There are a half-dozen movies that form the foundation of my love of film, and Easy Rider, the ultimate road-trip movie, is easily one of them. Dennis Hopper directed and co-wrote it with co-star Peter Fonda and Terry Southern. It's deceivingly simple: Billy the Kid (Hopper) and Captain America (Fonda) use drug-deal money to fund a cross-country motorcycle trip, with no real destination except finding the heart of the country. Along the way, they hang out with working girls, drop acid and even meet a very young Jack Nicholson—who was nominated for an Oscar for his part—while spending time in a Southern jail.
Ultimately, it's a piece of counter-culture art, perfectly using music from the period, and even though it seems like a film about nothing, it's actually a film about everything: self-discovery, self-expression, mind-expansion and where we all fit in this sprawling, enormous country. Easy Rider first came out way back in 1969, and there's a newly restored 35mm print making the rounds in honor of its 40th anniversary. It only plays one week at the Ken Cinema starting Friday, July 3, so make sure you tune in and turn on while it's here.
Downloading Nancy: Maria Bello is so messed up that she leaves her husband for Jason Patric, a guy she meets online, who is as into painful, kinky sex as she is.
The Girl From Monaco: When a brilliant attorney heads to Monaco for a trial, he doesn't count on falling for a psychotic vixen who distracts him from his upcoming case.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: When, oh when, will animated mammoths remember their rightful place as construction equipment?
Public Enemies: Michael Mann's movie about the end days of John Dillinger is long on history, style—and length.
One time only
Top Gun: Most famous movie ever shot in San Diego? Nah, that's Some Like it Hot, but Top Gun's a close second. Just imagine a world in which Goose scared off Iceman and the Russkies because Maverick didn't make it. We can dream, right? Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Princess Bride: If you've seen Rob Reiner's 1987 fantasy and didn't like it, you have no soul. Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn and Peter Cook only add to the reasons you should want to revisit this one. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free.
Dear and Yonder: Premiere of a new all-girl surfing movie. Several Roxy team surfers, like Lisa Andersen and Sally Fitzgibbons, will be on hand. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 2, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Pillow Talk: The classic romantic comedy, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, is about a couple who hate each other over their shared phone line—until they discover they're in loooooove. As part of the Masters of Mid-Century Modernism exhibition, there'll be cocktails at 6 p.m. with the film screening at 7 on Thursday, July 2, at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.
Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables: World premiere of the latest surf film from Steve Cleveland. Screens at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, July 3, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Sure, Spielberg and Lucas did their best to wreck yet another beloved franchise with Crystal Skull, but Raiders is still awesome. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2, through Sunday, July 5, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Revolutionary Road: Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio teamed up for the first time since Titanic for Sam Mendes' look at the underbelly of American suburbia in the 1950s. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 5, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
Silent Sundays: Silent movies and prohibition-era cocktails. Drink up. Starts at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 5, at Alchemy in South Park. Free.
Phoebe in Wonderland: Nifty little indie that never found its way to San Diego. Elle Fanning (Dakota's sis) is Phoebe, a little girl who's just a little different from other little girls and doesn't fit in until she meets drama teacher Patricia Clarkson. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 6, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Visioneers: Part of the San Diego Film Festival's You Be the Judge nights, this dark comedy stars Zach Galifianakis as a mid-level drone in a mildly futuristic corporation where people are spontaneously combusting due to unhappiness. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 7, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. $8 donation earns a beer and a raffle ticket.
A Senseless Death / Una Muerta sin Sentido: Documentary looking at two young Marines who were born in Mexico, raised in San Diego County and killed in Iraq. Fernando Suarez del Solar, a local activist and the father of one of the slain Marines, will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Ocean's Eleven: Steven Soderberg and the dream team of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon turned in a remake of the Rat Pack casino-heist original that was better that its source material, even though the two sequels that it spawned weren't. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Bring out your dead! Yes, it's the Holy Grail of Monty Python movies. Screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at Stone Brewery and Bistro in Escondido. Free.
