His new movie and first feature, I Am Not a Hipster, is set in San Diego's indie-rock scene. It centers on Brook (Dominic Bogart), a brooding singer-songwriter who's had a brush with success but is now so full of self-loathing and anger that he pushes everyone away—that is, everyone but his three infectiously happy sisters, Joy (Tammy Minoff ), Spring (Lauren Coleman) and Merrily (Kandis Erickson), who arrive unannounced with Brook's father (Michael Harding) to spread his mother's ashes.
Brook is a jerk to just about everyone, even his best friend. But not his sisters. Their sunny disposition forces Brook to be nice when they're around, and the effect they have on him pushes him to confront his anger and the grief he's bottled up since his mother's death.
Cretton's had a fling with success in a similar way to Brook, but the good news is that he's not a jerk. He's a talented writer-director who knows how to capture a social scene and how to frame an image and a story. Local musician Joel P West wrote an album's worth of music, and Cretton wisely gives Bogart room to move and to perform.
It's tough to watch Brook when he's with the people who consider him a friend, but it's not because he's unlikable; it's because he's a likeable guy doing unlikable things. In many ways, Brook's external reactions might be an indication of Cretton's internal feelings.
"I've definitely been there," he tells CityBeat via email. "Feeling I have every right in the world to sulk and brood. But, like Brook, I also have three sisters who are often too vibrant and loving to let me think like that. It's kind of impossible not to smile when they're in the room. So there's definitely some Brook in me, but hopefully not too much."
I Am Not a Hipster, which also screened at Sundance earlier this year, premieres in San Diego on Friday, May 11, with screenings at 6 and 9 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The event is being presented by both the San Diego Film Festival and Sezio, and there'll be a cocktail reception in between the two showings, with a performance by Canines, the band that appears in the film. Tickets are $10, which is a terrific price for what's likely to be the not-ahipster event of the season.
After Dark Action: The folks who brought you After Dark Horror and After Dark Originals swing by the Gaslamp with a slew of films starring the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Jim Cavezial, Peter Weller and even JCVD.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: There's a charm to this movie about British retirees who outsource their retirement to India, mostly because the cast is made up of folks like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith. Read our review.
Dark Shadows: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp just can't remake enough stuff. This time, it's the campy gothic soap from the '70s which, apparently, was dying for the big screen.
Girl in Progress: Eva Mendes stars and makes her directorial debut, playing a single mom juggling the needs of her daughter and the attention of hunky doctor Matthew Modine.
Goodbye First Love: In this French film about young love, a teen spends years pining for the slightly older boy she falls for, until she runs into him again.
Nesting: A couple of 30-somethings try to reclaim their 20-something lives.
Perfect Family: Kathleen Turner gets all wiggy after she's nominated for a huge award by the Catholic Church.
Restless City: A young Senegalese immigrant does his best to live, love, play music and just get by while living in Harlem.
The Road: A Filipino horror film about a stretch of road that's been hiding something deadly for decades.
One Time Only
Office Space: Mike Judge's comedy classic inspired the baseball-bat-inflicted demise of countless printers. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Royal Tenenbaums: All Wes Anderson movies are about people with daddy issues, but few of them have as many as the Tenenbaum kids. Appetizers will be served, and the film screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at The Propagandist, Downtown.
Harold and Maude: Harold is 25. Maude is almost 80. They fall in love, and the results are wonderful. Screens at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Bye Bye Birdie: This was the movie that made Ann-Margret a star. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Reading Cinemas Town Square.
Night on Earth: The Public Library's Jim Jarmusch series continues with this look at five different cabs in five different cities during the course of one night. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Roman Holiday: Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar playing the princess who escapes her minders and hooks up with newsman Gregory Peck. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 10, through Saturday, May 12, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
San Diego Surf Film Festival: The inaugural festival runs Friday, May 11, to Sunday, May 13, at Bird's Surf Shed in Point Loma.
Children of Men: Craig Oliver continues his curated collection with this terrific dystopian film starring Clive Owen as the man who must escort the world's only pregnant woman to safety. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Space 4 Art, Downtown.
