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Stories by Scott Marks

Female-fashioned frights

XX: A killer quartet

"Four deadly tales directed by four killer women.” That’s the tagline for XX, the new horror anthology opening Friday at the Digital Gym. This type of press agent math never adds up. Has there ever ...

Nine films, two Saturdays, twelve Excedrin

AMC Best Picture Showcase kicks off February 18

She pulled within a seat of me and couldn’t wait to inquire about the open notepad on my lap. “You a critic?” she asked. “Nah,” I deadpanned, “if the movie stinks I’ll doodle.” “Seriously,” she ...

San Diego Film Week showcases a vast menu of local cinema

Festival runs Friday, February 10 to Sunday, February 19

Following the the footsteps of San Diego Restaurant Week (or Beer Week) comes San Diego Film Week: 7 days, 7 festivals, 7 workshops, 100 shorts and features, and thankfully only 2 parties. The project is ...

Is indoor drive-in the next big thing?

No. No, it’s not.

The Variety headline read, “Dine-In Cinema Gets Immersive: Indoor Drive-In to Open in Nashville.” An indoor drive-in offering an immersive dining experience translates to Carbon Monoxide Cocktails on sale at the concession stand and a ...

Three films to see at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Seventh annual festival at MOPA through Sunday

The Museum of Photographic Arts Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre once again plays home to the Human Rights Watch Film Festival which runs Thursday, February 2 through Sunday, February 5. For more information and a ...

Marx Brothers ballyhoo

Majestic the cat helps find some hidden gems

Return to a time when movie promotion meant something more than web page banners or a lone poster fastened before an auditorium door. It began by googling “Mary Tyler Moore” in search of a memorial ...

Paterson’s hometown pride

Life surrounds us with poetry

Paterson refers both to the film’s New Jersey locale and lead character (Adam Driver), a married bus driver who fancies himself a poet. Imagine The Honeymooners’ Ralph Kramden as the Bard of Bensonhurst: Cook me ...

Paul W.S. Anderson puts an end to Resident Evil

3D or not 3D: that is the question!

I became aware of Paul W.S. Anderson while teaching film classes at Chicago’s Columbia College. It was around the time Anderson’s Mortal Kombat was released on home video and one of my students couldn’t wait ...

Glasses aren’t just for drinking

“You say ‘Asante,’ I read ‘Assante.’ Asante, Assante…”

The email subject heading read: “A United Kingtdom Press Screening and Phoners.” Great! And who is Fox Searchlight pitching for a possible phone interview? None other than durable leading man Armand Assante who, according to ...

That ’70s movie

Life in Santa Barbara, 1979, “the time before America lost its individuality”

The characters in Mike Mills’s third feature, 20th Century Women, can’t wait to share their writer-director’s sketchy reminiscences of life in Santa Barbara, 1979. Mills calls it “the time before America lost its individuality,” but ...

They don’t care if their picture sucks

2016, the year in review

Critics and fans alike are calling 2016 a terrible year for movies. That would be the case if all one took in were the blockbusters and the well-intentioned message pictures that round out the list ...

Digital Gym and the NAT team for Reel Science

All four Saturdays in January

The little theater that could and the best screening venue in Balboa Park — sorry, MoPA, you’ve been outclassed — and a group known only as Film Geeks SD are joining together for a month-long ...

Boresese

Scorsese’s painful piety

Silence isn’t golden. He may not be the hardest working man in show business — not with just one theatrical release every two years — but at 74, and with almost 60 features, shorts, and ...

Ten minutes with Debbie Reynolds

She did it Debbie’s Way

“Hi, this is Debbie. If you are over 30 and have been inactive or have any ankle, knee, or back problems, you should have a medical checkup before starting any exercise program.” The preceding disclaimer ...

Scorsese turns his back on contemporary cinema

But the 15% justify the trek through the sludge

Martin Scorsese claims to have stopped watching most contemporary films. “Cinema is gone,” he told the Associated Press. At a New York press conference Scorsese admitted, “I don’t see that many new ones over the ...

Must-see movies of 2016

Top ten of the last year

10) Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister At their estranged father’s funeral, the oldest of three sisters takes it upon herself to ask her little-known teenage half-sister — the product of an adulterous relationship that “crushed ...

Lion doesn’t roar

But Nicole Kidman delivers one of her finest performances

“‘Based on a True Story” has replaced “The Adventure Continues” as Hollywood’s most cringeworthy coming attraction tagline. Just because a narrative is rooted in reality doesn’t mean that its chronicler isn’t going to lie, cheat, ...

