Two local film events should be on your radar this week. First, having worked out their zoning issues with the city, Mission Hills' Cinema Under the Stars (www.topspresents.com) will hold a fundraising open house on Thursday, June 11, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, and there'll be food and beer and a raffle. The new season starts the following Thursday, June 18, with Roman Holiday.
Next, on Saturday, June 13, you have the chance to catch the first public screening of Water Wings, the new film from locals Justin Adams and Johno Wells. Shot in San Diego on a shoestring budget, the movie is an impressive first feature that feels like Cassavetes-inspired mumblecore with a San Diego flavor. It's a simple story: Peter (Adams, who also wrote the script and co-directed) is given the boot by his girlfriend (June Marie Sparagna) after an unsuccessful stint in rehab. Miserable, he travels to San Diego to see an old friend from college (Sheila Platte) for the first time in years and to, hopefully, get his shit together.
Though the film's dialogue was improvised, the story is loosely based on an unfortunate period in Adams' own life. Water Wings starts slowly, but it's easy to become invested in the emotion. Peter bares himself completely, literally and figuratively. His two co-stars, Platte and Sparagna, are solid and engaging, fleshing out characters who feel very real. In fact, the film is bereft of the weak acting links you often see in small-scale productions.
Also, unlike many DIY efforts, Water Wings looks sharp. The soundtrack is consistent and cool, there are cameos from tattoo artist Billy Barnett and singer-songwriter Simeon Flick (factoid: we went to high school together). Does the low budget occasionally show? Sure, but so fucking what? There are so many movies like this that don't work—Water Wings does. As Ricky Jay said to Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights, it's a real movie.
Wells and Adams will shop the film on the festival circuit, but you have a chance to see it first, on Saturday, at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas. Admission's free, but give them a donation. Yes, it's their first film, but hopefully the first of many.
Away We Go: Director Sam Mendes continues his examination of the American psyche with this road-trip comedy about a young pregnant couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) looking for parenting role models. See our review on Page 22.
Emilio: Landmark Theatres founder Kim Jorgensen sits in the director's chair for this picture, about a young Mexican man making his way to L.A. to find his missing sister.
Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29: Documentary about an epic football game between a bunch of snotty rich kids.
Imagine That: The latest Eddie Murphy family flick finds financier Eddie solving his problems via his daughter's imaginary world.
Street Dreams: A talented young skateboarder is in trouble in school and with the law. The story you've seen before, but the skating looks awesome.
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.
One time only
Bill W. and Dr. Bob: Film version of the off-Broadway play about the two dudes who started AA. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
There's Something About Mary: Still raunchy and funny, the Farrely brothers' comedy, which stars Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon as two dudes lying to try to get with Cameron Diaz, also has a lot of heart. And better, a lot of Jonathan Richman. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Evil Dead 2: Everything is made better by Bruce Campbell. This is his signature role, and it still rocks, especially when his own severed hand kicks his ass. For the uninitiated, it's directed by Sam “Spider-man” Raimi. Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free.
The World According to Monsanto: Takes a look at the multinational food corporation and its evil plans to rule the world. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 11, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil: After the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba almost went down, too. This doc looks at how a nation cut its dependence on fossil fuels. Screens at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Dying to Live: World premiere of a documentary about near-death experiences. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
The Present: The screening of Thomas Campbell's new surf film will also feature a sweet raffle, lots of live music and an appearance by Campbell and some of the film's stars. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13, at Patagonia in Cardiff. Free.
The Goonies: Crooks, buried treasure, pirate ships and secret maps are what a bunch of meddling kids—like Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman and the guy who played the sidekick in the second Indiana Jones movie—are up to their asses in. Screens at midnight Saturday, June 13, at the Ken Cinema.
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days: An extremely well-made, excruciatingly tough movie about a back-alley abortion during the waning years of Romania's communist period. The director sits back and lets the camera run, giving his actors long, extended takes that magnify the brutal emotions and dehumanizing politics of the day. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Mad Max: In honor of owner Holly Jones' brand new baby boy, Citizen Video will show the classic ass-kicking, futuristic cop flick at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Free.
