable orb that belongs to a diabolical space villain.

Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's latest cinematic confection follows an English debunker (Colin Firth) brought in to unmask a possible swindle involving a wacky astrologist (Emma Stone). Ends Sept. 18 at Hillcrest and La Jolla Village cinemas.

A Most Wanted Man: Director Anton Corbijn (The American) adapts John le Carré's famous novel about a web of spies operating in the shadowy confines of Hamburg, Germany.

Hercules: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson dons the sword, sandals and skimpy underwear to play the half-god at odds with his immortal brethren.

Lucy: Thanks to a drug-smuggling operation gone bad, Scarlet Johansson miraculously begins to use 100 percent of her brain and seeks revenge against the bad guys who put her on the spot. 

Boyhood: Richard Linklater's epic drama follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age 6 to 18, charting all the highs and lows in between.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Ten years after a virus outbreak pitted apes against men, the two factions forge a fragile peace that's tested by fear and aggression. It's directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis. 

Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

How to Train Your Dragon 2: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless encounter new challenges while trying to bring their species together in harmony. 

Chef: Jon Favreau returns to comedy filmmaking with this story of a well-respected chef who opens a food truck after being fired by a posh restaurateur.

Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.

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