The opening crane shot in Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World descends from the sky toward a quaint home covered in foliage. This small patch of green in the otherwise pristinely urban city of Zurich belongs to painter, sculptor and visual-effects legend H.R. Giger, who lives peacefully with his wife, Carmen Maria, and his various assistants and friends. Inside, every inch of space is cluttered with artwork, memorabilia, and sculptures from his career. There's hardly room for the camera to move freely.
Belinda Sallin's documentary paints a portrait of Giger by listening to interviews with those who know him best, mining the archive of past work hidden inside his house, and traveling to exhibitions that honor his status as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His most notable contribution remains his collection of images published in 1977 entitled Necronomicon, which inspired his effects work on Ridley Scott's seminal Alien.
The resulting film has a flaccid sensibility and style, especially considering the dark aesthetics by the artist it's documenting. Giger's creative process is often referenced, but very rarely do we hear about it from the man himself. Part of this has to do with the fact that Giger is in poor health throughout (he actually died shortly after filming finished). Still, the film fails to move past the generic territory of a television special.
For those new to Giger's work, the film could act as a nice introduction, but anyone looking for an in-depth and contemplative examination will be sorely disappointed. Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World, which opens Friday, May 22, at the Ken Cinema, remains content to simply sit back and listen rather than engage with the subject and his legendary canon of controversial work.
In the Name of My Daughter: André Téchiné's melodrama is set in the South of France and follows the sordid relationships of a casino owner (Catherine Deneuve) and her daughter.
Poltergeist: In this remake, the youngest daughter of a suburban family is captured by ghosts, leaving her family scrambling for ways to rescue her.
The Hand that Feeds: This documentary follows deli employee Mahoma López and his co-workers as they rally together to fight for fair wages and improved working conditions against their ruthless employer. Screens through Thursday, May 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Tomorrowland: George Clooney and Britt Robertson star in Brad Bird's space adventure about a young girl who finds a ring that opens up an alternate universe.
One Time Only
The Two Faces of January: An American couple traveling in Greece meets an ex-pat with a shady past. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at the Scripps Ranch Public Library.
There's Something About Mary: Ben Stiller tries to figure out why Cameron Diaz has all that hair gel. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The 4th Annual San Diego Surf Film Festival: This multi-venue film festival includes 25 international surf films, a VIP party, and will welcome dozens of filmmakers and producers participating in Q&A's. Runs from Wednesday, May 20 through Saturday, May 23.
La Prima Neve (The First Snow): A relationship drama set in snowy Pergine, a small village in the mountains of Trentino, at the foot of the Mocheni Valley. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
The Big Lebowski: Don't mess with the Jesus. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, May 21 through 24 at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Clandestine Childhood: A young boy arrives back in Argentina under a false identity due to his parents' involvement in a subversive activist group. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Public Library
Fading Gigolo: John Turturro stars and directs this romantic comedy about a 50-something who decides to make some side money by becoming a gigolo for older women. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 at Mission Valley Public Library.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell: This documentary covers a group of women that rise up to bring peace to Liberia and help bring to power the country's first female head of state. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at the Women's Museum in Liberty Station.
The Heat: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star in this buddy cop movie with a feminist spin. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Jumped Out the Window and Disappeared: An elderly man escapes his nursing home immediately before his 100th birthday hoping to rekindle his sense of adventure. Opens on Friday, May 15, at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Every Secret Thing: Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning star in this gripping psychological thriller about a detective who is destroyed after failing to save a missing child. Screens through Thursday, May 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Felix and Meira: Two lost souls attempt to find a romantic connection despite the obstacles presented by the neighborhood they inhabit.
I Am Big Bird: Caroll Spinney has been the man behind Sesame Street's Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969. This documentary tells his story. Screens through Thursday, May 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Iris: Documentary about style maven Iris Apfel, whose interior decorating company launched her career in fashion that has spanned over six decades. Screens through Thursday, May 21, at the Ken Cinema.
Mad Max: Fury Road: George Miller's infamous policeman-turned-road-warrior returns to the big screen in what looks like one long bonkers chase through a dystopic desert. Tom Hardy reprises the role made famous by Mel Gibson.
Saint Laurent: A strange and beguiling biopic about the famous French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, portrayed with unflinching vulnerability by Gaspard Ulliel. Bertrand Bonello directs.
