July 2 2013 07:58 PM

Margarethe von Trotta's biopic of the famed scholar leads our rundown of all the movies screening around San Diego

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Hannah Arendt

"Philosophers don't make deadlines," shouts an angry female journalist after being told that esteemed professor Hannah Arendt (played with brilliant earnestness by Barbara Sukowa) would be covering the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker. It's one of the only funny lines in Margarethe von Trotta's Hannah Arendt, a stout biopic set in the early 1960s about the famed academic who rose to notoriety after writing Origins of Totalitarianism and infamy for her thoughts on the "banality of evil." But it's also one of the most telling; it hints at the thoughtlessness that smart people can exude when facing the complexities of history.

Considering the specific case of Eichmann as a common example of Nazism, Arendt's genius stems from an ability to separate herself from the emotional rigor of the trial's proceedings. Labeled "cold" and "arrogant" by her detractors, Arendt faces a collective outcry from peers and family alike for seeing the man not just as a monster, but also a product of an environment where evil was the norm and murder was a professional code. 

"He's not spooky at all," she confesses upon seeing the nebbish SS officer for the first time. By demystifying not only the man but also his terrifying actions—Eichmann was responsible for sending thousands of Jews to their deaths at concentration camps—she confronts the scope and brutality of the Holocaust in a more contemplative way.

Hannah Arendt—screening for one week only at the Ken Cinema starting Friday, July 5—is just as calculating and smart as its lead character, cutting intermittently between time periods to explore crucial gaps in Arendt's back-story without relying on sentiment. Scenes of silent contemplation are interspersed with intense moments of heated discourse, making this one of the rare films that respects the process of internal struggle while revealing the fallacies of rushed judgment. 

When the chips are down, understanding how these two ideas relate is the key to squashing fascism before it becomes the new normal. 

Opening

20 Feet From Stardom: Backup singers for today's superstars finally take center stage in this music documentary featuring a range of inspirational stories about artistic endurance and passion.

La Camioneta: Public transportation becomes art in this documentary about decommissioned American school buses that get vibrantly refurbished for use in Guatemala. Screens through July 7 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Despicable Me 2: Gru (Steve Carell) and his army of minions attempt to transcend their roles as villains and save the world in this sequel to the popular 2010 animated film. 

Hannah Arendt: A biopic about the philosopher who wrote a controversial series of articles about the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker. Screens for one week at the Ken Cinema. See our review on Page 21.

Hubble: Go deep inside the Hubble space mission in this detailed and harrowing IMAX film that focuses on the seven astronauts operating the spacecraft. Screens for one week at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

I'm So Excited!: Pedro Almodóvar returns to more playful terrain in this racy comedy about a malfunctioning  airplane packed with hysterical characters on the verge of nervous breakdowns. See our review on Page 21.

Just Like a Woman: Sienna Miller gets her groove back as a housewife who runs off to New Mexico to compete in a belly-dancing competition.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain: Filmed at a sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden during a 2012 concert tour, this documentary showcases the comedian's brash style and formidable presence. 

Laurence Anyways: Canadian director Xavier Dolan intimately documents the 10-year relationship of a male-to-female transsexual with her lover in this critically acclaimed drama. Screens through July 11 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

The Lone Ranger: The masterminds behind Pirates of the Caribbean hope to find similar success with this mega-budget adaptation of the classic Western hero (Armie Hammer) and his mystical sidekick (Johnny Depp). 

Maniac: Elijah Wood takes on the role of a demented serial killer hunting for scalps on the streets of downtown Los Angeles in this remake of the 1980 horror film. Screens Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

One Time Only

Shaun of the Dead: The zombie apocalypse has never been as darkly comic as it is in Edgar Wright's wonderfully inventive genre hybrid debut, which stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. 

Top Gun: Maverick and Goose need you to be their wingman and play some suggestive beach volleyball. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

The Amazing Spider Man: High school is rough, even for Spidey (Andrew Garfield), who gets all angsty in this action-packed reboot of America's classic web-slinging hero. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, on the U.S.S. Midway. 

The Big Lebowski: Is this the greatest modern comedy? We think so, but that's just, like, our opinion, man. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4, through Sunday, July 7, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

The Goonies: How many films have Cyndi Lauper, Frodo Baggins and the Truffle Shuffle? Only this 1980s classic, so come on out and get your nostalgia on at 8 p.m. Friday, July 5, at Heritage County Park in Old Town. 

