The movie SeaWorld doesn't want you to see: Dolphin activist Ric O'Barry harbors a lot of guilt. This is a guy who's worked for 30 years to take down an industry that puts thousands of dolphins into captivity each year. You see, O'Barry was the original dolphin trainer on Flipper, and he's spent the rest of his life trying to undo the damage he believes he's done.
O'Barry's efforts to shine a spotlight on an annual dolphin hunt—yes, a dolphin hunt—is the focus of The Cove, which plays more like a thriller than a documentary. Every year, fishermen in the small Japanese town of Taijii herd thousands of dolphins toward land, where they're met by dolphin trainers who select the ones they want for their swim-with-the-dolphin programs, or for their aquariums, or their dolphin shows. The dolphins that aren't selected are then moved into a small, fairly impenetrable cove and, we're told, secretly killed so they can be sold as mercury-laden meat to hungry Japanese consumers.
An estimated 23,000 dolphins die in Taijii each year; almost no one knows about it, and the Japanese government wants to keep it that way.
The filmmakers spend a lot of time examining the whaling and dolphin industries, the science and biology of dolphins and the ongoing efforts of the Japanese government to circumvent the rules that outlawed international whaling in the 1980s. And then they pull together a team of special-effects wizards, divers and all-around daredevils, take a number of hidden HD cameras, sneak past all the gates and signs and guards and plant them in the hidden cove itself.
There's never any doubt that The Cove is leading up to evidence of what goes down in this secure inlet. But no matter how much you've girded yourself for what's to come, the dolphin slaughter is ugly and profoundly disturbing. The Cove takes the fun out of your SeaWorld FunCard—the tourist destination is named as complicit. But you're watching something important here, a painful, scabrous secret about how our species treats the rest of planet—and how we can aspire to do better.
A Perfect Getaway: Everything would be going great for newlywed couple Steve Zahn and Mila Jovovich, except someone on their island paradise is murdering newlywed couples.
Captain Abu Raed: When a group of boys mistake an airport janitor for a pilot, he doesn't exactly set them straight.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: It was only a matter of time.
Julie & Julia: Meryl Streep is Julia Child, and Amy Adams is her biggest fan, Julie Powell, who got through life with the help of Child's My Life in France.
Paper Heart: It's hard to define this little movie, which finds Charlyne Yi traveling the country and interviewing people in the hopes of finding out the meaning of love. She complements it with serious puppet shows, and she and former boyfriend Michael Cera re-enact their relationship for the cameras. Yes. Weird. See our review on Page 24.
One time only
The Goonies: Call it nostalgia convergence. Both summer outdoor film series where booze is served are screening the kiddie classic on the same night. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma and 8:30 p.m. at Stone Brewery World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. Both free.
The Fly: Kicking off the Museum of Photographic Arts' Creepy Crawly Film Series is the 1958 original, about a scientist whose teleportation device crosses his own DNA with a fly's, immediately sending him on a mission to get into my kitchen—the bastard. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at MOPA in Balboa Park.
Eat Drink Man Woman: Ang Lee's film is about an aging chef and his three daughters, whose lives revolve around a massive dinner each Sunday. Part of the Film and Wine series—yes, vino will be served. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
Shadow Magic: The San Diego Asian Film Festival presents this look at the arrival of movies in Beijing in 1902. It's part of the free Screen on the Green film series, so get there early to secure a sweet spot for your blanket. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, in front of the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Free.
The Lady From Shanghai: Orson Welles wrote the screenplay for this 1947 noir classic, in which he stars opposite Rita Hayworth. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 6 and 7, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Coraline: Dakota Fanning voices the lonely little girl who finds a doorway to a parallel universe that's much creepier than her own in Henry Selick's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Hugo-winning novella. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7, at Market Creek Plaza in Encanto. Free.
Micah Film Festival: Documentary fest focusing on social justice. Cool: part of your ticket price goes to a charity of your choosing. Runs from Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9, at Crest Theatre in Oceanside. www.micahfilmfest.com.
Emerging, Student, and Independent Film Festival: A one-day extravaganza featuring 20 movies made by student and indie filmmakers, plus panels and workshops. Check out the lineup at www.esifilm.org. Starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at Grossmont College in El Cajon.
A Bug's Life: Pixar's animated bug movie is better than everyone else's animated bug movie. Screens at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Kung Fu Panda: Jack Black is fat. And he voices Po, the panda, who is chosen to save the world, or something. Screens at dusk, Saturday, Aug. 8, at Ingram Plaza in Liberty Station. Free.
