United Artists, the studio Tom Cruise took over after being jettisoned by Paramount, has history. Like, 90 years of history. UA is celebrating this anniversary with a week-long festival of classics at the Ken, and there's not a stinker in the bunch. On Friday, May 23, things kick off with the epic Eastwood western The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, followed by The Great Escape a day later. Sunday is West Side Story, and then the rest of the week has two movies a day, including Some Like it Hot and The Pink Panther (May 26) and the first Connery 007 film Dr. No and the original take on The Thomas Crown Affair (May 27). One of my favorite films, and the only X-rated movie to ever earn the Best Picture Oscar, Midnight Cowboy, screens on May 28, along with the Frank Sinatra/Angela Lansbury version of The Manchurian Candidate. Things wrap up Thursday with a twofer of Annie Hall and Billy Wilder's inestimable The Apartment, which might be Jack Lemmon's greatest role.
Not too shabby. But there's one catch—each movie plays for only one day. Fortunately, Kensington has its share of restaurants, coffeehouses and bars, so just take a sleeping bag and camp out for a week.—Anders Wright
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. See our review on this page.
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.
One time only
Death Note: The popular comic translated to anime—and on the big screen. A student finds a mysterious notebook that will kill anyone whose name he writes in it. But when crooks start dropping dead, the authorities send a detective after him. Unrated, but seriously brutal. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at AMCs Mission Valley and Mira Mesa and at Horton Plaza.
Press Rewind: Cool idea from UCSD's FilmPower!. A collection of student films from now-famous directors. Included are George Lucas' Electronic Labyrinth: HX 1138 4EB, Field of Honor from Robert Zemeckis, a pair of shorts from David Lynch and others from Mira Nair, Andrei Tarkovsky and Richard Bare. Oh, and appropriate for any student-oriented event, it's free. It happens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Porter's Pub on the UCSD campus.
The River: Sanjayit Ray actually served as a non-credited assistant director on Claude Renoir's 1951 film, about three girls living in Bengal, India, all of whom fall for the same man. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Balboa Park's Museum of Photographic Arts.
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, May 21, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
UCSD Up&Coming Student Film Fest: This might as well be called the little festival that could, since it's all about the DIY approach to filmmaking. The details can be found on this page. Happens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at the Price Center Theater on the UCSD campus.
Eraserhead: David Lynch's first feature was originally slated to be screened at the Museum of Contemporary Art last October, in line with its 30th anniversary, but Mother Nature changed all that by igniting a handful of wildfires. Still, Lynch's surreal, Kafkaesque nightmare is just as disturbing now as it was when it was new, and just as uniquely American. Henry is a stoic dude with funky hair living in an industrial wasteland, constantly under fire from his furious girlfriend Mary and trying to deal with the excruciating noises coming from their newly born, hideously mutated child. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at MCASD's La Jolla branch.
Sabrina: Kids today. They think Sabrina is all Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and the feature-film debut of one Greg Kinnear. Please. The 1954 original, directed by the esteemed Billy Wilder, is where it's at. Look, we love Ford, but in the '54 version, his part is played by Humphrey Bogart. William Holden has Kinnear's role. And Ormond's character? None other than Audrey Hepburn. Same basic story, though—two wealthy brothers pining for the gorgeous daughter of their chauffeur. You've got four nights to see it at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22, through Sunday, May 25.
Imagine Me & You: Girl meets girl at her own wedding. Married girl falls head over heels for other girl, has to decide what to do now that she's, well, married. Piper Perabo is girl 1, Lena Headey is girl 2 and Matthew Goode is boy. Everyone is very good-looking, sincere and charming in this little lesbian rom-com, which might be a little predictable but is still terribly sweet. Screens as part of the Women's Resource Center's Sapphic Cinema at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 23, at The Center in Hillcrest.
