These days, no one really expects a porn career to be a stepping-stone to legit acting, Ron Jeremy notwithstanding. But, hey, anything's possible. Just look at Sasha Grey, star of The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh's new film that gets up close and personal with the life of a high-end call girl.
Grey is unknown to a large segment of the population, and there's another large segment of the population that's familiar with her body of work but likely won't admit to knowing who she is. That's because Grey is a seriously high-end porn star, known for being absolutely beautiful, deadly smart and willing to do almost anything, no matter how rough or degrading, on camera. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a woman who shared the 2007 Adult Video News award for Best Three-Way Sex Scene—for the movie Fuck Slaves.
She came to Soderbergh's attention after he read a story about her in Los Angeles Magazine. “I'd never heard anybody talk about that business the way she was talking about it,” he tells CityBeat. “She was very articulate and very clear-headed about what she was doing and why.” When The Girlfriend Experience finally came through—it's part of Soderbergh's six-picture, small-movie deal with HDNet—he reached out to see if she was interested. She was.
“Obviously, Sasha's acted before,” Soderbergh says. “She's obviously been in front of a camera, but not doing what we were doing. The whole thing was built around her. And she's really good in the movie.”
And, of course, he says, it's not like he could ask her to do anything that even compared with some of her previous work. “If you've seen anything that she's done, you know she's fearless,” the director says. “And for me, that's a quality in an actor that you really embrace. It's a different kind of exposure. You're exposing a different side of yourself. But she would have done anything.”
The Brothers Bloom: Dirty-rotten-scoundrel brothers Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo target wealthy heiress Rachel Weisz as their final mark before leaving the business.
Dance Flick: The Wayans family brings its schtick to the dance floor.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: CGI history-revision lesson with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
The Song of Sparrows: After losing his job at an ostrich farm, Karim inadvertantly becomes a cab driver, but the sudden influx of cash and the big-city values might corrupt his generous and honest nature.
Summer Hours: Three adult siblings are forced to revisit their childhood when their mother dies and they need to go through her things.
Terminator Salvation: The franchise reboot, which stars Christian Bale as humanity savior John Connor, has some mind-blowing action sequences, but they're not enough to make you ignore the timeline issues the movie doesn't address.
One time only
The World According to Monsanto: Takes a hard look at the multinational food corporation and its plans to rule the world. Factoid: Monsanto Green is people. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Office Space: Work sucks. Mike Judge knows. There's a reason this has become a pop-culture touchstone. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Big Lebowski: The summer film series at Stone kicks off with the Coen Brothers classic. Easily their cultiest cult film, Lebowski stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, a serious stoner who shares his name with the wealthy husband of a kidnap victim. White Russians will flow at 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free and 21-plus.
La Vita Rubata: Presented by the San Diego Italian Film Festival, this 2008 movie tells the real story of a murdered 17-year-old Sicilian girl and her family's fight for justice. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Donation suggested.
SDSU Filmmakers Showcase: You never know what you're going to see when it comes to student films. After all, SDSU grad student Destin Cretton just won the jury prize for best short film at Sundance. Starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Don Powell Theatre on the SDSU Campus.
UCSD Up & Coming 2009: CityBeat film editor Anders Wright was a jury member for this collection of student shorts from UCSD students. Starts at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Price Center Theatre on the UCSD campus. Pay what you can.
Palestine Blues: Part of the Movies that Matter series, this documentary looks at the costs of the Israeli-West Bank barrier in one Palestinian village. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, May 22, at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. Donation suggested.
The Wild One: No, he wasn't pierced or tattooed, but Marlon Brando's leather-clad biker in The Wild One was cooler than any of today's hipsters. Screens at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Free.
Jesus Camp: One time at Jesus Camp, no one stuck a flute up their pussy. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest.
New Muslim Cool: Documentary looks at Muslim rapper Hamza Perez and his efforts to bring peace to the world through religion and hip-hop. See Page 13 for details. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 25, at the WorldBeat Center in Balboa Park. Free.
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Your chance to do the time warp yet again—or mock the people who do. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Pope's Toilet: is probably old-man stinky. But this movie is about the hullabaloo in a small South American town caused by the Pope's 1998 visit. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Twilight with Rifftrax: Why not leave the running commentary to the professionals? Rifftrax, aka the artists formerly known as Mystery Science Theater 3000, takes on the 'tween vampire romance at 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free.
Angels and Demons: More fun than The Da Vinci Code, but just as stupid.
Gigantic: Paul Dano, the sinful preacher from There Will Be Blood and the quiet guy from Little Miss Sunshine, is an aimless mattress salesman wooing Zooey Deschanel.
