KPBS film critic Beth Accomondo curates a four-film Indian series that's presented at Balboa Park's Museum of Photographic Arts, in conjunction with the exhibit Humanitas: Images of India by Fredric Roberts, as well as the San Diego Museum of Art's Rhythms of India. Indian master director Sanjayit Ray's Two Daughters kicks things off, and though it clocks in at almost three hours, Ray's talent for comedy and subtlety make it feel shorter than that. Another three movies will follow, one each week, including The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha (May 13), The River (May 21) and Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (May 28). Two Daughters leads the way on Tuesday, May 6. All films are at MOPA, each one starting at 7 p.m. and costing $7 for MOPA members, $10 for everyone else.
Groovy like a foodie movie
Film fans and food fans know there's nothing like Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott's wonderful film Big Night, which came out in 1996 and remains the definitive food film. Big Night stars Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as quarreling brothers running a struggling Italian restaurant in Jersey in the '50s. Secondo (Tucci) wants to cater to the tourists, but Primo (Shalhoub) is a food artist who won't compromise. When the two hear that Louis Prima is coming to their restaurant, they create a feast fit for a music king. Yes, it's the food that's truly the star of Big Night, especially Primo's amazing timpano. So it's the perfect selection for the Oceanside Museum of Art to launch its Culinary Cinema Series, teaming food-oriented films with real-world versions of the delectables seen on the screen. Things start with a reception at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3, followed by the movie at 7 and dinner at 8:30. Wine, coffee, appetizers, salad, risotto and dessert—along with the timpano—are also all on the menu. It ain't cheap—$70 for members, $85 for everyone else—but if you want a big night out, call 760-435-3721 for reservations.
Alexandra: Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya is the aging Alexandra, who visits her grandson, an officer in the Russian army, at his base in Chechnya. There she finds an entirely male-dominated society that's clearly in desperate need of a little TLC and some chicken soup.
Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Da na na na na Nah na na na na na Nah na na nah! Has he lost his mind? Da na na na na Nah na na na na na Nah na na nah!
Made of Honor: Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey is a good-looking dude who's been playing the field for years. But when his best friend, Michelle Monaghan, gets engaged, he realizes she's the one and agrees to be her maid of honor in hopes of hooking up and perhaps not destroying her happiness in the process.
My Brother is an Only Child: A serious hit in Italy, Daniele Luchetti's film focuses on two brothers growing up in the 1960s and '70s. One becomes the leader of the local communists, and the other joins the fascists, which makes for terribly awkward table conversation during the holidays.
One time only
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Ang Lee's martial-arts madness earned Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations, eventually winning Best Foreign Language Film honors and three others back in 2000. Crouching Tiger came out of nowhere to astonish American audiences with its high-flying acrobatics, gorgeous landscapes and epic drama. And it stars the always-awesome Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
This American Life: Live: Ira Glass and his merry band of radio journotypes do their sensitive, ironic thing live, but this time they're simucasting the show at theaters across the country, including several in San Diego County. Sadly, being on the West Coast, our version is tape-delayed. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 1. Check www.thisamericanlife.org for theaters and tickets.
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles: UCSD professor Babette Mangolte shot Chantal Akerman's classic French film of alienation, starring Delphine Seyrig as a single mother who takes great care of her home and her son and also entertains one client a day. Screens at 4 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the Visual Arts Facility on the UCSD campus. Free.
The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream: Activist San Diego presents this documentary, which is pretty much what the title says. Man, four bucks a gallon sucks. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Free.
A Clockwork Orange: You and your droogs can't miss Stanley Kubrick's epic, extraordinary tale of anti-conformity and how the system has its way. Malcolm McDowell is Alex (his signature role), a young man obsessed with pretty girls and ultraviolence who is arrested and reconditioned. It's impossible to know whom to root for. As disturbing as movies get. Screens at midnight Friday and Saturday, May 2 and 3, at the Landmark La Jolla Village.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: Cinema Under the Stars kicks off its new season with the Audrey Hepburn classic, one of the best date films ever, and at one of San Diego's best date venues. Check out Page 17 for the details. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 1 through 3, at 8:30 p.m. at Cinema Under the Stars.
