The world can't seem to wait for a new movie about a young vampire, gorgeously shot, filled with garish violence, high emotion and a cast that shines despite its youth. But I'm not talking about Twilight—you blood junkies will have to wait until Nov. 21 for that one, and it's hard to imagine that Twilight will be better than Let the Right One In, the terrific Swedish vampire film that opens this weekend.
Oskar lives with his divorced mother in a Stockholm suburb. He's friendless and bullied at school, a lonely little boy who doesn't know what to make of Eli, the girl who's just moved into the apartment next to his, who teaches him to stand up for himself.
Too bad Eli's been a 12-year-old girl for a very long time. She's a vampire, and the man posing as her father slaughters young boys. In Oskar, however, Eli finds someone interested in who she is, rather than what she is. But even as he's learning some survival tactics and a bit of self-respect from her, the brutal murders that occur around town after Eli's arrival threaten to ruin their budding romance.
Tomas Alfredson's direction is smart and sensitive—it's easy to feel sympathy for Eli's plight. The cinematography is lovely, featuring the long, desolate nights of a Swedish winter, with a crimson dressing occasionally paying a visit to the white landscape. And though it has a talky, art-house feel, Let the Right One In has moments that are savage, violent and intense.
Lina Leandersson is haunting as Eli, a girl able to convey hundreds of years of sorrow and guilt. Above all, we feel for Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), who finds his shot at growing up slipping away in a spray of death and blood. Dude, that's what happens when you date older women.
Days and Clouds: An Italian couple's relationship falls apart once their daughter is old enough to start taking care of herself and they have to confront the things they want to do with the rest of their lives.
Falling For Grace: Actor Fay Ann Lee stars in this rom-com loosely based on her encounters with JFK Jr. She's the successful daughter of Chinese immigrants mistaken for a fashion heiress, and once she's past the velvet rope, she find herself falling for a blueblood prosecutor who thinks she's someone she's not. Not only did Lee write, direct and produce the film, but she's distributing it, too. Grace plays only at UltraStar Del Mar, and Lee will be on hand for almost every screening over the opening weekend to answer questions about the film and what it took to get it into theaters.
Loins of Punjab Presents: American Idol meets Bollywood as Indian contestants from varied backgrounds gather in New Jersey for a sing-off sponsored by, yes, a pork-loin company.
Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine: Doc about the legendary sculptress, who's famous for making those giant spiders that inspire nightmares the world over.
Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa: Stranded animated animals try to make it back to NYC but wind up in Africa.
Moving Midway: New York film critic Godfrey Cheshire directed this doc about his cousin's plans to move an entire North Carolina plantation that was the home of his extended family.
Role Models: Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott are two juvenile dudes sentenced to work with real juveniles—one of whom is Chris “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse—as community service.
Soul Men: Sam Jackson and Bernie Mac are a pair of washed-up R&B singers who reunite after 20 years at the Apollo Theater. Fitting send-off for Mac, who died unexpectedly earlier this year.
Synecdoche, New York: Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut is a glorious, sprawling mess. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a theater director who builds a life-size replica of NYC in a warehouse. Yes, life-size. See our review on Page 19.
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V for Vendetta: The Wachowski brothers produced this take on Alan Moore's graphic novel, about resistance in the face of a tyrannical U.K. government in the not-so-distant future. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, at The Loft on the UCSD campus. Free.
The Triplets of Belleville: Citizen Video is teaming with Velo Cult Bicycles to present this trippy animated French film, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2004. Madame Souza teams up with the Belleville Triplets to rescue her grandson, Champion, who's been kidnapped on the eve of the Tour de France. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Free.
Queen + Paul Rodgers: Let the Cosmos Rock: Concert footage from Queen's Sept. 12 show in Kharkov's Freedom Square in Ukraine. Screens at 7:30 Thursday, Nov. 6, at Horton Plaza, Edwards Mira Mesa and AMC Mission Valley. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased in advance at www.fathomevents.com.
Dinner Rush: Danny Aiello is a bookie and the owner of the New York City restaurant where a motley crew, many of whom are connected to one another, has converged for what will turn into an explosive dinner. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. Free.
