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Luck of the Irish: One of the biggest surprises about this year's Oscars was the nomination of The Secret of Kells in the Best Animated Film category. Sure, it eventually lost the award to Pixar's Up, but—and even though every nominee says this in a very clichéd manner—just getting the nomination is a huge deal for director Tomm Moore's very small film, which almost no one outside the nominating committees had seen.
The film is a fable about the Book of Kells, an ancient Irish tome created by monks some 1,200 years ago. And being about something old, the movie has an old-school feeling. The animation is occasionally choppy, as is typically the case with something hand-drawn. In fact, the story is, at times, incidental to the film, which is visually exquisite.
Brendan (Evan McGuire) is a young monk who's never been outside the Abbey of Kells, because his uncle, the abbot (Brendan Gleason), is desperate to build a wall that will keep out the Viking invaders from the north. But when master illuminator Brother Aidan (Mick Lally) visits the Abbey after his own has been destroyed, he takes Brendan under his wing, teaching him to draw and sending him into the forest, where he meets the wolf girl, Aisling (Christen Mooney), and finally begins to learn about life outside the walls. Soon, it's Brendan who's drawing the book against his uncle's wishes, as the threat to the abbey becomes ever greater.
By no means is The Secret of Kells, which opens Friday at the Ken Cinema, as slick or shiny as most of the animated films we see today, but it's lovely, like watching a painting unfold on the screen. That said, it has its scary, metaphorical moments, and even though it seems to be very kid-centric, it's hard to envision young children understanding what Kells is really about. Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing, right?
Clash of the Titans: The remake is just as awful as the 1981 original, but without the camp value.
The Last Song: Miley Cyrus is the cranky daughter to Greg Kinnear's sensitive estranged dad. Take your insulin.
Vincere: Historical drama about Mussolini's first wife, Ida Dalsar, whom he eventually denied and imprisoned. Good rule of thumb: Don't fall for undergrads or fascists.
Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?: Tyler Perry strikes again, this time with Janet Jackson.
One time only
The Greatest Wave: Tahiti: This IMAX film is having a very short run here in San Diego. Hell, some of surfer Kelly Slater's runs during the course of the movie are longer. Screens at 5 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, and 4 and 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
2501 Migrants: Takes a look at the art and culture of the migrant Mexican community. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre on the USD campus. Free.
Tommy Boy: Chris Farley really was a funny guy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
El Muro: A documentary about both the human and environmental impacts of the fence that sits between San Ysidro and Playas. Screens at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1, at the Joan B. Kroc Center on the USD Campus. Free.
Sedotta e abbandonata: Classic Italian film about a teenage girl who gets pregnant after being seduced by her sister's fiancé. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 1, at UltraStar Flower Hill.
Which Way Home: Painful doc about migrant children making their way across Mexico in hopes of getting into the U.S. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 1, at The Loft on the UCSD campus.
The Room: Considered one of the best terrible films of all time, this dark comedy has been playing midnight shows in L.A. for years. It does the same here, screening at midnight, Friday and Saturday, April 2 and 3, at the Ken Cinema.
The Great Mouse Detective: Mystery in the Mist: As always with mouse detectives, it's a case of who cut the cheese. Screens at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Donation suggested.
Forces of Nature: If you're gonna experience earthquakes, volcanoes and tornadoes, better to do it on the big screen rather than in real life. Screens at 2 p.m. Monday, April 5, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee: Robin Wright Penn is the troubled Pippa Lee in Rebecca Miller's (Arthur's daughter) drama, which has a top-shelf cast that includes Julianne Moore, Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. It was released last year but never made it to San Diego. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 5, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Zombieland: Best zombie comedy with Bill Murray, ever. Screens at 7 and 9 p.m. Monday, April 5, at the Birch North Park Theatre. Your $10 includes a beer
The Horse Boy: Moving doc based upon the best-selling book about a couple who take their autistic son to Mongolia to ride horses and visit shamans. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
The Garden: Terrific documentary about an organic community farm in South Central that's coveted by developers with support of the city. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla. Your $5 benefits Slow Food San Diego.
Major League: Baseball season must be just around the corner. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Hot Tub Time Machine: Truth in advertising. John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Rob Cordrry and Clark Duke go back to the '80s in a hot-tub time machine. Totally out-raunches The Hangover by using every bodily fluid there is.
Coral Reef Adventure: The Fleet's classic IMAX film takes you for a visit to the reefs of Tahiti, which is cheaper than airfare and your own SCUBA gear, by the way. Fridays at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Art of the Steal: A documentary about the vicious court battle over an art collection valued at $25 billion. One week only at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
CA$H: A Chicago couple with money problems finds nasty Sean Bean at their door offering what could be a solution, or something else entirely.
Chloe: Julianne Moore works with hot young thing Amanda Seyfried to figure out if hubby Liam Neeson is having an affair. That can't be a good idea.
Greenberg: The latest from The Squid and the Whale director Noah Baumbach is an observational character piece starring Ben Stiller as Greenberg, a guy who can't accept that life didn't work out the way he had hoped.
