Years of my life aside, the site's title has always kept me interested in the goings-on of Phil Spector, the legendary record producer who coined the phrase and the style of recording—and who stood trial for murder in 2009, stemming from the 2003 shooting death of a former model in Spector's mansion. Spector, who produced music for The Beatles, Ike and Tina turner, The Ramones and others, is the subject, natch, of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, a terrific documentary screening as part of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival, which opens Thursday, Feb. 9, and runs at theaters all over town through Sunday, Feb. 19.
The movie includes interviews with Spector, as well as trial footage. He's a fascinating character who never fit in, and his descriptions of his childhood and his outsider status give a unique insight into a man who was responsible for turning music production into an art. Spector was ahead of his time, but he also had an unstable, irrational side, which likely explains where he is today.
There are dozens of movies from around the globe being screened during SDJFF, but the other great highlight in my book is Jews in Toons, presentations of episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy by Mike Reiss, the longtime writer and producer of The Simpsons, who's examining how Jews are portrayed in cartoons today. The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector has three screenings during the course of the festival, but Jews in Toons is a one-off, screening only at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Reading Town Square in Clairemont. Find a complete list of films, showtimes and pass information at sdjff.org.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu: Just in time for Valentine's Day comes this Bollywood romcom at Horton Plaza.
Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within: Sequel to the terrific Brazilian movie about a paramilitary police unit facing corruption while taking on drug traffickers.
Journey 2: Mysterious Island: Sort of a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, in that it's an adaptation of a Jules Verne book made family-friendly and in 3-D.
Loosies: Peter Facinelli, best known for the Twilight movies, wrote and stars in this one. A New York City pickpocket runs into a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. And she's pissed.
The Oscar-Nominated Short Films: All 10 will screen at the Ken Cinema in two programs, live-action and animated.
Pina: Wim Wenders directed this film about dance legend Pina Bausch. Don't miss it, and make sure you see it in 3-D.
Safe House: Young CIA buck Ryan Reynolds must team up with wily veteran Denzel Washington to kill a bunch of bad guys.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D: The Force was not so strong with this one.
The Vow: After Rachel McAdams loses her memory in a car crash, husband Channing Tatum has to make her fall in love with him again.
W.E.: Madonna's new movie—she directed it—parallels the relationship between King Edward VIII and the American divorcée over whom he abdicated the crown and a contemporary romance between a married woman and a security guard.
One Time Only
Women in Horror: Horrible Imaginings, a horror-film festival, presents two collections of short horror flicks celebrating women in the genre. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the film will roll shortly after 9 on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Tenth Avenue Theatre, Downtown.
Waterboy: Adam Sandler tackles people at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
The First Grader: After reconciliation, education finally became possible for Kenyan children, who are joined by an 84-year-old man who wants to learn how to read. Part of the Coming of Age Film Festival, this one screens at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
To Kill a Mockingbird: Films based on treasured novels often fail, but this adaptation of Harper Lee's book earned Gregory Peck a Best Actor Oscar. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at Reading Cinemas Town Square.
I Am Bruce Lee: Yeah, he was one of the coolest ever, and this documentary about him, executive-produced by his daughter, includes interviews with folks like Kobe Bryant, Ed O'Neil and Mickey Rourke, all of whom have one thing in common: They aren't as cool as Bruce Lee. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, and Wednesday, Feb. 15, at UltraStar Mission Valley.
Ikiru: The Public Library's Kurosawa series continues with this film about a bureaucrat who tries to start over after he learns he has cancer. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Miss Representation: Doc looks at how mainstream media doesn't do enough to represent women in positions of power. Find details on Page 15. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at the Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego in La Jolla.
Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Animation 2012: After you've watched the Oscar-nominated shorts, stick around for some insanity at midnight, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10 and 11, at the Ken Cinema.
Breakfast at Tiffany's: Mickey Rooney's role is a racist caricature, but it's tough not to love Audrey hepburn's Holly Golightly. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas and at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Splinters: Director Adam Pesce will be on hand for his film about the rise of indigenous surfers in Papua New Guinea. Tickets are $10, but there are complimentary cocktails. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Bird's Surf Shop in Point Loma.