My Fair Lady: Audrey Hepburn's singing was dubbed after the fact, and plenty of people wanted Julie Andrews to play Eliza Doolittle, but this musical adaptation of Pygmalion remains a charmer. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 12, and Tuesday, May 15, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp..
Patrik, Age 1.5: Swedish film about a gay couple who discover that due to a typo, they're adopting a 15-year-old boy rather than a toddler. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Some Like it Hot: Gotta love a movie with Marilyn Monroe that was shot at the Hotel Del. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, May 14, at Reading Cinemas Town Square.
They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain: This documentary about the country formerly known as Burma features narration and commentary from Aung San Suu Kyi, the activist whose political party just won an enormous election. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Press Rewind: The fifth annual showcase of student films from prominent directors includes work from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Shane Acker and Wes Anderson. Starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at The Loft at UCSD.
Strangers on a Train: Hitchcock classic about a crazy rich guy who approaches a tennis pro in hopes of getting him to help commit a murder. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at the Scripps Ranch Library. Free.
Super Troopers: Too bad all cops aren't like these guys. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Tremors: Enormous people-eating worms stalk a small town in Texas, and the only thing that can stop them is good ol' boys Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at The Propagandist, Downtown.
The Avengers: It set box-office records for the biggest opening weekend ever, and for good reason. Joss Whedon's take on the Marvel franchise is well-written, superbly edited, funny and enormously entertaining.
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye: Marie Losier's doc is about the artist Genesis P-Orridge and his partner, Lady Jaye, examining their efforts to create a single androgynous sexual identity by becoming complete duplicates of each other. Yeah, that's out there.
Citizen Gangster: Scott Speedman stars in this Canadian thriller about a young dad who wants to become a movie star but turns to crime instead.
Elles: Juliet Binoche plays a journalist who investigates students working as prostitutes, which forces her to take a hard look at her own life. Ends May 10 at the Ken Cinema.
Headhunters: A corporate headhunter who steals art on the side finds himself up to his neck in trouble.
A Little Bit of Heaven: Kate Hudson gets some bad news from her doctor, Gael Garcia Bernal. Good thing he's so hunky.
People v. the State of Illusion: This documentary uses neuroscience, biochemistry, psychology, quantum physics and consciousness to explore the nature of reality. Produced by San Diego's Debbie Ford.
Sound of My Voice: Brit Marling, who co-wrote and starred in last year's Another Earth, co-wrote this one, too. And in it, she plays the charismatic leader of a group of people who worship her, even as a pair of documentary filmmakers are doing their best to expose her secrets.
Hubble: Leonardo DiCaprio narrates this IMAX documentary about the big telescope at 6 p.m. Fridays at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Ring of Fire: Not a Johnny Cash documentary. This IMAX movie about volcanoes screens at 8 p.m. Fridays in May, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Raven: John Cusack seems to be channeling Nicolas Cage, rather than Edgar Allan Poe, in James McTeigue's serial killer film.
Darling Companion: Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill) watches the Boomers grow even older. Diane Keaton seems to love her dog even more than her husband, Kevin Kline, especially after the pooch goes missing on his watch.
The Five-Year Engagement: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are engaged. For a long time.
Marley: Documentary about Bob. Irie.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Hugh Grant voices a doofy Pirate Captain in his first animated film. The stop-action animation is nice, and the film is charming enough, if not particularly deep.
Safe: Jason Statham is the only thing standing between a young girl who knows a secret and a whole lot of soon-to-be-dead bad guys.
Turn Me On, Dammit!: A 15-year-old Norwegian girl is dealing with some serious hormones. Ends May 3 at the Ken Cinema.
Tezz: This Bollywood actioner pits an innocent man out for revenge against a dedicated cop committed to bringing him down. No word on whether there are musical numbers. Ends May 3 at UA Horton Plaza.
Chimpanzee: Cute-animal-movie alert No. 1. A fully grown adult chimp takes a younger one under his wing after he gets separated from his troupe.
The Hunter: Willem Dafoe plays a mercenary sent into the jungle by a biotech company in search of the last Tasmanian tiger. Ends May 3 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Island President: This documentary about Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, and his intense efforts to get developed countries to sign a climate-change agreement in 2009, is far more interesting than it sounds. Ends May 3 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Lucky One: Marine Zac Efron goes to North Carolina in search of a woman he thinks was his good-luck charm during his three tours of Iraq. If this sounds like it's based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, that's because it is.
