July 14 2015 07:11 PM

New spin on iconic detective from Bill Condon leads our rundown of movies screening around town

holmes
Holmes

Once held in (somewhat) high acclaim for making Gods and Monsters and Kinsey, two subversive biopics with human sexuality on the mind, Bill Condon sold out to Hollywood in 2006. His crummy adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls is considered a massive misfire, while most don't even realize he directed the last two Twilight movies a few years later. 

Condon has since tried to revitalize his career by returning to more serious fare with 2013's Wikileaks dud The Fifth Estate and now Mr. Holmes. Neither is kinky (Condon's strong suit), but at least the latter has elegance. 

Yet another spin on the Sherlock Holmes narrative, this gentle and old-fashioned drama covers the genius detective's later years spent grousing on a country farm overlooking the White Cliffs of Dover. Played with thorny tenacity by the great Ian McKellen, Holmes has lived in self-exile for nearly two decades. Time and celebrity have warped the memory of his famous investigations. 

Condon's film plays like a redemption song, giving Holmes one last chance to address his past demons and bond with another human being. A young lad named Roger (Milo Parker), the inquisitive son of Holmes' housekeeper (Laura Linney), stands in for the now departed Watson. Despite being separated by generations, the two characters connect over a love for procedure, logic and beekeeping. 

Mr. Holmes, which opens Friday, July 17, works best when Condon allows his characters to spend time together separate from the "drama" that motors a flimsy script. Continuous flashbacks to multiple different time periods interrupt the flow even more. Like so many polished Merchant-Ivory rip offs, the film tries to cram in far too much self-importance. 

Still, McKellen's presence transcends the film's fleeting faults. Watching him inhabit such an iconic character with a salty and cynical air is refreshing, even if he's reduced to old man schmaltz in the end. 

Opening

Ant-Man: Paul Rudd plays a con man who becomes a superhero after being outfitted with a suit that allows him to shrink to the size of an ant while gaining infinite strength. The Marvel Universe may have already jumped the shark.

Ardor: A mysterious man (Gael Garcia Bernal) appears from the rainforest to help a family being terrorized by land-grabbers. Screens through Thursday, July 23, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Lila and Eve: Two women torn apart by trauma and grief decide to take revenge on those who've destroyed their lives. Starring Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. Screens through Thursday, July 23, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Mr. Holmes: The elderly detective (Ian McKellen) comes to grips with past failures while living in the English countryside with his housekeeper and her inquisitive young son.

Tangerine: Sean Baker's bullet of a film follows two transgender prostitutes as they traverse Hollywood looking for their unfaithful pimp. 

Trainwreck: Amy Schumer plays a commitment-phobic professional who finally meets a good guy (Bill Hader) and is forced to reassess her view of relationships in the latest film from director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up).  

One time only

Notorious: Cary Grant convinces Ingrid Bergman to spy on her Nazi friends while in South America in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece of espionage and intrigue. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, at the Scripps Ranch Public Library.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin: Steve Carell finally gets laid. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Hairspray: A bubbly teenager played by Ricki Lake dreams of being the queen of a popular television dance in John Waters' hilarious and subversive 1950s-set musical. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 16 and 17, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

Messi: This documentary explores the life and professional career of Lionel Messi, the famous Argentine footballer who plays for Spanish club Barcelona. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. 

James Castle: Portrait of an Artist: Born deaf, James Castle found inspiration in the landscapes of his family's farm to create an impressive body of drawings, collages and constructions. Screens at 6 p.m. Friday, July 17, at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. 

Chaldean Voices: Local documentary about the Chaldean-American community seeking peace, opportunity, and democracy while living in El Cajon. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, July 17, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. 

Sunset Blvd.: Gloria Swanson's hungry, and she plans on chewing all of the scenes in Billy Wilder's Hollywood satire. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

Bottle Shock: Tells the origin story of California's winemaking industry that came about in the 1970s. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at The Wine Pub in Point Loma. 

Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson's massive adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's So-Cal noir is a glorious descent into the drug addled sub-cultures of the early 1970s. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 20, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village. 

While We're Young: Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are unhappy forty-somethings who befriend a young hipster couple after they experience a rejuvenated sense of spirit. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

The Third Man: Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martin, who travels to postwar Vienna after the death of a mysterious friend, the black market racketeer, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at the Mission Valley Public Library. 

Blazing Saddles: A corrupt politician appoints a black sheriff in order to ruin a western town, and his plan backfires in hilarious fashion in Mel Brooks' scathing frontier satire. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. 