Council of Doom: Insane doc about fixed-gear bike riders and the insane tricks they do. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at Velo Cult Bicycles in South Park. Free.
California Surf Film Festival: Just when you thought the region had wrapped its film festivals for the year, along comes the inaugural Surf Fest. All screenings are at the Grace Chapel in Oceanside, and the entire thing runs Friday through Sunday, Nov. 7 to 9. Check out the rest of the deets over on Page 14.
Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston & Charis Wilson: The first entry in the Museum of Photographic Arts' new doc series, it recalls Weston and Wilson's travels during the Great Depression, as they created unbelievable images and changed the face of photography as we know it. Screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at MOPA in Balboa Park.
L'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio: The highlight of the S.D. Italian Film Festival gets one more screening, accompanied by its director, Agostino Ferrente. Screens at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Little Theater on the SDSU Campus. Free.
Cassandra and A Family Finds Entertainment: Agitprop Gallery kicks off a series with two from video artist Ryan Trecartin, probably best known for his hit I-Be Area. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Agitprop Gallery in North Park. Free, but buy some art.
Video Hole Film Festival: A collection of shorts and side projects from the folks who shoot those ridiculous snowboard films. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Swiv Tackle Circus Gallery in Oceanside.
La Dolce Vita: The Citizen Video Sunday matinées for November are both from Fellini. This one, of course, is a regular on Best Films Ever lists. Marcello Mastroianni is a journalist, torn between his work with gorgeous celebrities (and the accompanying lifestyle) and his own middle-class existence when he's off the clock. Screens at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, at the Whistle Stop in South Park. Free.
Zeitgeist Addendum: Homegrown picture that takes on religion, government, war and corruption, followed by a presentation based on Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine and a discussion. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9, at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Free.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: If Synecdoche is sold out, you could always catch Charlie Kaufman's terrific collaboration with Michel Gondry. One of Jim Carrey's successful serious roles, Sunshine stars Kate Winslet as his ex-girlfriend, who has every memory of him erased from her mind. Funny and heart-wrenching, even as you work to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. Screens at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 9, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
The Visitor: Tom McCarthy follows up his debut, The Station Agent, with this subtle look at immigration. Veteran character actor Richard Jenkins (the dead dad on Six Feet Under) is a burnt-out professor adrift in his life, but things change when he tries to help a young illegal immigrant detained in New York. McCarthy makes his points through people instead of politics, which is nice. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
Casino Royale: Daniel Craig rebooted the franchise with this muscled update, presenting a 007 who's a brash loose cannon, making mistakes but kicking ass along the way to saving the world. Since Quantum of Solace, the new Bond film, A) opens on Friday, Nov. 14, and B) picks up right where this one left off, now's the time for another viewing. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Rocknrolla: It doesn't have the same kinetic energy of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, but Guy Ritchie has definitely returned to the seamy underbelly of the London criminal world, and we're all better for it.
Changeling: Angelina Jolie is actually very good as Christine Collins, a single mother whose son vanished in 1928 in Clint Eastwood's new film, based upon true events. When the LAPD brings back the wrong boy and insists he's hers, she resists, ending up in a mental ward. It's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crossed with Zodiac and L.A. Confidential.
The Haunting of Molly Hartley: Molly's parents made a pact with the devil when she was a baby. Now she's about to turn 18, and it looks like he's coming to collect. Man, high school sucks. I've Loved You So Long: There's Oscar buzz around Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Juliette, released after 15 years behind bars, and taken in—surprisingly—by her sister, Lea. In French and English.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Believe it or not, Kevin Smith's new film is his most adult yet—in more ways than one. Yes, Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) set out to make porn to pay their bills, but they fall in love along the way. It's got Smith's trademark rat-a-tat raunchy dialog, and Rogen and Banks are great together. See our feature on Page 27.
Happy-Go-Lucky: Mike Leigh's new one is a change in direction from his recent work. Instead of exploring the seamy underbelly of the human condition, he looks at Poppy (Sally Hawkins), an effervescent schoolteacher who won't grow up. She's sort of infectious, sort of annoying, but the effect she has on everyone around her is far more real than, say, Peter Pan.