Jodha Akbar: A seriously epic—more than three-and-a-half hours' worth of epic—period piece about Emperor Akbar, who weds the Princess Jodha and finds more than just a marriage of convenience. This is what Bollywood is all about—big battles, romance and, of course, singing and dancing. Screens at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Free.
Women of Islam: Veiling and Seclusion: In association with One Book, One San Diego, the library presents Farheen Umar's documentary about Muslim women and the attitudes and challenges that come with wearing the veil. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
Fraulein: Serbian native Ruza (Mirjana Karanovic) left her home more than three decades ago. Now she lives a lonely, joyless existence running a café in Zurich. That is, until Ana (Marija Skaricic), a young Croat, takes a job with her, and the two women strike up a friendship that will change both of their lives. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 5, at the Dowtown Central Library. Free.
New Year Baby: Socheata Poeuv's parents are Cambodian, but she was born in a Thai refugee camp after they escaped their homeland and the Khmer Rouge. Many years later, after the family emigrated to America, her parents told her the truth about her sisters (turns out they're her cousins) and her brother (half-brother, it seems). This begins the documentary of her journey of examination of herself and the country she's never seen. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at the Dowtown Central Library. Free.
Get Shorty: Shortly after his big comeback with Pulp Fiction, John Travolta starred in Barry Sonnenfeld's snappy adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel. Travolta is Chili Palmer, a one-time lone shark who chases a client to L.A. and somehow works his way into the film business. Complete with Leonard's sharp dialogue and Dennis Farina's best performance. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay: The sequel to the surprise 2004 pot-smoking hit picks up where the last one left off. Sadly, Harold and Kumar's trip to Amsterdam is thwarted by The Man—in the form of government agent Rob Corddry, who sends them to detention instead. Most important: Neil Patrick Harris is back. As Neil Patrick Harris.
Baby Mama: Making the jump from writer to SNL cast member to 30 Rock star to the big screen, Tina Fey is Kate, a single executive who hires low-class Amy Poehler to be a surrogate mother. The movie is terribly obvious but has its moments. Fey is the lead, but Poehler steals much of the show. Sigourney Weaver has some nice moments as the head of the surrogate agency, and Dax Shepard is hilarious as Poehler's dumb-ass common-law husband. Oh, and look for Steve Martin's extended cameo. The problem is, for a movie that's about women and babies, none of the women are particularly smart; each makes one bad decision after another, unable to see the forest for the babies.
Body of War: Tomas Young signs up for the Army on Sept. 13, 2001, is later shot and paralyzed after spending less than a week in Iraq and then becomes an anti-war advocate. This documentary puts a face on the human cost of war. Eddie Vedder contributed a pair of original songs for the film, and Ellen Spiro, who co-directed the film with Phil Donahue, will be on hand on Friday, April 25, for the screenings at the Ken Cinema.
Deception: Mild-mannered accountant Ewan McGregor is introduced to a sexy, sexy sex club by asshole lawyer Hugh Jackman. Everything's awesome—until he's framed for murder and larceny. That's some serious coitus interruptus. The Life Before Her Eyes: Fifteen years ago, Diana (Uma Thurman) survived a brutal school shooting. Now her perfect suburban life is unraveling as the event's anniversary approaches and she finds herself remembering what went down that day. Evan Rachel Wood plays Diana in flashbacks.
The Visitor: Tom McCarthy follows up his debut, The Station Agent, with this subtle look at immigration. Veteran character actor Richard Jenkins (the dead dad on Six Feet Under) is a burnt-out professor adrift in his life. Things change when he befriends a pair of illegal immigrants in New York, and when one of them is arrested and detained, he finally finds something to inspire him. This is another sweet, subtle film from McCarthy, who makes his points through people instead of politics.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: Ben Stein—former Nixon speechwriter and game show host and the “Anyone? Anyone?” teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off—stars in this anti-science treatise in favor of Intelligent Design. Stein, also a former law professor, is a very intelligent guy, but he's also the embodiment of the differences between intelligence and smarts.
