In real life, Matthew McConaughey wears a shirt. Or at least he was wearing one the other day, sitting opposite the poolside bar atop the Hard Rock Hotel, a pinch of Skoal planted between his cheek and gums.
McConaughey wants to make it clear that his current project is a little different than what his fans have come to expect: “People have a certain brand representation with me, that it’s going to come out on 2,000 screens, it’s a comedy, it’s gonna be glossy. We want to make sure they know it’s not the typical McConaughey film.”
He’s talking about Surfer, Dude, the new movie produced by jklivin, his production company. He stars as Steve Addington, a legendary surfer who’s perpetually dazed and confused, partly because of the pot he smokes throughout the movie. Addington’s not really like the rest of us—though he has no shirt and no shoes, he still gets service from plenty of hotties. His problems are oddly existential—his contract is owned by a guy who wants to put him in reality TV and video games, and the ocean is suffering a two-month wave drought. So even if this analog guy sticks it to the digital man, he can’t indulge the one thing that keeps him going.
Surfer, Dude thinks we’re too plugged in. “If you’re in that cyberworld and your image of reality and your POV of what’s happening around is based off this tool, or the TV, your soul’s getting stripped,” McConaughey said. “You gotta watch those things, because they can start tooling you instead of being the tool.”
But Surfer, Dude isn’t all that deep, and there’s plenty of other things that get stripped on screen. There’s no shortage of bare breasts, and McConaughey takes a potshot at himself with a naked didjeridoo session. Though the lighting is low, McConaughey’s junk is on display to guarantee healthy DVD sales.Opening
Another Gay Sequel: Gays Go Wild: Cute gay boys head to Florida for hot spring-break action. Instead, they find love. Wrong state, fellas—marriage is out of the cards.
Burn After Reading: The Coen brothers’ new film is a thriller-comedy reuniting bromancers Pitt and Clooney. Pitt, along with Frances McDormand, is a gym employee who blackmails a gnarly ex-CIA guy (John Malkovich) who leaves his unpublished memoirs behind after a workout. Let’s hope it’s more Fargo than The Ladykillers.
Gulong: The latest entry in the San Diego Asian Film Festival’s ongoing Filipino film series, Gulong is about a young boy whose quest for an old bicycle kicks off a chain of events that affects everyone around him. It runs Sept. 12 through 18 at the UltraStar Chula Vista.
In Search of a Midnight Kiss: A Web 2.0 romance. An unhappy L.A. dude just wants New Year’s Eve to wrap itself up so he can start fresh. But a buddy talks him into posting a craigslist ad that’s answered by a woman looking for just the right guy to plant one on at midnight.
Mister Foe: Jamie Bell is the titular Mister Foe, a screwed-up kid with a talent for peeping on people and plenty of anger directed towards his stepmother, whom he blames for his mother’s death.
Righteous Kill: Two aged New York cops investigate murders that are eerily reminiscent of a case they tackled years ago. Just check the cast: Al Pacino. Robert De Niro. And 50 Cent? For reals.
Sixty Six: Yes, it’s about a young Jewish boy in England preparing for his bar mitzvah. But Paul Weiland’s semi-autobiographical picture is universal. It’s 1966, and there’s a chance England will make the World Cup Finals on exactly the same day poor geeky Bernie is slated to have his bar mitzvah. Helena Bonham-Carter is his mum, and Steven Rea plays the doctor who looks after him. See our review here.
Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys Together: Two families, one white and one black, are intertwined in an adulterous web, pitting matriarchs Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates against each other.
The Women: Annette Bening and Meg Ryan star as rich New York bitches in this remake of George Cukor’s 1939 take on Clare Booth Luce’s classic play.
One time only
Rotonda: Part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival’s year of Filipino Cinema, Rotonda is set at a seedy urban intersection and follows a single piece of currency as it makes its way from one character to another, each holder desperately needing a break and a little redemption. They’re all on a collision course, and it’s something that can’t end well. Through Thursday, Sept. 11, at the UltraStar Chula Vista.
October Sky: This is the one that put Jake Gyllenhaal on the map, believe it or not. Based on true events, he’s a poor kid in a coal-mining town who starts building rockets in his backyard after the first Sputnik launch, against the wishes of grumpy dad Chris Cooper. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium at the Carlsbad Library. Free.
