Since the Pacific chain was sold to Reading, Gaslamp Cinemas has become one of the best venues for very small films.
In fact, the theater has just kicked off a series that will run through the end of the year. Highlights include The Kids Grow Up (Dec. 3), one man's documentary about his daughter's upbringing; Four Lions (Dec. 3), a comedy about four bumbling Jihadists; Whiz Kids (Dec. 10), a look at three American children competing in the nation's most prestigious science competition; Cropsy (Dec. 17), another doc, which looks at the serial killer who stalked the neighborhood where the two directors grew up; and Valhalla Rising (Dec. 31), a dark, violent Viking tale. There will be others, too, and all these dates are subject to change.
Opening Friday, Nov. 26, is Kings of Pastry, the new documentary from legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker and his wife, Chris Hegedus.
Pennebaker has been making films for almost five decades and is best known for Monterey Pop and his take on Bob Dylan, Don't Look Back. The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, who runs Chicago's French Pastry School, as he returns to France as a finalist in the annual Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition. It's a brutal challenge of pastry and chocolate whose winners are considered Kings of Pastry. These are true artists, and the contest is grueling, heartbreaking, and delicious.
Break Ke Baad: A Bollywood romcom complete with singin' and dancin'.
Burlesque: Can Cher help smalltown girl Christina Aguilera become the best burlesque dancer in L.A.? Yes.
Faster: After a string of family-friendly comedies, the Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, is back to killing people.
Guzaarish: A Bollywood romantic drama about a quadriplegic magician.
Love and Other Drugs: Anne Hathaway falls for pharmaceutical salesman Jake Gyllenhaal and has an endless supply of Viagra.
Tangled: Disney's take on Rapunzel is surprisingly terrific. Mandy Moore is the singing princess, Zachary Levi the dashing thief, and they're both upstaged by an animated horse. And for once, the 3-D contributes to the movie. See our review on Page 20.
Waste Land: This documentary follows artist Vic Muniz as he travels from Brooklyn to the landfills of Brazil, where he meets folks who live and create art out of waste.
Wild Target: Hit-man comedy with Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Ron Weasley—er, Rupert Grint.
ONE TIME ONLY
Old School: There's no school like the old school, especially when it comes to Will Ferrell's films. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Innersection: Taylor Steele's new surf movie is debuting at 30 theaters around the country, including screenings at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Sprawling From Grace: Make sure you pedal your way to this documentary about the horrors of America's suburban sprawl. Here's looking at you, Santee. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, at Velo Cult Bike Shop in South Park. Free.
Spike & Mike's New Festival of Animation: More highbrow than the standard sick and twisted stuff you've come to expect from the animation powerhouse, but just as entertaining. Screens at 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27, and 4 and 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in La Jolla.
Owl and the Sparrow: A Vietnamese orphan plays matchmaker with a stewardess and a zookeeper in Ho Chi Minh City. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 29, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
El Brindis: The San Diego Latino Film Festival continues its Jewish Latino film series with a feature about a young photographer who travels to Chile to meet the father she never knew. There, she learns he's terminally ill, and while she's caring for him, she strikes up a relationship with one of his closest friends, a local rabbi. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at AMC Chula Vista.
GULF (A Movie): A documentary about the Katrina aftermath produced in conjunction with MiraCosta College's “High Water” exhibit. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, in the Kruglak Gallery on the Oceanside campus. Free.
Whip It: Drew Barrymore's rollerderby directorial debut is sweet, but it doesn't have the power of an elbow to the jaw. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Warren Miller's Wintervention: No one makes epic extreme wintersports movies like Warren Miller. His new one screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 1 and 2, at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The first half of the twopart final installment assumes viewers know exactly what's going on as the film opens. It's as slow as the first half of the epic book it's based upon, but fans of the Potter franchise won't want it to end—because when it does, they have to wait until July 2011 to watch the final battle between Harry and Voldemort.
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.
