So we're all in agreement, right? Steroids are evil. You might not think so after you see Bigger, Stronger, Faster*, the new documentary from Chris Bell, who started the project trying to explore why his brothers—a weightlifter and a former WWE wrestler—were on the juice. The movie features interviews with Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis, Floyd Landis, Congressman Henry Waxman, the dude with the world's biggest biceps (which are, like, seriously gnarly) and a host of scientific types. It's an extremely even-handed film, the sort of thing that might make you rethink your impressions about steroids in general and why the bulk of steroid users actually take them.
Now, Bell himself isn't a steroid user (any longer), but he could probably benchpress Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock at the same time. But the first-time director shares a similar style with those filmmakers, even though he's far more muscle-bound and much less confrontational.
Like those guys' first movies, Roger and Me and Super Size Me, Bell never gets the killer interview—in this case, with one of the biggest names in steroids in California. No, not Barry Bonds. The Governator.
“The fact of the matter is, he would not sit down and talk to me,” Bell told CityBeat. “I went to USC film school, so I've got some credentials. But every time we called, the publicist said, ‘He will not talk to you about steroids.'”
It's understandable why Arnold, a confessed juicer, wouldn't go on the record, but Bell—a confessed Arnold fan—has made a movie unbiased enough that it might have allowed him to clear the air on certain subjects.
“If Arnold saw our movie, I think he would take a deep breath and go, ‘Oh, that's all they wanted to talk to me about?'” Bell said. “What I wanted to ask Arnold was this: Do your really think steroids are that bad, or do you have to say that because you're the governor? Do you wake up every day with aches and pains that we don't know about?
Do you have side affects that are long-reaching? How do you feel? He might look like Superman, but he's a person, a human being. But nobody wants to go on the record about anything, and that's not just steroids.”—Anders Wright
The Animation Show 4: Mike “Office Space” Judge curates this awesome collection of animated flicks from around the globe. This isn't Spike & Mike (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but it's definitely for adults. Of all ages, anyway. Great storytelling, gorgeous imagery, all of it for a single week at The Ken, starting Friday, June 13.
The Happening: The latest end-of-the-world project from M. Night Shyamalan stars an airborne toxin that compels people to commit violent suicide, sending survivors like science teacher Marky-Mark Wahlberg and his estranged honey, Zooey Deschanel, on the run.
The Incredible Hulk: Call it Hulk 2.0, now with 78-percent more smashing. This time around, Edward Norton is Bruce Banner, on the run from General Ross (William Hurt) and trying to find a cure for his gamma radiation poisoning, which turns him seriously mean and green if his heart rate gets too high. Certainly it's better than Ang Lee's ‘03 take on the character, which missed the mark because it assumed that fans wanted to see Banner suffering through his trauma, when what they really want is to see him rip shit up. Hulk has a new foe, too, in Tim Roth, who plays supersoldier Emil Blonsky, who also undergoes the procedure and becomes Abomination (who is—we have to admit—kinda cooler than the Hulk).
The Promotion: Sure, it's billed as a comedy, but The Promotion, which stars Seann William Scott and John C. Reilly as Chicago-area supermarket assistant managers bucking for the same leg up, is far more emotional and tragic than your standard laugher. Still, the two dudes are funny guys, and the script, from first-time director Steve Conrad, lets both of them shine.
When Did You Last See Your Father?: It's the age-old father/son struggle for Colin Firth, who has to come to terms with his father's behavior and their historically conflicted relationship, as his dad (always-awesome Jim Broadbent) suffers from a terminal illness.
One Time Only
The Flamingo Kid: This marked a bit of a career turn for Matt Dillon, who had made his name in S.E. Hinton movies. Sort of an 1980s Graduate, Dillon is Jeffrey Willis, a recent high-school grad trying to figure out the facts of life. So he takes a summer job at the Flamingo beach club, where he idolizes Phil Brody (Richard Crenna) and romances hottie Carla Samson (Janet Jones). Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
300: The Spartan-heavy, pec-laden, FX bonanza 300 cries out for running commentary from your stupid, drunken friends. But what if your friends were the Mystery Science Theater 3000 geeks? Then it would be just like what's going down at Stone Brewery, when Rifftrax (the artists formerly known as MST3K) tell the Spartans just where to stick those spears. Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the Stone Brewing Company Gardens in Escondido. Free. 21-and-older.
Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody: Based on the popular comic series by Japanese artist Tite Kubo, this awkwardly titled anime feature has a two-night run in theaters across the country. In the ongoing battle between the Soul Society and the Valley of Screams, a Soul Reaper called Senna holds the key to saving the world. If that sounds just awesome, congrats—you're the targeted demographic. Screens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at AMC Mission Valley, Edwards Mira Mesa and Horton Plaza.
2001: A Space Odyssey: Sure, Stanley Kubrick's vision for the new millennium didn't exactly come true. But his 1968 classic about a monolith on the moon and the evolution of humanity remains a masterpiece. It screen at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at MCASD's La Jolla location.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad: Vice Magazine presents this award-winning documentary about Acrassicauda, Baghdad's one and only metal band. The film follows them from the fall of Saddam in '03 until now, when the sectarian violence has quashed the group's dreams of musical freedom over and over. But as we all know, even civil war and occupation can't stop the metal. Screens on Thursday, June 12 at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Free.
