June 3 2014 06:16 PM

Documentary on famous writer and academic leads our rundown of movies screening around town

Gore Vidal- The United States of Amnesia
Gore Vidal

For those unaware of Gore Vidal's massive significance in 20th-century American history, Nicholas Wrathall's documentary Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia will act as a thoughtful introduction. Born into a wealthy family during the swinging 1920s, Vidal received his first introduction to politics as a page for his uncle, a member of Congress. It was here that he got a behind-the-scenes look at the compromises plaguing our democratic process. 

The witty and sharp young man would go on to become one of America's brightest writers during the post-World War II era. Later, after his star had risen significantly, Vidal would hobnob with celebrities and cultural icons at his cliff-side villa in Ravello, Italy, where he lived with his longtime partner, Howard Auster. 

Wrathall's film mixes archival footage of Vidal's ascent with modern interviews conducted before his death in July 2012. The result is an intoxicating cocktail of memory and commentary depicting an opinionated titan known for his acute bullshit detector. Listening to Vidal skewer both Reagan and Bush II is something to behold. 

What emerges is the man himself: Vidal comes across as a passionate, deeply afflicted intellectual who dared to push the boundaries of culture with his writing (Myra Breckinridge remains a button pusher) and controversial media appearances. The montage that recounts his famous téte-à-téte with William F. Buckley during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is a high point. 

Gore Vidal—which opens Friday, June 6, at the Ken Cinema and screens for one week only—focuses on its subject's revisionist writing on American history in the final act. Here, Vidal challenged myths surrounding Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy in order to create important "counter-narratives." It was his hope that this would remind citizens that history was fallible, something that can be manipulated by the powerful to seize control. If amnesia takes over, we're doomed. 


Bugs!: Get up close and personal with the world's most unique insects in this groundbreaking IMAX nature film. Opened last week. Screens through June 7 at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

Edge of Tomorrow: Tom Cruise dies a thousand times in order to find the right information about an alien attack that will destroy Earth. It co-stars a very buff Emily Blunt. 

The Fault in Our Stars: In a dramedy starring Shailene Woodley (Divergent), from the writers of (500) Days of Summer, young love is tested when a cancer-stricken teenager falls for her witty foil despite her serious illness. 

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia: Documentary on one of America's greatest 20th-century provocateurs and writers, who challenged politicians and the media at every turn. 

Ilo Ilo: A family maid befriends the young son of a family living in Singapore immediately before the Asian recession hits the region. Screens through June 12 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Rigor Mortis: A horror film imported from Hong Kong about a public-housing tenant who comes across a dark secret in her building that could unleash a story of nefarious spirits. 

Words and Pictures: Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche star as rival teachers who spark a competition between their students involving the importance of photography and prose. 

One time only

The Burden: America's dependency on fossil fuels is deemed a threat to national security in this documentary that highlights our military's attempt to help move the nation to better energy diversity. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village.

Almost Famous: Young music journalists beware: Don't make friends with the rock stars. Cameron Crowe's masterpiece stars Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Patrick Fugit and Billy Crudup. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Das System: A young man gets seduced by a flashy agent of the German secret police at the height of the Cold War. It's presented as part of the German Currents film series, and screenwriter Dörte Franke will participate in a Q&A after the movie. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Diciotto Anni Dopo (Eighteen Years Later): In order to return their father's ashes to his hometown, two estranged brothers must make peace and go on a road trip into the Italian countryside. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas. 

Dragon Inn: A forest pit stop becomes a setting for a massive fight between warriors loyal to the emperor and those beholden to a military commander. It's the film that made Hong Kong master King Hu a box-office behemoth. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The Waiting List: A Cuban film about a desperate group of people who endlessly wait for the next bus to arrive at their station. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 6, at the La Jolla Community Center. 

A Touch of Zen: Action adventure from director King Hu about an artist who befriends a beautiful woman living in an abandoned fort as she hides from a gang of mercenaries who've already killed her family. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, June 6, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The Valiant Ones: Kung-fu artists battle pirates in King Hu's wild romp through the Wu Xia genre. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

Proxy: A pregnant woman suffers a brutal attack and survives. To move forward, she joins a support group that endangers her even more. Screens at 10 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Ricordati Di Noi: Boredom and dysfunction rip apart a middle-class Italian family attempting to make things work. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village. 

Sarah's Key: Past and present merge as a modern-day journalist tries to solve a murder that occurred at the beginning of World War II. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

American Freethought, Part 3: The third segment in Rod Bradford's four-part exploration of secularism and censorship in America. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 9, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village. 

So Much Water: Divorced father Alberto tries to reconnect with his two children by taking them to a sunny resort. But incessant rain keeps them indoors and forces them to address some long-gestating issues. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 at the Point Loma Public Library. 

Pa Negre: A child finds the corpses of a man and his son in the forest, setting in motion a string of events that will force him to betray his roots. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, at the Hall of Nations in Balboa Park. 

Urbanized: Ever wonder how cities are designed? This documentary explores the architectural concepts of modern urban centers. Come early at 6 p.m. for hosted cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, at Hold It Contemporary Home in Mission Valley.

The Goonies: Chunk and Sloth might be the greatest movie couple of all time. See why in Richard Donner's classic kids film. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Point Loma's Liberty Station. 

Double Indemnity: Barbara Stanwyck leads Fred MacMurray down a seedy path to murder and blackmail in what might be Billy Wilder's best film. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the La Jolla Community Center. 