The Ides of March: George Clooney directs and stars in this one, about the death of idealism in a young politico (Ryan Gosling). Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Age of Consent: Michael Powell's 1969 film stars James Mason as a painter who retires to the Great Barrier Reef, only to find himself drawn to a mature teenager (Helen Mirren). Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
The Notebook: Evidently, Valentine's Day is here. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Big Miracle: John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore save the whales. No, really, that's what it's about.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Chronicle: Three Seattle high-schoolers discover that in order to enjoy their newfound superpowers, they have to face the dark side.
Declaration of War: A French couple take up arms against their young child's cancer diagnosis. Ends Feb. 9 at the Ken Cinema.
The Woman in Black: Daniel Radcliffe tries to break out of the Harry Potter mold with this PG-13 horror movie.
Agneepath: Bollywood action thriller otherwise known as Path of Fire. Hooray for Bollywood!
Albert Nobbs: Glenn Close plays a 19th-century Irishwoman masquerading as a male butler. It's a great idea that isn't well executed.
The Grey: Liam Neeson, who somehow became an action star in the last few years, is the lead in Joe Carnahan's film about a group of Alaskan oil workers trying to survive a pack of wolves after a plane crash.
Man on a Ledge: The man in question is an ex-con played by Sam Worthington. The ledge is played by a ledge.
One for the Money: This year's Katherine Heigl romantic comedy.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Stephen Daldry's new film about an awkward little boy whose father, Tom Hanks, died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, will polarize audiences, who'll either experience an intense emotional connection or find it sentimental and exploitative.
Haywire: Steven Soderberg goes all Quentin Tarantino with an action film starring former American Gladiator Gina Carano as a Black Ops soldier who goes all medieval after she's betrayed.
Red Tails: George Lucas produced this film, which may be the biggest action film ever with a primarily black cast. Set during WWII, a group of Tuskegee Airmen finds itself oversees, fighting the enemy.
A Separation: Lovely Iranian movie about a couple going through a divorce who have to endure that country's labyrinthine legal system when their housekeeper is injured. Just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
Underworld Awakening: The vampire / werewolf conflict continues in 3-D!
The Iron Lady: Not even Meryl Streep can solve the problems faced by this ham-handed biopic.
Carnage: Roman Polanski directs the adaptation of a Tony Award-winning play about two couples who get together to discuss a conflict between their children. It stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz and takes place entirely in one New York apartment.
Contraband: This year's Mark Wahlberg action movie.
Rescue: This IMAX movie looks at first-responders across the globe and includes footage shot during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Artist: This silent film about a silent-film star (Jean Dujardin) whose world begins to collapse as the talkies take over is a fully realized vision and a legitimate Best Picture contender.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Now with more English! David Fincher's reboot is far slicker than the Swedish original, but not, perhaps, particularly necessary.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Believe it or not, No. 4 is the best of the bunch, probably because it's the first live-action film from director Brad Bird, the guy behind The Incredibles.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman is great as George Smiley, the semi-retired British spy brought back in to unmask a traitor during the Cold War, but the entire exercise is probably too slow for American audiences.
War Horse: Spielberg's other big holiday film is about a horse that's taken from the boy who raised him, serves as an officer's mount in WWI and ends up seeing action from opposite trenches.
Young Adult: Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody reteams with director Jason Reitman for this story about a former homecoming queen (Charlize Theron) who returns to her small hometown in Minnesota after a divorce and a mental breakdown of sorts, intending to steal her high-school beau (Patrick Wilson) away from his wife and family.
Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.
My Week with Marilyn: Eddie Redmayne is Colin Clark, an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who has to manage his boss' relationship with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during a production of The Prince and the Showgirl.
The Descendants: Alexander Payne's first film since Sideways is more straightforward than his previous work, but just as rewarding. George Clooney's terrific as Matt King, a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife's injured in an accident.
Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen's most charming film in years stars Owen Wilson as a Jazz Age-infatuated screenwriter and aspiring novelist who ends up hanging with the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
Boto 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.