There's no place like home, especially when your home is 26,000 square feet. But that's not big enough for Jackie and David Siegel, who are building a 90,000 square-foot home at the beginning of Lauren Greenfield's new film The Queen of Versailles, which opens at Hillcrest Cinemas on Friday, July 27. It's going to be the largest residential home in America, and, yes, it's based on the Palace of Versailles in France.
It's an interesting film, because you quickly learn that the 1 percent isn't necessarily immune to financial problems. David Siegel is the founder and CEO of Westgate, which he says is the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world. He's filthy, stinking rich, a guy who believes that he's singularly responsible for the election of George W. Bush (this takes place in Florida), but who won't discuss it on camera because, he says, it wasn't necessarily strictly legal.
If you're wondering if it takes an enormous amount of hubris to try to build a house that big, the answer is most definitely yes. Siegel sees himself as a good father, a good employer and a good person, and while that may be true when the film begins, by the time the financial crisis hits the family, thousands of his employees have been laid off. His family has to fly commercial. Their pet reptiles die because no one takes care of them. The company that built his flagship building in Las Vegas has sued him. And his creditors force him to put Versailles on the market.
You might expect a real sense of schadenfreude in Greenfield's movie. But it's not really the case. The Siegels aren't bad people, though their humble beginnings are obscured by those enormous piles of money. The Queen of Versailles, though, is really a portrait of the recent economic collapse as seen by the people at the very top.Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can follow Anders on Twitter at @anderswright.
Dark Horse: In recent years, Todd Solodnz's exploration of America's seamy underbelly has gotten icky, but he returns to form with this story of Abe (Jordan Gelber), a man you care about despite his unpleasant personality and abhorrent behavior.
Step Up Revolution: This time the dancing is in 3D! And Miami!
Trishna: Michael Winterbottom adapts Tess of the d'Urbervilles and sets it in contemporary India, with Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto playing one of the star-crossed lovers.
The Watch: Originally called Neighborhood Watch, this comedy—starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn as suburbanites in over their heads while trying to protect their 'hood—had its title changed after the Trayvon Martin killing.
Union Square: Mira Sorvino drops in on her sister, Tammy Blanchard, unannounced, putting a serious crimp in the latter's plans with her boyfriend.
One Time Only
Dirty Dancing: Have the time of your life at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at Gingham in La Mesa.
Little Miss Sunshine: This beloved road-trip comedy, about a family trying to get their awkward young daughter to a beauty pageant in Southern California, won a Best Screenplay Oscar and earned Alan Arkin a Best Supporting Actor award. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Rio: Animated flick about a macaw from Minnesota (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) who finds himself adrift in Rio with a girl bird (Anne Hathaway) who's every bit the free spirit that he is not. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido.
Bill W.: Documentary about William G. Wilson, the co-founder of AA. Screens at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
It Happened One Night: Frank Capra's delicious romantic comedy caused a drastic drop in sales for undershirts when it was revealed that Clark Gable wasn't wearing one. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 26 and 27, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
La Jolla Fashion Film Festival: The lineup of films, filmmakers and attendees is pretty impressive. The fest runs Thursday, July 26, through Saturday, July 28, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. Visit ljfff.com for the specifics.
V For Vendetta: The Public Library wraps up its Comic-Con series with this adaptation of Alan Moore's brutally intense miniseries at 2:30 p.m. Friday, July 27, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Kiss Me Again: The sequel to Gabriele Muccino's The Last Kiss follows the same group of characters 10 years later. Now in their 40s, sex probably doesn't play into it quite as much. Presented by the San Diego Italian Film Festival, it screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Cool Hand Luke: What we have here is a failure to communicate. Actually, we don't—what we have here is one of Paul Newman's greatest roles. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, and Tuesday, July 31, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Beat the Devil: John Huston directed this movie, which was sort of intended to be something of a spoof of The Maltese Falcon, which was directed by, you guessed it, John Huston. And, yeah, Humphrey Bogart stars in both. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 28, in front of the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
In a Lonely Place: Humphrey Bogart is a screenwriter accused of murder. Gloria Grahame is the neighbor who gives him an alibi, which is great, unless she's wrong about him. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Wait Until Dark: Audrey Hepburn is a blind woman terrorized by three bad guys, including the murderous Alan Arkin, who are after a doll stuffed with heroin that's stashed in her apartment. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, at Reading Cinemas Town Square.
Blazing Saddles: Hopefully, they'll serve beans along with Mel Brooks' classic at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at Gingham in La Mesa.
The Flamingo Kid: Matt Dillon's coming-of-age movie is still pretty charming, though it looks seriously dated. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Edward Scissorhands: One of Tim Burton's best. Also one of Johnny Depp's best. Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido.
Pink Flamingos: Yeah, the one where Divine eats dog poop. Screens at midnight, Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, at the Ken Cinema.
Invisible War: Kirby Dick's new film explores rape in the U.S. military.
30 Beats: New Yorkers (Paz de la Huerta, Justin Kirk, Lee Pace, Jennifer Tilly and others) intersect in excessively sexual ways during a summer heatwave.
Americano: Mathieu Demy, the son of filmmakers Agnes Varda and Jacques Demy, pays homage to his parents in this drama about a young Frenchman (played by Demy) who travels to L.A. to sort out his mother's estate. Ends July 26 at the Ken Cinema.
The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy concludes.
The Magic of Belle Isle: Morgan Freeman is a wheelchair-bound, alcoholic writer who ends up living next to single mother Virginia Madsen and her three daughters in Rob Reiner's extremely sentimental new film. Ends July 26 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Cocktail: Things get tricky when a guy tells his mom he's dating his girlfriend's roommate rather than his girlfriend in this Bollywood rom-com.
