Mark Wahlberg hasn't knocked bad guys around for a while. Sure, he's caught footballs in Invincible, taught science in The Happening and earned himself an Oscar nomination in The Departed, but in Max Payne, the big-budget adaptation of the groundbreaking video game, he says he's “back to busting some heads.”
He's the titular character, a DEA agent who teams up with assassin Mila Kunis to extract some vengeance after his family is murdered. Sure, it's ultra-violent, PG-13, over-the-top stuff, but Wahlberg has been waiting for something like this.
“I mean, I really get to go off,” he tells CityBeat. “We've always been looking for something where I can just go full-out, be as intense as possible, have that kind of energy. But I've never really done it to this extent.”
Still, even though director John Moore was working with technology that shoots film at a thousand frames per second, turning shootouts into ballistic ballet, Wahlberg says he knew the movie wouldn't work if Max wasn't grounded in an emotional reality.
“I don't think the emotional rollercoaster that Max is going through really registers so much in the game,” he says. “Being a parent, thinking about something horrible happening to my family, we really wanted to make sure this character was driven by emotion. That was the driving force.”
It was that connection that Wahlberg says drew him to the movie. “I always try to find roles that I have some sort of connection to, that I can identify with in some sort of way,” he says. “I don't use any actor-y methods, like picturing the color blue or the places I used to hide as a kid or my dead dog. I draw from my life experience and I think that registers.”Opening
A Girl Cut in two: French thriller about sprightly weather girl Gabrielle, who has Charles, a famous older writer, and Paul, a wealthy playboy, desperate for her attention. Oh, and one's married, the other's schizo. This can't end well.
El Brindis: The Mexican TV and movie star Ana Serradilla stars in the latest entry of Cinema en tu Idioma, the San Diego Latino Film Festival's monthly film series. She's on her way to meet her Chilean father but falls into a relationship with the rabbi who's prepping dad for his Bar Mitzvah. Runs Oct. 17 to 23 at the UltraStar Hazard Center.
Foster Child: A fictional look at the state of the foster and adoption systems in the Philippines. Presented by the San Diego Asian Film Festival as part of its year-long examination of Filipino film. Runs Oct. 17 to 23 at UltraStar Chula Vista.
Morning Light: This documentary about 15 young sailors, both men and women, who train and then race a high-end sloop in an open-ocean 2,300-mile race against professionals, first screened here during the San Diego Film Festival.
Secret Life of Bees: Dakota Fanning runs away with her housekeeper, Jennifer Hudson, ending up at the home of three African-American sisters in South Carolina in 1964. Queen Latifah is the matriarch, Alicia Keys the rebellious sister—the trailer makes it look just as gooey as the honey Latifah makes, but it isn't. At least, until the last 20 minutes, when it is.
Sex Drive: An 18-year-old virgin hits the road with his two best pals to hook up with a chick he met over the Internets. Crazy shit happens between his place and hers, including a run-in with Amish farmer Seth Green.
W: Oliver Stone directs and Josh Brolin plays the title character in this Lone Star melodrama. We just wish it had come out several years earlier, because we're so fucking sick of George W. Bush.
What Just Happened?: It's all slings and arrows for fading Hollywood producer Robert De Niro, who's struggling desperately to get his new movie made. Great supporting cast includes Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart and Bruce Willis as himself.
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Lioness: Intense documentary about female soldiers who were initially supposed to be support staff but ended up fighting insurgents in the streets of Ramadi, becoming the first female American women to be sent into direct combat. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
Ratatouille: Somehow, Pixar made a cartoon about a rat in the kitchen that was one of the best movies of 2007. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Seriously, if you're a crazy Texan with a leather mask and a passel of kinfolk bound and determined to slaughter and eat some good-looking younglings, you might as well use a chainsaw, right? Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Death Note II: The Last Name: Insane sequel to the original runaway hit lands in theaters for two nights only. Serial killers, Eyes of Death and, of course, the ability to hand someone a note that spells their doom are all part of the almost-three-hour package. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 15 and 16, at AMC Mission Valley, Edwards Mira Mesa, and Horton Plaza. Tickets can be bought ahead of time at www.fathomevents.com.
The Birds: Hitchcock's classic is a classic for a reason, as Tippi Hedren finds herself in a small NoCal town besieged by birds. The scene where she's trapped in a phone booth that's being assaulted by those little winged bastards is especially intense. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 16 through 18, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Sita Sings the Blues: Part of UCSD's FilmPower!'s International Film Fest, Sita juxtaposes director Nina Paley's own divorce with that of the ancient Indian goddess Sita. The animation is gorgeous, and it's all set to the vocals of '20s jazz crooner Annette Hanshaw. Paley will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at The Loft on the UCSD campus. $10, or less if you have a UCSD affiliation.