The Big Sleep: Basically, there's never been anyone as cool as Humphrey Bogart. He's Phillip Marlowe in Howard Hawks' adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, a tough private dick brought in to a wealthy home by the patriarch only to find himself up to his nipples in murder, blackmail and Lauren Bacall. Thursday, June 12, and Friday, June 13, at 8:30 p.m. at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Friday the 13th: Here's your chance to see hockey-mask-wearing Jason Vorhees slaughter a bunch of good-looking, feathered-hair camp counselors on the day itself. Just make sure you all stick together after the movie. It runs two nights, but you've got to go Friday, June 13, at the Ken Theater at midnight. If that won't work, go Saturday.
The Man Who Knew Too Much: The man in question is James Stewart, who plays Dr. Ben McKenna in Hitchcock's ‘56 classic. On holiday with his family, the good doctor leaves the tour group and stumbles over an assassination conspiracy, which naturally results in his kid's kidnapping. An absolutely terrific movie, and oddly, a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Yep, the legendary director made a previous version of the same story more than two decades earlier. The, ahem, modern version screens on Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, at 8:30 p.m. at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Election Day: One day in the life of several American voters. But it's not just any day—it's Election Day, 2004. Director Katy Chevigny follows Republicans, Democrats, young, old, even folks stuck waiting in line for more than two hours to cast their ballot. Sunday, June 15, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Being John Malkovich: This was the first collaboration between headcase screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and one-time Beastie Boy video director Spike Jonze, and it's still a doozy. John Cusack is a weird-ass puppeteer, Cameron Diaz is his shy, mousy wife, and the two find a strange portal that takes them into John Malkovich's head. For real. Screens on Sunday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. at Café Libertalia, 3834 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest. Free.
Around the Bend: Writer/director John Roberts went autobiographical for this generational man dramedy. He's basically played by Josh Lucas, and, let's face it, you'd go around the bend a bit if you were related to both Michael Caine and Christopher Walken. Monday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library downtown. Free.
Gas Hole: Gas prices fucking suck. Scott Roberts and Jeremy Wegener will be on-hand to present this documentary that'll piss you off. All the fine details are in CityWeek (Page 15). Screens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at the Stone Brewing Company Bistro in Escondido. Q&A at 8, movie at 8:30.
Wedding Crashers: This 2005 Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson flick ushered in the current era of R-rated comedies. Hey, weddings are a great place to get lucky, so they show up even when they're not invited. Which is awesome, until they get hooked up with the daughters of the secretary of state (Christopher Walken). Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
CitizenFest Tres: The conspiracy that is Citizen Video continues, pulling together another assortment of short films by local filmmakers for your viewing and drinking pleasure. The fireworks start on Wednesday, June 18, at 9 p.m. at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Free.
An American Werewolf in London: Remaining awesome in its awesomeness, Werewolf is about two American college students who are attacked while tromping through the English countryside. One dies, the other, well, barks at the moon. The werewolf transformations were groundbreaking at the time, and are still pretty damn cool. Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, at the Stone Brewing Company Bistro in Escondido. Free.
Kung Fu Panda: Jack Black voices Po, a chunky kung fu-fanboy Panda who's just as surprised as the legendary fighters he admires when he's chosen to save the Valley of Peace from the brutal snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane). Panda looks kind of ridiculous on the surface, but it looks kind of awesome on the screen, one of those for-children-of-all-ages experiences. The animation is top-notch, and the action sequences are exciting and, unlike most animated flicks, not impossible to follow.
Reprise: An assured and confident debut from director Joachim Trier about two young aspiring Norwegian writers. It's all about the trials and tribulations, as well as the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, that come with growing up and trying to express and define one's self through any artistic medium. You could call it “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Writer.” Please see our review on Page 27.
You Don't Mess with the Zohan: There's been some talk that Adam Sandler's latest vehicle is actually sort of subversive, because it comes complete with plenty of jokes about terrorism and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. But it also has Mariah Carey, which kind of cancels out any political overtones. The sometimes-funnyman is a former Mossad agent who runs off to New York to become a women's hairdresser.
Children of Huang Shi: Based on a true story, Roger Spottiswoode's film follows George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an English journalist who escaped the Japanese atrocities at Nanking in 1937, winding up taking care of a remote Chinese orphanage. He eventually walked more than 60 boys hundreds of miles, helping them escape from both the Japanese army, which would have killed them, and the Chinese army, which would have conscripted them. Chow Yun-Fat also stars.
The Fall: It took one-named writer-director Tarsem three long years to shoot The Fall, a gorgeous mess of a movie. A 1920s stuntman (Lee Pace) lies in a hospital, crippled by a broken back and dying of a broken heart. He tells a young girl epic tales of a band of heroes aiming to take down a nefarious emperor, all the while hoping she'll steal him a fatal dose of morphine. There's sumptuous eye candy here, blue cities and incredible slo-mo sequences, but unfortunately, the story—as well as the story within the story—loses its way.