Slumdog Millionaire: This was a terrific movie before it got so ridiculously hyped. A poor young man in Mumbai recounts his life as he kicks ass in the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
Nothing But the Truth: Kate Beckinsale is a D.C. journo who outs a CIA agent and then goes to jail for not giving up her source. Sound familiar? Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 15, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Foxy Brown: Pam Grier is foxy, and she gets around. She's foxy, and she's always down. A blaxploitation classic. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Office Space: Work sucks. Mike Judge knows. There's a reason this has become a pop-culture touchstone. Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free.
Departures: This Japanese film about a cellist who becomes a mortician of sorts earned the Best Foreign Film Oscar in February.
Outrage: Kirby Dick's documentary takes on closeted conservative politicians. And, yes, he names names.
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.
Little Ashes: Yes, another film about Salvador Dali. In this one, however, the surrealist is played by Twilight vampire hunk Robert Pattinson.
Land of the Lost: Will Ferrell turns a totally cheesy TV show into a big-screen movie whose trailer can't even make it look good.
My Life in Ruins: It's hard to believe how much money My Big Fat Greek Wedding made. Well, the star and writer of that movie, Nia Vardalas, is back, and this time she's going to Greece.
Skills Like This: A failed writer turns to crime and finds out that he's good at it. Director Monty Miranda and actor Spencer Berger will attend the 7:30 p.m. screening on Friday at the Reading Gaslamp.
Adoration: Canadian director Atom Egoyan's new film is about the consequences of a teen who claims to be the son of a well-known terrorist. It's intense and thought-provoking and one of the best post-9/11 movies to date.
Drag Me to Hell: Sam Raimi returns to his roots with a small horror film that stars Alison Lohman as a sweet girl going to hell.
Easy Virtue: Period comedy starring Jessica Biel as a goofy American who marries into an uptight British family.
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.
Valentino, the Last Emperor: Documentary about the legendary designer Valentino Garavani.
The Girlfriend Experience: Porn star Sasha Grey stars in Steven Soderbergh's new film, examining the life of a top-shelf call girl.
The Brothers Bloom: Dirty-rotten-scoundrel brothers Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo target wealthy heiress Rachel Weisz as their final mark before leaving the business.
Dance Flick: The Wayans family brings its schtick to the dance floor.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: CGI history-revision lesson with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
Summer Hours: Three adult siblings are forced to revisit their childhood when their mother dies and they need to go through her things.
Terminator Salvation: The franchise reboot, which stars Christian Bale as humanity savior John Connor, has some mind-blowing action sequences, but they're not enough to make you ignore the timeline issues the movie doesn't address.
Angels and Demons: More fun than The Da Vinci Code, but just as stupid.
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 also find themselves succumbing to all the temptations that come with fame.
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.
Every Little Step: Meta documentary about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a revival of A Chorus Line, a musical about Broadway hopefuls auditioning for a Broadway musical.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Critic-proof summer blockbuster that kicks off the entire season. Decent action sequences, sure, but we prefer our Wolverine to be a short, squat badass, not a brooding sex symbol.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Matthew McConaughey is confronted by the former loves of his life, A Christmas Carol style.
Obsessed: Idris Elbra, aka The Wire's Stringer Bell, has a gorgeous wife in Beyonce and a gorgeous stalker in Ali Larter. Things could be worse.
The Soloist: Adaptation of Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez's book, about the talented homeless musician (Jamie Foxx) he befriended. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez.
17 Again: Teen heartthrob Zac Ephron is an old dude who suddenly gets young again. You know, like Benjamin Button.
Fast and Furious: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the fourth entry in the fast-car franchise.
Sunshine Cleaning: Almost a sequel to Little Miss Sunshine. Some of the same producers are on board, the film is also shot in New Mexico and Alan Arkin plays pretty much the same part. Still, it has that vibe that made LMS so appealing, as Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play sisters who start a business cleaning up violent crime scenes.
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.