"A bear and a mouse can't be together," screams the rodent mistress of an orphanage for mice in the opening sequence of Ernest and Celestine . The grotesque old witch is responding to a daring comment made by a precocious youngster named Celestine, who audaciously suggests that her sewer species could potentially unify with the world of bears living above the surface. It's a radical statement, potentially even a dangerous one.
Celestine's theory is put to the test when she ventures topside and meets Ernest, a grumpy bear who lives by himself in the countryside. He suffers from extreme loneliness, only visiting town when his hunger becomes too wild and uncontrollable. The two fatefully connect over a shared affinity for art; she draws, and he plays music. But their fondness for each other represents a dangerous precedent. By simply sharing time together, Ernest and Celestine become instant pariahs in the eyes of their respective communities, intolerant institutions that breed prejudice.
Nominated for Best Animated Film at this year's Academy Awards, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner's joyous parable seems like a farcical sketch on the surface but deftly reflects the current tensions in France amid social reform and racial inequality. While the two animal characters don't represent a specific sexual preference or ideological view, their friendship does incite dialogue about governmental interference in the personal lives of citizens.
That Ernest and Celestine —which opens Friday, March 28, at La Jolla Village Cinemas—frames all of this subtext within a charming and quick-witted chase film makes its virtues even more lasting. In the end, its one true goal is to suggest that these two artists should not only be able to express themselves through their particular mediums, but also do it together in the comfort of their own shared space.
Cesar Chavez : The first narrative film to dramatize Cesar Chavez's attempts to unify farm workers in California's central valley in the 1960s. It's directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Peña.
Enemy : A lonely college professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Toronto discovers that he has a double, and then becomes obsessed with finding out why.
Ernest and Celestine : In this Oscar-nominated animated film from France, a precocious mouse meets a grumpy bear and threatens the strict ideologies of their respective societies. Screens through April 3 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
5 Hour Friends : Tom Sizemore plays a middle-aged golfer and flagrant womanizer who finally gets a taste of his own medicine when a female companion cheats on him.
Noah : Darren Aronofsky's long-gestating epic about the titular biblical figure (Russell Crowe) and his epic quest to build an ark and save the world's species from a worldwide flood.
On My Way : Catherine Deneuve plays Bettie, a former beauty queen whose struggling restaurant is about to fold. During a weekend road trip, she finds herself contemplating her life decisions and finding peace with their outcomes.
Sabotage : Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a brutal DEA unit tasked with taking down the worst offenders. When members of the team start dying, all signs point to a Mexican cartel.
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You Will Be My Son : The owner of a prestigious vineyard in France must come to grips with his winemaker son's success when he returns home from California. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the Mission Valley Library.
Gorgo : Sailors capture a giant lizard and sell it to a London circus. Then its mother shows up. Presented by SchlockFest, it screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village.
Silent Spring : This WGBH public-TV documentary is about Rachel Carson, whose work in the 1950s and '60s sparked the environmental movement. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the San Diego Women's Museum in Point Loma's Liberty Station.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off : Sometimes we all need a day off as cool as Ferris Bueller's. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
20 Feet from Stardom : The winner of the Best Documentary Oscar at this year's Academy Awards tells the stories of several backup singers who've tried to make the jump to stardom. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
A Box Full of Rocks : The childhood years of rock critic Lester Bangs is the focus of this documentary made by San Diego filmmaker Raul Sandelin. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 31, at the Mission Valley Library.
Pulling Strings : Mexican comedian Jaime Camil is up to his old tricks as a mariachi singer who meets an American diplomat after a night of heavy drinking. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
Bad Words : A former spelling-bee loser (Jason Bateman, who also directs) decides to find a loophole in the competition rules and participate as an adult.
Blood Ties : In 1970s Brooklyn, two brothers face off from opposite sides of the law, turning their families upside down. Expect a lot of yelling and bloodshed. Starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis and Marion Cotillard.
Divergent : The future is a world divided into factions based on tested virtues. A young woman (Shailene Woodley) threatens to topple this rigorous framework when she's deemed "divergent"—an outsider who must be disappeared.
The Jewish Cardinal : Jean-Marie Lustiger grew up in a Jewish household and converted to Catholicism at a young age. This documentary explores how one man maintained his cultural identity even after he shifted religious beliefs. Ends March 27 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Lunchbox : In Mumbai, thousands of lunchboxes are delivered every day, thanks to a famously efficient service run by couriers. When one of these orders is delivered to the wrong address, the mistake inadvertently connects an aging businessman and an unhappy housewife.
