For years, the Downtown Central Library has shown terrific films on a big screen, focusing on foreign and independent movies, entirely for free. It’s been one of the best film series in town, and in recent months, they’ve added another component. Each month, Friday Talking Pictures features the work of a single director. In the past, we’ve seen collections of films from Spike Lee, Sam Peckinpah and Akira Kurosawa, and in April, they’ll screen four different films by Gus Van Sant.
It kicks off on Friday, April 6, with Drugstore Cowboy, the lovely little junkie road movie starring Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch. Dillon plays Bob, a nice guy who resorts to robbing drug stores to feed his habit, and it’s one of the best efforts of his career. On Friday, April 13, you can catch My Own Private Idaho, which features one of River Phoenix’s best performances, and that’s saying something. Elephant, Van Sant’s examination of school shootings, screens on April 20, and the series wraps up on April 27 with what’s probably his most popular film to date, Milk, which earned Sean Penn an Oscar for his portrayal of politician Harvey Milk.
That’s a great collection of films, and, again, they’re all free. The only problem with Talking Pictures is the time—the movies start at 2:30 p.m. But if you don’t work on Friday afternoon, it’s not a bad way to kick off your weekend.
American Reunion: There was a time when everyone who starred in American Pie was a star. Nowadays, they need the work.
Delicacy: Audrey Tautou (Amelie) is mourning her dead husband when she’s wooed by a Swedish co-worker.
Free Men: An Algerian immigrant living in Paris during WWII finds himself joining the Resistance after he befriends a Jewish guy.
Goon: It’s no Slap Shot, but this hockey comedy starring Seann William Scott as a minor league enforcer has a soft heart amid the broken teeth and blood on the ice. Read our review.
Housefull 2: This Bollywood action-comedy is, you guessed it, a sequel.
Nameless Gangster: In this Korean gangster flick set in the 1990s, a customs agent who’s about to be fired decides to go into business for himself after stumbling upon a huge cache of drugs.
Titanic 3D: The ship still sinks.
The Trouble with Bliss: Dexter’s Michael C. Hall stars as an unhappy loser who lives with his dad (Peter Fonda) and screws things up by dating an 18-year-old.
One Time Only
The Karate Kid: Wax on, wax off with Ralph Macchio in the original at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Space Junk: This IMAX movie, narrated by Tom Wilkinson, explores the ring of human-made crap currently surrounding this big blue marble. Screens 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 5 and 6, at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Sabrina: Humphrey Bogart and William Holden are wealthy brothers in competition for the affection of their chauffeur’s daughter, Audrey hepburn. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 5, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
The Makioka Sisters: Four sisters gather in Kyoto each year to see the cherry blossoms. Presented by the San Diego Museum of Art, Kon Ichikawa’s film includes a lecture by the museum’s Asian Art curator, as well as wine and snacks. The lecture begins at 7, and the film starts at 8 p.m. Friday, April 6, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
We Bought a Zoo: Native son Cameron Crowe gets seriously PG. Matt Damon stars as a single dad who moves his two kids to an aging zoo conveniently run by Scarlett Johansson. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 6 and 7, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Super Sci-Fi Saturday: FilmOut presents a marathon of campy sci-fi flicks like Logan’s Run and Re-Animator, starting at noon and going past midnight on Saturday, April 7, at the Birch North Park Theatre. Hit filmoutsandiego.com for details.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: A masterpiece. Milos Forman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel features what might be Jack Nicholson’s greatest performance, as he plays Randall McMurphy, who gets committed to a mental hospital, where he goes up against the loathsome Nurse Ratched. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday and Tuesday, April 7 and 10, at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Wild Grass: Alain Resnais’ final film stars Gerard Depardieu as a detective who finds himself solving one last mystery. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Roman Holiday: Audrey hepburn won an Oscar playing the sheltered princess who escapes her minders and ends up hooking up with newsman Gregory Peck. Screens at 7 p.m., Monday, April 9, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain: This documentary about the country formerly—and often still—known as “Burma” features narration and commentary from Aung San Suu Kyi, the activist whose political party just won an enormous election. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Pulp Fiction: Never mess with a guy who looks like Samuel L. Jackson and has a wallet that says “Bad Mother Fucker.” Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Detachment: Tony Kaye’s first film since American History X—which stars Adrian Brody as a substitute teacher in New York City doing his best not to become attached to anything—is a disappointment.
