Feb. 25 2015 01:38 PM

New divorce drama leads our rundown of movies screening around town

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Bunkered down in the cramped hallways and trial rooms of an Israeli Rabbinical court, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem unflinchingly traps the viewer within a physical manifestation of stagnant bureaucracy. Viviane (Ronit Elkabetz) has requested a divorce from her husband Elisha (Simon Abkarian), who's refused for years, pushing the marital dispute before a trio of religious elders. The court cannot force Elisha to acquiesce due to the laws protecting the rights of the husband, leaving the couple mired in a brutally prolonged purgatory.

In the opening sequence, Viviane's advocate Carmel (Menashe Noy) makes a convincing case for her freedom. But the rabbis force the couple to try to reconcile, setting in motion a pattern of delays that continues for months and years. During this time, the hearings become more intense and absurd, and much like the great courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, words and ideas get manipulated to twist the facts. Character assassinations are a regular occurrence, with Viviane's gender at the root of most attacks.

The smug patriarchy of the rabbinic court (and multiple other male characters, for that matter) is suffocating in its resistance to show empathy for Viviane's plea.

"When will you see me," Viviane screams late in the film, throwing the court's social nearsightedness right back in its face.

Confrontation is key to the film's sense of fierce determinism. As directed by Elkabetz and her brother Shlomi, many of the shots are composed in direct address, with the actors staring nearly right back into the camera.

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, which opens Friday, Feb. 27, lays bare the hypocrisy of male self-righteousness through gripping monologues. It's like an action film in which bullets are replaced with words, most of them hitting their target with ferocious resolve.


Big in Japan: Members of a struggling rock band from Seattle head to Tokyo, hoping to make it big and leave their day jobs behind. Screens through March 5 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Focus: Will Smith and Margot Robbie talk wise and look sexy as grifters embarking on one last con job. It's directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris). 

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem: A distraught Israeli woman spends years in a rabbinical court trying to obtain a divorce from her well-respected husband. 

Hitman: Agent 47: Based on the popular video game about an assassin who teams up with a woman to help uncover the mystery of her ancestry.

The Lazarus Effect: Olivia Wilde stars in this thriller about a team of medical students who discover a way to bring back the dead. From the looks of the creepy trailer, this was not the best idea.

Leviathan: A land dispute in a rural Russian town escalates quickly, leaving a family in ruin and reinforcing the corruption wielded by government and religious institutions. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev updates The Book of Job with striking force.

Red Army: Documentary about the Soviet Union's famed Red Army hockey team, as seen through the eyes of the squad's leader.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry: Director Mary Dore's documentary looks back at the brilliant and outrageous figures who founded the modern women's movement in the late 1960s. Screens through March 5 at the Ken Cinema.

One time only 

The Two Faces of January: While traveling in Greece, a couple (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) meet a mysterious American (Oscar Isaac) who may be a con man. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Mission Valley Library. 

Why Do You Have Black Dolls: This award-winning documentary explores history, race and social justice by focusing on a little-known community that collects black dolls. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. 

It Happened One Night: Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable are perfection in Frank Capra's classic romantic comedy about an heiress on the run and a reporter snooping for a story. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Arclight La Jolla. 

Pretty Woman: Julia Roberts plays a prostitute who becomes the object of affection for Richard Gere's rich businessman. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Catch Me if You Can: Leonardo DiCaprio is a successful con man by the time he's 19, drawing the attention of a seasoned FBI agent Tom Hanks, who spends years chasing his trail. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.

Una Piccola Impresa Meridonale: Scandal and religion collide in a quaint coastal Italian community in this drama by filmmaker Rocco Papaleo. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The Theory of Everything: Eddie Redmayne is Stephen Hawking, the brilliant scientist who continues his research despite his crippling disease. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

Purple Rain: Prince stars as a talented young musician whose rise to fame is complicated when he meets another aspiring singer who breaks his heart. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Ken Cinema. 

Taxi to the Dark Side: Alex Gibney's scathing documentary about an Afghan taxi driver who's tortured by the American military will be presented by Amnesty International. Screens at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at the Mission Valley Library. 

Words and Pictures: Art and English literature collide in this romantic comedy starring Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche as rival teachers. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.

Women's Film Festival San Diego: The selection for this date is currently listed as a TBA. Check for updates at womensmu
seumca.org. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the Women's Museum of California in Point Loma's Liberty Station. 

Pacific Rim: To defeat a bunch of mega-monsters that threaten to destroy Earth, some highly skilled warriors build their own army of massive robots as a last line of defense. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.

Tommy Boy: Chris Farley and David Spade romp around the country, trying to sell brake pads and stave off their company's imminent bankruptcy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Now playing

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: In order to save a friend who's been shot, the Hot Tub gang jumps back into the time machine and begins messing with the past.

McFarland, U.S.A.: Kevin Costner stars as a cross-country coach in a small California town who takes a team of Latino athletes and transforms them into championship contenders. Disney strikes again. 