Leaving: Kristen Scott Thomas is in a loveless marriage with a successful doctor, so she fools around with a young ex-con working on their property.
Mademoiselle Chambon: A man falls for his son's homeroom teacher, and the two do their best to keep their urges to themselves. You won't be surprised to hear it's in French.
The Milk of Sorrow: The journey of a Peruvian woman stricken with a pathological fear she got via her mother's breast milk.
The Next Three Days: Russell Crowe stars in Paul Haggis' new thriller about a man framed for a murder he didn't commit. No, wait. It's his wife that didn't commit the murder, and he's got to bust her out of jail and clear her. There's a twist for you.
Vision: From the Life of Hildegard Von Bingen: Check out all the crazy stuff this medieval nun could do. Flying's not on the list.
Today's Special: An aspiring chef (The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi) is forced to take over his family's restaurant after his dad has a heart attack.
Unstoppable: Should be called “Denzel Washington and Captain Kirk versus the Death Train.”
Morning Glory: Cutie Rachel McAdams is charged with saving a flailing morning show, even though her two hosts—Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford—hate each other.
Skyline: A big-budget, aliens-invading-Earth movie the studio chose not to screen for critics.
Due Date: Road-trip comedy stars Robert Downey Jr. as a guy desperate to get across the country, but the only way he can do it is by catching a ride with insane Zach Galifianakis. Directed by The Hangover's Todd Phillips.
Fair Game: Naomi Watts is Valerie Plame and Sean Penn is Joe Wilson in this look at how CIA agent Plame's identity was leaked to the press after husband Wilson authored a controversial op-ed in The New York Times. The acting's good, but this should have come out years ago.
Journey into Amazing Caves: Which one goes up, stalactites or stalagmites? This one will screen Fridays at 7 p.m in the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Megamind: A new 3-D animated flick with Will Ferrell as the misunderstood bad guy, Brad Pitt as the hero and Tina Fey as the funniest person in the room.
The Girl Who Kicked the hornet's Nest: The vast conspiracy at the heart of Steig Larsson's books might be a little far-fetched, but this makes for a nice conclusion to the adventures of Lisbeth Salander. At least until the Hollywood remake.
Inside Job: Matt Damon narrates Charles Ferguson's exhaustive documentary about which people, exactly, were responsible for the recent global finance crisis.Hereafter: Is Clint Eastwood pondering his mortality? Possibly—his new movie looks at what happens when we die, and it does so through three disparate storylines. There's the French journalist who sees the afterlife as she barely survives a tsunami, the British boy pining for his brother and Matt Damon, who plays a psychic who hates the fact that he can talk to the dead.
Paranormal Activity 2: Because one just wasn't enough.
Jackass 3-D: Shit is flying in 3-D. Literally.
Nowhere Boy: A portrait of an adolescent John Lennon, played by Kick-Ass' Aaron Johnson. turns out all he needed was love.
Red: Action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and, best of all, Helen Mirren, as retired spies some young whippersnappers are trying to kill.
Life as We Know It: Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel are polar opposites forced to move in together and take care of an orphaned baby girl. We're guessing it all works out.
Secretariat: Thoroughly family-friendly PG version of how one of history's most famous racehorses got his start.
The Social Network: David Fincher's new film about the early days of Facebook is more entertaining than 99.9 percent of status updates.
The Town: Ben Affleck directs himself (not a euphemism). He's a Boston thug torn between bad-guy buddy Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively, a bank manager he once stuck up (also not a euphemism). Oh, and FBI man Jon Hamm is hot on his trail (still no euphemism).
Mao's Last Dancer: Bruce Beresford directs this biopic of Li Cunxin, who was chosen by the Chinese government to become a world-class ballet dancer.
Inception: Christopher Nolan's follow-up to The Dark Knight is epic, complex and beautiful. In short, it's the stuff that dreams are made of.
The Ultimate Wave Tahiti: The latest IMAX entry at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park follows super surfer Kelly Slater as he does his thing on some massive waves.
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.