Not-so-plain Jane: Cary Fukunaga's first feature film, Sin Nombre, earned the young filmmaker the Best Director honor at Sundance, while his cinematographer, Adriano Goldman, picked up the Best Cinematographer prize. That was a movie about a young migrant making a run for the U.S. border while in the company of a rogue gangster, so, in many ways, it seems like his new film, an adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, might be an odd choice.
But Fukunaga turns the classic piece of literature into what might be considered an emotional action film; his Jane Eyre has a similar feel to Sin Nombre, albeit dark, gothic and set in England in the mid 19th century.
Yes, it's a period romance. There are no car chases, invading aliens or superheroes. But there's a reason Jane Eyre—which opens Friday, March 18, at Hillcrest Cinemas—is adapted repeatedly: In essence, it's a thriller with a strong female lead, played this time by Mia Wasikowska. She's the epitome of the plain Jane, but she's smart, headstrong and better able to stand up for herself than the other women in her day.
Michael Fassbender is her Rochester, rangy and hungry like the wolf, desperate for anything or anyone to pull him out of his misery. Why does this good-looking nobleman brood so? If you know Jane Eyre, you know why, but Fukunaga's take on Bronte's tale still feels fresh and original. And if you don't (and let's face it—you should; it is classic literature, after all), you'll want to see how he pulls it off.
I Am: After a near-death experience, director Tom Shadyac—who also made films like Ace Ventura, Patch Adams and Bruce Almighty—changes direction, making a documentary that asks some of the world's political and spiritual leaders why we're so messed up.
I Saw the Devil: Brutal Korean film about a secret agent who goes on a death-wish vendetta after a serial killer murders his pregnant wife.
Limitless: Bradley Cooper takes a drug that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain. Basically, he becomes Charlie Sheen.
The Lincoln Lawyer: Matthew McConaughey is a sleazy lawyer whose office is the back of his town car.
Lord of the Dance 3-D: Not a joke.
Paul: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's new ode to Spielberg doesn't have the same energy as their collaborations with Edgar Wright, but it's packed full of jokes and references the sci-fi faithful will treasure.
Tornado Alley: This new IMAX film, which travels into twisters with some professional storm chasers, has to be better than Twister, the movie.
Who's That Girl?: Not to be confused with the Madonna movie, this romcom is the latest entry in Horton Plaza's Filipino film series.
One Time Only
The San Diego Latino Film Festival: The fest continues through Sunday, March 20, at UltraStar Mission Valley. Swing by sdlatinofilm.com for tickets, showtimes and a complete list of films.
Death Becomes Her: Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn don't let a little thing like being dead get in the way of their feud over Bruce Willis. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Gamera: The Giant Monster: The latest edition of the public library's Schlockfest series kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
A Film About a Fort: Bryan Bangerter's film about San Diego artist Wes Bruce's work premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Medical Cannabis and its Impact on Human Health: You mean there's an impact besides awesome? Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Pretty in Pink: Molly Ringwald falls for the unfortunately named Blane (Andrew McCarthey), even though closeted gay best friend (Jon Cryer) is totally into her. Ah, the '80s. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The Kids Are All Right: Annette Bening didn't get an Oscar, but her performance in Lisa Cholodenko's film, about a lesbian couple whose children locate their sperm-donor father (Mark Ruffalo, who also got an Oscar nom) is still pretty all right. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, March 18, at the Center in Hillcrest. Free.
The Fighter: David O. Russell's take on boxer Irish Mickey Ward earned Oscars for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Quiet Man: John Wayne's boxing career didn't work out, so he moves to Ireland, where he meets foxy Maureen O'Hara. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Taxi Driver: The movie that got Reagan shot. Thirty-five years of “You talkin' to me?” and it's still just as relevant—if not more so—as it was when it first came out. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 19, and Tuesday, March 22, at AMC Fashion Valley.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Do the time warp. You know, again. Screens at midnight, Saturday, March 19, at the Ken Cinema.
Pushing the Elephant: Documentary about a mother and daughter who were separated during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and their reunion in the United States more than a decade later. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 21, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
The African Queen: Bogie earned his only Oscar playing a boozy riverboat captain who ferries an uptight Katharine hepburn up the creek to blow up a German ship during World War I. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
The Breakfast Club: Don't you forget about me. Or the ultimate John Hughes movie, which screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Battle: Los Angeles: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Ne-Yo fight off an alien invasion. That's not meant to be an immigration allegory.
Heartbeats: Wunderkind director Xavier Dolan's second film is about a love triangle between two best friends and the incredibly good-looking individual who comes between them. Ends March 17 at the Ken Cinema.
The Last Lions: New National Geographic documentary about the plight of the jungle kings, whose population has dwindled from the half-million who lived in Africa 50 years ago to just over 20,000 today.