About Elly: While on a picnic in the north of Iran, a kindergarten teacher disappears, leaving her friends distraught with panic. From director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation).
Black Souls: Based on Gioacchini Criaco's novel of the same name, this gripping mafia tale explores the tension and conflict between three brothers fighting for control of an Italian crime family.
Far From the Madding Crowd: Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's sweeping romance about a fiercely independent woman who struggles to choose between three suitors.
Hot Pursuit: An uptight cop played by Reese Witherspoon tries to protect the vivacious widow of a Mexican drug boss while being pursued through Texas by a collective of bad guys.
Misery Loves Comedy: Featuring interviews with Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks and Jim Gaffigan, this documentary looks at the profession of stand-up comedians from the inside out. Screens through Thursday, May 14, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Noble: A feature film based on the true story of Christina Noble, an Irish children's rights campaigner who traveled to Vietnam to make a difference.
Reality: Another surreal oddity from director Quentin Dupiex (Rubber) about a cameraman who dreams of making his own horror film. Screens through Thursday, May 14, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The D Train: Jack Black and James Marsden are quite a pair in this dark comedy about the head of a high school reunion committee who travels to Los Angeles, hoping to convince the most popular guy from his graduating class to attend the event.
Welcome to Me: A psychotic woman (Kristen Wiig) wins the lottery and decides to stop taking her meds and creates her own talk show. Opens Friday, May 8, at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Any Day: Sean Bean plays an ex-fighter who attempts to find redemption from his troubled past. Co-starring Eva Longoria and Kate Walsh. Screens through Thursday, May 7, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: The brood of Marvel superheroes are back to battle the nefarious Ultron, who has plans to take over the world.
Tangerines: A citrus farmer attempts to save soldiers from the opposite sides of an ongoing civil war in the Caucasus Mountains. Screens through Thursday, May 7, at the Ken Cinema.
Adult Beginners: When his new business crashes and burns on the eve of its launch, a young entrepreneur is forced to move in with his estranged pregnant sister and his brother-in-law. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Clouds of Sils Maria: A middle-aged actress decides to star in a reboot of the play that made her famous 20 years before. Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristin Stewart and Chloë Grace-Moretz.
Dior and I: Documentary that takes you behind the scenes of the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house.
Ex Machina: Set in the near future, Alex Garland's sci-fi film tells the story of an Internet mogul who convinces one of his employees to conduct a Turing test on his newest A.I. creation.
Little Boy: With his father away in WW II, a young boy goes to great lengths to restore stability to his family.
Man From Reno: A Japanese novelist known for a series of crime novels gets wrapped up in a mystery of her own while visiting San Francisco. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Spring: A young American on a backpacking trip in Italy meets a beautiful woman at an idyllic village and instantly falls in love. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Age of Adaline: Rendered ageless after a fateful accident, a young woman born at the turn of the 20th century lives a lonely life of immortality until she finally meets a stranger who may be worth dying for.
The Road to Juarez: An ex-con recruits his friends to pull off a daring heist against a powerful Mexican drug cartel. Opens Friday, April 24, at AMC Mission Valley 20 and AMC Palm Promenade 24.
The Water Diviner: After the battle of Gallipoli, an Australian man travels to Turkey hoping to locate his three missing sons.
Fifth Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase: Sixteen Asian films from nine countries will make their San Diego premieres during this cinema showcase, beginning with an opening night tailgate party from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, at Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas. The fest continues through April 23 before moving to Hoover High School April 24 and 25 in honor of the showcase's Cinema Little Saigon retrospective.
Desert Dancer: An ambitious young man risks everything to start a new dance company despite the politically volatile climate of his home country of Iran.
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter: A young Japanese woman travels to America searching for a briefcase full of cash that was hidden in the snow during 1996's Fargo.
Lambert and Stamp: This documentary looks at the unlikely partnership between two aspiring filmmakers who ended up producing one of the greatest rock bands in history: The Who.
Monkey Kingdom: A documentary about one newborn monkey and its mother attempting to survive the social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a group of monkeys who live in a series of ruins deep in the jungles of South Asia.
True Story: James Franco stars as a murder suspect who has stolen the identity of a disgraced New York Times reporter played by Jonah Hill. Weird casting.
Unfriended: The Facebook horror film you knew was coming but didn't think would be here quite this soon.