The Limits of Control: The new film from Jim Jarmusch is truly unlike anything else in theaters. Yes, it has a narrative, but the interpretation of what it's all about is intentionally left up to the viewer. Putting the “art” in art-house, it's beautiful and maddening, at times inspiring and at others tiresome.
Management: Proverbial sidekick Steve Zahn gets a leading role. He's Mike, an awkward man-child who grows up through an extended stalking of Jennifer Aniston.
Rudo y Cursi: Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna reunite for the first time since they made Y Tu Mama Tambien, playing small-town brothers who find success playing soccer on the national level and also find themselves succumbing to all the temptations that come with fame.
Star Trek: The JJ Abrams-directed franchise reboot boldly goes to the heart of the original show and makes it fun again. It's fun, fresh and exciting, the first badass Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan. Good for Trekkies, good for non-Trekkies and great for Trek.
Enlighten Up!: Filmmaker Kate Churchill pushes her buddy Nick Rosen to take yoga seriously—and then catches him on film as he tries to do so. No more Big Macs for you, buddy.
Every Little Step: Meta documentary about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a revival of A Chorus Line, a musical about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a Broadway musical.
Lemon Tree: A Palestinian widow stands up to the new Israeli defense minister—who's also her new neighbor—when security forces declare her lemon trees a threat to his security. Because, you know, lemons are sour. Starring Hiam Abbass (The Visitor), who won the Israeli version of the Best Actress Oscar.
Next Day Air: Crime comedy about two dudes who open a box filled with kilos of coke meant for the apartment across the hall. Stars Mike Epps, Mos Def and Wood Harris, the dude who played Avon Barksdale on The Wire.
Tyson: Documentary about “Iron” Mike Tyson that looks at his life and times through his eyes. It doesn't matter if you love him or hate him, just like when he's in the ring, you can't take your eyes off him.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Critic-proof summer blockbuster that kicks off the entire season. Decent action sequences, sure, but we prefer our Wolverine to be a short, squat badass, not a brooding sex symbol.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: The best reach-for-your-dreams film of the year is about aging Canadian metal-heads.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Matthew McConaughey is confronted by the former loves of his life, A Christmas Carol style.
Is Anybody There?: Michael Caine is terrific and tragic as an aging magician forced to live in an old-people's home, where he befriends the young, lonely boy who lives there.
Earth: Gorgeous Disney documentary about the big blue marble you live on.
Fighting: Dito Martiel follows up his terrific debut, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, with a look at bare-knuckle underground fighting in New York City. Stars Channing Tatum and Terrence Howard.
Obsessed: Idris Elbra, aka The Wire's Stringer Bell, has a gorgeous wife in Beyonce and a gorgeous stalker in Ali Larter. Things could be worse.
The Soloist: Adaptation of Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez's book, about the talented homeless musician (Jamie Foxx) he befriended. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez.
17 Again: Teen heartthrob Zac Ephron is an old dude who suddenly gets young again. You know, like Benjamin Button.
Crank: High Voltage: Again, Jason Statham has to be like the bus in Speed. If he stops moving, his heart explodes.
Hannah Montana: The Movie: This just makes us feel old. And we're not old.
Sin Nombre: Cary Fukunaga's first feature earned him this year's Best Director award at Sundance. It's a harrowing tale of two immigrants—one a Mexican gang member, the other a young Honduran girl—who find themselves connected through violence as they head north.
Fast and Furious: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the fourth entry in the fast-car franchise.
Monsters vs. Aliens: Reese Witherspoon brings some life to this huge 3-D animated extravaganza, but the story is dwarfed by the special effects.
I Love You, Man: Judd Apatow's fingers are nowhere to be found on this bromance, which stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segal. But they might as well be.
Sunshine Cleaning: Almost a sequel to Little Miss Sunshine. Some of the same producers are on board, the film is also shot in New Mexico and Alan Arkin plays pretty much the same part. Still, it has that vibe that made LMS so appealing, as Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play sisters who start a business cleaning up violent crime scenes.
Watchmen: Zack Snyder follows up 300 with a big budget take on the legendary graphic novel about the tattered personal lives of superheroes in an alternate 1985, where Nixon is still president and the world is on the brink of nuclear armageddon. It looks terrific, but it simply doesn't live up to its own source material.
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Space Theater: After undergoing significant renovations, the Fleet is re-opening its dome Imax theater, complete with a kick-ass new screen. Three films will run in rotation initially: Wild Ocean, Van Gogh: Brush with Genius and Animalopolis. Showtimes and prices can be found at www.rhfleet.org.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: No, it's not a time warp—the love-it-or-hate-it camp classic continues its midnight run in its 37th year of release. When the lead character of the film is a transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, you know you're in for some seriously trashy viewing. And, of course, this is the one movie where you want the audience shouting at the screen. Screens Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas.