Previews of San Diego’s Latino and Burning Man film fests

Juan of the Dead Photo from San Diego City Beat

Considering San Diego’s proximity to the border, I’ve always found it strange that there aren’t more Spanish-language films screened here. You can find Bollywood films on a regular basis, and Horton Plaza has a semi-regular Filipino film series. But aside from the San Diego Latino Film Festivalalmost no one shows movies for the area’s enormous Spanish-speaking population.

That’s too bad. The good news, though, is that there’ll be a massive influx of Spanish-language films when SDLFF kicks off its 19th season on Thursday, March 8. More than 150 films will be screened throughout the 11-day fest, including the Cuban film Juan of the Dead, which is a nice blend of Romero (social commentary) and Shaun of the Dead (seriously funny). I’ve seen several other films that’ll be screened as part of this year’s festival, including the horror flick El Paramo, which finds a squad of Colombian soldiers in a military compound that’s seen some supernatural hard times, and Sal, a film I really enjoyed, about a young Spanish screenwriter who lands in a real-life Western when he visits a remote Chilean town to do research, only to be mistaken for a local badass and targeted by a slew of bad guys. Like the previous two films, it’s clever, sharply written and well-made.

There’s also a bunch of documentaries, including Reportero, which looks at journalism in Tijuana, as well as shorts, animation, family films and the annual CineGay, as well as celebrity appearances and parties. Your best bet is to throw down for a festival pass, but individual tickets are available, as well. SDLFF runs through Sunday, March 18, at UltraStar Mission Valley.

The San Diego Burning Man Film Festival is also happening this week. This one-day event, featuring films about the art circus in the wasteland, kicks off on Saturday, March 10, at the Victory Theater (2558 Imperial Ave.) in Logan Heights. It runs from 11 a.m. to midnight, with five different programs that cost $10 apiece, but you can buy a whole-day pass for $40—and then find some funky spider robot to take you down there.


A Thousand Words: It’s a safe bet that when they originally scheduled this Eddie Murphy comedy to open, he was still slated to host the Oscars.

Coriolanus: Ralph Fiennes stars in his own directorial debut as the former champion of Rome who’s sworn to avenge himself upon the city.

Crazy Horse: Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman takes his cameras to Paris’ most famous strip club.
Friends With Kids: Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt, who also directed, play best friends who decide to have a kid together while keeping their relationship platonic.

John Carter: This epic 3-D sci-fi adventure stars Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as a Civil War veteran transported to Mars. It’s directed by Andrew Stanton, who also made Finding Nemo and Wall*E, but it’s much more traditional than either of those.

Let the Bullets Fly: Wen Jiang’s latest historical action flick pits him against Chow Yun-Fat. The film lives up to its title.

Silent House: Elizabeth Olsen is in a lakeside house trapped by something scary.

Unofficially Yours: This rom-com is the latest in Horton Plaza’s Filipino film series.

We Need to Talk About Kevin: It’s tragic that Tilda Swinton didn’t get an Oscar nomination; she’s amazing as the mother of a bad kid who does some terrible things at his school. See our review here.

One Time Only

The Lie: Joshua Leonard stars in his own directorial debut as a 30-something parent whose marriage is starting to fade. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.

Avatar: Not as awesome in 2-D. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.
Poetry: An aging Korean woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s enrolls in a poetry course to help her face the shame of uncovering a nasty crime in the family. Part of the Coming of Age film series, it screens at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

The Philadelphia Story: Tough call for Katharine Hepburn: Cary Grant or James Stewart. Screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator: Director Pamela Yates turns her lens on Guatemala for another look at that nation’s troubled past. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at The Loft at UCSD.

The Ballad of Cable Hogue: The Library’s Sam Peckinpah series continues with this western comedy, starring Jason Robards as a hobo who accidentally discovers a way to get rich in the middle of the desert. Screens at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, at the Central Library, Downtown. Free.

Donnie Darko: So good and so weird. Jake Gyllenhaal is a teen who can sort of see the past, or the future, or something, and has recurring visions of a 6-foot-tall rabbit. Screens at midnight, Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, at the Ken Cinema.

Citizen Kane: The best movie ever made? Screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10, and Tuesday, March 13, at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

The Mark of Zorro: Did you just love The Artist? Believe it or not, all movies used to be silent, including this one, which is accompanied by a pipe organist. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Copley Symphony Hall, Downtown.

Living Without Money: Documentary about a 68-year-old German woman who quit using money almost 15 years ago. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 12, at the Central Library, Downtown.

Top Hat: Fred Astaire accidentally wakes up Ginger Rogers with his tap dancing. Romantic misunderstandings ensue. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, March 12, at Reading Cinemas Town Square in Clairemont.

Mountains That Take Wing: Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama: This discussion between the two activists, shot in 2009, screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park.

The Bodyguard: FilmOut pays tribute to Whitney Houston at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at the Birch North Park Theatre.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Matthew Broderick’s Bueller-inspired Super Bowl commercial was one of the better ones. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Free.

Now Playing

Project X: Todd Phillips, the guy behind Old School and The Hangover, produces this R-rated teen comedy about a monster party that totally turns into every parent’s worst nightmare.