Eega: Bollywood sci-fi thriller about a murdered man who's reincarnated as a housefly bent on revenge.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: This Sundance success, about a little girl living in Louisiana after an apocalyptic environmental disaster, is beautiful and beguiling.
Bol Bochchan: The lastest Bollywood romantic comedy to play Horton Plaza.
Ice Age: Continental Drift: So cold.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Apparently, he does whatever a spider can. In 3-D, too.
Savages: Oliver Stone directs this thriller about two pot growers, played by Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson, who take on a Mexican cartel after the bad guys kidnap their girlfriend (Blake Lively). As in, they share.
Take This Waltz: Michelle Williams is just amazing in Sarah Polley's second film, playing a Toronto woman who's happily married to a cookbook author (a surprisingly restrained Seth Rogen) but finds herself falling for her neighbor. Ends July 26 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Deep Sea: This IMAX undersea film was made by Del Mar's Howard and Michele Hall and is narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Magic Mike: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey and some other oiled-up boys take off their clothes for dollar bills.
People Like Us: When his father dies, Chris Pine learns that he has a half-sister, played by Elizabeth Banks. He goes to her to explain the situation and give her part of their dad's estate but finds that, well, she's kinda hot. Yeah, that's creepy.
Ted: Mark Wahlberg's girlfriend gives him an ultimatum: It's either her or his walking, talking, foul-mouthed teddy bear, voiced by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane, who also wrote and directed.
To Rome with Love: Woody Allen is his own worst enemy, because every time he turns out a mediocre movie—and this pastiche of stories set in Rome is certainly mediocre—it gets judged against his previous work.
Tyler Perry's Medea's Witness Protection: What the world needs now, apparently, is another Medea movie.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: Finally, American children get to learn about Abraham Lincoln.
Brave: Princess Merida would rather be shooting arrows than playing dress-up, but when she defies her Scottish tribe, she sets loose a horrible curse that only she can fix.
Your Sister's Sister: Lynn Shelton's latest improvised film finds Emily Blunt taking Mark Duplass to her family's vacation home while he's grieving his dead brother, and he ends up getting busy with her sister, Rosemarie DeWitt.
Rock of Ages: Yes, that's Tom Cruise belting out hair-metal tunes in this '80s rock 'n' roll musical.
Safety Not Guaranteed: This sweet, quirky Sundance rom-com stars Parks & Recreation's Aubrey Plaza as a magazine intern investigating a guy who placed a classified ad looking for a time-traveling companion.
Moonrise Kingdom: Set on an island off the coast of New England in 1965, this new one about two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away from the dysfunctional adults in their lives will be adored by those who worship at the altar of Wes Anderson.
Madagascar 3: Apparently kids still fall for this. Parents, too.
Prometheus: Ridley Scott returns to outer space, exploring the origins of humanity and the original Alien. It's worth seeing on the big screen and in 3D.
Flying Monsters 3D: No, it's not a crappy studio blockbuster—this one is all about dinosaurs and was written and directed by Richard Attenborough, using Avatar-like technology, and plays the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
The Intouchables: French blockbuster sensation about an aging Caucasian paraplegic who hires a poor young black man to be his caretaker.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Big-budget retelling of the fairy tale finds the huntsman (Thor's Chris Hemsworth) teaming up with Snow White (Kristen Stewart) to try to end the reign of the Evil Queen (Charlize Theron).
Chernobyl Diaries: Oren Peli, who wrote and directed Paranormal Activity here in San Diego, wrote this found-footage thriller about tourists who hire a guide to take them to that glowing vacation spot, Chernobyl.
Men in Black 3: Will Smith has to go back in time to prevent Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement from murdering Tommy Lee Jones, who's represented in the past by Josh Brolin.
Battleship: Peter Berg's adaptation of the Hasbro board game, pitting the American Navy against invading aliens, is seriously loud and explodey.
Bernie: Jack Black plays the real-life Bernie Tiede, a popular Texas funeral director who was convicted of murdering an 81-year-old widow.
The Dictator: Sacha Baron Cohen—aka Borat, Bruno and Ali G—is back as a despot willing to do anything to prevent the spread of democracy.
What to Expect When You're Expecting: No, this probably wasn't begging to be adapted into a feature film, but that didn't stop Cameron Diaz, Matthew Morrison and Jennifer Lopez from getting involved.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: There's a charm to this movie about British retirees who outsource their retirement to India, mostly because the cast is made up of folks like Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith.
Dark Shadows: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp just can't remake enough stuff. This time, it's the campy gothic soap from the '70s which, apparently, was dying for the big screen.
The Avengers: It set box-office records for the biggest opening weekend ever, and for good reason. Joss Whedon's take on the Marvel franchise is well-written, superbly edited, funny and enormously entertaining.
To the Arctic 3-D: Cute-animal-movie alert No. 2. Meryl Streep narrates this new IMAX movie about a mama polar bear and her two cubs.
Think Like a Man: Four guys decide to get even when they learn that their girlfriends have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them. Not surprisingly, it's based on Steve Harvey's book.
The Cabin in the Woods: This satirical deconstruction of the horror movie, from Joss Whedon and Lost veteran Drew Goddard, is one hell of a lot of fun.
The Hunger Games: The most anticipated movie of the year to date is about a dystopian future where teens like Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are forced to kill one another to stay alive.
21 Jump Street: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in a comedy do-over of the undercover-cops-in-high-school TV show that launched Johnny Depp's career.
Secret of the Cardboard Rocket: Two kids build a rocket in their garage and end up in outer space in this IMAX film screening Saturday mornings in March at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Born to be Wild 3-D: Despite sounding like yet another animated animal movie, this is an IMAX film about baby elephants and orangutans and the people who love them. Oh, and it's narrated by Morgan Freeman. Collective sigh for the baby monkeys, please.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.