The Night That Panicked America: The San Diego chapter of the Mars Society presents this 1975 made-for-TV movie about Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio broadcast. This isn't another retelling of the story—this is about the panicked radio audience that believed Martians were invading New Jersey. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, at Studio 106 in the Art Union Building in Golden Hill. Free, but seating is limited, so RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Perfect Storm: We asked Mark Wahlberg why peeps should peep this one. “It's just an amazing movie about guys who are trying to put food on the table for us, things we really take for granted,” he said. “These guys really risk life and limb.” Or, if you ever wanted to see Wahlberg and Clooney not make it out alive, this is the movie for you. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. Free.
Medal of Honor: Catch this documentary before it debuts on PBS in November. It follows the history of the military's highest honor, from Civil War recipients all the way through the Iraq War. Director / producer / cinematographer Roger Sherman will be on hand to introduce the film and will stick around for a post-screening Q&A. Screens at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. Free.
Home Movie Day: Find the details on Page 19. Or, online, in our “City Week” section.
Soldiers of Conscience: Eight soldiers, some of who've killed others and some who refused to, are profiled in this documentary that looks into the moral dilemma facing soldiers. The Army gave the filmmakers permission to make this one, which is part of PBS' POV series. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
Moon Zero Two and Outland: It's a double feature from the San Diego chapter of the Mars Society. In the campy 1969 flick Moon Zero Two, a space salvage expert finds himself caught between a group of criminals and the moon miner they need out of the way. Sean Connery stars as a futuristic marshal in the 1981 film Outland, going after drug smugglers in a remote colony on one of Jupiter's moons. Moon Zero Two starts at 3 p.m., Outland at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, at Studio 106 in the Art Union Building in Golden Hill. Free, but there's limited seating, so RSVP to email@example.com.
The White Rose: Based on real events, this film is about a group of Munich University students who create a resistance cell against the Nazis during World War II. They distribute a newsletter that gains traction with their peers and the community and causes the Gestapo to take notice, too. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, at Cafe Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
Press Rewind Plus '08: Each Sunday in October, UCSD's ArtPower! Film presents the flicks it showed in last year's first student film festival. There are different films each week, and it's always pay-what-you-will. Screens at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, at The Loft on the UCSD campus.
Winter Soldier II: A Grassroots View: Moving documentary about Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Winter Soldier movement (taken from the events of the same name held during Vietnam), in which soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan testify to what they saw and did during their time in country. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Lestat's West in Normal Heights. Important and free.
Teen Producers Project Anniversary Celebration: Media Arts Center San Diego, the producer of the San Diego Latino Film Festival, celebrates the seventh anniversary of its terrific Teen Producers Project, which puts filmmaking equipment in the hands of teens from underserved communities. Actor / writer Rick Najera will screen some of the films created in the last year on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Downtown. Donations will be accepted. www.mediaartscenter.org.
Ghostbusters: Who you gonna call? Um, to watch Ghostbusters with? Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
A Nightmare on Elm Street: Yep, that's a youthful Johnny Depp getting disemboweled by Freddy Kreuger in the first franchise entry. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
The Express: Great story, somewhat generically told, about Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. It hits all the sports movie clichés like a linebacker. Dennis Quaid is Ben Schwartzwalder, the Syracuse coach who helped Davis get there. Still, like most inspirational sports movies, The Express has its inspiring moments.
Body of Lies: Ridley Scott teams Russell Crowe with Leonardo DiCaprio for this spy thriller, about a CIA agent going after a terrorist leader in Jordan and doesn't know who he can trust on his own team. DiCaprio is the good guy. Maybe.
City of Ember: A mysterious underground city has survived for generations via hundreds of flickering lights, but now the generator is dying, forcing two teens to search the city for a way to escape. Bill Murray is the city's mayor, i.e. The Man.
Quarantine: Could this be Blair Witch 2.0? A reporter and her cameraman investigate an infection that makes its victims all zombie-like, only to find themselves trapped in an apartment complex with several other survivors when the authorities cordon off the building and refuse to let anyone out.
Rachel Getting Married: The herky-jerky handheld camera in Jonathan Demme's new movie mirrors the emotional turmoil of Kym (Anne Hathaway), just out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding. There's Oscar buzz surrounding Hathaway, who is equal parts toxic and pathetic but ultimately someone worth pulling for.
Tulad Ng Dati: Fictional film about the real-life Filipino rock band The Dawn and their 20-year history, from the pinnacle of their success in the 1980s to their recent reunion and resurgence, spurred by band member Jett Pangan, who awoke from a coma in 2003 with no memory of the band's 1996 breakup. Part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival's Filipino Cinema Showcase, Tulad Ng Dati plays UltraStar Chula Vista through Oct. 16.
An American Carol: Hollywood Republicans like Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper team up for a Michael Moore mockumentary.