Mars Needs Moms: It takes an alien abduction to make this kid finally appreciate his mother. Of course, it's animated, and, of course, it's in 3-D.
Of Gods and Men: Based on the actual events, Xavier Beauvois' film about eight French monks serving in Algeria during the rise of Islamic extremism is an extraordinarily insightful and moving examination into the nature of faith, shot through a secular lens.
Red Riding Hood: Catherine Hardwicke's first film since Twilight is a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale. Amanda Seyfried is Valerie, a girl whose medieval village is stalked by a werewolf.
The Adjustment Bureau: Matt Damon is an aspiring politician who unwittingly discovers the difference between free will and predestination. The adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick short story doesn't always work, but the chemistry between Damon and Emily Blunt is nice.
Beastly: Alex Pettyfer is a nasty, good-looking high-schooler who torments goth-y Mary-Kate Olsen. turns out she's a witch. Bad move, dude.
Inside Job: This scathing look at the financial collapse just won the Best Documentary Oscar. Ends March 17 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Rango: Johnny Depp voices an animated lizard forced to save a western town from bandits. Directed by Gore Verbinski, who catapulted Depp's asking price with the first two Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Take Me Home Tonight: A soundtrack in search of a movie. Topher Grace is an MIT grad working in a video store who lies about his job when he runs into his high-school crush. It totally works—until she finds out the truth.
Mummies: A scientifically oriented IMAX look at the easiest of the monsters to outrun. Fridays at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Dr. Strangelove: Peter Sellers is brilliant in all three of his roles in Kubrick's masterpiece of political gamesmanship. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Even the Rain: A crew of filmmakers, including Gael Garcia Bernal and Luis Tosar, is making a movie in Bolivia about Christopher Columbus. Getting in their way is a local uprising about water rights, which just happens to parallel the Indians' struggle against the Spanish 500 years prior.
Hall Pass: Best friends Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis are given one week off from their marriages, no questions asked, in the new Farrelly brothers movie.
Cedar Rapids: Yes, it's another raunchy, R-rated film, but Ed Helms brings a lot of heart to his first leading role. It's occasionally predicable, but this story of an insurance salesman who's finally leaving his small town for the bright lights of Cedar Rapids, isn't stupid. John C. Reilly shines as a dirty-joke factory.
I Am Number 4: Alex Pettyfer is a high-school-age alien being chased by some other aliens. He's got cool powers. And great cheekbones. And a cute girl he's into. It's sci-fi for the Twilight set.
Unknown: Liam Neeson wakes up after a car crash only to discover that his wife (January Jones) doesn't recognize him, his identity has been co-opted by Aidan Quinn and a whole bunch of guys want to kill him.
Gnomeo & Juliet: If it sounds like a CGI-animated cartoon, that's because it is one. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt voice garden gnomes who have the hots for each other.
Just Go with It: It had to happen. Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston make a romantic comedy.
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: Or, you know, feel free to say never.
Barney's Version: Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for this epic look at a man who drinks and smokes and marries his way through life. It goes on too long, though, and stays a little too faithful to Mordecai Richler's novel.
Biutiful: Javier Bardem gives a tremendous performance as Uxbal, a single father in Barcelona desperately trying to keep his head above water while facing his own mortality.
No Strings Attached: Can Natalie Portman keep things purely physical with Ashton Kutcher and avoid getting all emotionally attached? Probably not.
Blue Valentine: Michelle Williams is just amazing as one half of a couple (along with Ryan Gosling) whose marriage has fallen apart.
True Grit: The Coen brothers adapt Clinton Portis' novel, with Jeff Bridges playing Rooster Cogburn, the part that earned John Wayne his only Oscar.
The Fighter: For some, the acting of Christian Bale and Melissa Leo in David O. Russell's working-class boxing movie is authentic and real. For others, it's scenery-chewing.
The King's Speech: Though he should have taken a walk to the podium this year, Colin Firth will probably win an Oscar for playing King George VI, the monarch who led his people into WWII despite his almost-crippling stammer. Geoffrey Rush is great as his speech therapist.
Black Swan: Natalie Portman has to find both sides of herself as a ballerina obsessed with playing the lead in Swan Lake in the new one from Darren Aronofsky. Well-directed, beautifully shot, completely bonkers.
127 Hours: Danny Boyle changes pace once again. Instead of the frenetic energy of Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours is pretty much a one-man show, with James Franco playing Aron Ralston, a hiker forced to cut off his own arm to survive.
Galapagos: An IMAX look at the islands and the animals that made Charles Darwin famous. We're most fond of the blue-footed boobie. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Winter's Bone: Debra Granik's noir thriller, set in a closed meth-cooking community in the Ozarks, is as intense and grim as its name. It's well-written and well-made and features an amazing performance from Jennifer Lawrence, a 17-year-old who has to find her deadbeat father or she and her young brother and sister will lose their home.
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 Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.