In 2010's Restrepo, an often gripping but problematic war documentary, photographer Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger imbedded themselves with Army 2nd Platoon atop a mountain in the volatile Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. Using first-person interviews and hours of footage shot amid firefights and boring downtime, the two filmmakers created a portrait of modern warfare sans flag-waving and political rhetoric.
Four years later, Junger has compiled some of the unused footage for Korengal, a quasi sequel to Restrepo that tries to push past the men's experiences and include social and historical context of the surrounding valley and its inhabitants. While many of the same subjects are interviewed, the focus of their discussions has slightly shifted. Junger is more interested in the way they perceive the outside world than he is in their internal feelings (although some of this still sneaks through).
The opening sequence begins with their base (named Restrepo after a beloved fallen comrade) being destroyed as the soldiers pull out of the area for good under orders from the Obama administration. Then the film jumps back in time to isolate specific themes worthy of consideration. Military tactics, weaponry, enemy personal and community outreach are all fleshed out just enough to give you a taste of the harsh experience.
But aside from its intrinsic value as a historical document, Korengal—which opens Friday, June 27, at the Ken Cinema and screens for one week only—doesn't forge deep enough into new territory to warrant feature-length treatment. It's shot in exactly the same style and with the same young men, leaving the viewer with much the same feeling of disorientation. Maybe Junger simply wanted to return to the material in order to honor Hetherington, who was killed in Libya during a mortar attack in 2011. Nonetheless, his latest film feels more like an admirable set of bonus features to another film.
Citizen Koch: Documents the trail of campaign funding behind the Tea Party's rise to power. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Half of a Yellow Sun: Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Thandie Newton, this drama set in 1960s Nigeria follows two sisters as they watch a country become ravaged by civil war. Screens through July 3 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Korengal: Taking unused footage from his previous film, Restrepo, Sebastian Junger looks even deeper at the fighting men waging war in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. Screens through July 3 at the Ken Cinema.
Third Person: A successful writer (Liam Neeson) going through a mid-life crisis begins writing his next book only to find his novel splitting off in different directions.
Transformers: Age of Extinction: Boom!
Under the Electric Sky: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz take viewers behind the scenes of the Electric Daisy Carnival, the largest dance-music event in North America. Screens at AMC Mission Valley.
Violette: Emmanuelle Devos stars as a woman who befriends Simone de Beauvoir, inciting an intense relationship based on the quest for freedom.
One time only
Raging Bull: The epic tragedy of boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) filtered through the prismatic cinematic lens of director Martin Scorsese. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the La Jolla Community Center.
Grand Piano: Elijah Wood stars as a concert pianist who suffers from stage fright. Immediately before his comeback performance, he finds a mysterious note that sends him down a dark rabbit hole. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Mission Valley Library.
Seek: A young journalist tasked with covering his city's drag-queen scene begins seeing images of a man who doesn't exist. Presented by FilmOut San Diego, it screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Internet's Own Boy: Aaron Swartz was a programming prodigy and information activist who committed suicide after being tormented by the federal government for years. This documentary examines the story behind the tragedy. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at the Carlsbad Village Theater.
Magic Mike: Ladies, beware of bulging biceps and extreme sweaty thrusts. Fainting has been known to occur. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Creative Catalyst screenings: Facing North by Andrew Bracken is a short film that looks at people living in the San Diego border region from competing perspectives. It'll screen at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. Director Neil Kendricks will screen an excerpt of his in-progress documentary, Comics Are Everywhere, at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 29, at Digital Gym. Both filmmakers will be in attendance.
The Woman in the Window: Nobody did film noir like Fritz Lang, and this film, about a conservative professor (Edward G. Robinson) who gets tangled in a tryst with a femme fatale, proves why. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 26 and 27, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: A woman pursues a departed lover in Pedro Almodóvar's hysterical melodrama about relationships gone amok. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the La Jolla Community Center.
Eraserhead: David Lynch's insane debut charts the life of a man who lives with his wife and demonic newborn baby in a hellish industrial environment. Screens at midnight on Saturday, June 28, at the Ken Cinema.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: An unlikely trio of cabaret dancers travels across the desert to perform at a club in the desolate Australian outback. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Parts Per Billion: The lives of three couples intermingle as they attempt to overcome a life-changing event. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 30, at San Diego Public Library in East Village.
The Words: Bradley Cooper's popular writer finds out the brutal end result of plagiarism, and it's not a new book deal. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 1, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Before You Know It: Vivacious LGBT seniors, from bar-hoppers to bold activists, are the subjects of this rowdy documentary that sets out to destroy conventional wisdom about old age. Ends June 25 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Dance of Reality: Alejandro Jodorowsky returns to feature filmmaking after 23 years with this highly personal and deeply political coming-of-age film set in his hometown of Tocopilla, Chile. Ends June 26 at the Ken Cinema.
Jersey Boys: Clint Eastwood adapts the popular Broadway play about the rise of musical group The Four Seasons.
Obvious Child: A sassy stand-up comedienne gets dumped by her loser boyfriend and then has a one-night stand with a stranger, which results in an unwanted pregnancy.
The Rover: In the Australian outback, ten years after society collapses, a determined nomad (Guy Pearce) hunts down the three men who stole his car. It co-stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight).
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon: Directed by actor Mike Myers and Beth Aala, this documentary goes inside the crazy life of Hollywood insider Shep Gordon. Ends June 26 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Think Like a Man Too: Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy once again star in a mosaic of couples behaving badly, this time set in Las Vegas. It's a sequel to the 2012 comedy Think Like a Man.
Who is Dayani Cristal?: Part narrative, part documentary, this film starring Gael Garcia Bernal tackles the complex issues surrounding the California / Mexico border by clashing genres together. Ends June 26 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
22 Jump Street: Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return for more violent shenanigans as undercover cops trying to expose a drug ring at a local college.
Chinese Puzzle: French comedy starring Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou about a middle-aged man who moves to New York City to be closer to his children. Ends June 26 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Grand Seduction: Residents of a small harbor town try to woo a hot-shot young doctor with hopes of convincing him to relocate to their rural haven.
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless encounter new challenges while trying to bring their species together in harmony.
The Signal: A group of young friends is lured into an isolated area by a computer genius, only to find out they're trapped in a waking nightmare.
Edge of Tomorrow: Tom Cruise dies a thousand times in order to find the right info 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.
Bugs!: Get up close and personal with the world's most unique insects in this groundbreaking IMAX nature film. Opened last week. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.