Cry of the Snow Leopard: Documentary examining nine different trips to Tibet over the course of a decade. Gives a rich view of a little-understood place, taking in everything from monasteries to brothels. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Tibet Gift House, 2889 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights. City of Lost Children: Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's film is brilliantly beautiful and beautifully strange. A scientist in a surreal society kidnaps children to steal their dreams in hopes of slowing down his own aging. But the kook's goons kidnap one little boy who will be missed, by his older brother (Ron Perlman), a onetime whale hunter who has many strange and wonderful adventures while trying to track the kid down. Don't miss it. Screens at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, at the Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Free.
What Would Jesus Buy?: Morgan “Super Size Me” Spurlock produced this documentary about the Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. The good Rev takes his choir to the Mall of America and Wal-Mart, spreading the anti-consumerist gospel. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 27, at Lestat's coffeehouse in Normal Heights. Free.
Delirious: Steve Buscemi is a seriously sleazy photographer who takes on hunky, homeless Michael Pitt as his assistant. Before long, Pitt's new access gets him into the bedroom of pop starlet Alison Lohman, sending Buscemi into a possibly dangerous snit fit. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at the Central Library Downtown. Free.
Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids: Photographer Zana Briski spent five years in the brothels of Calcutta, hanging with the children of sex workers and providing them with cameras and classes, encouraging them to photograph their lives, which play out in the seamy underbelly of India's intense economic success. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers: The Pearl Hotel wants to Fock you out of at least four hours of your time with a double-feature. The Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro vehicle was funny enough, with Stiller meeting the crazy, ex-CIA father of his fiancé. The sequel, not so much, though we meet Stiller's parents, played by Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman. See what you think as you watch them back-to-back. It's free, so order dinner and tip your server well. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
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).
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.
How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer: America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) stars as the youngest member of three generations of Mexican-American women in writer/director Georgina Riedel's first feature. She's a teenager, hooking up with her first boyfriend. Her single mother is looking for love, too, and, hey, even grandma finds herself with a gentleman caller.
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.
Red Belt: This David Mamet film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mike Terry, an L.A. jiu jitsu instructor and former special-forces guy who refuses to fight for money. Too bad, since he doesn't have enough of it, and when an accident involving an off-duty police officer leaves him deep in the hole, he's quick to hitch his wagon to a fading action star (Tim Allen, in a terrific departure) who takes a liking to him and tries to set him up with some film work. But this is David Mamet, so the fix is in. It isn't long before Terry's stuck between a rock and hard place, forced to decide whether earning some cash in the ring is more important than trading in his dignity.
Speed Racer: The Wachowski brothers, of The Matrix fame, turn their act PG, taking on the classic Japanese cartoon Speed Racer. Emile Hirsche is the man in the Mach 5, and the movie looks amazing, a Dr. Seussian future of freakish colors, car racing and corporate malfeasance. But though the effects are great, the movie has plenty of problems, like a lengthy running time, a thin plot and unremarkable acting.
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.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed: Ben Stein—former Nixon speechwriter and game show host and the “Anyone? Anyone?” teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off—stars in this anti-science treatise in favor of Intelligent Design. Stein, also a former law professor, is a very intelligent guy, but he's also the embodiment of the differences between intelligence and smarts.
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.
Forbidden Kingdom: An American kid who is, like, seriously into kung fu finds himself transported back to ancient China, where he hooks up with a group of warriors to free the jailed Monkey King. Those monkeys. Always making trouble. Instead of going down as the first film to really tie together the problems with monkey rule, Forbidden Kingdom will be remembered as the first (and perhaps only) collaboration between Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
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.
Young@Heart: The average age of the Young at Heart Chorus is 80, which means some of them are old enough to have told kids to stop playing the devil's music when rock 'n' roll was young. Still, that doesn't stop this crew of senior citizens from performing tunes by the likes of The Clash, James Brown, Coldplay and The Ramones. File this one under “Uplifting” or “Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution.”
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.
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.
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.
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: Grand Canyon Adventure and Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs are two 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.