There's a terrific selection of Latino films around town this week. The San Diego Latino Film Festival puts the finishing touches on this year's Cinema en tu Idioma series with three pictures: XXY, from Chile is a heartbreaking look at a young hermaphrodite pressured by his/her parents to choose an identity as adolescence approaches. The Mexican film El Violin is about an aging musician who uses his less-than-zero status to infiltrate his own village after it's seized by the military. And there's El Bano del Papa, from Uruguay, a comedy about a town trying to take advantage of an impending visit from the Pope and one man's dream of building a toilet that he can charge visitors to use. All three films run from Friday, Nov. 14, through Thursday, Nov. 20, at the UltraStar Mission Valley. www.mediaartscenter.org.
UCSD's ArtPower Film is screening Cine Mujer Seis, part of its International Film Fest, six short films either by or about Latinas. Kamala Lopez-Dawson, director of the Spanish short Ese Beso, will be on hand for a post-screening discussion, along with Latino Film Festival/ Media Arts Center founder Ethan Van Thillo. It starts at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Calit2 Auditorium on the UCSD campus. $7 or $4 for students.
Also, as part of the International Festival of Dignified Rage, there's The Other Mexico, a documentary that takes a close look at the country's poor and indigenous population and the allegiance of many to Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos, prior to the 2006 election. That one's free, and it screens at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in Arts & Letters 101 on the SDSU Campus.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: During WWII, Bruno and his parents move to a picturesque country home, and nearby, he meets a boy wearing striped PJs who's on the other side of a fence. Turns out Bruno's dad's been transferred to Auschwitz, and the little fella has to learn the hard way that Jews aren't so bad after all.
Quantum of Solace: Not nearly as good as Casino Royale. See our review on Page 60.
Stranded: I've Come From a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains: In 1972, a plane crashed in the Andes. Seventy-two days later, 16 people were rescued after surviving primarily on dead bodies. This doc marks the first time any of the survivors have gone on camera to discuss what happened. It includes plenty of unnecessary re-creations, but the interviews themselves are devastatingly moving.
One time only
Casino Royale: Daniel Craig restarted the franchise with this muscled update, presenting a 007 who's a brash loose cannon, making mistakes but kicking ass along the way to saving the world. It's much better than Quantum of Solace, the follow-up that comes out/came out on Friday. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Cinefemme: The Museum of Contemporary Art teams up once again with the S.F. and L.A.-based Cinefemme, screening several short indie films made by women. We can't wait for The Fighting Cholitas, a doc about female Bolivian wrestlers. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.
Ed Wood: The masterpieces of cross-dressing director Ed Wood were so bad that Tim Burton made a movie about him. Johnny Depp is terrific as Wood, but it's Martin Landau who steals the show as poor pathetic Bela Lugosi. It's this month's pick for the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park's POP Thursday. Drinks are at 7 and the film rolls at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.
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. Thursday, Nov. 13, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. Free.
Manufactured Landscapes: This doc follows photographer Edward Burtynsky as he records how we, as a species, are changing the face of the world around us. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, at the Museum of Photograph Arts in Balboa Park. $8.
Film School Confidential: KPBS film critic Beth Accomondo curates this annual film showcase, screening short pictures from students at UCSD, Point Loma High School and others. Screens at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Paradise Now: Two Palestinian friends are recruited to carry out a suicide bombing, but when they're separated during the mission, each has to decide whether he wants to go through with it. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
And When Did You Last See Your Father?: It's the age-old father/son struggle for Colin Firth, who must come to terms with his father's behavior and their conflicted relationship as dad (the always awesome Jim Broadbent) suffers from a terminal illness. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
The Conversation: When people say they don't make movies like they did in the '70s anymore, they're talking about movies like this. Gene Hackman is a paranoid surveillance man who doesn't know what to do when he figures out that the young couple he's spying on are possible murder targets. Part of the Fear Minus One exhibition at the University Art Gallery. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at UCSD's Porter's Pub. Free.