Monsieur Lazhar: An Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a Montreal teacher who committed suicide in her own classroom. That's a tough act to follow.
To the Arctic 3-D: Cute-animal-movie alert No. 2. Meryl Streep narrates this new IMAX movie about a mama polar bear and her two cubs.
Think Like a Man: Four guys decide to get even when they learn that their girlfriends have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them. Not surprisingly, it's based on Steve Harvey's book.
Bully: It's very hard to watch the bullied children, and the families of bullied kids who took their own lives, in Lee Hirsch's film, though you might wish he'd examined the bullies, too.
The Cabin in the Woods: This satirical deconstruction of the horror movie, from Joss Whedon and Lost veteran Drew Goddard, is one hell of a lot of fun.
Damsels in Distress: Whit Stillman's first film in almost 15 years, about preppy college girls and their need to belong to something, is just as precious as his previous work, but not quite as fresh.
The Kid with a Bike: In the Dardenne brothers' latest film, the town's hairdresser agrees to look after an abandoned boy on weekends. Ends May 3 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Lady: Michelle Yeoh plays Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi. Ends May 3 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Lockout: In the future, Guy Pearce is wrongly convicted of espionage, but he's given a chance to clear his name if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer-space prison totally controlled by the inmates. Or something like that.
The Three Stooges: The Movie: Yeah. This is happening.
American Reunion: There was a time when everyone who starred in American Pie was a star. Nowadays, they need the work.
Delicacy: Audrey Tautou (Amelie) is mourning her dead husband when she's wooed by a Swedish co-worker. Ends May 3 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Titanic 3D: The ship still sinks.
Mirror Mirror: Julia Roberts is an evil queen, while Lily Collins is the plucky princess trying to get her kingdom back.
Wrath of the Titans: By Hades! Another one?
The Hunger Games: The most anticipated movie of the year to date is about a dystopian future where teens like Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are forced to kill one another to stay alive.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This fine little documentary profiles Jiro Ono, widely considered to be one of the finest sushi chefs on the planet.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Ewan McGregor is a fisheries expert hired to help a sheik populate a river in Yemen with salmon. Along the way, he falls for Emily Blunt.
21 Jump Street: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in a comedy do-over of the undercover-cops-in-high-school TV show that launched Johnny Depp's career.
Casa De Mi Padre: Will Ferrell's latest comedy is in Spanish. That's not a joke.
Silent House: Elizabeth Olsen is in a lakeside house trapped by something scary.
Project X: Todd Phillips, the guy behind Old School and The Hangover, produces this R-rated teen comedy about a monster party that totally turns into every parent's worst nightmare.
Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Let's hope the voice talents of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift don't overshadow the good Doctor's environmental message.
Secret of the Cardboard Rocket: Two kids build a rocket in their garage and end up in outer space in this IMAX film screening Saturday mornings in March at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Act of Valor: Navy SEALS go after a bunch of brown-skinned guys who have kidnapped a CIA agent. The movie stars real-life SEALS, so it's worth wondering if it's an action movie or a recruitment video.
Tyler Perry's Good Deeds: Depending upon your point of view, his good deeds may not include making movies.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Man, Nicolas Cage must really need the money.
Journey 2: Mysterious Island: Sort of a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, in that it's an adaptation of a Jules Verne book made family-friendly and in 3-D.
Pina: Wim Wenders directed this film about dance legend Pina Bausch. Don't miss it, and make sure you see it in 3-D.
Safe House: Young CIA buck Ryan Reynolds must team up with wily veteran Denzel Washington to kill a bunch of bad guys.
The Vow: After Rachel McAdams loses her memory in a car crash, husband Channing Tatum has to make her fall in love with him again.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Artist: This silent film about a silent-film star (Jean Dujardin) whose world begins to collapse as the talkies take over is a fully realized vision and a legitimate Best Picture contender.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman is great as George Smiley, the semi-retired British spy brought back in to unmask a traitor during the Cold War, but the entire exercise is probably too slow for American audiences. Ends May 3 at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Born to be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it's narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.