Bark of Luck and Flower Power: Two short films produced as part of the Short Film Boot Camp at the 2014 San Diego Latino Film Festival. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Hot Fuzz: Meticulous London policeman (Simon Pegg) is transferred to a rural town because he's making his superiors look bad. But his "peaceful" new home hides some dark secrets. This is Edgar Wright's (Shaun of the Dead) homage to 1990s action films. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Now playing

A Million Ways to Die in the West: Seth MacFarlane's follow-up to Ted is a star-studded satire that lays waste to the classic Western. There are sure to be a few penis jokes.

Cold in July: A middle-class homeowner (Michael C. Hall) kills a burglar during a home invasion, only to have his life turned upside down as a result. Ends June 5 at the Ken Cinema.

The Hornet's Nest: Using real combat footage, this immersive war film experiences some of Afghanistan's most hostile valleys through the eyes of the soldiers fighting against Taliban insurgents. 

Ida: Anna, 18, is about to become a nun in 1960s Poland. But a family secret dating back to the days of Nazi occupation threatens her faith. It's directed by acclaimed filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski. 

Maleficent: Angelina Jolie stars as the infamous sorceress who sets her sights on the nubile young Princess Aurora in this big-budget reboot of Sleeping Beauty

Next Goal Wins: After suffering a devastatingly one-sided defeat at the hands of Australia in 2001, the American Samoa soccer team attempts to make a comeback and qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Screens through June 4 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Palo Alto: In Gia Coppola's debut film, disaffected teens living in the titular Bay Area community grapple with social alienation and sexual confusion on the eve of graduation. See our review on Page 22.

Por las Plumas: A deadpan comedy from Costa Rica about a security guard who develops a strange, endearing friendship with a rooster. Screens through June 5 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Blended: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore try to rekindle their box-office magic with this fish-out-of-water comedy about dumb Americans causing havoc while on vacation in Africa. 

Fed Up: This documentary addresses America's obsession with food and how our obesity epidemic originated from corporate misconduct. 

The Immigrant: A Polish emigre (Marion Cotillard) arriving at Ellis Island is separated from her sickly sister and must trust a shady theater owner (Joaquin Phoenix) in order to get on her feet in early-20th-century New York City. .

X-Men: Days of Future Past: The latest installment of the popular Marvel franchise finds Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) going back in time to recruit his colleagues' younger selves in order to save mankind from the evil Sentinels. 

Young and Beautiful: A gorgeous young Parisian woman decides to become a prostitute despite her financial privilege. Ends May 29 at the Ken Cinema.

Belle: An illegitimate, mixed-race daughter (of a Navy admiral) being raised by aristocrats finds herself in a precarious social position in Victorian England. 

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. 

Godzilla: The gigantic mutant lizard is back and bigger than ever, ready to decimate a city near you. 

Million Dollar Arm: On a mission to find the next baseball phenom in the unlikeliest of places, a sports agent (Jon Hamm) travels to India in hopes of convincing talented cricket players to play American baseball. 

The German Doctor: A family traveling through Patagonia, Argentina, happens upon a mysterious German doctor hell-bent on continuing his radical experiments left over from World War II. Ends June 5 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return: Hollywood goes back to the well with this animated sequel to the classic Wizard of Oz, finding Dorothy whisked back to the magical land in order to save her friends from a new villain.

Neighbors: A newly relocated couple can't enjoy their beautiful new residence after a rowdy fraternity moves in next door. Every homeowner's worst nightmare comes true.

Amazing Caves: From the Grand Canyon to the coastal waters off the Caribbean, spelunk into the world's deepest and darkest caves in this mesmerizing IMAX journey that spans the globe. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

The Amazing Spiderman 2: Andrew Garfield returns as the high-flying web slinger to battle an assortment of new villains (Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx) while trying to save New York City and his beloved Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) from imminent destruction. 

Fading Gigolo: A failed bookstore owner (Woody Allen) convinces his blue-collar friend (John Turturro) to start sleeping with wealthy women for money. Nothing could go wrong with this idea, right? Ends June 5 at Hillcrest Cinemas.

The Other Woman: Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned. In this case three women—Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton—bound together by one cheating bastard. 

Walking with the Enemy: In Hungary during the final months of World War II, a young man steals a Nazi uniform and begins a long search for his missing family. It's directed by Mark Schmidt, founder of San Diego-based Liberty Studios. 

Heaven is for Real: Drama starring Greg Kinnear, whose young son dies on the operating table but is brought back to life. After waking up, the boy confesses to having been to Heaven, sharing his experience with those who are willing to listen. 

The Railway Man: Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in this tense drama about a World War II vet who falls in love with a divorcée after meeting her on a train. In order to move forward, both must confront demons from their past and learn to forgive.  

Captain America: Winter Soldier: Chris Evans reprises his role as the patriotic avenger who must now battle a mysterious super soldier who's threatening to destroy Washington, D.C.

Divergent: The future is a world divided into factions based on tested virtues. A young woman (Shailene Woodley) threatens to topple this rigorous framework when she's deemed "divergent"—an outsider who must be disappeared. 

The Lunchbox: In Mumbai, thousands of lunchboxes are delivered every day, thanks to a famously efficient service run by couriers. When one of these orders is delivered to the wrong address, the mistake inadvertently connects an aging businessman and an unhappy housewife. Ends June 5 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Ralph Fiennes leads an all-star cast in director Wes Anderson's latest film, which takes place inside an elaborate European hotel populated by eccentric characters.

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.

Mysteries of the Unseen World: This amazing documentary uses high-speed and time-lapse photography to focus on things that are either too fast or two slow for the eye to see. 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.


See all events on Friday, Dec 2