Perhaps you've been looking for a reason to finally head up to University Town Center and check out the new ArcLight La Jolla ("La Jolla" obviously sounded better to the company than "UTC" or "University City"). You shouldn't really need one—this is a luxury theater showing first-run films in decadently comfortable seating, and if you time it right, you can sip a cocktail during the film.
But if you still need convincing, take a look at ArcLight Presents, an ongoing series of classic films shown on the big screen (this is similar to the "40-Foot Films" series presented by Reading Cinemas, which also deserves applause).
In March, they've already shown Raging Bull, and down the road there's The African Queen, Gone with the Wind and A Clockwork Orange. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, you can see Sylvester Stallone get hit in the face repeatedly in Rocky, which, in case you've forgotten, was nominated for 10 Oscars and earned both Best Director and Best Picture. And at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 18, Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, gets the big-screen treatment. Sure, the title is dated, but the movie, and Kubrick's insightful, bizarre take on the past, present and future of human evolution, will keep you thinking, even today.
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Beyond the Hills: The new film from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who directed the superb 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, is about two women who grew up in the same orphanage. One now lives in Germany and is desperate to get her friend to move there with her.
The Call: Halle Berry is a 911 operator who takes a call from a girl who's been kidnapped by a serial killer.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: Steve Carell is a fading spray-tanned Vegas magician whose popularity is being usurped by a David Blaine-esque upstart (played here by Jim Carrey). Can the power of illusion help him sort out why he fell in love with magic in the first place? Um, yes.
Like Someone in Love: Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's new film is about a young Japanese escort who ends up in an emotional relationship with the older academic widower who gives her a call.
Running the Sahara: Matt Damon narrates this documentary about three men— an American, a Canadian and a Taiwanese—who attempt to run across the Sahara desert, a feat never before accomplished. Screens at Digiplex Mission Valley.
San Diego Latino Film Festival: The 20th SDLFF runs through Sunday, March 17. Visit sdlatinofilm.com for films, showtimes and ticket info.
Stoker: The first English-language film from Korean auteur Park Chan-wook is a gothic tale about a young girl (Mia Wasikowska) who learns she has a creepy uncle (Matthew Goode) who shows up after her dad dies mysteriously.
One Time Only
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: Just when Vince Vaughn is about to give up on his dreams of becoming a dodgeball champion, he runs into Lance Armstrong, who gives him a bullshit motivational speech. Really. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Wrongfully Accused: Leslie Nielsen's parody take on The Fugitive starts at around 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park.
Grey Gardens: Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore play fictional versions of Big and Little Edie, respectively, in the 2009 fictional adaptation of the legendary 1973 documentary, which focused on Jackie O's weird-ass relatives and the decrepit family mansion they occupied. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Life on Four Strings: This documentary about ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro screens at 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas. Rocky: Here's your chance to see Sly Stallone get punched in the face. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at ArcLight La Jolla.
I'm a Cyborg, But That's Okay: No one makes a romantic movie like Park Chanwook. A woman who thinks she's a combat cyborg falls for a guy who thinks he can steal people's souls. This, of course, all takes place in a mental hospital. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park.
Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins plays the legendary director during the making of Psycho. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Like the Energizer Bunny, RHPS keeps on going and going. Screens at midnight, Saturday, March 16, at the Ken Cinema.
The Way: Emilio Estevez directs his dad, Martin Sheen, in a film about an older guy who decides to walk the El Camino de Santiago after traveling to Spain to retrieve the body of his estranged son. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at the Central Library, Downtown.
The Waiting City: Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton have all kinds of unexpected experiences when they travel to India to adopt a child. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 18, at the Central Library, Downtown.
2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece about human evolution remains a classic, even though 2001 seems so last decade. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 18, at ArcLight La Jolla.
Barbara: Terrifically acted German film set in the 1980s, about an East German doctor consigned to a small-town clinic who desperately hopes to defect to be with her West German lover.
Dead Man Down: Colin Farrell is mobster Terrence Howard's right hand man, until he falls under the spell of a woman (Noomi Rapace) who wants a shot at his boss.
Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey: This doc was the opening-night movie of last year's San Diego Asian Film Festival. It's about Arnel Pineda, the Filipino singer whom the band Journey found on YouTube and eventually hired as its frontman.
Emperor: Matthew Fox plays a U.S. general in Japan after that country's World War II surrender, trying to determine if the emperor should be hanged as a war criminal. Tommy Lee Jones swings by as Douglas MacArthur.
Greedy Lying Bastards: Longtime environmental activist Daryl Hannah executive-produced this doc, which looks at the greedy lying bastards who do their best to convince us that climate change isn't real.
The Monk: Vincent Cassel is a 17thcentury Spanish monk who, despite living a pious life, is going to have a run-in with Satan.
Oz: The Great and Powerful: Sam Raimi directs this big-budget prequel. James Franco, Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis are all off to see the wizard.
Rocky Mountain Express: The IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center was recently overhauled. This latest entry takes viewers through the Canadian Rockies without leaving San Diego.