Now playing

A Little Chaos: During the reign of King Louis XIV, two landscape artists fall in love while designing portions of Versailles. Starring Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci and Matthias Schoenaerts. 

Escobar: Paradise Lost: Benicio del Toro stars as drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose young niece becomes romantically entangled with an American surfer played by Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games). 

Infinitely Polar Bear: Mark Ruffalo plays a manic-depressive father who finally decides to get his act together and begin raising his two spirited daughters.

Ted 2: The thunder buddies return for another dose of vulgarity, boozing, and hilarity. 

The Overnight: A family new to Los Angeles gets a wild introduction during a "play date" with another family.

Güeros: A misbehaving teenager is sent to stay with his college-age brother during a university strike, giving the duo time to search for the legendary folk singer their father loved so much. 

Magic Mike XXL: The pelvic-thrusting gang of strippers is back for a rowdier sequel to the 2012 breakout hit.

Terminator: Genisys: Arnie always makes good on his promises. He's back. 

The Nightmare: An immersive documentary by Rodney Ascher on the crippling phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Screens through Thursday, July 8, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

Dope: Malcolm escapes his tough neighborhood by attending an underground party that leads him and his friends on a Los Angeles adventure. 

Inside Out: Pixar goes inside the mind of a twelve-year-old girl and finds something ethereal, resonant and powerful. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: The title really says it all. Get ready for some precious cinephile self-reflection. 

Jurassic World: Velociraptors in mirror are closer than they appear. 

Entourage: The popular HBO show about a movie star and his childhood friends making it big in Hollywood gets the big-screen treatment. 

Testament of Youth: Vera Brittain's WWI memoir is told from the perspective of a woman seeing the futility of war for the first time. 

Love & Mercy: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys gets the biopic treatment in a story that covers pivotal moments in the 1960s and 1980s. Starring Paul Dano and John Cusack.

Spy: Melissa McCarthy steps out from behind the desk and into the field in this spy comedy from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids). 

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.

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. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron: The brood of Marvel superheroes are back to battle the nefarious Ultron, who has plans to take over the world.  

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. 

A Little Chaos: During the reign of King Louis XIV, two landscape artists fall in love while designing portions of Versailles. Starring Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci and Matthias Schoenaerts. 

Escobar: Paradise Lost: Benicio del Toro stars as drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose young niece becomes romantically entangled with an American surfer played by Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games). 

Infinitely Polar Bear: Mark Ruffalo plays a manic-depressive father who finally decides to get his act together and begin raising his two spirited daughters.

Max: After helping U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, a dog returns to his handlerís family after suffering a traumatic experience.

Ted 2: The thunder buddies return for another dose of vulgarity, boozing and hilarity. 

The Connection: Jean Dujardin stars as a French police officer who spends years trying to track and arrest one of the countryís most notorious drug traffickers. 

The Overnight: A family new to Los Angeles gets a wild introduction during a "play date" with another family.

Dope: Malcolm escapes his tough neighborhood by attending an underground party that leads him and his friends on a Los Angeles adventure. 

Inside Out: Pixar goes inside the mind of a twelve-year-old girl and finds something ethereal, resonant and powerful. 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: The title really says it all. Get ready for some precious cinephile self-reflection. 

The Wolfpack: Sequestered in an expansive and dank apartment, the Angulo children learn about the world from their massive movie collection in Crystal Moselle's documentary.  

Jurassic World: Velociraptors in mirror are closer than they appear. 

Results: Andrew Bujalski's sweetly offbeat romantic comedy features Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders as personal trainers whose relationship gets complicated after a new client (Kevin Corrigan) comes into the picture. 

Entourage: The popular HBO show about a movie star and his childhood friends making it big in Hollywood gets the big-screen treatment. 

Testament of Youth: Vera Brittain's WWI memoir is told from the perspective of a woman seeing the futility of war for the first time. 

Insidious: Chapter 3: Round three in the ongoing battle between white suburbia and the supernatural hereafter. Go! 

Love & Mercy: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys gets the biopic treatment in a story that covers pivotal moments in the 1960s and 1980s. Starring Paul Dano and John Cusack.

Spy: Melissa McCarthy steps out from behind the desk and into the field in this spy comedy from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids). 

Aloha: Cameron Crowe tries to resuscitate his career with this long-delayed (not a good sign) drama about a military man based in Hawaii trying to rediscover love. 

San Andreas: "What a disaster."
—Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

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. 

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.

Far From the Madding Crowd: Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of Thomas Hardyís 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. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron: The brood of Marvel superheroes are back to battle the nefarious Ultron, who has plans to take over the world.  

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.

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