Dirty Harry: Clint Eastwood stars as a rule-breaking San Francisco cop out to stop a serial murderer who calls himself "The Scorpio Killer." Presented by Forty Foot Films, it screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 6, and Tuesday, July 9, and at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

Batman: Tim Burton's dark and devilish depiction of the caped crusader (Michael Keaton) sports an insane Jack Nicholson performance running roughshod all over Gotham City. Screens at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at Arclight La Jolla. 

Beer Hunter: Beer-and-whiskey journalist Michael Jackson explored the nuances of booze long before the craft-beer craze. This documentary follows the writer's journey starting in 1977 with the publishing of his influential book, The World Guide to Beer. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, July 8, at Green Flash Brewery. 

Upside Down: A doomed couple attempts to be together despite the fact that they live on twin planets with opposing gravitational pulls. This mind-bending science-fiction film stars Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma. 

E.T. The Extraterrestrial: Steven Spielberg's soulful science-fiction adventure story about the friendship between an inquisitive boy and a kind alien will warm your heart all over again. Screens at 10 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9 and 10, at Reading Grossmont and Town Square Cinemas. 

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Stay classy, San Diego, and revisit this loony comedy starring Will Ferrell before the sequel gets released later this year. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10 at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. 

Wayne's World: Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) want you to party on with them in their basement lair. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Now Playing

Augustine: A young, 19th-century French housemaid is admitted to an experimental hospital for mentally ill women after she is stricken with bouts of sexual hysteria. Ends July 4 at the Ken Cinema.

Byzantium: Director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire) returns his attention to the lives of bloodsuckers in this elegant and stylish thriller about two immortal women forced to reconcile their past and present. Ends July 4 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

La Camioneta: This documentary follows the journey of decommissioned American school buses repaired, repainted and resurrected for daily use in Guatemala. Screens through July 7 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

The Heat: Yet another riff on the classic buddy comedy, this time starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as polar-opposite cops tasked with capturing a brutal drug lord. From Bridesmaids director Paul Feig.

The Lesser Blessed: A singular coming-of-age story, co-starring Benjamin Bratt, that follows a teenager in Canada attempting to resolve his internal rage caused by a dark past. Screens through July 4 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Redemption: Jason Statham's ex-soldier punches and kicks his way through London's criminal underworld and becomes an avenging angel in the process. 

Unfinished Song: A bitter curmudgeon (Terrence Stamp) is encouraged by his wife (Vanessa Redgrave) to join a local seniors choir and find his inner song in this charming comedic drama from director Paul Andrew Williams. 

White House Down: Yippy-ki-yay, Magic Mike! Channing Tatum does his best John McClane impersonation when terrorists storm the White House and take the president (Jamie Foxx) hostage. Helmed by disaster-movie-director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich (Independence Day). 

The Bling Ring: Sofia Coppola takes aim at our celebrity-obsessed culture in a film based on true events surrounding a string of high profile thefts in Beverly Hills.

Dirty Wars: Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill documents the brutal secret war being waged by U.S. special forces in Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.Ends July 4 at the Ken Cinema.

Monsters University: Professional frighteners and quibbling buddies Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) are back for Pixar's first-ever prequel set during their wild college days.

Much Ado About Nothing: The Avengers director Joss Whedon steps out of his comfort zone and updates the Bard's classically romantic skirmish of wits with this jazzy black-and-white ensemble piece.

World War Z: The zombie apocalypse is in full swing as Brad Pitt attempts to save the world from certain demise. It's based on the popular graphic novel by Max Brooks.

The East: Brit Marling leads an impressive cast of indie-film regulars, including Ellen Paige and Alexander Skarsgård, in this story about a covert eco-terrorist group aiming for high-profile corporate targets.

Man of Steel: Director Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) attempts yet another reboot of the Superman origin story with Henry Cavill sporting the famous tights and Amy Adams cracking wise as Lois Lane. 

This is the End: It's the end of the world as we know it, and the Judd Apatow reunion tour feels just fine. Directed by Seth Rogen, this comedy apocalypse is sure to include multiple plumes of ganja smoke. 

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. Ends July 4 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

The Internship: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson try to re-train themselves in the digital age with a Google internship. Prepare yourself for Lewinsky 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.

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.

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. 

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.

The Hangover Part III: Drink, drank, drunk. 

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.

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.

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.

Calendar

See all events on Wednesday, Dec 7