Back in the late 1970s, cameraman Trent Harris was testing out new equipment outside a news station in Salt Lake City when he came across and started filming a kid who called himself Groovin’ Gary, an odd young man from the small town of Beaver, Utah. Gary was at ease in front of the camera, eventually convincing Harris to visit him in Beaver, where he was putting on a talent show.
Harris, thinking he was on to something interesting, did just that, and the show that he captured featured Gary doing a drag number as “Olivia Newton-Don.” The result, 1979’s The Beaver Kid, was a quirky documentary about a guy who just wants a small amount of fame and recognition, in a time before Facebook and YouTube.
In 1981, Harris released The Beaver Kid 2. Made for virtually nothing, it starred Sean Penn as Groovin’ Larry, a fictional take on the character in Harris’ original film. This was a very young Sean Penn, before Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Bad Boys.
And Harris didn’t stop there. In 1985, he released The Orkly Kid, which starred a very young Crispin Glover as Groovin’ Larry, essentially expanding on the fictional take of the original documentary.
It’s weird stuff, and though I’ve seen The Beaver Trilogy, I didn’t know it was available on DVD until I saw that Ship in the Woods, the gallery in Del Mar, will screen it at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13. Throughout the summer, the venue (1660 Lugano Lake, shipinthewoods.com) has presented a thoughtful, interesting film series, and Harris’ trilogy is the final entry.
Arbitrage: Richard Gere is a hedge-fund billionaire who makes some serious mistakes while trying to stay rich.
Barfi!: This Bollywood romantic comedy is about a speech- and hearing-impaired boy who runs into the love of his life years after her parents rejected him because he wasn’t normal enough for their daughter.
Branded: In the not-so-distant future, one average Russian schmo discovers a dystopian sci-fi conspiracy theory that’s behind all the corporations and advertising that run our daily lives.
Chicken with Plums: Marjane Satrapi teams up again with Vincent Paronnaud, who directed the adaptation of her graphic novel Persepolis, for this tale of a musician (Mathieu Amalric) who loses the will to live after his favorite violin is destroyed.
Finding Nemo 3D: All those fish are going to look great in 3-D.
Little White Lies: French film starring Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin about a group of old friends whose vacation is altered when one of them has a serious accident.
Resident Evil: Retribution: Lots of actors whose characters died in the first four episodes, like Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr, are back for this one—which seems appropriate, since the movies are all about zombies.
Sleepwalk with Me: This American Life regular Mike Birbiglia teams up with Ira Glass on this story of his serious sleep disorder.
One Time Only
Anita: The San Diego Latino Film Festival presents this movie about a young Jewish woman with Down Syndrome who lives in Argentina. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the food court at Otay Ranch Center.
Sunset Boulevard: Get ready for your close-up. Presented by FilmOut at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Walk the Line: Reese Witherspoon won her Best Actress Oscar playing opposite Joaquin Phoenix in this Johnny Cash biopic. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Pretty Woman: Patrons of Gingham in La Mesa took to the website and voted for the Julia Roberts hooker movie as the final entry in the restaurant’s summer movie series. Screen at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Chinatown: Roman Polanski’s noir masterpiece screens at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Rock n’ Roll High School: You can get sedated and watch the Ramones go back to school at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Turns out Indy’s dad is Sean Connery, and father and son are looking for the Holy Grail. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, through Saturday, Sept. 15, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Miller’s Crossing: This oft-overlooked Coen brothers classic stars Gabriel Byrne as a Chicago mob lieutenant whose loyalty gets tested when he tries to stave off a war. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: A precocious kid plays hooky. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
Indiana Jones marathon: It starts at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, and goes until you’ve seen all four movies for $25 at AMC Mission Valley. That is, unless you decide to skip Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which totally sucked.
The Wizard of Oz: There’s no place like the Ken Cinema, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Screens at noon on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16.
The Grapes of Wrath: John Ford’s adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel is especially poignant today. Henry Fonda’s family is forced off their land during the Great Depression, and they migrate to California in hopes of finding the American Dream, or at least something to eat. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, and Tuesday, Sept. 18, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Superman: The one from 1978 with Christopher Reeve, which is the one you were hoping for when you read the word “Superman”—unless you were hoping for Superman 2. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A young couple’s car breaks down. And then they encounter a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania. Screens at midnight, Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Ken Cinema.
The Notebook: Hey, girl, this is where that terrible Ryan Gosling meme got started. Screens at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
Adrift: A 14-year-old girl is gaining her own understanding of sex when she learns about her dad’s dalliances. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Bogart is so bad, but the movie is so good. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
The Apartment: Too bad Jack Lemmon is gone. In Billy Wilder’s wonderful comedy, he’s CC Baxter, a corporate stooge who lets bigwig Fred MacMurray use his apartment for an affair with the charming Shirley MacLaine. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Precious Knowledge: Great doc—it won Best Documentary at the 2011 San Diego Latino Film Festival—about students and community organizers fighting Tucson’s decision to close down the high school’s ethnic-studies class. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the food court at Otay Ranch Center.
