Man, there are a lot of film festivals in this town. So it's not surprising that they're starting to bump up against one another. Case in point: Both the San Diego Asian Film Festival and the San Diego Italian Film Festival kick things off this Thursday, Oct. 15.
Of the two of them, the Asian Film Festival is certainly larger and more established. Now in its 10th year, it's doubled in length, from one week to two. Still, the Italians have nothing to be ashamed of. This marks the third year of the festival, and week one is like a soft opening, featuring four films screened at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. There's a solid week of movies, also at MoPA, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 and a closing-night gala on Nov. 7, complete with a screening of La Seconda Notte di Nozze (The Second Wedding Night). All the details, as well as ticket info, can be found at www.sandiegoitalianfilmfestival.com.
For its part, the Asian Film Festival will take over part of UltraStar Mission Valley from Oct. 15 through 29, presenting more than 200 flicks. SDAFF has always specialized in Asian-American fare, but there's a solid contingent of international films, as well as shorts, documentaries and animated pictures, not to mention panels and celebrity guests. Don't miss Ip Man, the biopic about Bruce Lee's mentor. Pick up a pass and skim the entire list of films at www.sdaff.org.
Oh, and up north, the first-ever Oceanside Film Festival also launches on Thursday, Oct. 15, with a 5 p.m. reception at Sunshine Brooks Theatre, followed by a 7 p.m. screening of the Matt Damon-narrated documentary Running the Sahara. Films run through Sunday, Oct. 18, at both Sunshine Brooks and Spectrum Video—pass and film info can be found at www.ocaf.info.
And while FilmOut, the local LGBT fest, doesn't roll again until next April, it's pulling out the stops for a screening of Mommie Dearest on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the Birch North Park Theatre. It kicks off with a Joan Crawford look-alike contest at 7 p.m., with the winner receiving two passes to the 2010 fest. If you've never seen Faye Dunaway's take on Joan Crawford, you must—just make sure you leave the wire hangers at home.
The Damned United: Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Queen and Frost / Nixon, pens another historical film starring Michael Sheen, this time about Brian Clough, the legendary U.K. soccer coach and his terrific flameout at the reins of Leeds United.
Fuel: Sure, it's another green documentary, but this look into the massive war machine that is the petrochemical industry won the Best Documentary Audience Award at Sundance this year. Seriously, bring on the affordable Tesla.
Law Abiding Citizen: Jamie Foxx is a Philly D.A. trying to stop sociopath Gerard Butler, who is somehow blowing shit up while serving a prison term.
More Than a Game: Sharp documentary about five high-school friends who won the 2003 national basketball championship. Oh, right, one of them is called Lebron James.
New York, I Love You: The sequel to a similar project about Paris, these 11 short films are about the beast that is New York, all tied together. There are plenty of high-profile actors, including Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Chris Cooper and Julie Christie, but the nature of the project guarantees that the whole is uneven.
The Stepfather: Dude comes back from military school to find out his mom's married to Nip / Tuck's Dylan Walsh—who, it turns out, is evil.
Where the Wild Things Are: Let the wild rumpus begin!
One Time Only
The Wedding Singer: Still Adam Sandler's best movie. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The People v. Leo Frank: Documentary about the 1913 trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was falsely accused of rape and who was later kidnapped and lynched, spurring the formation of the Anti-Defamation League. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, at the AMC La Jolla.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Even though it has Sean Connery, the third film in the franchise is totally overrated. Still, it screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, through Saturday, Oct. 17, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Sita Sings the Blues: Juxtaposes director Nina Paley's own divorce with that of the ancient Indian goddess Sita. The animation is gorgeous, and it's all set to the vocals of 1920s jazz crooner Annette Hanshaw. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at Centro Cultural de Raza in Balboa Park.
Sparrows: A classic non-talkie with Mary Pickford. Gotta love her. Screens at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, in the Seuss Room of the Geisel Library on the UCSD campus. Free.
Away We Go: 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. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Dust and Bones: Mountain bikers like it rough. Benefit for the San Diego Mountain Bike Association screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Stone Brewery World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido. Free, but give 'em a donation.
