The organizers of San Diego's LGBT film festival, FilmOut, are celebrating the event's 10th anniversary by taking over the Ken Cinema for a solid week—two more days than last year—and presenting more than 70 films from around the globe.
Made primarily for and by the LGBT community, FilmOut's selections belie the assumption that gay films are usually all camp or coming-of-age stories. Sure, those genres are represented here, but this group also includes thrillers, romantic comedies, dramas and horror films, as well as a decent selection of coming-of-age stories and campy cult films. Collections of shorts will be screened during the daytime hours, followed by feature-length films in the evenings.
The highest-profile entry is Jamie Babbit's The Itty Bitty Titty Committee, already a favorite at festivals around the country. Other highlights include Gay Bed & Breakfast of Terror, Betty Dodson: Her Life of Sex & Art and Back Soon.
The party kicks off Friday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. with a shorts series that includes I Hate Musicals and Day Stripper and the opening-night selection A Four Letter Word. FilmOut runs through Thursday, April 17, with actors and/or directors from more than 25 films on hand, including local heroes Dale Jeter and James Vazquez, who made Birthday Boy and the closing-night film Ready? OK! The entire festival lineup, along with showtimes, ticket and pass information and, most importantly, the where and when for the VIP parties, can be found at filmoutsandiego.com.—Anders Wright
Persepolis (English version): For those who love films but hate subtitles, the Oscar-nominated Persepolis salutes you—with a dubbed version and an impressive English-speaking cast. The animated autobiography, based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel about a girl growing up in Iran, is funny, intense and moving, made with old-school, hand-drawn animation entirely in black and white (which is ironic, since the film has so many shades of gray). Sean Penn, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands and Iggy Pop lend their pipes.
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. See our review here.
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.
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation: Set in Brazil in the politically tumultuous year of 1970, the film is about 12-year-old Mauro (Michel Joelsas), whose left-wing parents are forced to go into hiding, leaving him with his grandmother. Forced to grow up on the quick, Mauro makes friends and watches the World Cup, hoping his parents will return in time to catch the final match. Like My Life as a Dog with political dissidence.
One time only
Y Tu Mama Tambien: This terrific film got director Alfonso Cuarón a Harry Potter movie, which he followed up with the amazing 2006 film Children of Men. But his international acclaim really started here, as young Tenoch and Julio (Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, respectively) meet an older woman (Maribel Verdú) at a wedding. The trio takes off on a spontaneous road trip, during which they all learn the facts of life. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Bicycle Thieves (The Bicycle Thief): Sometimes referred to in the singular, Vittorio De Sica's 1949 classic is the epitome of Italian neo-realism and is shown in film classes worldwide for a reason. The premise is simple—a man and his son search desperately for a stolen bicycle that's necessary for the man's job. But the images of post-war Italy are stark and gorgeous, and the depictions of poverty and desperation remain unforgettable. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla.
Teeny-Tiny Film Series: Classic Films From France: UCSD's FilmPower! continues the Teeny-Tiny Film Series with a collection of French silent films, accompanied, as always, by the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra and its conductor, Scott Paulson. Audience participation is a must. Take note: The venue has changed. Film rolls at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at the CalIT2 Theater on the UCSD campus.
The Last Kiss: Remember the Zach Braff movie that came out in 2007 in which he's a happily engaged yupster who has a fling with The O.C. hottie Rachel Bilson even though his fiancée is knocked up? This is the Italian original that one was based on. Part of the MiraCosta College International Film Series, The Last Kiss screens at 1 p.m. Friday, April 11, in Room 204 on the San Elijo campus in Cardiff, and at 7 p.m. at the Oceanside campus in Room 3601. Free.
Tron: Ah, the old days, when movies were better than the video games that accompanied them. Tron still rules, even if the movie's future looks so 1980s. The first of the Midnight Madness series at the Landmark La Jolla Village Cinemas, all the details will be yours on this page. Screens at midnight on Friday and Saturday, April 10 and 11.
Loose Change (2nd Edition): The guys behind the 9/11 conspiracy film Loose Change got some funding, went back and made some (loose) changes. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 14, at the Downtown Central Library. Free. On the Edge: The Femicide in Ciudad Juarez: Ciudad Juarez is the border town just opposite El Paso, Texas, where more than 400 women have been brutally murdered since 1993. Filmmaker Steev Hise looks at the socioeconomic factors that could have allowed this to happen. Part of UCSD's April César E. Chávez Celebration, On the Edge screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in Center Hall on the UCSD camps. Free.
Like Water for Chocolate: Instead of marrying Pedro, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) watches him marry her older sister, while Tita stays home to take care of her mother and becomes an extraordinary chef. Gorgeous, epic love story that will make you hungry for more than sweets. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
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.
Shelter: Writer/director Jonah Markowitz's first feature stars Trevor Wright as Zach, a San Pedro surfer who has given up his dreams to care for his nephew. His job sucks, his sister is too busy to watch her own kid and he barely has time for his girlfriend Tori (Katie Walder). But all that changes when his best bud's bro, Shaun (Brad Rowe), comes home. The two start as surfing pals, but their relationship grows beyond the waves, forcing Zach to confront his identity, his sexuality and his priorities.
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.
Stop Loss: Kimberly Peirce's first film since Boys Don't Cry examines the human effects of the U.S. military's policy of unilaterally extending the contracts of servicemembers. Ryan Phillippe is Brandon King, a decorated sergeant who lost men toward the end of his Iraq tour. So just imagine his surprise when Uncle Sam tells him he has to go back. Instead, he hits the road—with Abbie Cornish, the girlfriend of his best buddy, Tatum Channing. Though flawed, Stop Loss takes on an important topic and manages to be a war film without being an Iraq War film.