Appaloosa: The Western continues its comeback. Ed Harris directs and stars as a lawman with good-lookin' Viggo Mortensen as his sidekick, going after a bad dude.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua: Um. Ratdogs get Babe treatment.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: The film adaptation loses some of the spectacularly sinful stuff found in Toby Young's memoir of working under Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair. Even the nude transsexual stripper doesn't seem like a very big deal. But Simon Pegg is fun as the journo looking for the sweet smell of success. Like The Devil Wears Prada, but with a dude.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist: Call it John Hughes 2.0. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are the titular characters, kicking around New York all night in search of their favorite band and a love connection with each other. Not perfect but terribly sweet, with a great soundtrack that includes a nice score from Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh.
Religulous: Bill Maher travels the world, talking to different people about a God he doesn't believe in.
Fireproof: Kirk Cameron takes a break from those Left Behind movies to play a super-brave firefighter who doesn't have the courage to stand up to his own wife. Until, you know, something with Jesus.
Choke: Clark Gregg's adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's nihilistic novel about a sex addict with serious mommy issues who fakes choking in restaurants to garner sympathy and money is really funny, believe it or not. It all rests on the shoulders of Sam Rockwell, and this is the role he was born to play.
The Duchess: Keira Knightley's latest period piece also stars some other Brits, like Ralph Fiennes and Dominic Cooper and (yawn) zzzzzzzzz.
Eagle Eye: Shia LaBeouf re-teams with director DJ Caruso for this terror-thriller. He's a slacker, Michelle Monaghan's a single mom, and both are being pushed to do horrible things by a threatening voice on the other end of the phone. Seriously, how have we survived this long without another Shia movie? Oh, right. Easily.
Miracle at St. Anna: Spike Lee's new joint explores four African-American soldiers trapped in a Tuscan village during World War II.
Nights in Rodanthe: Richard Gere and Diane Lane get busy in a small North Carolina town with the awkward name of Rodanthe. Let's just hope they both have residency and vote Democrat.
Ghost Town: Ricky Gervais finally gets the lead in an American movie. But is this the right one for his big stateside break? He's a nasty dentist who dies on the operating table, and once he's revived, he sees—and can talk to—dead people, all of whom are soon asking for favors. Like Ghost meets The Sixth Sense with a chubby Brit.
Igor: John Cusack voices the title character in this animated creature-feature, a hunchbacked lab rat desperate to become a mad scientist. The supporting cast includes Steve Buscemi and John Cleese, but we're really looking forward to Eddie Izzard's take on Dr. Schadenfreude.
Lakeview Terrace: Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington move in next to Samuel L. Jackson, an angry cop who doesn't want a biracial couple as neighbors. It's from director Neil LaBute, so prepare your buttons now—they will likely be pushed.
My Best Friend's Girl: Irritating comic Dane Cook is hired by his best friend, the irritating Jason Biggs, to woo the irritating Kate Hudson, so she'll see how great the irritating Biggs is. Surprise! The irritating Cook falls for her. We're guessing that at some point, we'll hear the somewhat irritating song from The Cars that the movie is named after.
Burn After Reading: The Coen brothers' new film is a thriller-comedy reuniting bromancers Pitt and Clooney. Pitt, along with Frances McDormand, is a gym employee who blackmails a gnarly ex-CIA guy (John Malkovich) who leaves his unpublished memoirs behind after a workout. Let's hope it's more Fargo than The Ladykillers.
Righteous Kill: Two aged New York cops investigate murders that are eerily reminiscent of a case they tackled years ago. Just check the cast: Al Pacino. Robert De Niro. And 50 Cent? For reals. The Women: Annette Bening and Meg Ryan star as rich New York bitches in this remake of George Cukor's 1939 take on Clare Booth Luce's classic play.
Vicky Christina Barcelona: Will Woody Allen ever make another film in New York? After shooting the last two in the U.K., he moved his act overseas. Scarlett Johanssen and Rebecca Hall are tourists in Barcelona who find themselves infatuated with mysterious brooding painter Javier Bardem. When his crazy ex-wife (Bardem's real-life honey, Penelope Cruz) enters the picture, the whole trip becomes a total bummer.
Pineapple Express: Seth Rogen and James Franco play buddies Dale and Saul, whose possession of some ultra-rare weed leads them into compromising situations with the police, thugs, drug dealers and a Chinese crime syndicate. Yeah, it's as dumb as it sounds. It's also hilarious and hugely entertaining, with a star-making performance by Danny McBride as Red. Keep an eye out for the absurd props, which provide some unexpected laughs.
The Dark Knight: It's finally here, and yes, Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie is everything you hoped it would be. An epic two-and-a-half-hour crime drama that examines the complicated nature of good, evil and heroism and simply must be seen on an Imax screen to be believed. Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhard are all well-served by a tense, taut script, but it truly is Heath Ledger's movie, as he plays Batman's nemesis, The Joker, with a shambling malevolence that's terrifying and intense.
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.