We all have a list of movies that came to us at a certain time in our lives when they'd have the greatest impact. They don't necessarily have to be the best films of all time, but because of what they're about or how they were made, and where our head was when we saw them, they've left a deep impression. My list includes Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, the Coen brothers' Raising Arizona, Baz Luhrman's Strictly Ballroom and Hal Hartley's Trust.
It also includes Time Bandits, Terry Gilliam's 1981 fractured fairy tale. I was 10 or 11 when it came out (go ahead, do the math), the same age as the protagonist, Kevin (Craig Warnock). Like Kevin, I was way into swords and sorcery and scifi and stuff like that.
Unlike Kevin, I never had a knight in shining armor burst out of my closet, followed by a band of seven little people in possession of a map they've stolen from the Supreme Being, which they're using to traverse time and space in the hopes of, well, stealing stuff. Once they've looped Kevin into their mix, the merry band of brigands runs into Robin Hood (John Cleese), Agamemnon (Sean Connery) and Napoleon (Ian Holm), as well as various trolls, ogres, sea monsters and, yes, even Evil himself (David Warner).
It's hard to express the impact Time Bandits had on me as a kid, but it was deeply important as an expression of an amazingly adventurous imagination. It remains deeply important to me now, and I'm happy to report that it's screening at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10. Unlike the countless times I saw this in the theater, however, there will be no kids in attendance, because it's part of Shot by Shot, which is presented each month at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park.
This is a series created by KPBS film critic Beth Accomondo; Miguel Rodriguez, head honcho of the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival; and my friend Ian Forbes, who runs SoberingConclusion.com. Though there may not be children, there will be drinks, and hopefully a discussion about the film after the credits roll.Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can follow Anders on Twitter at @anderswright.
Amour: Michael Haneke's Palm d'Orwinning drama, about an elderly couple facing declining health, is as terrifying as his movies about sadism, home invasions and fanaticism.
A Haunted House: Comedy-horror! Horror-comedy! Marlon Wayans (who co-wrote the script) and Essence Atkins move into a new house, where Atkins is quickly possessed by demon spawn. Hilarity ensues.
Gangster Squad: Hey, girl, Ryan Gosling is a spiffy L.A. cop shooting up mobster types like Sean Penn's Mickey Cohen in the new movie from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer.
The Studio Ghilbi Collection: After a week at La Jolla Village Cinemas, Miyazaki's animated masterworks move to the Ken Cinema. Check landmarktheatres.com for details.
One Time Only
Napoleon Dynamite: A bespectacled, goofy-looking social misfit's pelvic thrusts convince dismissive classmates to vote for Pedro. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
I Am Not a Hipster: Former San Diegan Destin Daniel Cretton's Sundance feature, shot locally and set amid the city's indiemusic scene, hits theaters around the country for a screening or two. Here, it's at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Ken Cinema, followed by an after-party at the nearby Ken Club.
Cabaret: They say life is one, but that only seems to be the case when Nazis are trying to cramp your style. Screens at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Lady Eve: The Public Library's month of Preston Sturges comedies continues with this farce starring Henry Fonda as a naïve rich guy and Barbara Stanwyck as a con artist after his money. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Despicable Me: Animated super-villain Steve Carrell adopts three orphans to use in his super-villain schemes. Now that's parenting! Screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
Psycho and The Birds: And you thought Hitchcock movies were only shown in October. The double feature kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at Full Moon Drive- In in Pacific Beach.
Groundhog Day: Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over and over. Eventually, we take him seriously as an actor. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
High Noon: One of the greatest westerns ever. Gary Cooper is an aging town marshal forsaken by his community when bad guys come to town. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, and Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Men Seeking Women: Sex comedy with Will Farrell, from 1997, when he was just some guy from SNL. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Mommie Dearest: FilmOut presents Faye Dunaway's insane-in-the-membrane performance of Joan Crawford. Audience participation is encouraged. Screens at the Birch North Park Theatre at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14.
Tootsie: Dustin Hoffman dressed up as a woman for this gender-bending comedy, but it was Jessica Lange who won an Oscar. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Driving Miss Daisy: A lot of jokes have been made at this film's expense, about a Southern widow (Best Actress winner Jessica Tandy) and her relationship with her chauffeur (Morgan Freeman), but, hey, it's a Best Picture Oscar winner. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Blazing Saddles: Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is a bastard son of Mel Brooks' satirist western, generally thought of as the first movie ever to use the sound of flatulence. Screens at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park.
The Princess Bride: Sword fighting! Swashbuckling! The most handsome man and beautiful woman in the world! Also, Rodents of Unusual Size, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Generation P: Hallucinogenic Russian film about a poet who finds himself much more suited to writing advertising copy. Ends Jan. 10 at the Ken Cinema.
The Impossible: Biopic about a family, led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, caught up in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
Texas Chainsaw 3D: Because the best kind of chainsaw is the kind that comes right at you.
Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow's movie, about the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden, is a masterwork of filmmaking, and the fact that it's inspiring debate about torture should be more tangential than anything else.
