I’m old enough to remember when Dave Grohl was overshadowed by Kurt Cobain. But he’s done pretty well for himself since Nirvana ended with Cobain’s 1994 suicide. After 18 years of success with Foo Fighters, Grohl has stepped behind the camera to make his first film.
Sound City, which screens just once in San Diego—at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Hillcrest Cinemas—profiles the legendary San Fernando Valley studio where folks like Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty and Metallica laid down tracks. The movie also examines the shift from analog to digital recording, and how, at least in Grohl’s world, some of the human aspect of the recording industry was lost. Sound City was where Nirvana recorded Nevermind, the album that would change their lives forever, so the subject has a personal connection for Grohl, who interviewed people like Stevie Nicks, Frank Black, Trent Reznor, Lars Ulrich, Taylor Hawkins and former bandmate Krist Novoselic for the film.
Another documentary with limited showings is The New Juarez, the final film in Charlie Minn’s trilogy about the drug war in Mexico. Minn’s been making films like this for years, including 8 Murders a Day and Murder Capitol of the World, but The New Juarez appears to say that things are looking up ever-so-slightly in that violence-plagued border town (I’ve seen only the trailer).
We need more filmmakers like Minn who grab a subject and don’t let go. Sadly, you’ll have to journey to the Regal Rancho del Rey in Chula Vista to see his new one, since that’s the only theater in the area that’s screening it.
Bullet to the Head: Sly Stallone is a hit man who teams up with a cop to find the guy who killed their partners—and shoot a bunch of guys along the way. It’s Walter Hill’s first film in a decade.
Oscar Nominated Short Films: All 10 Oscar-nominated short and live-action films play the Ken Cinema, and there are some real winners in this batch.
San Diego Black Film Festival: The SDBFF enters its 11th season as one of the largest black film festivals in the country. Dozens of movies will screen from Thursday, Jan. 31, through Sunday, Feb. 3, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp. See sdbff. com for movies, showtimes and tickets, and be sure not to miss the annual Shaft Superfly Party.
Sisterakas: Filipino comedy about a guy who hires his half-sister on the Internet to be a personal assistant, with the intention of making her life hell.
Stand Up Guys: Al Pacino gets out of the joint after almost 20 years and immediately hooks up with his old associates, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.
Warm Bodies: In a world populated by both zombies and humans, one member of the walking dead (Nicholas Hoult) starts to have feelings for a real girl (Teresa Palmer).
One Time Only
Tarantula: Watch out. The spinner of this web isn’t Charlotte. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Central Library, Downtown.
One Night Stand: Creating a Play in a Day: This sort-of documentary is about folks like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cheyenna Jackson, Richard Kind, Roger Bart and Nellie McKay, putting together a musical in 24 hours. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at several area theaters. Check fathomevents.com.
Dumb & Dumber: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels—still dumb after all these years. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Ghostbusters: The folks at The Propagandist are rolling out a new cocktail menu on Feb. 2, which includes The Gatekeeper, named after the character in this slimy comedy. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, at The Propagandist, Downtown.
My Fair Lady: It won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor Oscars. Not too shabby. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Plan 9 From Outer Space: Those jokers at RiffTrax offer up an encore performance of their take on arguably the worst film ever made. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at several area theaters. Check fathomevents.com for details.
Bestiare: This quiet documentary examines animals—and their relationship to nature and humans—in a way you’ve never seen before. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Loft at UCSD.
Any Given Sunday: Get prepped for the Super Bowl with Oliver Stone’s take on the NFL. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
Jerry Maguire: Get prepped for the Super Bowl with Cameron Crowe’s take on the NFL at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach.
The Producers: This is the more recent version of Mel Brooks’ movie, which is based on the Broadway musical, which was based on the original movie. Screens at around 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park.
The French Connection: One of the greatest cop movies of all time. Gene Hackman won an Oscar for playing Popeye Doyle, a gritty NYPD narc who stumbles on a huge drug conspiracy. The movie also earned Best Director honors for William Friedkin, Best Adapted Screenplay and, yeah, Best Picture. Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, and Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
The Pink Panther: Luckily, this is the 1963 original, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, and not the Steve Martin remake. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach
Even the Rain: A crew of filmmakers, including Gael Garcia Bernal and Luis Tosar, is making a movie in Bolivia about Christopher Columbus. Getting in their way is a local uprising over water rights, which happens to parallel the Indians’ struggle against the Spanish 500 years prior. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at the Central Library, Downtown.
Chicago: The Best Picture winner for 2002 is pretty sharp, but the wave of movie musicals we expected in its wake never really arrived. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.
Groundhog Day: Bill Murray’s obnoxious weatherman has to live the same day over and over and over again. Ironically, it just gets better with age. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Quartet: It’s surprising that it took Dustin Hoffman this long to direct a movie. Quartet, about what happens when a faded opera singer (Maggie Smith) is forced to move into a home for retired musicians, including the rest of the quartet she left behind, is slight, but enjoyable.
56 Up: Every seven years since 1964, filmmakers have captured the lives of a group of British children who were just 7 when the process started. Director Michael Apted has spent a lot of time with these people, and it shows.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: Sure. Why not?
Movie 43: Three teenagers kick around the Internet, looking at nasty short films, which allows all kinds of big stars, like Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet and Emma Stone, to appear without making a huge commitment.
Parker: After his crew double-crosses him, Jason Statham teams up with Jennifer Lopez to get his revenge.
West of Memphis: Amy Berg’s new documentary about the West Memphis Three looks at the entire journey of the men who were railroaded on murder charges as teens and spent almost 20 years in jail. It also casts a light on a new suspect—and not the person you might expect.
Race 2: This Bollywood action sequel finds the hero heading to Turkey to track down the bad guys who killed his girlfriend.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Wait, what? Didn’t this micro-budget movie come out last summer before being nominated for a slew of Oscars last week? Yeah, that’s why it’s back in theaters, Sherlock.
Broken City: Ex-cop Mark Wahlberg finds himself immersed in scandal when he starts trailing Catherine Zeta-Jones, wife of New York Mayor Russell Crowe.
Cosmic Collisions: So, that asteroid that might smash into Earth in 20 years is much bigger than previously thought? Awesome. This new IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet looks at what happens when things bash into each other in outer space. On the bright side, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, at least future species will have a new source of fossil fuels.
The Last Stand: What do governors do after they’re termed out? Star in ultraviolent movies, of course! The Governator plays Ray Owens, an inexperienced border-town sheriff who’s the only thing standing between a drug lord and his destination in Mexico.
Mama: Fresh from Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain has to take care of her young nieces, who survived in the woods for five years. Also, there are ghosts or something.
Amour: Michael Haneke’s Palm d’Or-winning 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 Impossible: Biopic about a family, led by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, caught up in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
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.
Parental Guidance: Billy Crystal and Bette Midler agree to look after their grandchildren. Hilarity for a certain demographic ensues.
Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise takes on the title role in a movie based on the best-selling series of books, obviously looking for another Mission: Impossible sort of franchise.
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.
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.
Anna Karenina: Director Joe Wright teams up again with his Pride & Prejudice star Keira Knightley to take on another period drama. Ends Jan. 31 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.