The Deep Blue Sea: Rachel Weisz, in a loveless marriage to a judge in post-war England, meets a hot former fighter pilot who spells all kinds of trouble.
I Kissed a Vampire: A rock opera that’s described as a cross between Twilight and High School Musical. Really. Ends April 5 at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Intruders: Two different kids in two different countries are pursued by Hollow Face, one seriously creepy dude. One of them is lucky enough to have Clive Owen as a father.
Mirror Mirror: Julia Roberts is an evil queen, while Lily Collins is the plucky princess trying to get her kingdom back.
The Raid: Redemption: Despite a fairly thin story and a title that sounds like it’s a sequel, this Indonesian action film delivers, as a SWAT team finds itself trapped in a high-rise full of bad guys.
The Salt of Life: An Italian retiree discovers that he’s become almost irrelevant to everyone around him. Ends April 5 at the Ken Cinema.
Wrath of the Titans: By Hades! Another one?
Agent Vinod: In this new Bollywood action flick, a globe-trotting spy is out for vengeance after bad guys kill his buddy. Ends April 5 at UA Horton Plaza.
Footnote: This Israeli film, about a father and son who teach in the same department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar.
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.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: This fine little documentary profiles Jiro Ono, widely considered to be one of the finest sushi chefs on the planet.
Norwegian Wood: Director Anh Hung Tran adapted Haruki Murakami’s beloved ode to Tokyo in the ’60s for the screen.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Ewan McGregor is a fisheries expert hired to help a sheik populate a river in Yemen with salmon. Along the way, he falls for Emily Blunt.
Bullhead: Nominated for an Oscar, this Belgian picture about a disturbed young man juiced up on hormones in the middle of a cattle-hormone scandal features a ferocious performance by its leading man.
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.
Casa De Mi Padre: Will Ferrell’s latest comedy is in Spanish. That’s not a joke.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home: Jason Segal is Jeff, a slacker who lives in his parents’ basement until his brother (Ed Helms) takes him on an adventure, because he thinks he’s being cheated on.
Miss Bala: Young Laura is desperate to win a beauty pageant, despite the corruption and violence in her native Mexico.
A Thousand Words: It’s a safe bet that when they originally scheduled this Eddie Murphy comedy to open, he was still slated to host the Oscars.
Friends With Kids: Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt, who also directed, play best friends who decide to have a kid together while keeping their relationship platonic.
John Carter: This epic 3-D sci-fi adventure stars Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as a Civil War veteran transported to Mars. It’s directed by Andrew Stanton, who also made Finding Nemo and Wall*E, but it’s much more traditional than either of those.
Silent House: Elizabeth Olsen is in a lakeside house trapped by something scary.
Project X: Todd Phillips, the guy behind Old School and The Hangover, produces this R-rated teen comedy about a monster party that totally turns into every parent’s worst nightmare.
Coral Reef Adventures: Skip the SCUBA lessons and go underwater in this gorgeous IMAX film screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: Let’s hope the voice talents of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift don’t overshadow the good Doctor’s environmental message.
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.
Act of Valor: Navy SEALS go after a bunch of brown-skinned guys who have kidnapped a CIA agent. The movie stars real-life SEALS, so it’s worth wondering if it’s an action movie or a recruitment video.
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds: Depending upon your point of view, his good deeds may not include making movies.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Man, Nicolas Cage must really need the money.
This Means War: Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are secret-agent best friends who face off against each other when they both fall for Reese Witherspoon while trying to capture a Eurotrash terrorist. It’s as stupid as it sounds, but everyone is so good-looking and charming that you might be willing to overlook that.
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.
Safe House: Young CIA buck Ryan Reynolds must team up with wily veteran Denzel Washington to kill a bunch of bad guys.
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.
Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
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.
The Iron Lady: Not even Meryl Streep can solve the problems faced by this ham-handed biopic.
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. Ends April 5 at UA Horton Plaza.
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.
Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.
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.
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.