Pride and Glory: Four NYC cops are dead, and Ed Norton is dispatched by his dad (Jon Voight) to figure out whodunit. But all roads seem to lead to another cop—his brother, Colin Farrell.
Max Payne: This was actually a groundbreaking video game in its day, the first real instance of Matrix-like bullet-time at your fingertips. Mark Wahlberg is Max, a burnt-out cop whose family has been murdered, who teams up with a hot female assassin for a little vengeance at a thousand frames per second.
Saw V: But we missed the first four, aiieee!
High School Musical 3: Senior Year: But we missed the first two, lalala!
Secret Life of Bees: Dakota Fanning runs away with her housekeeper, Jennifer Hudson, ending up at the home of three African-American sisters in South Carolina in 1964. Queen Latifah is the matriarch, Alicia Keys the rebellious sister.
Sex Drive: An 18-year-old virgin hits the road with his two best pals to hook up with a chick he met over the Internets. Crazy shit happens between his place and hers, including a run-in with Amish farmer Seth Green.
W: Oliver Stone directs and Josh Brolin plays the title character in this Lone Star melodrama. We just wish it had come out several years earlier, because we're so fucking sick of George W. Bush.
Body of Lies: Ridley Scott teams Russell Crowe with Leonardo DiCaprio for this spy thriller, about a CIA agent going after a terrorist leader in Jordan and doesn't know who he can trust on his own team. DiCaprio is the good guy. Maybe.
Quarantine: Could this be Blair Witch 2.0? A reporter and her cameraman investigate an infection that makes its victims all zombie-like, only to find themselves trapped in an apartment complex with several other survivors when the authorities cordon off the building and refuse to let anyone out.
Rachel Getting Married: The herky-jerky handheld camera in Jonathan Demme's new movie mirrors the emotional turmoil of Kym (Anne Hathaway), just out of rehab to attend her sister's wedding. There's Oscar buzz surrounding Hathaway, who is equal parts toxic and pathetic but ultimately someone worth pulling for.
Appaloosa: The Western continues its comeback. Ed Harris directs and stars as a lawman with good-lookin' Viggo Mortensen as his sidekick, going after a bad dude.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua: Um. Ratdogs get Babe treatment.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist: Call it John Hughes 2.0. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings are the titular characters, kicking around New York all night in search of their favorite band and a love connection with each other. Not perfect but terribly sweet, with a great soundtrack that includes a nice score from Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh.
Religulous: Bill Maher travels the world, talking to different people about a God he doesn't believe in.
Fireproof: Kirk Cameron takes a break from those Left Behind movies to play a super-brave firefighter who doesn't have the courage to stand up to his own wife. Until, you know, something with Jesus.
The Duchess: Keira Knightley's latest period piece also stars some other Brits, like Ralph Fiennes and Dominic Cooper and (yawn) zzzzzzzzz.
Eagle Eye: Shia LaBeouf re-teams with director DJ Caruso for this terror-thriller. He's a slacker, Michelle Monaghan's a single mom, and both are being pushed to do horrible things by a threatening voice on the other end of the phone. Seriously, how have we survived this long without another Shia movie? Oh, right. Easily.
Burn After Reading: The Coen brothers' new film is a thriller-comedy reuniting bromancers Pitt and Clooney. Pitt, along with Frances McDormand, is a gym employee who blackmails a gnarly ex-CIA guy (John Malkovich) who leaves his unpublished memoirs behind after a workout. Let's hope it's more Fargo than The Ladykillers.
The Dark Knight: It's finally here, and yes, Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie is everything you hoped it would be. An epic two-and-a-half-hour crime drama that examines the complicated nature of good, evil and heroism and simply must be seen on an Imax screen to be believed. Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhard are all well-served by a tense, taut script, but it truly is Heath Ledger's movie, as he plays Batman's nemesis, The Joker, with a shambling malevolence that's terrifying and intense.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: No, it's not a time warp—the love-it-or-hate-it camp classic continues its midnight run in its 37th year of release. When the lead character of the film is a transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, you know you're in for some seriously trashy viewing. And, of course, this is the one movie where you want the audience shouting at the screen. Screens Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas.