This is not a review. Abel Ferrara's brilliant Welcome to New York, a salacious and grotesque fictionalization of the Dominic Strauss-Kahn criminal case, is being released stateside in a compromised version. Wild Bunch, the prolific production company that funds multiple high-profile international releases each year, decided to cut the film by 17 minutes to gain an R rating. The original version, which I saw at Cannes in May 2014 in its original 125-minute cut, deserves a review. And it would be a rave. But this altered version does not.
The decision to trim down multiple pivotal scenes, including the ravenous opening act that finds a powerful business mogul named Deveraux (Gérard Depardieu) engaging in an all-night sex bender before raping a hotel maid, was seemingly done for fear the film would be less marketable to American audiences. IFC Films, who will be handling U.S. distribution, has moved forward with releasing the film despite public outcry by Ferrara and film critics.
While public squabbles between filmmakers and their producers are common (especially when it comes to the volatile Ferrara), the Welcome to New York debacle is especially frustrating in that it reinforces the fallacy that American audiences can't handle darker sexual impulses on screen. In Ferrara's original version, Devereaux is an animal, a product of capitalist hunger run amok. We're forced to witness his sweaty rancor toward women, his inability to understand the impact his detestable actions have on the innocent. The U.S. version cuts these scenes down, making them seem more generic.
Those curious about Welcome to New York can see the U.S. version when it opens Friday, April 3, at the Digital Gym Cinema. But if you do pay to see a film, make sure you also catch up with the international version and compare for yourself. One has lost some of its bite, and the other leaves quite a mark.
An Honest Liar: This documentary explores the worldview and life of James Randi, renowned stage magician and skeptic of the paranormal.
Danny Collins: Al Pacino plays an aging rock star who discovers a 40-year-old letter written to him by John Lennon, the contents of which force him to reassess his life.
Furious 7: The criminal pit crew led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker is back and ready to battle with Jason Statham's villain in this globetrotting action film that is sure to have some out-of-this-world stunts.
The Lovers: Time travel, romance, and swashbuckling action: Who could ask for more from a Josh Hartnett movie? Screens through Thursday, April 9, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Welcome to New York: Abel Ferrara's insane film follows Mr. Devereaux (a character played by Gerard Depardieu based on Dominique Strauss-Kahn), a powerful economic titan who also has a voracious sexual appetite. Screens through Thursday, April 9, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
While We're Young: Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play insecure and bored 40-something's whose life together gets a boost after meeting a young hipster couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried).
Woman in Gold: Helen Mirren plays an elderly Jewish women who, with the help of a young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds), attempts to reclaim the possessions stolen from her by the Nazis during WWII.
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Step Brothers: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were born to play man-children working out their parental issues by screaming adolescent obscenities at each other. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Imitation Game: Brilliant scientist Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) struggles to crack the Nazi enigma code while also trying to hide his sexuality from his superiors. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 3 and 4, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Goonies: Chunk and Sloth are one of the great movie couples of all time. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, April 4, at the Ken Cinema.
Kill the Messenger: After discovering the CIA's role in arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua, a reporter (Jeremy Renner) becomes the target of a smear campaign. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 6, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village.
What If: Daniel Radcliffe does his best to strip the Harry Potter association in this messy romance about two friends who start to fall in love with each other. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Interstellar: Matthew McConaughey brings the same ponderous intensity of his Lincoln commercials to Christopher Nolan's massively ambitious sci-fi art film. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at various local theaters. For more information visit fathomevents.com/event/beyondthe-world-of-interstellar.
Superbad: Jonah Hill and Michael Cera try to survive one wild night at the end of their high school tenure. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Get Hard: A white-collar criminal (Will Ferrell) bound for San Quentin enlists the help of a smooth-talking friend (Kevin Hart) to prepare him for life behind bars.
Home (3D): An alien on the run from his own species lands on Earth and makes friends with an adventurous young girl trying to find herself.
October Gale: Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman star in this thriller about a killer stalking the residents of a remote Canadian island. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Queen and Country: John Boorman's playful sequel to his autobiographic hit Hope and Glory finds the character of Bill Rohan entering the army right before the Korean War. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Ken Cinema.
Serena: Bradley Cooper stars as a logging baron trying to make it rich in Depression-era North Carolina. His business starts to crumble after meeting a mysterious young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with a traumatic past.
Seymour: An Introduction: This tender documentary about pianist Seymour Bernstein doubles as a passionate love story about the power of craft and music.
The Hunting Ground: Investigative documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick looks at the wave of sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States.
Wild Canaries: The mystery film gets a hipster twist in this madcap comedy about a bickering couple that tries to uncover the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a neighbor. Screens through Thursday, April 2, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Merchants of Doubt: Robert Kenner's documentary about pundits-for-hire tells an unspeakable truth about corporate malfeasance in America today.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent: Super-revolutionary Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) confronts the powerful alliance that threatens to tear her society apart.
The Gunman: Sean Penn plays a former special-forces soldier who must clear his name after his old compatriots try to frame him.
The Wrecking Crew: This documentary tells the story of The Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians who helped revolutionize the West Coast sound and win multiple Grammy awards in the 1960s and '70s. Screens through Thursday, March 26, at the Ken Cinema.
'71: During a violent battle in the middle of Belfast, an English solider is left behind to fend for himself against a hostile community.
Ballet 422: Jody Lee Lipes' documentary goes backstage at New York City Ballet to watch the process of an exciting new choreographer named Justin Peck.
Cinderella: Kenneth Branagh's lavish live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale stars Lily James as the servant stepdaughter who wins the heart of a dashing prince.
Deli Man: Hungry? This delicious-looking documentary takes a look at the history of delicatessens in New York City and the United States at large.
Run All Night: A former hit man (Liam Neeson) must go back to his old ways to save his son from a mafia boss out who's for revenge.
Chappie: Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directs this sci-fi film about a police robot who's reprogrammed to think and feel for himself, drawing the wrath of his totalitarian overlords.
The Salvation: Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Danish immigrant seeking revenge for the death of his family, this western set in the 1870s echoes the work of Leone and Eastwood.
The Second Best Marigold Hotel: The long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel to the movie you never thought would get a sequel, this time sporting the charms of Richard Gere.
Timbuktu: This Oscar-nominated drama by Abderrahmane Sissako depicts the oppression of a Malian town under siege by Islamic militants.
Unfinished Business: Three hard-working business associates travel to Europe, hoping to close a massive deal, only to get sidetracked by numerous distractions involving booze and women.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.