San Diego Latino Film Festival Short Films: The series continues with a collection of family-oriented animated shorts that have appeared in past festivals. Local dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Tapatio de San Diego kicks things off at 6:30 p.m., and the film rolls at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Otay Ranch Town Center. Free.
Showgirls: Best. Bad. Cult. Film. Ever. With lots of tits. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Army of Darkness: The sequel to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 is still all about Ash, who has been time-warped to 1300 A.D. Facing a brutal army of the undead, all he’s got on his side is his shotgun, his muscle car and his chainsaw hand. This movie rocks. Screens at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Free.
Calle 54: A documentary love letter to Latin jazz from Fernando Trueba that includes performances from Jerry Gonzalez, Eliane Elias and, of course, the fabulous Tito Puente. Screens at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.
Buddha’s Lost Children: The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego Asian Film Festival team up for this documentary about a boxer-turned-Buddhist monk who helps orphans in his native Thailand. Sort of like, you know, Kung Fu. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, at MCASD in La Jolla.
Psycho: Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the shower. Hitchock’s classic is still scary. Yep, there’s a reason Anthony Perkins never quite got past being typecast as Norman Bates. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept 11, through Saturday, Sept. 13, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Tainos and Mi Verano con Amanda: The first two feature films from Puerto Rican director Benji Lopez. Tainos is about a modern-day archeological expedition that encounters a hidden pocket of Taino Indians deep in the caves of Puerto Rico. Mi Verano con Amanda, is a rom-com about a shy dude who tries to hook up with a famous model on the bad advice of his lousy friends. Both screened Saturday, Sept. 13, at the UltraStar Hazard Center. Tainos starts at 10 a.m., Amanda at 2 p.m. $25.
The War Tapes: Seeing is believing. Director Deborah Scranton gave digital video cameras to members of the National Guard on their way to Iraq, and they capture their experiences before, during and after. The movie came out in 2006 but wasn’t released in San Diego. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at the North County Democratic Unity Office in Escondido (135 E. Grande Ave.) Free.
1000 Journals: In the summer of 2000, some guy from San Francisco who calls himself Someguy took 1,000 blank journals and released them into the world, stamped with the instructions: “This is an experiment and you are part of it. Add anything you like, then pass it on.” Three years later, number 526 returned, full. Andrea Kreuzhage’s documentary crisscrosses the globe to find out what happened to the other 999. Screens at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, at Influx in Golden Hill. A $5 suggested donation benefits the San Diego Women’s Film Festival.
Yojimbo: You know A Fistful of Dollars, the awesome first entry in the Clint Eastwood spaghetti-western oeuvre? It totally copped from this classic from Kirosawa. His regular leading man Toshirô Mifune is a roaming samurai who finds himself in a town split by two families of bad guys. Oh, yes, there will be blood. Screens at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at Whistle Stop Bar in South Park. Free.
Trainspotting: The best film Ewan McGregor has made. Danny Boyle, too. Who would have thought a movie about strung-out junkies could be so much fun? Well, except for the overdoses, AIDS, shady money deals, dead babies and that gnarly scene with the toilet. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, at Café Libertalia in Hillcrest. Free.
Chicago 10: Director Brett Morgan takes on the famous trial of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and the other Yippies who, according to the government, instigated the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Rather than going the standard talking-head route, Morgan weaves the footage he collected into a narrative and tackles the court scenes with actors reading the transcripts on top of rotoscoped animation, creating two entirely different looks and feels. Hank Azaria voices Abbie Hoffman; Roy Scheider, in one of his last roles, is the voice of Judge Julius Hoffman (no relation), the very picture of government repression. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, at the Downtown Central Library. Free.
The Astronaut Farmer: Space is the place for Billy Bob Thornton, a one-time astronaut who builds his own rocket ship in his barn. Virginia Madsen is quite good as his long-suffering wife. Very PG and inoffensive for a BBT joint. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium at the Carlsbad Library. Free
The Motorcycle Diaries: Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a pre-revolutionary Che Guevara, off on a road trip with his best bud (Roderigo De la Serna), doing the things young men do as they look for their place in the world. Of course, not so many of them end up taking over small island nations. Presented by the San Diego Latino Film Festival, it screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Otay Ranch Town Center. Free.
