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Under the dome: When it comes to movies, what does San Diego have that Los Angeles doesn't? Not a lot. But believe it or not, there is something. You know the newly refurbished IMAX screen at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park? Sure, Hollywood has IMAX, but it doesn't have any domed screens up there. So, attendees of the Giant Screen Cinema Association conference (yes, there is such a thing) will head south for “Dome Day,” a day of IMAX films screened in the Fleet's dome. Held on Thursday, Feb. 25, Dome Day events are open to the public, and though the Fleet usually runs IMAX films throughout the day, these movies have yet to make their way to San Diego. Here's what's coming:
Arabia: Dome Day will mark the San Diego premiere of Arabia, but act fast, because it's only here through the weekend. Just like it sounds, this doc takes that massive camera lens to the Middle East, looking at the history of Islamic civilizations and joining the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which brings together 2 million to 3 million people annually. That's the largest gathering of humans on the planet, and it's sure to look impressive on that massive screen. (Arabia screens at noon and runs through Feb. 28)
Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey: This one won't be officially released until December. But, hey, you want your sneak peek at footage from the Cassini space mission now, right? Well, here's your chance to take what they're calling a “simulated solar safari” and to get up-close-and-personal with Saturn's rings. Just, y'know, stay away from Uranus. Unless that's your thing. (Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey screens at 2 p.m.)
Cop Out: Kevin Smith's new cop comedy, starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, was once under the working title “A Couple of Dicks.”
The Crazies: A remake of George Romero's 1973 freak show, about a small Iowa town whose residents go nuts and start killing each other.
Dolphins: It's only a matter of time before they tell us, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” In IMAX, through March at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Ghost Writer: We all know what Roman Polanski is capable of, and we're not talking about the events that have him under house arrest in Switzerland. This political thriller—starring Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer who bites off more than he can chew when he goes to work on the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan)—is a solid, if unremarkable, piece of filmmaking. See our review on Page 19.
North Face: The only good mountain-climbing movie is the kind where something goes tragically wrong. Thankfully, this German film about Andreas Hinterstoisser and Toni Kurz's ill-fated attempt 1936 attempt to scale the Eiger, is that kind. The scenes on the mountain are harrowing and stressful, even if the characters are fairly archetypical.
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry: The latest Christian film stars Gavin MacLeod—yes, the former captain of The Love Boat—as an old timer teaching young boys about old-time religion. Plays at UltraStar La Costa.
One time only
The Lion's Journey: The Story of Wadie P. Deddeh: A look at the life of the Baghdad-born Iraqi Chaldean who settled in San Diego County and went on to serve in the state Assembly and state Senate. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
DanceOnFilm: The third annual collection of short dance films once again straddles the border between San Diego and Tijuana. It runs Wednesday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 27, at various locations. See Page 11 for more.
Romancing the Stone: Kathleen Turner is a romance writer looking for her kidnapped sister in the Amazon. Michael Douglas is an Indiana Jones knockoff. Neither of them gets busy with a large rock. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Law of Human Gravity: Local filmmaker Dave Sims' dramedy is about a former WWII fighter pilot who never met a POW camp that could hold him. The same doesn't hold true for the nursing home he's currently in. This Badlam Cinema event seeks to raise money for other local film projects. The event starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Prospect Bar & Grill in La Jolla. Free, but give 'em a donation.
The Warlords: This epic Chinese war film stars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro as blood brothers forced against one another in a time of war. It's slated for a theatrical run in April, but the Asian Film Festival will hold the San Diego premiere at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25, at UltraStar Hazard Center.
Tapped: A Documentary on the Bottled Water Industy: The title says it all. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
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 succumb to all the temptations that come with fame. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at The Loft at UCSD.
The Bicycle Thief: One of those movies that constantly shows up on Best Films of All Time lists but you probably haven't seen. Here's your chance—and, yes, it makes those lists for a reason. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at Velo Cult in South Park. Free.
Gloomy Sunday: The latest entry into the Oceanside Museum of Art's Culinary Cinema series features a Hungarian meal based upon the film's tasty-looking beef roll—which is not a double-entendre, by the way. Starts at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at OMA.
Labyrinth: Jim Henson had many strokes of genius, including casting David Bowie as Jereth, the Goblin King, opposite a really young Jennifer Connelley. Screens at midnight, Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Ken Cinema.
Wild California: The IMAX crew turns its massive camera on us. Screens at 2 p.m. Monday, March 1, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Cold Souls: Paul Giamatti plays a distraught actor named, um, Paul Giamatti who decides to have his soul extracted in order to play the title role in Uncle Vanya. Giamatti is terrific, and the film is strangely unique. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 1, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
District 9: Peter Jackson produced this sci-fi actioner set in director Neill Blomkamp's native South Africa. It's a terrifically imaginative look at a race of alien refugees that manages not only to offer up some social commentary, but also to kick serious ass. Screens at 7 p.m., Monday, March 1, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights: Awesome documentary about the band's Canadian tour, eh. Screens at 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 2, at the Loft on the UCSD campus.
Dirt! The Movie: Jamie Lee Curtis narrates this documentary about soil and how we mess it up. Not to be confused with the musical sequel to Joe Dirt. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Garden State: Remember when Zach Braff was totally cool? It's hard, right? Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Terry Gilliam's latest is also Heath Ledger's last. It's a strange, fascinating and flawed piece, an examination of good versus evil, with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law filling in for Ledger, who died midway through shooting. Ends Feb. 25.
