The jazzy score that lingers over the opening images of Roger Mitchell's lovely Le Week-End is the first sign that it will embrace an improvisational narrative style. That doesn't mean the lead characters initially share this same quality: After spending a few scenes with Meg (Lindsay Duncan) and Nick (Jim Broadbent), an older British couple trying to rekindle their marriage during a weekend trip to Paris, breeziness stand at odds with their long-gestating frustrations.
Both are stressed amid their adult son's bad life decisions, their lack of money and a growing emotional unhappiness, yet they aren't zombie-like pensioners trying to stave off the inevitable. "I think we've earned a good time," Meg says, and Le Week-End deftly proves how a conflicted couple can gracefully dance from charming cohabitation to a brazen shouting match in a matter of steps.
Such volatility stems from Meg's desire to be alone and Nick's fear of isolation, which creates a subtext-heavy cocktail for romantic disaster. When the couple runs into an old friend (a perfectly smarmy Jeff Goldblum) on the Paris streets, their vulnerabilities are amplified further by the seemingly inevitable nature of change. It would all be so depressing if Mitchell, Broadbent and Duncan didn't inject so much depth into the proceedings.
Herein lies Le Week-End's true virtue: By spending time with these characters through thick and thin, the film—which opens Friday, March 21, at La Jolla Village Cinemas—gives them the needed space to rekindle a youthful vitality and joy that's been long repressed. The marvelous and playful reference to Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders late in the film only confirms that Mitchell's wise character study deals squarely in the possibility of reinvention. One simply must be brave enough to take the first step.
Bad Words: A former spelling-bee loser (Jason Bateman, who also directs) decides to find a loophole in the competition rules and participate as an adult.
Blood Ties: In 1970s Brooklyn, two brothers face off from opposite sides of the law, turning their families upside down. Expect a lot of yelling and bloodshed. Starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Mila Kunis and Marion Cotillard.
Divergent: The future is a world divided into factions based on tested virtues. A young woman (Shailene Woodley) threatens to topple this rigorous framework when she’s deemed “divergent”—an outsider who must be disappeared.
The Jewish Cardinal: Jean-Marie Lustiger grew up in a Jewish household and converted to Catholicism at a young age. This documentary explores how one man maintained his cultural identity even after he shifted religious beliefs. Screens March 24 through 27 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Lunchbox: In Mumbai, thousands of lunchboxes are delivered every day, thanks to a famously efficient service run by couriers. When one of these orders is delivered to the wrong address, the mistake inadvertently connects an aging businessman and an unhappy housewife.
Muppets Most Wanted: Miss Piggy, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets gang find themselves embroiled in a European jewel heist. It co-stars humans like Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell.
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: The first part of Danish auteur Lars von Trier’s epic about a self-professed sex addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who recalls her origins in the apartment of a stranger (Stellan Skarsgård) while recuperating from a brutal beating. See our review on Page 23.
Particle Fever: Documentary about the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, one of the most expensive and ambitious physics experiments ever conceived. Screens through March 27 at the Ken Cinema.
Le Week-End: An elderly British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) come to grips with their crumbling marriage while spending a weekend in Paris. See our review on Page 23.
One time only
Cold Souls: Paul Giamatti plays a man who decides to get rid of his soul in a futuristic sci-fi society that’s beginning to lose all human emotion. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, the Scripps Ranch Library.
Mine Vaganti (Loose Cannon): The youngest son of a traditional Italian family that runs a massive pasta-making business decides to come out of the closet, risking exile. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
American Hustle: A con artist and his partner / lover are forced to conspire with a loony FBI agent to catch corrupt politicians. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, through Saturday, March 22, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
A Box Full of Rocks: The life of rock critic Lester Bangs is explored in this new documentary by San Diego filmmaker Raul Sandelin. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village.
Inside Llewyn Davis: A folk singer tries to find success in the 1960s Greenwich Village music scene despite being afflicted with deep melancholy. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
Celda 211: Two men on different sides of a prison riot are forced to lean on each other to survive. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the Hall of Nations in Balboa Park.
You Will Be My Son: The owner of a prestigious vineyard in France must come to grips with his winemaker son’s success when he returns home from California. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the Mission Valley Library.
Silent Spring: This WGBH Public TV documentary is about Rachel Carson, whose work in the 1950s and ’60s sparked the environmental movement. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at the San Diego Women’s Museum in Point Loma.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Sometimes we all need a day off as cool as Ferris Bueller’s. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
San Diego Latino Film Festival: This 11-day festival of films, parties and workshops runs through March 23 at UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas and Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me: This documentary follows the legendary Broadway stage actress as she tries to launch another one-woman show at age 87. Ends March 20 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Generation War: Big-budget World War II film tells the story of five young German friends who must make compromises and sacrifices as Berlin turns into an overtly fascist state. Ends March 20 at the Ken Cinema.
The Face of Love: Ed Harris and Annette Bening star in a drama about a woman who falls in love with a man who bears a striking resemblance to her late husband.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Ralph Fiennes leads an all-star cast in director Wes Anderson’s latest film, which takes place inside an elaborate European hotel populated by eccentric characters.