Talking “twilight time” with La La Land’s director of photography

Cinematographer Linus Sandgren racking up a bushel of awards nominations

When was the last time you saw an expressionistic use of color in a trailer, let alone a feature? There was more color in the preview for La La Land than a box of 120 ...

Eight minutes with Pablo Larraín

Not enough time with the director of Jackie

I owe my love of Pablo Larraín to the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Their programming of Tony Manero and Post Mortem was tantamount to extracting a giant thorn from this reporter’s paw. Tony Manero ...

The emotional wallop of Jackie

Natalie Portman takes us through a cauterized grieving process

Individuals who have history thrust upon them frequently make the best movie subjects. Lawrence of Arabia, Melvin and Howard, The Last Emperor, Vera Drake, and many other cinematic profiles have done wonders with a passive ...

Ring in the season with The Bells of St. Mary’s

Christmas at the movies with Ing and Bing

When asked to name a sequel that surpasses its original, The Godfather, Part II and The Bells of St. Mary’s are always the first to come to mind. (Exorcist II: The Heretic runs a close ...

The perfect Christmas present for the avid film goer

We be jammin’

A few weeks ago, a story appeared on The Big Screen about a “critic” who couldn’t manage to make it through a screening without texting. It was greeted with a tidal wave of sympathetic comments ...

Tour the Academy Film Archive with MoPA

Shuttle departs Friday, December 16

The Museum of Photographic Arts invites you to spend a day in Hollywood walking through the extensive picture collections at the Academy Film Archive. Established in 1991, the Archive currently houses 190,000 items including an ...

Sarsgaard gets stood up

On playing RFK in Jackie and how to be a convincing sheriff

Why would anyone cancel a phoner with Peter Sarsgaard? The next critic in line did just that, leaving twice the normal allotted time for your Big Screen correspondent. Our talk was meant to promote Sarsgaard’s ...

Warren Beatty’s latest film in ten years is not totally void of charm

Rules Don’t Apply to this guy

The trailer for Rules Don’t Apply, with its promise of one notorious playboy starring as another equally profligate real-life womanizer, set the bar high. You see, rules don’t apply to Warren Beatty. They never have. ...

Free advance screening of Sing on Saturday, November 26

Shake off Black Friday by taking the kids to a movie

There will be a free screening of the upcoming Universal Studios release this Saturday morning at 10 am. Here's the catch: you have to be one of the first 200 patrons in line at either ...

Critic trades in cell phone for a padded cell

Critic-call behavior

What’s the textbook definition of stupid? Anyone — “critic” or pass-whore — who sits in the same row as I and proceeds to text during a movie. Believe it or don’t, that's exactly what one ...

Two films on photography and more this week at MoPA

"Something old, something twisted, something new, and something experimental"

It’s always nice to welcome an old friend back to town, particularly one who is as bright and talented a filmmaker as Wolfgang Hastert. After years spent studying and getting his graduate degree from Duke ...

Trump on film

All brilliant performances. Believe me! Believe me!

President-elect Donald Trump — it feels dirty just writing it — could have been the next Clark Gable. Just ask him. Before the shortchanging, meow-meow-grabbing real estate tycoon transformed New York City into a garish ...

Munsters Marineland redux

Watch an hour-long TV special not seen in over 50 years

November 2, 2016 will go down as a good day. The Cubs won the World Series, this proud papa’s built-tough 1994 Ford Ranger, for five years the apple of my eye, studied hard and passed ...

San Diego Asian Film Festival returns

New director, same good quality

The Pacific Arts Movement’s San Diego Asian Film Festival breezes through town this week and for the first time in its 17-year history, festival founder Lee Ann Kim will not be in the driver’s seat. ...

When it’s sports vs. movies, sports always wins

Take me out to the movies

Martin Scorsese was once asked his opinion of professional sports. “Sports?” he scowled. “Anything with a ball, no good!” Forgive me Marty, for I have sinned. True, there is no bigger waste of time than ...

Aquarius appears to direct itself

A fully realized family melodrama, not a chick flick

Every year around award season, a cry goes out bemoaning the lack of quality female parts in movies today. For those not allergic to subtitles or a 142-minute running time, there’s Aquarius — a gleaming, ...

Kelly Reichardt on the minds of Mary Tyler Moore and Kristen Stewart

Email exchange with Certain Women's writer-director

Seconds after the email offering an interview with Kelly Reichardt crossed my desk, a reply in the affirmative was sent. Hopefully I made the best of our brief time together. Scott Marks: Can you give ...