Boogie Nights: Before There Will be Blood and before Magnolia, Paul Thomas Anderson made Boogie Nights, an epic look at porn. The movie launched Mark Wahlberg’s career and earned Oscar nominations for Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and Anderson, for Best Screenplay. He should’ve gotten a direction nom, too, because even though the subject is risqué, the movie is terrific and you can see early inklings of the filmmaker he would eventually become. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Almost Famous: We’re guessing someone at Stone went to school with San Diego prodigal son Cameron Crowe, because Crowe’s Vinyl Records is giving out swag at the screening of this semi-autobiographical story of a 16-year-old rock journalist sent on the road by Rolling Stone to cover a seriously big band, loosely based on Crowe’s teen experiences on the road with The Allman Brothers. It’s funny, sensitive and sweet and introduced the world to Patrick Fugit. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. Free.
Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival: Sure, it’s a bit of a drive, but Temecula’s not a bad place to spend a few days watching movies and drinking wine. Gena Rowlands and composer Lalo Schifrin will get the Fest’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the lineup includes a decent mix of features, shorts, foreign films and animated works, including The Waitlist, a documentary shot by several SDSU alums at Sundance last year. The fest runs Wednesday, Sept. 17, through Sunday, Sept. 21. www.tviff.com.
Bangkok Dangerous: Another Nic Cage action movie. This time, he’s a hit man who goes to Thailand to whack people but ends up falling in loooooove. Actually, this one has promise—it’s written and directed by Asian-horror-meisters the Pang brothers, who remake their own insane 1999 Thai film.
I Served the King of England: A gorgeous movie about Jan Dite, a Czech man who attempts to live and love (lots of love!) between the ’20s and the ’60s as he works at a fine hotel in Prague. But can a man simply live his life outside world events, especially those that happened in Czechoslovakia leading up to and during World War II?
Babylon A.D.: Vin Diesel returns to sci-fi, the genre that made him the massive star he once was. He’s a mercenary taking a woman from Russia to China. Sounds easy, but she hosts some sort of nasty organism that a freaky cult wants to get its hands on. Mathieu Kassovitz, who made Gothika and the searing La Haine, is at the reins.
Disaster Movie: It’s a small-budget parody of big-budget disaster films, and we wish it would melt in the heat of a plane that’s crashing into a volcano during a massive earthquake tsunami. No surprise, Carmen Electra plays “Beautiful Assassin.”
Mamma Mia!: The Sing-Along Edition: Perhaps you wish you could stand up in a darkened theater and belt out the ABBA songs featured in Mamma Mia! Well, your time has come. There’s a new edition of the based-on-the-hit-Broadway-musical film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan that will feature the lyrics to all the songs on the screen, like a disturbingly large karaoke machine. You’ll be with a group of like-minded ABBA fans, so your version of “Take a Chance on Me” will be supported—nay, encouraged—by the rest of the faithful.
Traitor: Don Cheadle is a former U.S. Special Operations officer who may or may not have been compromised by the extremist and terrorist groups he’s been infiltrating undercover for years. Guy Pearce is the straight-laced FBI man sent to track him down.
Transsiberian: An American couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) are living a lifelong dream, taking a trip from China to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Too bad the folks they start hanging out with are drug dealers, putting them smack in Johnny Law’s crosshairs. And once the train is rolling, well, it’s hard to get away from former KGB agent Ben Kingsley.
Death Race: The satire that originally appeared in Roger Corman’s 1975 camp classic, Death Race 2000, is missing, but if you’re the sort who wants to see pimped-out armored cars armed with massive machine guns shooting at each other on an enclosed prison racetrack, you won’t care. Jason Statham is Jensen Ames, a former NASCAR driver framed for murdering his wife so a crooked warden (Joan Allen) can get him behind the wheel of her ass-kicking deadly racing franchise. Sure, it’s thin, but it puts the muscle in muscle car.