Coral Reef Adventures: Skip the SCUBA lessons and go underwater in this gorgeous IMAX film screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax: Let’s hope the voice talents of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift don’t overshadow the good Doctor’s environmental message.

Everest: Plenty of people get killed trying to scale the world’s tallest mountain. But you can do it on Fridays from the comfort of the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

In Darkness: Oscar-nominated Polish film about a sewer-maintenance man who hides a group of Jews during WWII.
Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West: Call it the original American road trip, screening Fridays in the IMAX theater at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

Rampart: The first time Oren Moverman made a movie (The Messenger), Woody Harrelson got an Oscar nomination. Here, Harrelson shines as a bad cop in Moverman’s second feature, which was co-written by James Ellroy, a guy who knows a thing or two about writing about bad cops.

Secret of the Cardboard Rocket: Two kids build a rocket in their garage and end up in outer space in this IMAX film screening Saturday mornings in March at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie: Based on the Adult Swim show, Tim and Eric are forced to skip town when they totally blow the billion bucks they were given to make a movie. Ends March 8 at the Ken Cinema.

Thin Ice: Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin reunite for this twisty little crime comedy that’s like a weird cross between Fargo and Little Miss Sunshine.

Act of Valor: Navy SEALS go after a bunch of brown-skinned guys who have kidnapped a CIA agent. The movie stars real-life SEALS, so it’s worth wondering if it’s an action movie or a recruitment video.

Chico & Rita: A surprise entry in the Best Animated Film Oscar field, it tells the story of a young piano player (Chico) and a gorgeous singer (Rita) whose pursuit of their dreams and each other sends them from Havana to Vegas to Hollywood to Paris in the 1940s and ’50s. Ends March 8 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

Gone: Two years earlier, Amanda Seyfriend’s character escaped from a nasty kidnapper. Now he’s got her sister, and she’s not happy about it.

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds: Depending upon your point of view, his good deeds may not include making movies.
Wanderlust: After Paul Rudd is laid off, he and Jennifer Aniston leave New York, only to end up on a commune with the likes of Justin Theroux, Alan Alda and Malin Akerman.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Man, Nicolas Cage must really need the money.

The Secret World of Arrietty: Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay for this anime take on The Borrowers.

This Means War: Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are secret-agent best friends who face off against each other when they both fall for Reese Witherspoon while trying to capture a Eurotrash terrorist. It’s as stupid as it sounds, but everyone is so good-looking and charming that you might be willing to overlook that.

Journey 2: Mysterious Island: Sort of a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, in that it’s an adaptation of a Jules Verne book made family-friendly and in 3-D.

Pina: Wim Wenders directed this film about dance legend Pina Bausch. Don’t miss it, and make sure you see it in 3-D.

Safe House: Young CIA buck Ryan Reynolds must team up with wily veteran Denzel Washington to kill a bunch of bad guys.

The Vow: After Rachel McAdams loses her memory in a car crash, husband Channing Tatum has to make her fall in love with him again.

Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity: Liam Neeson narrates this IMAX film, screening at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

Chronicle: Three Seattle high-schoolers discover that in order to enjoy their newfound superpowers, they have to face the dark side.

The Woman in Black: Daniel Radcliffe tries to break out of the Harry Potter mold with this PG-13 horror movie.
The Grey: Liam Neeson, who somehow became an action star in the last few years, is the lead in Joe Carnahan’s film about a group of Alaskan oil workers trying to survive a pack of wolves after a plane crash.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Stephen Daldry’s new film about an awkward little boy whose father, Tom Hanks, died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, will polarize audiences, who’ll either experience an intense emotional connection or find it sentimental and exploitative.

A Separation: Lovely Iranian movie about a couple going through a divorce who have to endure that country’s labyrinthine legal system when their housekeeper is injured. Just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Iron Lady: Not even Meryl Streep can solve the problems faced by this ham-handed biopic.

Rescue: This IMAX movie looks at first-responders across the globe and includes footage shot during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The Artist: This silent film about a silent-film star (Jean Dujardin) whose world begins to collapse as the talkies take over is a fully realized vision and a legitimate Best Picture contender.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Now with more English! David Fincher’s reboot is far slicker than the Swedish original, but not, perhaps, particularly necessary.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Gary Oldman is great as George Smiley, the semi-retired British spy brought back in to unmask a traitor during the Cold War, but the entire exercise is probably too slow for American audiences.

War Horse: Spielberg’s other big holiday film is about a horse that’s taken from the boy who raised him, serves as an officer’s mount in WWI and ends up seeing action from opposite trenches.

Hugo: Hell hath apparently frozen over—Martin Scorsese has made a 3-D PG family film.

My Week with Marilyn: Eddie Redmayne is Colin Clark, an assistant to Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh), who has to manage his boss’ relationship with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during a production of The Prince and the Showgirl.

The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s first film since Sideways is more straightforward than his previous work, but just as rewarding. George Clooney’s terrific as Matt King, a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after his wife’s injured in an accident.

Midnight in Paris: Woody Allen’s most charming film in years stars Owen Wilson as a Jazz Age-infatuated screenwriter and aspiring novelist who ends up hanging with the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

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.

Read More: San Diego City Beat

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