The 11th San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp, the festival's traditional home. The opening-night movie is The Sapphires, about an Aboriginal girl group that entertains the troops in Vietnam, and an after-party will be held at Fluxx nightclub.
That's the way most film festivals work, and it's the way SDFF has worked in the past. But as I reported last week in our Fall Arts issue, this year marks the first SDFF under new leadership, and after opening night, there are a number of changes from previous years. The biggest is the addition of another venue. The festival will also screen films at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla branch, where it'll present Good Will Hunting and a tribute to director Gus Van Sant (who'll be in attendance). Van Sant's films will be screened throughout the festival, though it remains to be seen if his new one, Promised Land, which reunited Van Sant with Good Will Hunting lead Matt Damon, will make an appearance.
Another big difference is the increased presence of international films and panels that are considerably higher-profile than in previous years. SDFF has always had a strong documentary element, and there are some interesting ones on this year's docket, like Trek Nation, which was executive-produced by Gene Roddenberry's son Rod, and Not Yet Begun to Fight, a movie about wounded veterans, some of whom live in San Diego, featuring sequences shot at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park. The big bash is the Almost Famous block party, which will take place outdoors at Fifth Avenue and G Street, Downtown, at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28. The real-life Pennie Lane, whom Kate Hudson played in the film, will be on hand.
There are more than 100 films all told, and with two locations, there are two closing-night pictures: Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut, Quartet, and Grassroots, a comedy about a city-council election. The whole shebang runs through Sunday, Sept. 30; a list of films, panels, parties, along with ticket and location details, can be found at sdff.org.Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You can follow Anders on Twitter at @anderswright.
10 Years: It’s the night of his 10-year high-school reunion, and Jake (Channing Tatum) is about to propose to his girlfriend (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) when he runs into a classmate (Rosario Dawson) he hasn’t seen since they graduated.
Hellbound?: This documentary explores whether or not hell exists. The interview with Satan is a dead giveaway.
Hotel Transylvania: You won’t be surprised to hear that this new animated film involves vampires. And 3-D.
Kamaal Dhammal Malamaal: This Bollywood remake of a Bollywood blockbuster, screening at Horton Plaza, is about a timid young man desperate to win the love of the village’s hottest girl.
Learning to Fly: This feature-length comedy screening at Horton Plaza was made as part of the 48-Hour Film Project.
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.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: This adaptation of the beloved young-adult novel has made plenty of old adults feel for their youth.
Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick is the new girl at college who finds her place by joining a bad-ass all-girl vocal group.
Stars in Shorts: No Daisy Dukes involved. This collection of seven short films features some names you’ve heard before, like Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Jason Alexander and plenty of others. See our review on Page 24.
Soloman Kane: A vicious, 16th-century guy finds redemption when he’s instructed by one of Satan’s minions to kill the really bad guys who are trying to take over England. You know they must be bad if Satan thinks so, right?
Vulgaria: Chinese film about a down-on-his-luck film producer forced to humiliate himself in order to get funding for the remake of a soft-core ’70s flick. It’s also oddly meta, breaking the fourth wall on a regular basis.
We Are Family: Bollywood dramedy screening at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp about an uptight fashion designer who has to change her way of life when her husband’s ex-wife gets cancer.
Won’t Back Down: Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal are two angry moms who, um, won’t back down after taking on the bureaucracy that makes the school their kids attend so crappy.
One Time Only
A Better Life: An illegal immigrant in L.A. works night and day to keep his son in school and a roof over their heads. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the food court at Otay Ranch Center.
The Goonies: Smart kids beat crooks, 1980s-style, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Young Frankenstein: They’ll be puttin’ on the ritz at noon and 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Parents: UCSD’s ArtPower! kicks off its new season with Bob Balaban’s quirky little film from the ’80s, about a suburban kid from the ’50s who starts to think his parents might be cannibals. Yummy. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, on the East Lawn of UCSD’s Price Center.
Rear Window: Hitchcock’s classic—and the inspiration for the Shia LaBeouf film Disturbia—stars James Stewart as a photojournalist with a busted leg who thinks he might have witnessed his neighbor commit murder. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, through Saturday, Sept. 29, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Shawshank Redemption: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman star in the adaptation of Stephen King’s short novel at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Some Like it Hot: The Ken’s anniversary celebration continues with this entry from the ’50s, easily the most popular film ever shot in the San Diego area (yes, even more popular than Top Gun). Screens at noon, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30, at the Ken Cinema.
Trust: The teenage daughter (Liana Liberato) of Clive Owen and Catherine Keener is stalked online by a predator. There’s some great acting, and it will probably make you force your kids to get offline. The film will follow a 5 p.m. meal on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Women’s Museum of California in Liberty Station.
In a Lonely Place: It’s not as well known as his other films, but this noir features one of Bogart’s best performances, and that’s saying something. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.
Horrible Imaginings Film Festival: San Diego’s horror-film fest screens a special edition for college kids, anchored by the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and George A. Romero’s Martin. Happens Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 1 and 2, in UCSD’s Price Center Theatre.
E.T.: Turner Classic Movies puts Spielberg’s classic back on the big screen. Of course, these days, E.T. would probably just use Skype. Screens at 7 p.m., with some 2 p.m. matinées, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at several area theaters. Check fathomevents.com for details.
Rad: Only the greatest competitive BMX movie of all time. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Hello I Must Be Going: Todd Louisa’s little romantic dramedy stars Melanie Lynsky as a 30-something divorcée who moves back in with her parents and ends up having an affair with the son of one of her dad’s potential clients.
End of Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are L.A. cops targeted by a Mexican cartel after a routine traffic stop.
Dredd 3D: Karl Urban straps on the helmet and cruises the streets of MegaCityOne as judge, jury and executioner in the latest adaptation of the popular U.K. comic book.
Entre Les Bras (Step Up to the Plate): Doc about the legendary French chef Michel Bras and his attempt to hand his restaurant over to his son. Ends Sept. 27 at the Ken Cinema.
The House at the End of the Street: Jennifer Lawrence and her mother, Elisabeth Shue, move next door to a house where there’d been a brutal murder. When Lawrence makes friends with the sole surviving family member, things get dangerous.
The Master: The new one from Paul Thomas Anderson looks at the relationship between drifter Joaquin Phoenix and emerging religious figure/cult leader Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It is intelligent, artistic, cerebral, and challenging.
My Uncle Rafael: A producer desperate for a hit hires his aging uncle to star in a reality TV show, billed as the first show with an Armenian lead.
Trouble with the Curve: Aging baseball scout Clint Eastwood would have much more success if he’d stop talking to chairs.
You May Not Kiss the Bride: An action comedy about an unassuming pet photographer who’s forced to marry a Croatian mobster’s daughter, who’s then kidnapped during their honeymoon.
Unconditional: A woman’s faith is tested after her husband is murdered.
Heroine: This new Bollywood movie is about a film actress whose career is on the decline.
The Mistress: This romantic comedy is the latest entry in Horton Plaza’s Filipino film series.
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.
Finding Nemo 3D: All those fish are going to look great in 3-D.
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. See our review on Page 25.
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 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. Ends Sept. 27 at the Ken Cinema.
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.
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. Ends Sept. 27 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
The Words: Bradley Cooper plays a successful writer who must finally face up to the fact that he stole someone else’s work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hope Springs: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones turn to Steve Carell to put some zip back into their marriage.
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.
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.
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.
Tyler Perry’s Medea’s Witness Protection: What the world needs now, apparently, is another Medea movie.
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. Ends Sept. 27 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
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.
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.