Zombie Strippers: Truth in advertising. Horror legend Robert Englund owns the strip club where porn queen Jenna Jameson plays the first of several zombie strippers whose lap dances absolutely kill their customers. Literally. But what's funky about Zombie Strippers isn't so much the undead naked pole dances; it's the political satire, the fact that it's based on the classic Ionesco play The Rhinoceros and that it's peppered with Nietzsche. This thing is actually kind of brainy. Of course, many of those brains are smeared across the stage the girls dance on.
88 Minutes: Al Pacino is a professor who spends his off-hours working as a forensic shrink for the FBI, until the day he gets a phone call telling him he has just 88 minutes to live. So he spends his last hour-and-a-half trying to sort out which of his enemies is to blame.
Forbidden Kingdom: An American kid who is, like, seriously into kung fu finds himself transported back to ancient China, where he hooks up with a group of warriors to free the jailed Monkey King. Those monkeys. Always making trouble. Instead of going down as the first film to really tie together the problems with monkey rule, Forbidden Kingdom will be remembered as the first (and perhaps only) collaboration between Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Jason Segel of Freaks and Geeks and How I Met Your Mother wrote and stars in this sweet rom-com, playing Peter, a composer dumped by his TV-star girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). When he heads to Hawaii to clear his head, he finds he's staying at the same resort as her and her hunky new rock-star boyfriend. Both heartfelt and raunchy, Sarah Marshall has plenty of full-frontal nude scenes—and all of them are of Segel.
Young@Heart: The average age of the Young at Heart Chorus is 80, which means some of them are old enough to have told kids to stop playing the devil's music when rock 'n' roll was young. Still, that doesn't stop this crew of senior citizens from performing tunes by the likes of The Clash, James Brown, Coldplay and The Ramones. File this one under “Uplifting” or “Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution.”
Priceless (Hors de Prix): Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a young bartender, is mistaken for a rich dude by gorgeous, web-spinning succubus Irene (Audrey Tatou), who seduces him, only to find that he really just pulls drinks. So she ditches him—but he won't ditch her. Suddenly, the hunter is the hunted, and everywhere Irene turns, there's Jean trying to win her heart. The question is, will his love be enough to win over a woman who is interested only in money? We're not telling, but we definitely ™ Audrey Tatou.
Prom Night: Poor Brittany Snow. An insane sadistic killer from her past is slaughtering her friends and, like, totally ruining prom.
Smart People: There's a fine line between intelligent and smart in this Sundance fave. Dennis Quaid is a brilliant asshole of a college professor, Ellen Page (in her first big post-Juno role) is his straight-laced, type-A daughter and Thomas Haden Church is the black-sheep adopted brother who chauffeurs Quaid after the latter loses his license. Sarah Jessica Parker, a onetime student of Quaid's, plays the ER doctor who treats the professor, both on and off the job, after an accident. Both dad and daughter are so intelligent they're insufferable, and while Haden Church may not be a scholar, he's smarter than everyone else when it comes to how people tick.
Street Kings: Plotted by L.A. crime-fiction king James Ellroy, Street Kings is another intricately drawn portrayal of crooked cops and dirty deeds, set in present day with Keanu Reeves as tortured detective Tom Ludlow. The movie is smart and cynical, but unlike its natural predecessors—L.A. Confidential (based on Ellroy's novel) and Training Day (written by director David Ayer), Kings isn't blessed with a star who has the chops to pull it all off.
Caramel: This sweet and subtle Lebanese chick flick examines five women whose lives revolve around a beauty parlor in Beirut. It's a window into life in the Middle East—one woman is forced to show proof of marriage to get a hotel room; another is hassled by an overzealous soldier for sitting in a car with her fiancé. These women aren't worried about bombs or guns; they're worried about the same basic issues women across the globe are concerned with: love, happiness, respect. It's a refreshing change of pace that shows that, deep down, we're not really all that different.
Leatherheads: George Clooney stars in and directs this romantic comedy set in the early days of football, playing Dodge Connelley, who's determined to bring the game into the mainstream. John Krasinski (The Office) is an Ivy League war hero who brings new tactics to the game, rivaling Clooney's authority and battling him for the affections of sports reporter Renee Zellweger. Think Bull Durham, with pigskin.