Yossi: A closeted Israeli doctor, who grieves for the lover he lost in a military event a decade ago, is trying to survive a life where everyone thinks he's straight. Ends March 14 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Phantom: This Cold War submarine picture, which stars Ed Harris and David Duchovny, was shot in San Diego. Sadly, the movie sinks to the bottom.
21 & Over: Straight-laced honors student gets crunky the night before his big medical-school exam. You won't be surprised to hear that it's written by the same guys who penned The Hangover.
The Gatekeepers: Dror Moreh's Oscarnominated documentary features interviews with all of the living former heads of the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. And you'll be surprised by some of the opinions they hold.
Jack the Giant Slayer: The first feature from Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) in five years is about a young farmhand who takes the war between humans and giants straight to the giants.
The Last Exorcism Part II: Um, kind of an oxymoronic title, right?
No: Gael García Bernal is a young advertising executive who leads a campaign designed to take on Augusto Pinochet, the longtime Chilean dictator.
Bless Me, Ultima: During World War II, a young man teams up with an elderly medicine woman to sort out the problems in his small New Mexico town. Screens at the Regal Rancho Del Rey in Chula Vista.
Dark Skies: A young family, led by Keri Russell and Josh Hamilton, learn that some nasty supernatural beasties want to get their mitts on them.
Snitch: Dwayne Johnson goes undercover for the DEA after his son is busted during a drug sting.
Kai Po Che: Bollywood flick about three buddies who start a cricket training academy, trying to cash in on the influx of money in India around the turn of the millennium.
Beautiful Creatures: After the success of Twilight, you know there are plenty of young-adult supernatural franchises to come. This one is about witches!
Escape From Planet Earth: Brendan Fraser voices Scorch, an astronaut who needs the help of his little brother (Rob Cordrry) when he lands on an inhospitable planet full of unspeakable dangers. Hint: It's Earth.
A Good Day to Die Hard: Bruce Willis goes to Moscow, meets up with his son (Jai Courtney) and shoots a bunch of guys.
Safe Haven: The latest Nicholas Sparks romance stars Julianne Hough as a mysterious woman who takes up with a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel).
Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation: Sure, they're better known for their sick-and-twisted stuff, but this 30th-anniversary family-friendly greatest-hits set of films from the past four decades has some great stuff. Screens through March at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla.
Identity Thief: Jason Bateman hits the road to find out who stole his identity. Not a spoiler: It's Melissa McCarthy.
Side Effects: This thriller is rumored to be Steven Soderbergh's final theatrical release. If so, he's going out on top with this one, about a woman (Rooney Mara) whose shrink (Jude Law) prescribes her anti-depressants that end up plunging both of them down a rabbit hole.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: All 10 Oscar-nominated short and live-action films are screening at Hillcrest Cinemas, and there are some real winners in this batch. Ends March 14 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Warm Bodies: In a world populated by both zombies and humans, one member of the walking dead (Nicholas Hoult) starts to have feelings for a real girl (Teresa Palmer).
Quartet: It's surprising that it took Dustin Hoffman this long to direct a movie. Quartet, about what happens when a faded opera singer (Maggie Smith) is forced to move into a home for retired musicians, including the rest of the quartet she left behind, is slight, but enjoyable.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: Sure. Why not?
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Wait, what? Didn't this micro-budget movie come out last summer before being nominated for a slew of Oscars? Yeah, that's why it's back in theaters, Sherlock. Ends March 14 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Cosmic Collisions: So, that asteroid that might smash into Earth in 20 years is much bigger than previously thought? Awesome. This new IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet looks at what happens when things bash into each other in outer space. On the bright side, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, at least future species will have a new source of fossil fuels.
Amour: Michael Haneke's Palm d'Or-winning drama, about an elderly couple facing declining health, is as terrifying as his movies about sadism, home invasions and fanaticism. Ends March 14 at the Ken Cinema.
The Impossible: Biopic about a family, led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, caught up in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow's movie, about the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, is a masterwork of filmmaking, and the fact that it's inspiring debate about torture should be more tangential than anything else.
Django Unchained: Tarantino takes on yet another genre—the western—and blows it up and makes it fun again. Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by German bounty hunter Christoph Waltz, off to rescue wife Kerry Washington from plantation owner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Les Miserables: Fans of the legendary musical will get their fix from this big-screen adaptation by King's Speech director Tom Hooper, who relies heavily on close-ups and, sadly, Russell Crowe, who isn't a trained singer. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, dreams a nice dream as Fantine.
Life of Pi: Ang Lee's adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat is this year's movie that you simply must see on a big screen and in 3-D. Really.
Silver Linings Playbook: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar guy from Philly who's just out of the mental hospital, having lost his job, his home and his wife. He moves in with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) in hopes of regaining his marriage, but things are thrown askew by Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has problems of her own.
Lincoln: It might as well have been called The 13th Amendment. Despite another spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln's biopic is really about getting legislation through Congress.
Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this take on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and believe it or not, it's gonna be a Best Picture contender.
Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is.
Flying Monsters 3D: No, it's not a crappy studio blockbuster—this one is all about dinosaurs and was written and directed by Richard Attenborough, using Avatar-like technology, and plays the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
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.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.