City Slickers: One of Billy Crystal's best. He's a city dude joined by fellow midlife-crisis sufferers Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby on a two-week dude-ranch vacation, where Jack Palance—who finally won an Oscar for his troubles—teaches them to find their inner cowboy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Bike Porn 2: Bikesploitation: Bikes are hot. So is porn. Just don't get your junk caught in the spokes. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at Velo Cult Bicycles in South Park. Free.
Falling For Grace: Actor Fay Ann Lee stars in this rom-com loosely based on her encounters with JFK Jr. She's the successful daughter of Chinese immigrants mistaken for a fashion heiress, and once she's past the velvet rope, she find herself falling for a blueblood prosecutor who thinks she's someone she's not. Not only did Lee write, direct and produce the film, but she's distributing it, too. Grace plays only at UltraStar Del Mar, and Lee will be on hand for almost every screening over the opening weekend to answer questions about the film and what it took to get it into theaters.
House: Horror flick about four people who have to decide if they should kill one of their own to escape a homicidal maniac called the Tin Man. It's like Saw meets The Wizard of Oz. True to form, Michael Madsen is the crazy guy.
Let the Right One In: Young Oskar falls for a 12-year-old girl who happens to be a vampire whose father slaughters young boys. Yep, it's your average love story, and this one's gorgeously shot and filled with garish violence, high emotion and a shining young cast.
Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa: Stranded animated animals try to make it back to NYC but wind up in Africa.
Moving Midway: New York film critic Godfrey Cheshire directed this doc about his cousin's plans to move an entire North Carolina plantation that was the home of his extended family.
Role Models: Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are two juvenile dudes sentenced to work with real juveniles—one of whom is Chris “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse—as community service.
Soul Men: Sam Jackson and Bernie Mac are a pair of washed-up R&B singers who reunite after 20 years at the Apollo Theater. Fitting send-off for Mac, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.
Synecdoche, New York: Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is a glorious, sprawling mess. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a theater director who builds a life-size replica of NYC in a warehouse. Yes, life-size.
Rocknrolla: It doesn't have the same kinetic energy of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, but Guy Ritchie has definitely returned to the seamy underbelly of the London criminal world, and we're all better for it.
Changeling: Angelina Jolie is good as Christine Collins, a single mother whose son vanished in 1928 in Clint Eastwood's new film, based on true events. When the LAPD brings back the wrong boy and insists he's hers, she resists, ending up in a mental ward. It's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crossed with Zodiac and L.A. Confidential.
The Haunting of Molly Hartley: Molly's parents made a pact with the devil when she was a baby. Now she's about to turn 18, and it looks like he's coming to collect. Man, high school sucks.
I've Loved You So Long: There's Oscar buzz around Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Juliette, released after 15 years behind bars, and taken in—surprisingly—by her sister, Lea. In French and English.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Believe it or not, Kevin Smith's new film is his most adult yet—in more ways than one. Yes, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) set out to make porn to pay their bills, but they fall in love along the way. It's got Smith's trademark rat-a-tat raunchy dialog, and Rogen and Banks are great together.
Happy-Go-Lucky: Mike Leigh's new one is a change in direction from his recent work. Instead of exploring the seamy underbelly of the human condition, he looks at Poppy (Sally Hawkins), an effervescent schoolteacher who won't grow up. She's sort of infectious, sort of annoying, but the effect she has on everyone around her is far more real than, say, Peter Pan.
Pride and Glory: Four NYC cops are dead, and Ed Norton is dispatched by his dad (Jon Voight) to figure out whodunit. But all roads seem to lead to another cop—his brother, Colin Farrell.
Max Payne: This was actually a groundbreaking video game in its day, the first real instance of Matrix-like bullet-time at your fingertips. Mark Wahlberg is Max, a burnt-out cop whose family has been murdered, who teams up with a hot female assassin for a little vengeance at a thousand frames per second.
Saw V: But we missed the first four, aiieee!
High School Musical 3: Senior Year: But we missed the first two, lalala!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua: Um. Ratdogs get Babe treatment.
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.
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.
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.
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.