How to Train Your Dragon: Jay Baruchel voices the lead in this 3-D animated flick about a Viking teen who's supposed to learn to kill dragons but instead brings one home as a pet.
Prodigal Sons: Looks at three siblings—a gay man, a transgendered woman and their adopted brother, who is the grandson of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Ends April 1 at the Ken Cinema.
The Bounty Hunter: You might expect an awesome action movie with a title like this and a star like Gerard Butler. Instead, you get a rom-com with Jennifer Aniston.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Follows a snarky middle-schooler through an academic year. Next month, Chloë Grace Moretz, the 13-year-old female lead, will slaughter bad guys in Kick-Ass.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Thriller about a male journalist and a female hacker hired to solve the 40-year-old disappearance of a member of a Swedish crime family.
Hubble: Leonardo DiCaprio lends his pipes to this IMAX film, which uses CGI and real footage to take a close look at Saturn's rings. Just stay away from Uranus. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers: No, it didn't win the Oscar, but this documentary is a fascinating look at the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration, a must see for potential whistle blowers and journalists. Ends April 1 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Mother: Korean director Bong Joon-ho follows up The Host with this painfully well-made murder mystery featuring a disturbing performance from Kim Hye-ja, who's desperate to prove that her mentally disabled son is innocent. Ends April 1 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Red Baron: Set during WWI, when dogfighting had nothing to do with the NFL.
Repo Men: More a sequel to Repo! The Genetic Opera than Repo Man. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are guys who will take back your shiny new organs if you can't keep up your payments.
Green Zone: Matt Damon teams up with Paul Greengrass, the guy who made the last two Bourne movies, for an Iraq action film.
Our Family Wedding: Marcus (Lance Gross), an African-American man, is getting married to Lucia (America Ferrera), a Latina woman, which inflicts no end of comic anguish on their respective dads, Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia.
Remember Me: Set in New York in the summer of 2001, Ruben Pattinson is an angry young man who has a tumultuous relationship with his father (Pierce Brosnan). Emilie de Ravin of Lost just might be the girl to straighten him out, if audiences are prepared to watch Pattinson do something besides Twilight.
She's Out of My League: Jay Baruchel gets his first lead since Undeclared, and it's about time, even if it's in a Jud Apatow rom-com knock-off. He's Kirk, an average guy working for the TSA who can't believe that hottie Alice Eve wants to be with him.
A Prophet: Brutally intense film about a young Arab man (Tehar Rahim) who becomes a mob kingpin after he's sentenced to six years in a French prison. Ends April 1 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Alice in Wonderland: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have remade Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hollow together (and let's not forget about Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood). Alice marks the first time they've gone 3-D. Question is, can Burton infuse a sense of humanity into Lewis Carroll's classic?
Brooklyn's Finest: Training Day director Antoine Fuqua has clearly been watching The Wire in recent years, but his new dirty-cop drama, starring Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle, is black-and-white, rather than more interesting shades of gray.
The Crazies: A remake of George Romero's 1973 freak show, about a small Iowa town whose residents go nuts and start killing each other.
Dolphins: It's only a matter of time before they tell us, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” In IMAX at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Ghost Writer: We all know what Roman Polanski is capable of, and we're not talking about the events that have him under house arrest in Switzerland. This political thriller—starring Ewan McGregor as a ghost writer who bites off more than he can chew when he goes to work on the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan)—is a solid, if unremarkable, piece of filmmaking.
Shutter Island: Leonardo DiCaprio is U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels in Martin Scorsese's latest, investigating a missing heiress who's escaped from an asylum and is presumed to be hiding out on the desolate titular atoll.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: It's tough times for young Percy. His dad is Poseidon, his mom has gone missing and he's the prime suspect in the case of Zeus' missing lightning bolt. Also, it's tough times for anyone who believed in a deity that isn't Greek.
The Greatest Places: This IMAX adventure features seven locales, which range from Greenland's icebergs to the enormous waterfall at Iguazu. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Crazy Heart: Sure, it's a clean-and-sober story, but Jeff Bridges is guaranteed an Oscar nomination for playing faded country singer and legendary drunk Bad Blake. Ends April 1 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
A Single Man: Colin Firth delivers on the role of a lifetime in fashion designer Tom Ford's directorial debut.
Broken Embraces: This one from Pedro Almodovar, starring Penelope Cruz as the former mistress of a blind film director musing on his past, returns to Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Young Victoria: The Devil Wears Prada's Emily Blunt stars as, well, a young Queen Victoria.
Avatar: James Cameron's sci-fi magnum opus is too long and has an inevitable love story. But, for once, when they say you've never seen anything like it, they're right. This is a film and a truly rendered alien planet that must be seen on the big screen and in 3D.
The Hurt Locker: Kathryn Bigelow's tense new film focuses on an Iraq unit that specializes in defusing bombs. Well-made, well-written and well-acted.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.