Sept. 30 2014 05:27 PM

Adaptation of Patricia Highsmith novel tops our coverage of movies screening around town

TheTwoFacesofJanuary
The Two Faces of January

"There's a sucker born every minute." Chester McFarland (Viggo Mortensen) utters these fateful words to his wife Colette (Kirsten Dunst) as they saunter through the Parthenon in Athens. Classily dressed and relaxed, the snazzy couple evokes an image of Kennedy-era fantasy—strong and sophisticated Americans with an idealistic streak. But their reality is far more fragile. 

Set in 1962, Two Faces of January exposes the doubt within a relationship that's been long festering. Forced out of New York City because of some crooked investments, Chester now finds himself pursued by loan sharks representing the shady clients he swindled. Colette itches for a way out. 

In Greece, the McFarlands meet a mysterious American, Rydal (Oscar Isaac), who's been working as a tour guide in order to escape his own homegrown trauma. Through a precarious series of chance events, the trio becomes shackled together by mutual guilt.

Hossein Amini (who wrote the script for Drive) makes his feature directorial debut with this woozy if not sleight adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel. In the vein of Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan, one bad decision leads to another, creating a fatalistic tidal wave that threatens to destroy everyone. A union built out of circumstance soon turns dangerous for Chester and Rydal, who begin to spar regularly for Colette's attention.

Other than the classic themes of jealousy and arrogance, Two Faces of January—which opens Friday, Oct. 3, and runs through Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Ken Cinema—doesn't explore the psyche of its characters in very rewarding ways. The film has an elegance that covers up the seedier aspects, but it lacks the interior rage of Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley. These human cockroaches play games on the surface, leaving little in the way of mystery as they dig their own graves.


Opening

Annabelle: The creepy murderous doll from The Conjuring gets its own prequel.  

Gone Girl: David Fincher adapts Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel with Ben Affleck in the lead as the suspicious husband whose beautiful wife (Rosamund Pike) suddenly goes missing. 

Hero of Color City: Crayon aficionados rejoice. Your dream movie has arrived.

Kelly & Cal: Juliette Lewis stars as a punk-rocker-turned-suburban-mother who starts to doubt her life change. Screens through Oct. 9 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Left Behind: Nicolas Cage does his best Kirk Cameron in this reimagining of the famous rapture novels from Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. 

The Human Body: This amazing IMAX adventure goes inside the human body to explore the many dynamic changes that occur as we age. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

The Liberator: The story of Simon Bolivar (Edgar Ramirez), who fought more than 100 battles against the Spanish throughout South America, liberating indigenous people from European colonialism.

The Two Faces of January: Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst are on the run in Europe and get entangled with another mysterious American (Oscar Isaac) with a shady past. Screens through Oct. 9 at the Ken Cinema. 

One time only

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog: In Alfred Hitchcock's silent thriller, a landlady begins to suspect that her new lodger may be a serial killer. Screens at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, at The Whaley House in Old Town.

The Devil Wears Prada: Goddess of style Meryl Streep gives Anne Hathaway's young fashionista a lesson in corporate warfare. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. 

The Godfather: Loyalty means you don't get a horse's head in your bed. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, through Saturday, Oct. 4, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

Chef: A disgraced chef decides to leave the high-end culinary scene and open his own food truck. It's part of an event that begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, behind the North Park Theatre. 

Blazing Saddles: Campfire farts for everyone! Screens at midnight on Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Ken Cinema. 

Beetlejuice: Ghosts run rampant in Tim Burton's absurdist comedy about a couple trying to remove a bevy of phantasms from their new home. Screens at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, at Arclight La Jolla. 

Trust Me: Clark Gregg finally gets a leading role as a struggling talent agent who tries to salvage his career by signing a young Hollywood starlet. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village. 

Psycho: Mother knows best. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Arclight La Jolla.

Anna: In this twisty sci-fi thriller, Mark Strong stars as a "memory detective" who rummages through people's minds in order to cure their repressive tendencies. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry star in this cheeky comedy about a teenager who discovers she's the descendant of family destined to kill vampires. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the Arclight Cinemas in La Jolla.

Insomnia: In Christopher Nolan's adaptation of Erik Skjoldbjærg's 1997 thriller, a worn-out detective (Al Pacino) travels to the wintry north to investigate a grisly murder. Screens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Arclight La Jolla. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: A calm and collected man uses scientific experiments to bring out his violent alter ego. Screens at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at The Whaley House in Old Town. 

The Big Lebowski: "Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules." Walter abides in the Coen brothers' comedy of acidic errors. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. 

American Mustang: Shot and presented in 3D, this epic film charts the debate raging between activists and ranchers over the migration of wild horses through the Midwest. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at AMC Mission Valley.

Now playing

Hector and the Search for Happiness: Simon Pegg plays a conflicted psychologist who leaves his humdrum life in London to travel the globe and research what makes people happy. 

Jimi: All is by My Side: Andre Benjamin takes on the role of legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix in this biopic about the musician's rise to fame. 

Last Days in Vietnam: Documentary that uses archival footage and interviews to explore the timeline of the United States' military withdrawal at the end of the Vietnam War.

The Boxtrolls: An evil exterminator threatens a community of cave-dwelling trash collectors who've raised a young, orphaned boy as their own. 

The Equalizer: Denzel Washington takes names and kicks ass in this remake of the 1980s television show. 

Tracks: Mia Wasikowska plays a young woman who goes on an epic journey across the deserts of western Australia with her animal companions. 

Vivir es Facil con Ojos Cerrados: Antonio (Javier Camara), an English teacher and diehard Beatles fan, goes on a road trip in 1966 and attempts to meet John Lennon. Ends Oct. 2 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

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. 

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. Ends Oct. 2 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

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. 

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 Kevin Smith, a writer goes missing after interviewing a mysterious seafarer, causing his best friend and girlfriend to follow in search.

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

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. Ends Oct. 2 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

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. Ends Oct. 2 at Hillcrest and La Jolla Village cinemas.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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).

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.

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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