Il Divo: Paolo Sorrentino won the Jury Prize at Cannes for his film about legendary Italian politician Giulio Andreotti. Yes, the political trials and tribulations of another nation are complex, but the filmmaking is absolutely amazing.
Cheri: Set in 1920s Paris, a woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), breaks a younger man's heart, sending him spinning into a fantasy world. Based on the novels of Collette, the movie's directed by the always-reliable Steven Frears from a screenplay by Christopher (Dangerous Liasons) Hampton.
My Sister's Keeper: The summer's first big weeper. Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric have a second child, Abigail Breslin, in hopes of providing a donor match for their leukemia-stricken firstborn.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: In one of the last summer blockbusters of the year, giant robots blow shit up.
Under Our Skin: This documentary takes the medical and insurance industries to task for not dealing with Lyme disease, which can be contracted by more people each year than HIV, avian flu and the West Nile virus combined.
Whatever Works: The combination of Larry David and Woody Allen should be a comedy slam dunk, but it just feels like two old guys kvetching.
Food, Inc.: A documentary about how fucked-up the food system is in this country. Pass the buttered popcorn.
Moon: Director Duncan Jones delivers an impressive debut, and Sam Rockwell gives one of his best performances to date as a lonely miner on the far side of the moon whose entire worldview changes after he finds a body out on the surface.
The Proposal: Ryan Reynolds is Sandra Bullock's assistant. She pushes him into a marriage of convenience (at least for her), but we're guessing it sticks.
Revanche: The lives of a crook and a cop intertwine in this Austrian thriller that was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
The Year One: Jack Black and Michael Cera star in what could be subtitled History of the World, Part 2.
Away We Go: Director Sam Mendes continues his examination of the American psyche with this road-trip comedy about a young pregnant couple (John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph) looking for parenting role models.
Imagine That: The latest Eddie Murphy family flick finds financier Eddie solving his problems via his daughter's imaginary world.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: Whenever this remake, which stars Denzel Washington as a subway dispatcher and John Travolta as the guy who takes a subway car hostage, slows down, it's easy to see how ridiculous it is.
Departures: This Japanese film about a cellist who becomes a mortician of sorts earned the Best Foreign Film Oscar in February.
The Hangover: They cut a good trailer for Todd Phillips' new film, about three buddies—Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis—who wake up the morning after a brutal bachelor party with no memory of what happened or where the groom is.
Land of the Lost: Will Ferrell turns a totally cheesy TV show into a big-screen movie whose trailer can't even make it look good.
Drag Me to Hell: Sam Raimi returns to his roots with a small horror film that stars Alison Lohman as a sweet girl going to hell.
Up: The trailer for Pixar's first 3D film doesn't sell it, but this story of an old man who flies his house to South America via helium balloons is just as good as what you've come to expect from those guys.
Valentino, the Last Emperor: Documentary about the legendary designer Valentino Garavani.
The Brothers Bloom: Dirty-rotten-scoundrel brothers Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo target wealthy heiress Rachel Weisz as their final mark before leaving the business.
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: CGI history-revision lesson with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
Summer Hours: Three adult siblings are forced to revisit their childhood when their mother dies and they need to go through her things.
Terminator Salvation: The franchise reboot, which stars Christian Bale as humanity savior John Connor, has some mind-blowing action sequences, but they're not enough to make you ignore the timeline issues the movie doesn't address.
Angels and Demons: More fun than The Da Vinci Code, but just as stupid.
Star Trek: The JJ Abrams-directed franchise reboot boldly goes to the heart of the original show and makes it fun again. It's fun, fresh and exciting, the first badass Trek movie since The Wrath of Khan. Good for Trekkies, good for non-Trekkies and great for Trek.
The Soloist: Adaptation of Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez's book, about the talented homeless musician (Jamie Foxx) he befriended. Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez.
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center Space Theater: After undergoing significant renovations, the Fleet is re-opening its dome Imax theater, complete with a kick-ass new screen. Films vary week-to-week. Showtimes and prices can be found at www.rhfleet.org.
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.