Muppets Most Wanted : Miss Piggy, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets gang find themselves embroiled in a European jewel heist. It co-stars humans like Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 : The first part of Danish auteur Lars von Trier's epic about a self-professed sex addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who recalls her origins in the apartment of a stranger (Stellan Skarsgård) while recuperating from a brutal beating.
Particle Fever : Documentary about the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, one of the most expensive and ambitious physics experiments ever conceived. Ends March 27 at the Ken Cinema.
Le Week-End : An elderly British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) come to grips with their crumbling marriage while spending a weekend in Paris.
The Grand Budapest Hotel : Ralph Fiennes leads an all-star cast in director Wes Anderson's latest film, which takes place inside an elaborate European hotel populated by eccentric characters.
The Face of Love : Ed Harris and Annette Bening star in a drama about a woman who falls in love with a man who bears a striking resemblance to her late husband.
Need for Speed : Based on the popular video game, this action film follows an ex-convict (Aaron Paul) street racer who vows to catch the man who set him up years before.
Stranger by the Lake : Set at a pristine lake that doubles as a cruising spot, a young French man begins a torrid and potentially dangerous love affair with a handsome stranger. Ends March 27 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Shirin in Love : This Iranian-American romantic comedy follows an absent-minded young woman who, despite her arranged engagement to a successful Los Angeles plastic surgeon, falls in love with a stranger who lives in a lighthouse in Northern California.
Tyler Perry's Single Moms Club : The title really does say it all.
300: Rise of an Empire : More Spartan chest thumping and skewering, this time in retaliation for the fallen soldiers featured in Zach Snyder's 2006 gore-fest.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman : Animated adventure about a father and son who invent a time machine, travel back to witness famous historical events and then find themselves racing to repair the past and save the future.
Non-Stop : Liam Neeson's seasoned air marshal deals with a series of mysterious threats aboard a transatlantic flight.
Son of God : Jesus, another biopic.
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild : Venture north into the great wilderness and explore the harsh but beautiful conditions of Alaska, in glorious IMAX. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Pompeii : Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson sets his sights on the city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. for his latest muscle-bound action epic in 3D.
3 Days to Kill : CIA agent Kevin Costner's got—you guessed it: three days to kill his last target or his innocent daughter will die.
Tim's Vermeer : Tim Jenison is a mad inventor who's become obsessed with Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's verisimilitude. In this documentary from Penn & Teller, he decides to embark on a multiyear journey to prove that Vermeer used optics to paint such lifelike paintings. Ends March 27 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
The Wind Rises : Reportedly director Hayao Miyazaki's final film, this glorious animated biopic about Jiro Horokoshi examines one man's perilous tunnel vision as he designs war planes for the Japanese government during World War II.
Journey to the South Pacific : Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
RoboCop : It's hard to believe Hollywood had the gall to remake Paul Verhoeven's 1987 masterpiece, but there's confidence to be had knowing Brazilian action filmmaker Jose Padilha ( Elite Squad ) is at the helm. Crossing our trigger fingers.
The Lego Movie : That movie adaptation based on a classic toy set you knew was always coming but didn't think would actually get made. Well, it did, and it's here.
The Monuments Men : A museum art historian (George Clooney) recruits a platoon of unlikely soldiers to rescue art masterpieces from the Nazis. Co-stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman.
The Great Beauty : A disillusioned novelist traverses modern Rome looking for epiphany in Paolo Sorrentino's gorgeous and surreal art film, which is a testament to physical surfaces and emotional depth. Ends March 27 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Ride Along : Has Kevin Hart fatigue set in yet? The pervasive comedian stars in this action comedy with Ice Cube playing an angry cop and his future brother-in-law out to test his masculinity.
The Wolf of Wall Street : Martin Scorsese's sprawling comedic look at the rise and fall of Wall Street huckster Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who became an infamous figure in New York City in the 1990s.
American Hustle : Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O'Russell's retelling of the infamous Abscam sting established by the FBI in order to capture corrupt politicians and gangsters in the late 1970s.
Dallas Buyers Club : In 1985, a drunken rodeo clown Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughy) learns he has HIV. Seeing an opportunity to stave off his own death and make some money, he begins smuggling unapproved drugs in from Mexico.
12 Years a Slave : Abducted and forced to work on a Southern plantation, free man Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejifor) experiences the horrors of slavery in Steve McQueen's stirring period-piece drama.
Mysteries of the Unseen World : This amazing documentary uses high-speed and time-lapse photography to focus on things that are either too fast or two slow for the eye to see. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.