The first film I reviewed for CityBeat was The Aristocrats, way back in the summer of 2005. Due to a very unusual set of circumstances, my guest for that screening was Dan Castellaneta, better known as the voice of Homer Simpson, who would prove to also be the only famous person with whom I've attended a press screening. I have, however, had the opportunity to attend hundreds of press screenings, because soon after The Aristocrats, I became a regular contributor, and later that year, I became CityBeat's lone film writer. I estimate I've reviewed more than 500 movies between then and now.
Sure, I'm reminiscing, and there's a reason why. You see, this week marks my final CityBeat film review. Starting next week, you'll find my byline in U-T San Diego, and, yes, I'm aware of how big a shift this is going to be. The thing is, the opportunity to review films for a daily paper in a major market comes along, well, pretty much never, and any critic will tell you that this is an unheard-of opportunity.
That doesn't mean it was an easy decision to make—in fact, it was easily the hardest of my professional life. My CityBeat experience has been almost universally positive, and I guess it's here that I need to offer up the gratitude and admiration I hold for my longtime colleagues, such as Kelly Davis, Kevin Hellman and Adam Vieyra. Most of all, I have to thank Dave Rolland, who offered me what a journalist most desires: trust, editorial freedom, unprecedented latitude and friendship. It's very tough to find that in any journalism job, and, believe me, it's even tougher to give up. I don't know yet if I'll be invited to the next CityBeat poker night, but if not, it might be because I usually walk away with everyone else's money. Especially Ed Decker's.
There is a silver lining, though. Starting next week, this space will be covered by Glenn Heath Jr., a San Diego film writer and a friend, whose work is just terrific. He's a talented scribe, very smart and extremely knowledgeable. He's a terrific fit for CityBeat, and I look forward to reading his work.
Thanks so much for reading this space over the years. It's time for me to roll the credits.
Fill the Void: An 18-year-old Orthodox woman in Tel Aviv sees her imminent arranged marriage fall to pieces when her older sister dies during childbirth.
The Internship: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson try to re-train themselves in the digital age with a Google internship. Prepare yourself for Lewinski jokes.
The Kings of Summer: Three teenage boys, sick to tears of their parents, build a house in the woods and run away for the summer.
The Purge: In the not-too-distant future, the government declares all crime legal for a 12-hour period, hoping to thin the herd of humanity. That's too bad for married couple Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey, who, along with their children, are taken hostage by some seriously bad guys.
Violet & Daisy: Teenage assassins Alexis Bledel and Saoirse Ronan are in over their heads when they accept a contract on James Gandolfini.
Violeta Went to Heaven: This Chilean biopic, about singer Violeta Parra, which originally played the San Diego Latino Film Festival, returns for an engagement at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks: This look at Julian Assange and Bradley Manning is put together by Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director who's made docs such as Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Screens for one week at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Wish You Were Here: Joel Edgerton stars in this smart, well-told Aussie drama about a vacation gone seriously wrong. Screens for one week only at the Ken Cinema.
One Time Only
LUNAFest: This year, the traveling festival of short films by female filmmakers focuses on women as leaders. The event starts at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, and the films roll at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Dazed and Confused: Richard Linklater's terrific coming-of-age film, set on the last day of school in a small Texas town in the 1970s, was a coming-of-age for many members of its cast, which includes Parker Posey, Rory Cochrane, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Adam Goldberg, Cole Hauser and Marissa Ribisi. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Big Lebowski: The Dude abides, and Stone kicks off its annual film series at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido.
Funny Face: Famous photographer Fred Astaire discovers timid bookstore clerk Audrey Hepburn while doing a shoot. This being pre-digital, the romance has to develop instead of being Instagram'd. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 6 and 7, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Gut: An average Joe has to contend with a video that could destroy his life. This being late-night genre programming, we're guessing it's pretty gross. Screens at 10:30 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull: Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford decided to go back to the money well. This ill-advised follow-up tarnishes Raiders even more than the previous sequels, and the crystal skull looks like some prop guy picked it up at Party City. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Room: Tommy Wiseau's dark comedy has become a cult classic because it's unrelentingly bad. Screens at midnight, Saturday, June 8, at the Ken Cinema.
migrACTION: Co-presented by the Public Library and the San Diego Italian Film Festival, this new film by Marco Lora explores the nature of human migration through the eyes of children. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The new reboots aren't bad, and some of the Next Generation movies were pretty good, but this face-off between Kirk and the rich, Corinthian leather of Ricardo Montalban's chest remains the best of all the Trek movies. Screens at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, at ArcLight La Jolla.