Elegy: Isabel Coixet directs this adaptation of Philip Roth’s short novel The Dying Animal, about a serial seducing college professor, played by Ben Kingsley, and how his life is turned upside down by a former student (Penelope Cruz) whom he finds himself falling for.
House Bunny: Anna Faris is a Playboy bunny who gets tossed from the mansion only to wind up at a sorority house full of socially inept ugly ducklings. Just like in real life, it turns out the women of Zeta Alpha Zeta just need a really hot, skimpily clad chick around to make them feel good about themselves.
The Longshots: Family-friendly football film directed by—drum roll, please—Fred Durst. That’s right, Fred “Did it all for the nookie” Durst. Fred “Sex tape on the Internet” Durst. And, apparently these days, Fred “Wholesome family man” Durst. Keke Palmer is Jasmine Plummer, in this true story of the first girl to ever play in the Pop Warner football tourney. Ice Cube’s her dad.
Bottle Shock: A terrific premise that is sadly more schlock than shock. Bill Pullman is the winemaker who could, the man whose Chardonnay beat out the French in a blind 1976 tasting, putting Napa wines on the map. But the dialogue is trite, and his relationship to his slacker son, Chris Pine, just never feels real. It’s like a bottle opened too soon. Alan Rickman is great, though, as the Englishman who puts the event together. Like a fine wine, Rickman just gets better with age.
Fly Me to the Moon: This is the first animated film made specifically in the new 3D, and word is that they got it right. Still, it’s a cartoon about three young houseflies that stow away in the Apollo 11 moon flight. Take the kids, and then explain to them that it’s Buzz Aldrin, and not Buzz Lightyear, voicing Buzz Aldrin.
Frozen River: It’s about time Melissa Leo got a leading role. Best known as a cop on TV’s Homicide and for being harassed by ex-beau John Heard, Leo dropped off the map for a while, but she returns in this intense little drama. She’s a single mother who teams up with an Indian to smuggle immigrants on the reservation between the U.S. and Canada. The film earned Grand Jury Prize honors at Sundance.
Mirrors: Keifer Sutherland moves from his super secret agent on 24 to a mall cop, charged with making sure nothing goes down in an abandoned mall. Too bad it’s haunted by scary mirrors.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: Three years after their first film, the Sisterhood, including Amber Tamblyn and Ugly Betty’s America Ferrera, is back, transitioning into a time when young women go through new changes in their lives. That’s right, college. As in, keggers, sororities, the freshman 15. They stay connected via their amazing pair of magic pants, which—now that the girls are older—have college boys trying to figure out how to get inside them.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Force goes animated. The new film—really the pilot for an ongoing show on the Cartoon Network—doesn’t capture the awesomeness of the 1977 original. But it’s still better than the last three movies.
Tropic Thunder: Ben Stiller directed and stars in this monster comedy about a bunch of spoiled actors dropped into a real war zone. The thing is, they think it’s a movie set, but the guerrillas they’re up against are the real deal. Jack Black stars as the funnyman taking on a serious role, and Robert Downey Jr. is the award-winning actor who dyes his skin to play the part of the unit’s black sergeant. Like most of Stiller’s stuff, it’s really dumb and kinda funny. Oh, and in this case, it’s rated R, so it’s also really violent.
Vicky Christina Barcelona: Will Woody Allen ever make another film in New York? After shooting the last two in the U.K., he moved his act overseas. Scarlett Johanssen and Rebecca Hall are tourists in Barcelona who find themselves infatuated with mysterious brooding painter Javier Bardem. When his crazy ex-wife (Bardem’s real-life honey, Penelope Cruz) enters the picture, the whole trip becomes a total bummer.
Man on Wire: James Marsh directs this compelling documentary about Frenchman Philippe Petit, who illegally tightrope-walked between the World Trade Center towers in 1974. Man on Wire explores Petit’s obsessive and meticulous plotting, and how he convinced a group of wild-eyed young adventurers to assist him. Drawing on gorgeous archival footage and charming the audience with vivid storytelling, it’s an imaginative, entertaining riff on heist movies.