Nim's Island: This adaptation of Wendy Orr's novel finds Abigail Breslin as Nim, a young girl who imagines the island she lives on is magical, based on the fictional adventurer Alex Rover in her favorite books. But when her dad goes missing, Nim teams up with Alex Rover's author (Jodie Foster) to track him down. Gerard “This. Is. Sparta!” Butler plays Nim's dad and Alex Rover.
The Ruins: A terrific argument against sightseeing. Four young, hot American tourists in Mexico hook up with a morose German who takes them on an expedition to an ancient Mayan temple. Bummer for them, since there's an ancient evil beastie thing hiding out there, and it loves nothing more than feasting on young, hot American tourists. Guess they should have stayed at the hotel bar. Jena Malone is in on the creepiness.
Shine a Light: Martin Scorsese directed this Rolling Stones concert film, shot in two nights at New York's venerable, 2,800-seat Beacon Theatre in 2006. Jack White, Christina Aguilera and Buddy Guy all came out to play with them, and the Clintons were in the audience. Man, that must've been a tough ticket.
21: Utterly formulaic adaptation of Ben Mezrich's great little airport read, Bringing Down the House, about the MIT card-counting team that took its act to the Vegas blackjack tables and made a ton of money.
Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!: You probably wouldn't attend without a kid in tow, but if you have a carpet monkey you have to take, you'll have a decent time. Gorgeous animation keeps things Seussical, and the celeb voices—Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, mainly—don't overshadow the premise. Plus, the movie's message of tolerance and anti-conformity is a decent one for kids of all ages.
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: Robert Redford narrates this new Imax journey, following environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. as he rafts his way through the Grand Canyon, on the Colorado River, along with anthropologist Wade Davis, as the two document new efforts to conserve water and restore the river. Music is provided by the Dave Matthews Band. Grand Canyon Adventure plays only at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Never Back Down: Take the new-kid-in-school side of The Karate Kid, add it to the underground thrashings of Fight Club, multiply it by the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Octagon and divide it all by The O.C. That's Never Back Down.
10,000 B.C.: Roland Emmerich's first film since The Day After Tomorrow could be subtitled “The Day Before Yesterday.” It follows a young mammoth hunter who takes on sabertooth tigers and a nasty dominant civilization. The effects look terrific, and everyone speaks English, which totally comes in handy when it comes to those unfortunate time-machine accidents.
The Bank Job: Jason Statham and his buddies are amateur crooks who hit the big time in this gritty, '70s-style flick that also stars Saffron Burrows as the hottie who cons Statham and Co. into pulling a bank heist. But it's only after they've got the loot that they find themselves in serious danger, as vengeful politicians, angry pornographers, crooked cops, pissed-off black militants and even MI-5 want to get their hands on what the robbers got away with. Very loosely based on the then-infamous “Walkie-Talkie Robbery,” The Bank Job is a slow boil with more class than most of Statham's recent action-thrillers.
The Counterfeiters: Winner of this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Counterfeiters is about Operation Bernhardt, the Nazi attempt to counterfeit British and American currency in the waning days of World War II. It tells the story of Jewish master forger Sally Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), who heads up the detail of craftsmen whose lives are spared as long as they support the German war effort, knowing the entire time that if they do their job well, the war will continue on.
The Other Boleyn Girl: So, you're Henry VIII and you look just like Eric Bana. Nice. You can have your pick of the English birds, but you're drawn to the Boleyn sisters, who look remarkably like Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Now, this isn't historically accurate in any way, shape or form, but it seems like a win-win for Henry, even if he eventually beheads the sister he ends up with.
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.
Fridays at the Fleet: Sea Monsters, Grand Canyon Adventure and Mysteries of Egypt are some of the rotating films shown each Friday at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center's IMAX theater where, for only $7.50, you can catch four flicks. Sure, it's more Discovery Channel than Transformers, but the Fleet's enormous old-school dome screen is way cool, and some of the talent—narrators like Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp—is impressive. You might find yourself as mesmerized as the little kiddies sitting around you. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. Check www.rhfleet.org for the screening list.