The Birds: Polly want an eyeball? TCM’s terrific big-screen series continues with Hitchcock’s super creepshow. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at several area theaters. See fathomevents.com for details.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: The viewers have spoken, and for this week’s Viewer’s Choice selection, they have selected Ron Burgundy.
Stay classy, San Diego. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Bachelorette: Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher are three maids of honor who really screw things up the night before their friend’s wedding.
Stormchasers: The science of storms is explored in IMAX at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Cold Light of Day: Henry Cavill is a Wall Street trader who has to go on the offensive after his family is kidnapped while on a European holiday.
The Imposter: Bart Layton’s documentary plays like a thriller, telling the story of a young Texas boy who disappeared for more than three years before being located in a small village in Spain. One thing, though: The guy who returned to San Antonio wasn’t the same kid who went missing.
Last Ounce of Courage: A small-town mayor tries to bring religion back to the community after his son dies in action, only to be challenged by those rascals at the ACLU and that pesky separation of church and state.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience: Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Indy’s back for a week before all of his movies hit Blu-ray.
Samsara: Shot in 70-millimeter film on several different continents over half a decade, this is the latest from the folks responsible for Koyaanisqatsi and Baraka.
The Words: Bradley Cooper plays a successful writer who must finally face up to the fact that he stole someone else’s work.
2 Days in New York: Julie Delpy wrote, directed and stars in this nifty little movie, in which she and her partner, Chris Rock, find their lives jostled when her parents come from France to visit them. Ends Sept. 13 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate: Jet Li’s new martial-arts epic will screen in 3-D and in IMAX at AMC Mission Valley.
For a Good Time, Call...: Two girls (Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller) who couldn’t stand each other in college start up a phone-sex line in order to afford a fabulous New York apartment. Ends Sept. 13 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Hari-Kari: Death of a Samurai 3D: Takashi Miike’s new martial-arts epic. Screens in 3-D at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Lawless: The new film from John Hillcoat, about three brothers (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke) running moonshine during Prohibition, looks great but feels long and somewhat lifeless.
The Possession: A young girl buys a cool-looking box at a yard sale, only to find out it hosts an evil spirit. Not the bargain she was looking for.
2016: Obama’s America: A right-wing doc designed to terrify the faithful.
Hit & Run: Real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell co-star in this action road-trip comedy, which Shepard also wrote and directed.
Premium Rush: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a Manhattan bike messenger being pursued by corrupt cop Michael Shannon, who thinks Gordon-Levitt’s got something more than irony and attitude in his messenger bag.
Robot & Frank: In the not-too-distant future, an elderly jewel thief (Frank Langella) gets a robot butler as a gift.
Killer Joe: Matthew McConaughey is good as an overly polite hitman in William Friedkin’s new NC-17 thriller.
The Expendables 2: Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme join the aging-action-star party, along with Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Willis, Li and the Governator.
Paranorman: Everyone thinks Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, is a freak because he can talk to ghosts. That talent comes in handy when his small town is invaded by the undead. New 3-D stop-motion film from Laika, the folks who made Coraline.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green: Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton can’t have a kid. That is, until there’s a knock on the door and an odd little boy who apparently grew in their garden tells them that he’s theirs.
Searching for Sugar Man: When two South Africans try to learn how an obscure American singer-songwriter from the ’70s died, they get more than they bargained for. Despite that sounding like a feature, it’s a pretty damn good documentary.
Sparkle: Whitney Houston’s final film is about a girl group that has to deal with the difficulties of success.
The Bourne Legacy: Jeremy Renner takes over the franchise, which is now directed by Tony Gilroy, the guy who wrote all of the other Bourne movies and directed Michael Clayton.
The Campaign: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis spar over a North Carolina congressional seat.
Celeste and Jesse Forever: Rashida Jones, who co-wrote, plays Celeste, who’s trying to stay friends with her soon-to-be-ex-husband Jesse (Andy Samberg).
Hope Springs: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones turn to Steve Carell to put some zip back into their marriage.
Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D: The crazy guys in the Nitro Circus do all kinds of death-defying stunts that would put the Jackass crew to shame.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: If it feels like they release one of these every summer, that’s because that they release one of these every summer.
Ruby Sparks: The first film since Little Miss Sunshine from co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris stars Paul Dano as a writer whose latest creation, a gorgeous, quirky girl named Ruby, comes to life.
Total Recall: Less a remake of Arnie’s 1990 flick than a new adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s short story. Colin Farrell plays Quaid, a man who starts to believe that everything he remembers might not be real. Kate Beckinsale is in the Sharon Stone role; Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston also star.
Step Up Revolution: This time the dancing is in 3D! And Miami!
The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy concludes.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: This Sundance success, about a little girl living in Louisiana after an apocalyptic environmental disaster, is beautiful and beguiling.
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.
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.
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. Ends Sept. 13 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Witness Protection: What the world needs now, apparently, is another Medea movie.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.