Sex and the City: The Movie: The big-screen version of the hit HBO show. Insert your own “women go cuckoo for this” joke here.
The Strangers: Creeptastic. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are staying at their isolated vacation house when three masked intruders knock on the door and tell them they're about to die.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: It's great to have Harrison Ford back in his trademark fedora, even if the convoluted script feels more like just another sequel than a reinvention. Still, Indy 4 is easy-going entertainment and will easily be one of the biggest box-office earners of the year.
Roman de Gare: The only film willing to take on Indiana Jones, this creepy murder mystery stars the always-interesting French actor Dominique Pinon as a guy who may or may not be a serial killer who is being investigated by a thriller writer as a possible character in her new book. 'Course, if he is a killer, maybe she doesn't want to get too close.
Before the Rains: This Merchant Ivory flick, set in the 1930s in India, is the English-language debut of director Santosh Sivan. As a nationalist fervor grips the region, a young man must decide what to do when he discovers that his English employer (Linus Roache) is having an affair with a local village girl (Nandita Das).
In Bruges: Noted playwright Martin McDonagh's dark hitman comedy finds Colin Farrell as a killer with a conscience, back 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.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: Disney returns the four Pevensie kids to the CGI world of Narnia, where a millennium has passed since they first went through the wardrobe. Things in Narnia have gone downhill, so, once again, they must take up arms to ensure that Prince Caspian, another Christian allegory, ends up large and in charge.
Son of Rambow: Set in the 1980s in England, this is a charming look at imagination and friendship as seen through the eyes of two boys, both outsiders. Will is a member of a religious sect who has never seen a TV show or a movie. Lee is a rebellious troublemaker who shows Will a bootlegged copy of First Blood. This, of course, blows Will's mind, and before long, the two are making their own version of the Stallone film. But the movie breeds fame and celebrity, and when word gets out at school, everyone wants in on the action.
Then She Found Me: Helen Hunt stars in her own directorial debut as April, an adopted woman desperate to become pregnant. Which is unfortunate, since her man-child of a husband (Matthew Broderick) has left her, just as her talk-show-host birth mother (Bette Midler) has found her. The only upside might be Frank, a hunky single dad whose wife has also given him the slip, but only if she can avoid screwing things up.
What Happens in Vegas: Both Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz are in Vegas when they meet, get drunk and—surprise!—wake up hung over and married. If that's not bad enough, one of them wins a huge jackpot on the other's quarter, leading a judge (Dennis Miller) to order them to stay hitched. Hey, if they can do it, their kids might not be so bright, but they sure will be good-looking.
Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Da na na na na Nah na na na na na Nah na na nah! Has he lost his mind? Da na na na na Nah na na na na na Nah na na nah!Made of Honor: Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey is a good-looking dude who's been playing the field for years. But when his best friend, Michelle Monaghan, gets engaged, he realizes she's the one and agrees to be her maid of honor in hopes of hooking up and perhaps not destroying her happiness in the process.
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay: The sequel to the surprise 2004 pot-smoking hit picks up where the last one left off. Sadly, Harold and Kumar's trip to Amsterdam is thwarted by The Man—in the form of government agent Rob Corddry, who sends them to detention instead. Most important: Neil Patrick Harris is back. As Neil Patrick Harris.
Baby Mama: Making the jump from writer to SNL cast member to 30 Rock star to the big screen, Tina Fey is Kate, a single executive who hires low-class Amy Poehler to be a surrogate mother. The movie is terribly obvious but has its moments. Fey is the lead, but Poehler steals much of the show. Sigourney Weaver has some nice moments as the head of the surrogate agency, and Dax Shepard is hilarious as Poehler's dumb-ass common-law husband. Oh, and look for Steve Martin's extended cameo. The problem is, for a movie that's about women and babies, none of the women are particularly smart; each makes one bad decision after another, unable to see the forest for the babies.
The Visitor: Tom McCarthy follows up his debut, The Station Agent, with this subtle look at immigration. Veteran character actor Richard Jenkins (the dead dad on Six Feet Under) is a burnt-out professor adrift in his life. Things change when he befriends a pair of illegal immigrants in New York, and when one of them is arrested and detained, he finally finds something to inspire him. This is another sweet, subtle film from McCarthy, who makes his points through people instead of politics.
88 Minutes: Al Pacino is a professor who spends his off-hours working as a forensic shrink for the FBI, until the day he gets a phone call telling him he has just 88 minutes to live. So he spends his last hour-and-a-half trying to sort out which of his enemies is to blame.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Jason Segel of Freaks and Geeks and How I Met Your Mother wrote and stars in this sweet rom-com, playing Peter, a composer dumped by his TV-star girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). When he heads to Hawaii to clear his head, he finds he's staying at the same resort as her and her hunky new rock-star boyfriend. Both heartfelt and raunchy, Sarah Marshall has plenty of full-frontal nude scenes—and all of them are of Segel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.