The Duff: Bianca (Mae Whitman), a teenager who's been labeled unattractive by her more popular friends, decides to lead a social revolution that will undermine the pecking order at her high school. 

The Last Five Years: Richard LaGravenese adapts the famous musical about a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist lover (Jeremy Jordan) who experience the highs and lows of a volatile relationship. 

The Tale of Princess Kaguya: Animation master Isao Takahata's final film tells the story of a tiny girl who's born in the sprout of a beanstalk and raised against her wishes to be a princess in feudal Japan. Ends Feb. 26 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

What We Do in the Shadows: Four vampires living in modern-day New Zealand struggle to find happiness and friendship in Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi's hilarious mockumentary.

A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night: Set in the dystopic town of Bad City, a young vampire tries to find solace in the arms of a drug dealer. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

Fifty Shades of Grey: The perfect Valentine's Day present for your masochistic significant other. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Colin Firth leads a team of British secret agents against a maniacal bad guy played by Samuel L. Jackson. 

Seventh Son: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore team up in the craziest sequel to The Big Lebowski that you could possibly imagine.  

Jupiter Ascending: Have you ever hoped to experience Channing Tatum in full eye shadow and Mila Kunis as a world-saving goddess? Andy and Lana Wachowski's long-delayed sci-fi opus will be your chance. 

Humpback Whales: Experience the awe-inspiring and diverse world of the humpback whale, which 50 years ago was on the verge of extinction. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of the Water: "Making waves in our world." That tagline says it all, really. 

Still Alice: Columbia University professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and must come to grips with her own fading memory and mortality.

Black or White: Kevin Costner plays a grieving widower who's caught up in a custody battle for his granddaughter. It costars Octavia Spencer and Gillian Jacobs. 

Black Sea: Jude Law plays the commander of a submarine tasked with retrieving a load of stolen gold from the bottom of the ocean.

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Animation: The nominees for Best Animated Short include A Single Life (The Netherlands), Feast (U.S.), Me and My Moulton (Canada / Norway), The Bigger Picture (U.K.) and The Dam Keeper (U.S.). Screens at the Ken Cinema. 

Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live Action: The nominees for Best Live Action Short Film include Aya (Israel / France), Boogaloo and Graham (U.K.), The Phone Call (U.K.), Butter Lamp (France / China) and Parvaneh (Switzerland). Screens at the Ken Cinema. 

Project Almanac: When some teens disregard every cautionary tale and travel back in time, their lives are turned upside down. Shocker.

Song of the Sea: Merging folklore and fairy tale, Tomm Moore's gorgeous animated film tells the story of a brother and sister who get swept up into a fantasy world of selkies, sprites and giants. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

Two Days, One Night: After her coworkers vote to fire her in exchange for a pay increase, a woman (Marion Cotillard) visits them one by one and asks them to help salvage her job.

A Most Violent Year: When his business is threatened by a string of armed robberies, the owner of a New York City gas company (Oscar Isaac) must adapt to the volatile surroundings to survive. 

The Boy Next Door: Jennifer Lopez's confused and vulnerable divorcée moves into a new town and begins a fling with a young man / psychopath. 

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood's unflinching and critical biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who became the deadliest sniper during four tours in Iraq.

Paddington: Traveling from Peru, a young bear arrives in London hoping to find a home. There he meets the Brown family, who offer him a temporary safe haven. 

The Wedding Ringer: Who best to impress your new in-laws than a loud, vivacious Kevin Hart? Josh Gad's shy young groom-to-be agrees.

Selma: Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) attempts to create voter reform in Selma, Alabama, a hotbed of racism and disenfranchisement.

Taken 3: Liam Neeson reprises his role as the badass who keeps losing family members to kidnappings. Maybe third time's a charm? 

Into the Woods: Beware the Wolf, Sondheim. Beware the Wolf. 

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as real-life code breaker Alan Turing, who led a squad of British mathematicians in breaking the Enigma code during World War II.

Unbroken: Angelina Jolie's sophomore effort examines the life of Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) who overcame extreme odds to survive a Japanese internment camp.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: The final chapter in Peter Jackson's bloated three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's famous novel ends in a massive battle between elves, dwarves, men and the nefarious orcs.

Wild: Based on the best-selling novel, this drama tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who trekked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to reassess her troubled life. 

Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller's dark sports film tells the tragic true story of the Schultz brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum), wrestlers who became forever entwined with the wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune (Steve Carell).

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1: Having just destroyed the Hunger Games infrastructure, Katnis returns home to lead the rebellion against the corrupt forces of the capital.

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease just as he's graduating with a doctorate degree in physics from Cambridge and starting a new life with his wife (Felicity Jones).

Birdman: A burnt-out superhero actor (Michael Keaton) tries to mount a play on Broadway in order to prove his worth. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.

Whiplash: A sadistic music teacher tortures a young drummer at a posh New York City conservatory. 

Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

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.

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 Wednesday, Dec 7