Last Chance Harvey: Dustin Hoffman travels to London for the wedding of his estranged daughter and meets Emma Thompson. Sweet romance for the older set. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
Spirit of the Marathon II: This documentary, about runners preparing for the 2012 marathon in Rome, screens at several area theaters at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 12. Hit fathomevents.com for details.
Viewer's Choice: Folks who drink poolside select what you see tonight. Whatever it is starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Fight Club: By even talking about this movie, we've already violated the first rule of Fight Club. And the second one, too. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani: Bollywood rom-com about a couple who meet when they're just out of college and then reconnects several years later.
After Earth: In M. Knight Shyamalan's movie, it's 1,000 years since humanity was forced off of Earth. Now, a father (Will Smith) and son (his son Jaden) are forced to return, as the son has to undergo a dangerous journey to save the father.
Before Midnight: Almost two decades after Richard Linklater teamed up with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy on the romantic fantasy Before Sunrise, the trio comes together for the final film of the trilogy. Jessie and Celine aren't as young as they used to be, and that makes it the best of all of them.
Frequency Film Festival: The new Ocean Beach festival, one of the most interesting in San Diego, runs through June 8 at the Ocean Beach Playhouse. Get details at frequencyfilmfestival.com.
London: The Modern Babylon Documentary: Infamous music-video director Julien Temple takes a look at his hometown and how it's changed over the decades. Narrated by Michael Gambon, it ends June 9 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Matchmaker: Israeli flick about a teen who, in 1968, goes to work for a matchmaker who survived the Holocaust. Ends June 6 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Now You See Me: Four illusionists—Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco—pull off amazing heists against the 1 percent and give the money to the rest of us.
Sightseers: A British couple's roundtrip takes a strange turn when they embark on a serial killing spree. Ends June 6 at the Ken Cinema.
Epic: Animated flick about a young girl who teams up with a ragtag collection of characters to save the world. It features the voices of folks like Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé, Colin Farrell and the guy who voiced Bender on Futurama.
Fast & Furious 6: Surprisingly, No. 5 was the best of the bunch. This time, Dwayne Johnson brings Vin Diesel and Paul Walker on board to try to take down a former special-forces guy (Luke Evans) who's all about vehicular warfare. There's already a No. 7 in the works.
Frances Ha: The new one from Noah Baumbach stars Greta Gerwig as a New Yorker who couch-surfs, apprentices for a dance company without being a dancer and is generally an odd duck.
The Hangover Part III: Drink, drank, drunk.
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's: Matthew Miele's documentary profiles the legendary Manhattan department store, known for being the pinnacle of high fashion.
What Maisie Knew: Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan play a New York couple enmeshed in a seriously nasty custody battle.
The Iceman: Michael Shannon is seriously creepy as Richard Kuklinski, the mob hit man who claimed to have more than 100 notches on his gun belt. Ends June 6 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Star Trek: Into Darkness: The sequel to J.J. Abrams' rollicking reboot feels more like a summer blockbuster than a vital part of the Trek universe. Still, it's always good to see Benedict Cumberbatch on the big screen.
Stories We Tell: Actor-turned-director Sarah Polley points her camera on her own family, exploring her history and what makes her and her relatives so creative. Ends June 6 at the Ken Cinema.
The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann, who made Moulin Rouge, takes on the American literary classic. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby in this tale of class warfare.
Love is All You Need: A Danish hairdresser (Trine Dyrholm) who's lost her hair to cancer travels to Italy for her daughter's wedding, where she meets Pierce Brosnan, an angry widower and the father of her soon-to-be son-in-law.
Iron Man 3: The summer blockbuster season kicks off with that snarky Tony Stark saving our ungrateful hides once again.
Kon-Tiki: New film about Thor Heyerdal's 1947 ocean adventure, in which he sailed across the ocean on a balsa raft to prove that South Americans were able to cross in pre-Columbian times.
Mud: Matthew McConaughey continues to deliver the emotional goods in this coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy who idolizes a drifter with a violent past.
Pain and Gain: Michael Bay's new one stars Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie as Florida bodybuilders whose kidnapping scheme goes awry.
42: Biopic about the baseball player who wore that number, which has been retired by every single Major League team. Spoiler: It's Jackie Robinson.
The Croods: Animated caveman movie featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone.
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.
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.
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.
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.