German Currents Film Festival returns on October 22

Scott Marks hosts post-show Q&A with director Wolfgang Becker

The sixth annual German Currents Film Festival returns to Balboa Park this weekend, and with it comes the usual fine array of five films you’re not likely to find anywhere else in town. The call ...

Gitmo out of life, go to a movie!

Mobile cinema truck shines light on Guantanamo

Modern Times would have to wait. No sooner did the DVD of Chaplin’s immortal comedy come off the shelf then I found myself drawn to the contents of the supplementary disc. The documentaries, footage of ...

Taxi Driver is on the big screen October 16 and 19

And the Ken launches another stellar week of revivals

Listen, you screwheads, here’s a film that still can take it...a theatrical revival over 40 years after its initial release...a film that stood up...to the test of time...here is Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. Nothing before ...

ACTION! film festival highlights environmental activism, not CG mayhem

Screenings run October 20-22 in La Jolla

From the folks who bring you the booming San Diego Surf Film Festival comes another three-day screening gala. The second annual, somewhat misleadingly titled ACTION! International Film Festival comes to La Jolla’s Misfit Pictures HQ ...

Grossmont Theatre to serve high-end food and drink

Sample the new fare on Friday, October 7

What better way to cloud your vision of San Diego’s two largest theatre screens than by taking advantage of Grossmont Cinema’s new stocked bar? As if movies weren’t intoxicating enough, this weekend Reading Cinemas Grossmont ...

Joe Grifasi on The Deer Hunter and No Pay, Nudity

New film at San Diego Film Festival October 1 and 2

This came about thanks to the kindness of Jean Walcher, public relations sage and President of J. Walcher Communications. Jean’s cousin is the executive producer of No Pay, Nudity, a delightful Broadway Danny Rose-ish comedy ...

Fifty years of Kurt Russell puts him in Deepwater

Well from hell

From Disney to Elvis(es) to Plissken and now Jimmy Harrell in Deepwater Horizon, opening Friday at a multiplex near you, those of a certain age would be hard-pressed to recall a period when they didn’t ...

Stars come out for this year's San Diego International Film Festival

Festival runs September 28 – October 1

“Putting on a festival is kinda like having a baby,” writes Tonya Mantooth, executive and artistic director at the San Diego International Film Festival. “You don't remember the pain until you go into labor, aka ...

Judy Davis is a stitch as The Dressmaker's mad mom

Performance already generating Oscar buzz

Judy Davis had a bad cold, her normally husky voice pitched a few octaves lower. After a couple of postnasal one-word answers, the interview appeared destined to be the shortest on record. One mention of ...

Benefit screening helps retired racehorses

Harry & Snowman plays La Paloma Theatre on October 9

It’s funny the way fate has a habit of yanking the reins when it’s least expected. An Amish plow horse named Snowman was but a few laps away from the glue factory until Dutch immigrant ...

Local actor scores first-class accommodations on Eastwood’s Sully

Shane P. Allen shares what he learned from working with the master

A call came in from Shane P. Allen, a 53-year-old Tierrasanta resident and realtor by day, eager to talk about his performance in Clint Eastwood’s Sully. Here’s how the happily married father of three (“my ...

Hitler goes Hollywood: Top 10 movie Führers

Let’s start the week with a smile and a “heil!” with this video assemblage of Tinseltown’s Ten Best Fascist Dictators. Here they are arranged in order of rank. 10) Considering the variety of top-shelf candidates ...

Does Sully sink or swim?

Reader movie critics talk it out

The title of Clint Eastwood’s latest, Sully, works as a two-edged nod to both titular hero and what the National Transportation Safety Board wanted to do to his reputation. There isn’t an American alive who ...

Dig a hole: Hugh O’Brian

John Wayne’s last on-screen fatality dies

Hugh O’Brian, the lantern-jawed cowboy star who apprenticed at the hands of several Hollywood mavericks and later rose to stardom as TV’s Wyatt Earp, has died. Born Hugh Charles Krampe, O’Brian dropped out of college ...

Reader calls for Wiseman retrospective to play San Diego

Heard any other good jokes lately?

A Frances O’Neill Zimmerman of La Jolla writes: “The first ten films (from 1967 to 1976) of famed aging documentarist Frederick Wiseman are being screened in Los Angeles at Cinefamily on North Fairfax beginning August ...

Director enjoys making his characters suffer in The Light Between Oceans

Steady torrents of anguish

Light is hardly the word to describe the melodramatic slog that awaits viewers in writer-director Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans. After a tour of killing Jerrys in the Great War, bachelor Tom (Oscar®-nominee Michael ...

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