Walk the Line: Question: Would the Man in Black approve of this movie? Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Trucker: Michelle Monaghan is tremendous as Diane, a long-haul trucker forced to take some responsibility when her 11-year-son is dropped at her doorstep.
A Serious Man: The Coen brothers offer up an examination of faith that moves in mysterious ways.
Couples Retreat: Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell make a dumb romantic comedy.
From Mexico with Love: A migrant worker who boxes on the side teams up with a crusty old trainer to beat the snot out of a nasty rancher's nasty son.
Still Walking: The latest from auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda is about a 40-year-old who returns home to his parents in hopes of helping them all get over the death of his brother.
The Way We Get By: Touching documentary about lonely seniors who welcome home the troops.
Paranormal Activity: The buzziest horror film of late, touted as the next Blair Witch Project, was shot in San Diego on a shoestring budget by a first-time director.
Amreeka: A single mom and her teenaged son move from the West Bank to small-town Illinois.
The Boys are Back: Clive Owen's wife dies, leaving him to care for their children and his teenaged son from a previous marriage.
Capitalism: A Love Story: You may not always agree with Michael Moore's filmmaking methods, but it's hard to argue with his message. Rise up, people.
Coco Before Chanel: Audrey Tatou plays the famed designer in her pre-fame years. She's pouty, but she lights up the screen when she smiles.
The Invention of Lying: Ricky Gervais stars in his own U.S. directorial debut. He lives in a world where everyone always tells the truth, until one day he doesn't.
Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D: The first of Pixar's movies and its sequel will double-feature for the price of one.
Whip It: Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, about a rebellious teen (Ellen Page) who gets into roller derby, is more harmless than the sport it covers, but it has an easy charm to it.
Zombieland: Woody Harrelson. Zombies. Rated R. 'Nuff said.
Bright Star: Jane Campion's latest period piece creates a very real person out of Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), the country girl who's long been considered the tart who fooled around with poet John Keats before his death.
Fame: Actually, a remake of Fame right now makes sense. The country's totally addicted to celebrity, and there are plenty of openings on reality TV.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell: Biopic about Tucker Max, self-proclaimed drunken asshole.
Pandorum: Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster come out of suspended animation with no memory and no idea why people are trying to kill them.
Paris: Juliette Binoche shows up with her three kids at the doorstep of her brother, who's desperately waiting for a heart transplant.
Surrogates: In the future, Bruce Willis will try to solve the murder of robot surrogates, which will provide the only means for us to interact with each other. Like Facebook.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: Sure, this 3-D adaptation of the beloved children's book looks cheesy. But it's great, and any cheese involved makes it taste even better. Seriously, one of those rare children's films that's equally awesome for adults. And it includes Neil Patrick Harris voicing a monkey.
The Informant!: Steven Soderberg directs a pudgy, mustachioed Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, a '90s-era whistleblower with aspirations of greatness and a propensity for bending the truth.
Jennifer's Body: Megan Fox stars in this Diablo Cody-penned horror film about a hottie who acquires a serious taste for men. Literally.
Love Happens: Will Jennifer Aniston be the woman who helps widower Aaron Eckhart cope with his loss? Yes.
The September Issue: A not-so-revealing look at Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
9: Shane Acker's animated movie, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelley as living rag dolls in a post-apocalyptic world, is stunning to watch, even if its style outweighs its substance.
Extract: Comeback kids Mike Judge and Jason Bateman team up for a comedy about a factory owner (Bateman) hoping to have an affair with one of his employees (Mila Kunis).
It Might Get Loud: Documentary about the art of guitar as played by Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. Turn it up.
Taking Woodstock: Ang Lee turns one of the major cultural touch-points of the last half-century into a let's-save-the-family-farm unfunny comedy.
Inglourious Basterds: Tarantino's new brutal, bloody, hysterically funny WWII movie isn't gonna be for everyone, but it certainly is for us. Take that, Hitler!
District 9: This terrifically fun Peter Jackson-produced sci-fi flick has two messages. One, discrimination sucks. Two, alien guns rule.
Julie & Julia: Meryl Streep is Julia Child, and Amy Adams is her biggest fan, Julie Powell, who got through life with the help of Child's My Life in France.
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 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.
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.