Blade Runner: Quick reminder—the 2019 time setting of Ridley Scott's masterpiece is only a decade away. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8 and 9, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
There's No Business Like Show Business: Ethel Merman and Dan Daily's cohesive family unit falls apart when their son, Donald O'Connor, meets Marilyn Monroe. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Frensh Film: Actually, it's a 2008 romcom from the U.K. that never made it to Ssan Diego. And the British, of all people, know how to mock the French. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The first of the Harry Potter movies. Man, those kids were young to be playing with wands. Screens at dusk, Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine. Free.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Let's be honest—this little romcom from Nia Vardalos isn't that special. But a lot of people frickin' loved it. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Young Frankenstein: Guess which summer film series is putting on this Mel Brooks classic? Oh, right—all of them. Still, who doesn't love the mad scientist Gene Wilder / monster Peter Boyle team-up for “Puttin' on the Ritz”? Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at Stone Brewery World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. Free.
Aliens in the Attic: Aliens neglect to ensure that their mind-control ray works on meddling kids. It's unclear why said children fail to welcome our new alien overlords.
The Collector: An ex-con plans a break-in, only to find a psycho has designed a series of deadly Saw-style traps in the very home he's invading.
Funny People: Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen star in Jud Apatow's latest. Sandler's a comedian who thinks he might be dying; Rogen's the protégé he takes under his wing.
In the Loop: This crafty, satirical look at the methods behind the run-up to the Iraq war works because it—accurately—portrays people at every level of government as being average people, which means they're often self-involved, vicious and narcissistic.
Local Color: A successful artist recalls 1974, the year that defined who he came to be. With the likes of Ray Liotta, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Charles Durning, Samantha Mathis and Ron Perlman.
Shrink: Kevin Spacey is the shrink, a Hollywood guru in a downward spiral of unhappy pot smoking, unable to look after the patients who turn to him for help.
Tulpan: Having completed his stint in the Russian military, a young man returns to his future tough life as a shepherd. But first, he must woo and win the hand of Tulpan, the only single girl for miles.
G-Force: Animated guinea pigs save the world, destroy the art of filmmaking.
Orphan: Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga totally pick the scary kid at the orphanage.
Seraphine: Biopic about the French painter Séraphine de Senlis, who was discovered while working as a maid to German art critic and collector Wilhelm Uhde.
The Ugly Truth: Actually, the ugly truth is that this Katherine Heigl / Gerard Butler romcom looks really stupid.
Unmistaken Child: Documentary about a Buddhist monk's search for the reincarnation of a Tibetan master.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The latest entry in the Potter franchise is terrific summer entertainment, but only if you're already a fan.
(500) Days of Summer: A terrific film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It's a date movie, sure, but be forewarned, this is a break-up story and not a standard love story.
The Stoning of Soraya M.: Cyrus Nowrasteh tells the story of Freidoune Sahabjam's best-seller about an Iranian woman who was stoned to death under false pretenses in 1986.
Brüno: In his follow-up to Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen proves that Paula Abdul is a moron, Ron Paul is woefully out of touch, and ignorant, homophobic crackers are ignorant, homophobic crackers.
Blood: The Last Vampire: A hot vampire in a schoolgirl outfit kills demons with a seriously sharp sword. Otherwise known as a fanboy's wet dream.
The Hurt Locker: Kathryn Bigelow's tense new film focuses on an Iraq unit that specializes in defusing bombs. Well-made, well-written and well-acted—not what you expect for an summer action movie.
The Girl From Monaco: When a brilliant attorney heads to Monaco for a trial, he doesn't count on falling for a psychotic vixen who distracts him from his upcoming case.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: When, oh when, will animated mammoths remember their rightful place as construction equipment?
Public Enemies: Michael Mann's movie about the end days of John Dillinger is long on history, style—and length.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: In one of the last summer blockbusters of the year, giant robots blow shit up.
Whatever Works: The combination of Larry David and Woody Allen should be a comedy slam dunk, but it just feels like two old guys kvetching.
Food, Inc.: A documentary about how fucked-up the food system is in this country. Pass the buttered popcorn.
Moon: Director Duncan Jones delivers an impressive debut, and Sam Rockwell gives one of his best performances to date as a lonely miner on the far side of the moon whose entire worldview changes after he finds a body out on the surface.
The Proposal: Ryan Reynolds is Sandra Bullock's assistant. She pushes him into a marriage of convenience (at least for her), but we're guessing it sticks.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: Whenever this remake, which stars Denzel Washington as a subway dispatcher and John Travolta as the guy who takes a subway car hostage, slows down, it's easy to see how ridiculous it is.
The Hangover: They cut a good trailer for Todd Phillips' new film, about three buddies—Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis—who wake up the morning after a brutal bachelor party with no memory of what happened or where the groom is.
Up: The trailer for Pixar's first 3D film doesn't sell it, but this story of an old man who flies his house to South America via helium balloons is just as good as what you've come to expect from those guys.
Angels and Demons: More fun than The Da Vinci Code, but just as stupid.
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.
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. Films vary week-to-week. 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.