Pineapple Express: Seth Rogen and James Franco play buddies Dale and Saul, whose possession of some ultra-rare weed leads them into compromising situations with the police, thugs, drug dealers and a Chinese crime syndicate. Yeah, it’s as dumb as it sounds. It’s also hilarious and hugely entertaining, with a star-making performance by Danny McBride as Red. Keep an eye out for the absurd props, which provide some unexpected laughs.
Brideshead Revisited: The latest version of Evelyn Waugh’s pre-WWII novel is brought to life by director Julian Jarrold and a cast of distinguished Brits, including Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon. If you like Atonement and Merchant Ivory productions, this should be right up your alley. The rest of us may be caught nodding off from time to time.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: It’s hard to imagine there were fans begging for a second sequel in The Mummy franchise, but Brendan Fraser is back for this trilogy-capping finale, co-starring Maria Bello and Jet Li. Chances are Fraser will deliver a lot of dumb catchphrases, Bello will look hot and Li will, um, kick people in the face.
Step Brothers: An excuse for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly to act like 14-year-old boys. Both are 40-year-olds who still live at home. When their parents get hitched, they suddenly find they have to get in each other’s faces. Yes, it’s scatological and raunchy—it’s so over-the-top that Step Brothers benefits from its R-rating. Still, it feels like it’s a movie for 15-year-old boys who will have to sneak in.
The Dark Knight: It’s finally here, and yes, Christopher Nolan’s new Batman movie is everything you hoped it would be. An epic two-and-a-half-hour crime drama that examines the complicated nature of good, evil and heroism and simply must be seen on an Imax screen to be believed. Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhard are all well-served by a tense, taut script, but it truly is Heath Ledger’s movie, as he plays Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, with a shambling malevolence that’s terrifying and intense.
Mamma Mia!: The hit Broadway musical consisting of nothing but Abba tunes is turned into a big, fat Hollywood movie. But this one’s got Meryl Streep as an overbearing mother. Her daughter Sophie is getting married, but she doesn’t know who her dad is. So she invites all of mom’s exes—Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård—to the wedding.
Tell No One: A French doctor, whose wife was murdered years ago, finds that the police have reopened the case and that he’s a suspect once again. Worse, he gets an e-mail that links to a video clip that suggests that perhaps his wife is actually still alive.
Journey to the Center of the Earth: Kids won’t have to be too tall to ride the undoubtedly forthcoming theme-park ride based upon this 3D re-envisioning of the Jules Verne classic, because it is decidedly PG. It’s not bad, necessarily, just somewhat bland and inoffensive. Brendan Fraser is the laughingstock of the scientific community who takes his nephew and a hot Icelandic mountain guide down into, well, the center of the earth. Where there are T-Rexes and all sorts of other dangers, all of which conveniently throw themselves directly at the camera. The 3D effect is OK, but the movie’s appeal is going to fall off dramatically on DVD.
Hancock: In Peter Berg’s dark new picture, Will Smith is Hancock, something of a quintessential American superhero—powerful as a locomotive, generally drunk and surly, often doing far more harm than good in a world of good intentions. But things change when he saves the life of idealistic publicist Jason Bateman, because the new guy decides to remake Hancock’s public image, and because his wife—Charlize Theron—is way hot.
Wall*E: Our hopes are high for the cute li’l titular robot, whose trailers are enough to make us both laugh and cry. It’s hundreds of years in the future, and Wall*E’s been cleaning up our mess since we left. And along the way, he’s gotten lonely. Sure, we already get the An Inconvenient Truth messaging, but Pixar has yet to do us wrong.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: No, it’s not a time warp—the love-it-or-hate-it camp classic continues its midnight run in its 37th year of release. When the lead character of the film is a transvestite scientist named Dr. Frank-N-Furter, you know you’re in for some seriously trashy viewing. And, of course, this is the one movie where you want the audience shouting at the screen. Screens Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas.
Fridays at the Fleet: Sea Monsters and Mysteries of Egypt are some of the rotating films shown each Friday at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s IMAX theater where, for only $7.50, you can catch four flicks. Sure, it’s more Discovery Channel than Transformers, but the Fleet’s enormous old-school dome screen is way cool, and some of the talent—narrators like Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp—is impressive. You might find yourself as mesmerized as the little kiddies sitting around you. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. Check www.rhfleet.org for the screening list.