Need for Speed: Based on the popular video game, this action film follows an ex-convict (Aaron Paul) street racer who vows to catch the man who set him up years before.
Stranger by the Lake: Set at a pristine lake that doubles as a cruising spot, a young French man begins a torrid and potentially dangerous love affair with a handsome stranger.
Shirin in Love: This Iranian-American romantic comedy follows an absent-minded young woman who, despite her arranged engagement to a successful Los Angeles plastic surgeon, falls in love with a stranger who lives in a lighthouse in Northern California.
Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club: The title really does say it all.
300: Rise of an Empire: More Spartan chest thumping and skewering, this time in retaliation for the fallen soldiers featured in Zach Snyder’s 2006 gore-fest.
Bethlehem: An Israeli secret-service agent attempts to get a Palestinian informant to incriminate a high-ranking terrorist who’s about to carry out an attack. Ends March 20 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Animated adventure about a father and son who invent a time machine, travel back to witness famous historical events and then find themselves racing to repair the past and save the future.
Non-Stop: Liam Neeson’s seasoned air marshal deals with a series of mysterious threats aboard a transatlantic flight.
Son of God: Jesus, another biopic.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago: Documentary that follows the stories of various pilgrims as they attempt to cross Chile on foot. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Alaska: Spirit of the Wild: Venture north into the great wilderness and explore the harsh but beautiful conditions of Alaska, in glorious IMAX. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Pompeii: Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson sets his sights on the city destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. for his latest muscle-bound action epic in 3D.
3 Days to Kill: CIA agent Kevin Costner’s got—you guessed it: three days to kill his last target or his innocent daughter will die.
Tim’s Vermeer: Tim Jenison is a mad inventor who’s become obsessed with Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s verisimilitude. In this documentary from Penn & Teller, he decides to embark on a multiyear journey to prove that Vermeer used optics to paint such lifelike paintings.
The Wind Rises: Reportedly director Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, this glorious animated biopic about Jiro Horokoshi examines one man’s perilous tunnel vision as he designs war planes for the Japanese government during World War II. Ends March 20 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
About Last Night: Kevin Hart and Michael Ealy play best friends grappling with the highs and lows of new romantic relationships. Another romantic comedy just in time for Valentine’s Day that will make single people cringe with disgust.
Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
RoboCop: It’s hard to believe Hollywood had the gall to remake Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 masterpiece, but there’s confidence to be had knowing Brazilian action filmmaker Jose Padilha (Elite Squad) is at the helm. Crossing our trigger fingers.
Winter’s Tale: Based on Mark Helprin’s popular novel, director Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation follows a burglar (Colin Farrell) who falls in love with an heiress as she dies in his arms. Good thing he has the power of reincarnation.
The Lego Movie: That movie adaptation based on a classic toy set you knew was always coming but didn’t think would actually get made. Well, it did, and it’s here.
The Monuments Men: A museum art historian (George Clooney) recruits a platoon of unlikely soldiers to rescue art masterpieces from the Nazis. Co-stars Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett and John Goodman.
The Great Beauty: A disillusioned novelist traverses modern Rome looking for epiphany in Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous and surreal art film, which is a testament to physical surfaces and emotional depth.
Ride Along: Has Kevin Hart fatigue set in yet? The pervasive comedian stars in this action comedy with Ice Cube playing an angry cop and his future brother-in-law out to test his masculinity.
August: Osage County: A dysfunctional Texas family reunites when its troubled patriarch (Sam Shepard) goes missing, uncovering a barrage of dark secrets and regrets. It’s based on the play by Tracy Letts and stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Chris Cooper.
Her: A lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his new operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johansson) in Spike Jonze’s tender and moving sci-fi romance.
Lone Survivor: Four Navy SEALs are behind enemy lines in the mountains of Afghanistan, fighting an army of Taliban insurgents. It’s based on the failed Operation Red Wings of June 2005 and stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster.
The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s sprawling comedic look at the rise and fall of Wall Street huckster Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who became an infamous figure in New York City in the 1990s.
American Hustle: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O’Russell’s retelling of the infamous Abscam sting established by the FBI in order to capture corrupt politicians and gangsters in the late 1970s.
Philomena: Comedian Steve Coogan takes on a more serious role as a cynical journalist who ends up helping an elderly woman (Judi Dench) search for her long lost son. Oscar nominations are a certainty.
Dallas Buyers Club: In 1985, a drunken rodeo clown Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughy) learns he has HIV. Seeing an opportunity to stave off his own death and make some money, he begins smuggling unapproved drugs in from Mexico.
12 Years a Slave: Abducted and forced to work on a Southern plantation, free man Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejifor) experiences the horrors of slavery in Steve McQueen’s stirring period-piece drama.
Mysteries of the Unseen World: This amazing documentary uses high-speed and time-lapse photography to focus on things that are either too fast or two slow for the eye to see. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.