Django Unchained: Tarantino takes on yet another genre—the western—and blows it up and makes it fun again. Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by German bounty hunter Christoph Waltz, off to rescue wife Kerry Washington from plantation owner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Les Miserables: Fans of the legendary musical will get their fix from this big-screen adaptation by King's Speech director Tom Hooper, who relies heavily on close-ups and, sadly, Russell Crowe, who isn't a trained singer. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, dreams a nice dream as Fantine.
Not Fade Away: The first film from Sopranos godfather David Chase is about a group of New Jersey teens trying to make it as a rock band in the 1960s. Steven Van Zandt served the film as a musical advisor.
Promised Land: Matt Damon and John Krasinski co-wrote the screenplay for Gus Van Sant's new movie, an impressively nuanced look at the world of fracking from the point of view of Damon's corporate cog, who believes that he's doing something good for the world. Unfortunately, a twist at the end undermines that whole idea.
Parental Guidance: Billy Crystal and Bette Midler agree to look after their grandchildren. Hilarity for a certain demographic ensues.
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away: Those Canadian clowns enter a new dimension. As in, 3-D filmmaking.
The Guilt Trip: Seth Rogen takes an unexpected road trip with his mom, played by Barbra Streisand.
Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise takes on the title role in a movie based on the bestselling series of books, obviously looking for another Mission: Impossible sort of franchise.
Monsters, Inc. 3D: Sulley, Mike and Boo are coming at you, literally.
Rust and Bone: Marion Cotillard plays an orca trainer whose relationship with young Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts from last year's Oscar-nominated Bullhead) takes on a new dimension when she suffers a serious accident at work.
This is 40: Judd Apatow returns to Knocked Up territory, though this sort-of sequel focuses on Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), who were supporting players in the earlier film.
Hyde Park on Hudson: Bill Murray plays FDR in the days leading up to WWII, and Laura Linney is the distant cousin with whom he enjoys a special relationship.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth in the first of three films based on the book that came before Lord of the Rings.
Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins plays the famed director, and Helen Mirren his wife, during the time Hitchcock was shooting Psycho.
Red Dawn: The updated edition of the 1984 Cold War-paranoia pic stars Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth, who signed on and shot the movie years ago, before they were rich and famous.
Anna Karenina: Director Joe Wright teams up again with his Pride & Prejudice star Keira Knightley to take on another period drama.
Life of Pi: Ang Lee's adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy, a tiger and a lifeboat is this year's movie that you simply must see on a big screen and in 3-D. Really.
Rise of the Guardians: The Immortal Guardians—aka the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc.—team up to kick evil-spirit ass.
Silver Linings Playbook: Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar guy from Philly who's just out of the mental hospital, having lost his job, his home and his wife. He moves in with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) in hopes of regaining his marriage, but things are thrown askew by Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has problems of her own.
Lincoln: It might as well have been called The 13th Amendment. Despite another spellbinding performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln's biopic is really about getting legislation through Congress.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2: The long national nightmare is over.
Skyfall: Daniel Craig's third outing as 007 is thankfully closer to Casino Royale than Quantum of Solace. This time, he's going up against Javier Bardem, who has some history with MI-6.
The Other Son: An Israeli and a Palestinian discover they were switched at birth.Ends Jan. 10 at the Ken Cinema.
Tales of the Maya Skies: This IMAX movie explores the rich history of the Mayan people, just in time for the end of the world. At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Man With the Iron Fists: The Wu-Tang Clan's RZA co-wrote (with Eli Roth), directed and stars in this ultraviolent martial-arts epic, which also features Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. They're all on the trail of a fortune in gold.
The Sessions: John Hawkes is great as Mark O'Brien, a writer and poet paralyzed by polio who turns to a sexual surrogate (Helen Hunt) in order to lose his virginity at age 38.
Wreck-It Ralph: The latest animated film from Disney stars John C. Reilly as Ralph, the bad guy in an old-school video game who desperately wants to be liked.
Chasing Mavericks: A surfing movie, surprisingly co-directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson, about a teen who turns to crusty surfing legend Gerard Butler to help him survive a massive wave.
Cloud Atlas: This epic production is almost three hours long and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving in multiple roles. It consists of six stories that span different time periods, with a running storyline about reincarnation and the effects of our actions on future generations.
Fun Size: A teenage girl loses track of her little brother while attending a Halloween party thrown by a really cute boy.
Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this take on the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, and believe it or not, it's gonna be a Best Picture contender.
Flight of the Butterflies: It turns out Monarch butterflies are much like SDSU students—every year, thousands of them head to Mexico. This IMAX film captures their beautiful trip. The butterflies, that is.
Frankenweenie: Tim Burton hasn't made a film that's been an original idea in years, so it sort of makes sense that he'd remake one of his own movies.
Taken 2: Remember all those dudes Liam Neeson killed in the thoroughly violent Taken? At least one of them has a family member out for a little payback.
Looper: Director Rian Johnson (Brick, Brothers Bloom) teams once again with Joseph Gordon-Levitt for this time-twister; JGL is a hit man whose future self (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to be rubbed out.
Ice Age: Continental Drift: So cold.
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.
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.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.