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.
Flawless: In '60s London, a female executive (Demi Moore) at a diamond corporation is frustrated as she watches man after man get promotions that should be hers. Equally frustrated is the janitor (Michael Caine), who is virtually invisible in the eyes of the rich jerks who work there. So the two team up to hit them where it hurts—namely, the vault.
Superhero Movie: Finally, someone in Hollywood has the stones to stand up to the comic-book geeks and make a parody of the superhero movies. Men wear tights. Leslie Nielsen cameos. Hilarity ensues. Maybe.
Under the Same Moon: Following the death of his grandmother, 9-year-old Carlos works his way across the border and heads for L.A. to find his mother, armed only with the description of the street corner she has called him from for the last four years.
Drillbit Taylor: The latest entry into the Jud Apatow family of comedies finds three high-school freshmen advertising for a mercenary to defend them against a bully. These boys need someone strong, crafty and wise. Instead, they get Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a soldier of fortune (of sorts) who has hit the skids.
Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns: Angela Bassett is Brenda, a single mom living in Chicago who loses her job and is on the verge of losing everything else when she learns the father she never met has died in Georgia. So she packs up the kids and heads south, where she meets the Browns, a family unlike any she's had before. Former L.A. Laker Rick Fox is the love interest, and Tyler Perry, who directed the film based upon his play of the same name, reprises his hugely popular Madea for the movie.
Shutter: From Dawson's Creek to cheap horror flicks. Josh Jackson is fashion photographer who travels to Japan with his new wife, only to be involved in a car accident that kills a young woman. Bummer. And if that wasn't enough, as he starts developing film from his shoots, he starts seeing dead people in the pictures.
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.
Doomsday: Following the low-budget success of Dog Soldiers and the slightly bigger-budget success of The Descent, writer/director Neil Marshall is finally given some money to work with. So he sends a team of soldiers and scientists into a sealed-off contaminated zone in the U.K. in hopes of finding a cure for a virus that threatens humanity. Tough chick Rhona Mitra is the squad's head honcho, facing off against all kinds of Road Warrior-influenced punk-rock bad-asses, led by perennial bad-ass Malcolm McDowell.
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.
Married Life: It's the 1940s, and Harry (Chris Cooper) has fallen for Kay (Rachel McAdams), a younger, hotter woman than his wife, Pat (Patricia Clarkson). Two problems, however—first, Harry's best bud, Richard (Pierce Brosnan), finds that he, too, has a thing for Kay, and second, Harry can't bring himself to leave Pat. So he does what any patriotic, red-blooded American male would do in his situation—he decides to murder her.
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.
College Road Trip: Martin Lawrence is an overbearing cop who insists on escorting his smokin'-hot 17-year-old daughter to the schools she's interested in. Yep, she's embarrassed. So is the audience.
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.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Frances McDormand is Miss Pettigrew, an English governess in need of a job who signs on as the assistant of a ditzy American actress (Amy Adams) whose romantic life is in such turmoil that only a strict English governess can sort it out. Of course, as she blossoms in her new high-society role, it's not impossible that Miss Pettigrew will attract some beaus of her own. Frances McDormand is terrific in everything she touches, and Amy Adams just gets better and better.
The Band's Visit: This charming drama was disqualified as Israel's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission because so much of it is in English. But you can see why they put it forward—the story of an Egyptian police band stuck in a backwater Israeli settlement is sweet and funny without being cloying, with subtle performances and a theme that plays like a soft Chet Baker trumpet solo.
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.
Be Kind Rewind: Simple. A magnetized Jack Black erases all the videos in his buddy Mos Def's shop, so they have to re-shoot, well, everything—including (but not limited to) Driving Miss Daisy, Rush Hour 2, Ghostbusters, Robocop, Back to the Future and The Lion King. There is only one man who could make this movie, and it's Michel Gondry, the dude behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Luckily, he did.
Vantage Point: An assassination attempt on the president (William Hurt) is seen through eight different viewpoints, each of which gives a different impression of what actually went down and why. Also stars Sigourney Weaver, Matthew Fox, Dennis Quaid and Forest Whitaker on the grassy knoll.
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead: Romero's latest, shot with handheld cameras, is an indictment of mass media, the blogosphere and those of us who consume the news—all told amid the imminent zombie apocalypse.Fool's Gold: Matthew McConaughey. Kate Hudson. Skimpy bathing suits. And something about sunken treasure.
In Bruges: Noted playwright Martin McDonagh's dark comedy finds Colin Farrell as a killer with a conscience—a return to the charismatic, small-film style of acting that got him all those big crappy movies. Brendan Gleeson is, as always, great as his mentor, and Ralph Fiennes swears a whole hell of a lot.
There Will Be Blood: Paul Thomas Anderson's first project since Punch-Drunk Love is easily one of the year's best, anchored by an epic, astonishing performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. He plays Daniel Plainview, a turn-of-the-20th-century oilman driven by greed and competition and utterly loathing of the world around him. Juno: Fizzy and enjoyable, the year's best feel-good film centers, surprisingly, on an unwed pregnant teen. That'd be Juno (Ellen Page), who decides to give her baby to a yuppie couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) and toy with her good friend and the father of her child, Paulie Bleeker (an excellent Michael Cera). With sharp dialogue from stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody and solid direction from Jason Reitman, Juno is a solid, if inoffensive, triumph.
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.