The epic back-story behind Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune in 1975 is one of madness and creativity crashing together. At least this is the fabled mythology that director Frank Pavich and his documentary Jodorowsky's Dune would like the audience to believe. But this ungainly and self-righteous slice of film revisionism tries so hard to convince the viewer of its subject's martyrdom that it comes across as pure hero-worship.
After gaining early infamy for creating surrealist nightmares like El Topo and The Holy Mountain, two films that would go on to define the midnight-movie culture of the 1970s, Jodorowsky set his sights on the classic sci-fi novel. With the help of French producer Michel Seydoux, the Mexican filmmaker began recruiting his group of "spiritual warriors," including special-effects upstart Dan O'Bannon, painter Chris Foss and designer H.R Giger, and a dream cast led by Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger.
The thing that makes Jodorowsky's Dune so confounding is how simplistically it traces a very linear timeline from the project's inception through its demise. The cause-and-effect pattern that frames each talking-head interview is banal at best and downright manipulative at worst. The structure ultimately pits the visionary auteur Jodorowsky against the Hollywood machine, a business institution that ultimately denied the filmmaker funds to bring his hallucinatory vision to life.
Visually, the artwork and storyboards for Jodorowsky's non-film are often astounding. What's missing is a sense of coherent planning that would have made the project anything other than a massive money pit for cautious investors. Jodorowsky's Dune—which opens Friday, April 4, at Hillcrest Cinemas—suggests that its subject's endlessly insane philosophical rambling and arrogance should've been enough for Hollywood to buy into the project at face value. Not on this planet.
Breathe In: A young foreign-exchange student moves in with a family in upstate New York and complicates their lives. It stars Felicity Jones and Guy Pearce.
Captain America: Winter Soldier: Chris Evans reprises his role as the patriotic avenger who must now battle a mysterious super soldier who’s threatening to destroy Washington, D.C.
Goodbye World: A couple living off the grid suddenly find their rural oasis clogged with estranged old friends who begin showing up after a massive cyber attack cripples the American government and sends the nation into a state of collapse. Screens through April 10 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Jinn: A supernatural thriller about an automotive designer whose idyllic life is uprooted when he receives a cryptic warning of imminent danger.
The Missing Picture: Rithy Pahn’s innovative documentary recreates atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, using clay figures, voice-over narration and archival footage. Screens through April 10 at the Ken Cinema.
Jodorowsky’s Dune: Documentary looks back on filmmaker’s Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to bring Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune to the big screen.
Nymphomaniac: Volume II: The second chapter of Lars von Trier’s controversial character study about a self-professed nymphomaniac named Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who tells her sordid story to a stranger.
Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This is Stones Throw Records: Documentary covers the history behind the Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records, weaving together rare footage from concerts and home videos. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
Teenage: Documentary by director Matt Wolf that uses filmed portraits, archival footage and voice-over to explore the evolution of the modern teenager. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.
White Water, Black Gold: David Lavallee journeys down the Athabasca River in Canada to investigate the impact oil has on the water quality. Screens through April 9 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
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The Unbelievers: This is the new documentary by Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, devout atheists who go on a lengthy road trip from New York City to Australia, preaching reason and science over religion. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at UCSD’s RIMAC Arena.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his crew of inept reporters transition from the San Diego airwaves to the big-time cable networks of New York City. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Ms. 45: Abel Ferrara’s bleak 1981 masterpiece is about a mute seamstress who falls victim to multiple unspeakable assaults before taking vengeance against her attackers. Screens at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
5 Broken Cameras: Documentary, shot by a Palestinian farmer, about life in a West Bank village that’s surrounded by Israeli settlements. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at the Serra Mesa / Kearney Mesa Library.
Mi Verano con Amanda 3: Puerto Rican comedy about a man who suffers from a severe form of paranoia and drives his friends crazy during a trip to an island with supernatural qualities. Screens at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Part 3 of the Indiana Jones saga finds our archeologist hero (Harrison Ford) battling Nazis with his elderly father (Sean Connery) in tow. Screens at 7:15 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Arclight La Jolla.
Kill Your Darlings: The Beatnik poets of 1960s Greenwich Village attempt to work through their jealousy and desire for one another. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 7, at the San Diego Public Library in East Village.
The Oranges: Two families living in suburban New Jersey turn on each other after an act of sexual promiscuity breaks down their façade of friendship. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at the Hervey Branch Library in Point Loma.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show & Shock Treatment: A double dose of subversive cinema, thanks to FilmOut San Diego. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the Birch North Park Theatre.
Cesar Chavez: The first narrative film to dramatize Cesar Chavez’s attempts to unify farm workers in California’s central valley in the 1960s. It’s directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Peña.
Enemy: A lonely college professor (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Toronto discovers that he has a double, and then becomes obsessed with finding out why.
Ernest and Celestine: In this Oscar-nominated animated film from France, a precocious mouse meets a grumpy bear and threatens the strict ideologies of their respective societies.
5 Hour Friends: Tom Sizemore plays a middle-aged golfer and flagrant womanizer who finally gets a taste of his own medicine when a female companion cheats on him.
Noah: Darren Aronofsky’s long-gestating epic about the titular biblical figure (Russell Crowe) and his epic quest to build an ark and save the world’s species from a worldwide flood.
On My Way: Catherine Deneuve plays Bettie, a former beauty queen whose struggling restaurant is about to fold. During a weekend road trip, she finds herself contemplating her life decisions and finding peace with their outcomes.
Sabotage: Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a brutal DEA unit tasked with taking down the worst offenders. When members of the team start dying, all signs point to a Mexican cartel.
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.
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 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.
Particle Fever: Documentary about the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, one of the most expensive and ambitious physics experiments ever conceived.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.