The White Ribbon: Michael Haneke's black-and-white examination of acts of brutality in a small German town just before WWII is a self-assured look at the roots of violence in society. Hard to watch, which means it should be watched. Ends Feb. 25.
The Young Victoria: The Devil Wears Prada's Emily Blunt stars as, well, a young Queen Victoria. Ends Feb. 25.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: All 10 short are playing the Ken Cinema, divided into two programs, animated and live-action. It's all great stuff, but make sure you don't miss the animated brilliance of Logorama.
Creation: Paul Bettany is great as Charles Darwin, struggling to get over the death of his daughter so he can complete Origin of Species, but the rest of the film simply doesn't evolve.
Shutter Island: Leonardo DiCaprio is U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels in Martin Scorsese's latest, investigating a missing heiress who's escaped from an asylum and is presumed to be hiding out on the desolate titular atoll.
A New Generation of Spike and Mike Animation: These short films aren't so sick and twisted, but they're still pretty awesome. Plays weekends at the La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego through March 20. Check spikeandmike.com for listings and showtimes.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: It's tough times for young Percy. His dad is Poseidon, his mom has gone missing and he's the prime suspect in the case of Zeus' missing lightning bolt. Also, it's tough times for anyone who believed in a deity that isn't Greek.
My Name is Khan: Bollywood film about an Indian couple in the U.S. whose relationship is profoundly changed after 9/11.
Valentine's Day: One of those movies with a lot of different people tangentially connected dealing with the same thing. In this case, that thing is Valentine's Day, and those people include Jessicas Alba and Biel, Jamie Foxx, Taylor Swift, Julia Roberts, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Garner and Topher Grace.
The Wolfman: This re-imagining, starring a shaggy Benicio del Toro, was supposed to come out, like, 18 full moons ago.
Dear John: Lasse Hallestrom can be a pretty great director, but he may be jumping the shark by adapting a Nicholas Sparks novel.
From Paris with Love: Jonathan Rhys Meyers teams up with a wisecracking John Travolta to stop a terrorist attack. Sounds terrible, but director Pierre Morel's last film, Taken, was awesome.
La Danse: Le ballet de l'Opera de Paris: Frederick Wiseman is one of the greatest documentarians ever, and his new film looks at seven productions of the Paris Opera Ballet.
The Last Station: Michael Hoffman's film about Tolstoy's final days manages to avoid being a stuffy, standard period piece and features some terrific acting from Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer.
Edge of Darkness: After his daughter's murder, homicide detective Mel Gibson shoots a bunch of guys.
The Greatest Places: This IMAX adventure features seven locales, which range from Greenland's icebergs to the enormous waterfall at Iguazu. Through February at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
When in Rome: When Kristen Bell steals coins from a Roman fountain of love, she's suddenly besieged by dopey suitors like Jon Heder and Dax Shepard.
Legion: The apocalypse is now, and the only thing that can save humanity from the hordes from Hell is a small group of people, including Dennis Quaid and Tyrese, holed up in a small Southwestern diner. Good thing they have Paul Bettany, aka the Archangel Michael, on their side.
The Tooth Fairy: No, it's not a horror film. This family comedy stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a small-time hockey player forced to become the titular Fairy. Actually, that's pretty horrifying.
The Book of Eli: Denzel Washington stars in the new film from the Hughes brothers, fighting his way across scorched earth to save a fancy book.
The Lovely Bones: Peter Jackson films Alice Sebold's novel about young Susie Salmon (Saorsie Raorsin), who narrates the picture after being raped and murdered by her creepy neighbor. Jackson works hard, but books are referred to as “unfilmable” for a reason.
Crazy Heart: Sure, it's a clean-and-sober story, but Jeff Bridges is guaranteed an Oscar nomination for playing faded country singer and legendary drunk Bad Blake.
Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downey Jr. is great, as usual, even if his Sherlock Holmes is more brawn than brains.
A Single Man: Colin Firth delivers on the role of a lifetime in fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut.
It's Complicated: A romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. Yet another sign of the pending apocalypse.
Avatar: James Cameron's sci-fi magnum opus is too long and has an inevitable love story. But, for once, when they say you've never seen anything like it, they're right. This is a film and a truly rendered alien planet that must be seen on the big screen and in 3D.
Up in the Air: George Clooney is at his charmiest (charm + smarmy) as Ryan Bingham, flown in to fire employees at companies he has nothing to do with and aspiring to little more than more frequent flier miles. He's a lock for a Best Actor nomination.
The Blind Side: The book this is based upon is about the economics of football and an enormous, poverty-stricken young black man—adopted by a white family—who has the potential to be a highly paid professional athlete. So, of course, they turned it into a Sandra Bullock movie.
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire: Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry helped produce this film about an obese Harlem teen in the 1980s.
An Education: Nick Hornby of High Fidelity fame wrote the script and does a 180 by writing about a girl who desperately wants to grow up and thinks she may have found a shortcut in a good-looking charmer twice her age.
Amazon: Tour the storied river from the high Andes, through the rainforest, and into the Amazon basin—in IMAX. Through Feb. 28 at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Under the Sea: This IMAX film takes you to such underwater locations as South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Through Feb. 28 at the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
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.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.