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Stories by Scott Marks

Oktoberfilmfest

Honestly, a television screen is not the ideal portal of introduction for this film

Streaming service Kanopy has teamed with the Goethe Institute to sponsor 48 films for the Wunderbar: A Celebration of German Films project. Visit kanopy.com/goethe throughout the month of October to watch any of the films ...

Beautiful Boy: Oh, boy

Who is this movie’s target audience?

Daddy Dave (Steve Carell) spends the first quarter of the picture scratching his head while even accidental moviegoers — those who stumble across Beautiful Boy as a fluke, without the benefit of having seen the ...

The shteegan on Fred Saxon

The ringer was still in movie theatre mode when I awoke last Friday to find four messages. To paraphrase comedian Richard Lewis, that many calls so early in the day means one thing: death in ...

A Star is Born, again, for the fifth time

The origins of Lady Gaga's remake

For her big screen debut, au courant warbler/performance artist Lady Gaga offers up a fifth remake of A Star is Born. Here’s a chance to literally see where she’s coming from, give or take a ...

A sampling of the masterful Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Breakdown, Lamb to the Slaughter and Bang! You’re Dead!

A sampling of the masterful Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Glad we had Gilda

“She would walk into the room and all the energy would go to her”

Glad we had Gilda

Gun girl Garner

There must not have been enough zeros on the alimony check

Gun girl Garner

Otto Preminger’s oeuvre!

Three of the director's choice films

Otto Preminger’s oeuvre

Dirty sex, clean windshields

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

As one of the witnesses in Warren Beatty’s Reds, Henry Miller recalled, “There was just as much f*ing going on then as now, only now it has a more perverted quality.” Apparently Mr. Miller had ...

No jokes, folks

Ever imagine what a film would look like if just about everyone involved in the production was buzzing on cocaine and quaaludes?

No jokes, folks. All three of these titles are available to rent on Amazon. The Terror of Tiny Town (1938) I’m betting that most viewers won’t be able to venture past more than a reel ...

Puzzle: Bored game enthusiasts

Why burn daylight snapping together a jigsaw puzzle when it’s easier (and more enlightening) to buy a ticket and watch two characters assemble one? The only missing piece to this otherwise easily fathomable romantic Puzzle ...

Boyz in the hoods

Screenwriter Kevin Willmott talks BlacKkKlansman

So impressed was Spike Lee by Kevin Willmott’s debut feature, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America that as soon as he saw the picture's Sundance premiere, he offered to act as the film’s presenter. Spike ...

Drool over the stylish excess

More than 79 minutes of “successful and progressive prostitution.”

A western, a wabbit, and Marwene Dietwich come under the knife. ­ The Devil is a Woman (1935) A polarizing item among critics and bluenoses, if not a general public that stayed home in droves ...

Midaq Alley: a big-screen telenovela

For those keeping score at home, Midaq Alley has taken home more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. This bustlingly profane Spanish-language adaptation of Egyptian Nobel prize-winner Naguib Mahfuz’s 1947 ...

The Bleak of Araby

Don’t you hate it when, while rifling through a desk drawer in search of a book of matches or piece of scratch paper, a character accidentally happens upon the one indisputable clue needed to solve ...

Laugh-out-loud satires

The biggest, baddest, blackest mother of ‘em all

Sorry to bother you, but this week’s digital downloads (all available through Amazon) comprise a trio of superior, laugh-out-loud satires. C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) C.S.A. explores what might have happened had the ...

Meet Eighth Grade's star pupils this Saturday

Elsie Fisher and Emily Robinson in town for Q&As

As if an opportunity to relive the last hellish week of grade school weren't enough, the two star students of Eighth Grade will be in town this weekend to celebrate the film's opening. If your ...

Comic book artists in cinema

A frothy 60s sex satire

The annual celebration of everything that’s wrong with contemporary cinema is upon us. Here are three satires about comic book artists to act as antidote, all available on Amazon Prime. Artists and Models (1955) Was ...

Swedish fish and the Oregon Trail

Normally, the lead photo art corresponds with the lead review, but protocol be damned when you hook a whopper like this: a candid shot of Ingmar Bergman posing with Spielberg’s toy shark, Bruce. To commemorate ...

The Digital Gym, five years in

Quick: what was the first film to put the Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym on the map? Having to answer that question produced the first of two blushes from the organization’s founding father and guiding ...

A pair of masterful mutts

The pup’s POV is about as Hitchcockian as it gets

A pair of masterful mutts followed by a spot of roadkill. Pard and Bohunk are both available on Amazon. Stream them tonight. Benji fell out of copyright. Consult YouTube. High Sierra (1941) Legend had it ...

A return to hard R-rated blaxploitation?

SuperFly surpasses the original

Trailers for BlacKkKlansman, White Boy Rick, and The Equalizer opened the first day/first show screening of Director X’s SuperFly reboot. If a return to hard R-rated blaxploitation is what’s needed to karate-kick comic book excessivity ...

Love in the time of big hair and neon

Three teen romances from the 1980s

Let’s return to a time when girl-power had more to do with romance than showing a male superhero that she can be his equal. Follow links to rent online. Valley Girl (1983) A savage on ...

Beastly Boys

American Animals serves up four wannabe crooks who watch too many movies

The sounds of birds chirping and crickets grinding knee bones underscores the brief procession of film financiers and production company logos that precede American Animals. Then a quote from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of ...

Johnny Rocks

Three instructional sessions from the school of hard Knoxville

This week’s column celebrates the opening of Action Point (and my interview with Johnny Knoxville) with a trio of non-Jackass related titles. All three available for rent on Amazon. The Ringer (2005) After Jackass: The ...

Johnny Knoxville, helicopter parent

"When they say something naughty, I’m laughing harder than anyone. But when it comes to their safety, I get really squirrely."

When a newscaster comes on the radio to report on a robbery foiled by an officer on duty, my mind instantly leaps to an image of a cop standing in a pile of doody. Needless ...

Seats and screens and sci-fi spectaculars

A moviegoer's reserved behavior

As a fan of both the Saw franchise and the two big houses at the Reading Grossmont, I reasoned that there was no better multiplex in the country to watch an opening-day showing of Jigsaw. ...

Triple-X entertainment

Project X, The Return of Dr. X, and X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

John Badham’s Project X (1987) What is an inordinately intelligent baby chimp like Virgil to do when, in the great tradition of Walt Disney, we open with the removal of not one, but two of ...

Between the covers, between the sheets

Fifty shades of gray pubic hair

Tale of the Tape: Book Club, Famed Dames Awards Edition — Jane Fonda (7 Oscar noms, 5 Emmy noms, 2 Oscars, 1 Emmy); Diane Keaton (4 Oscar noms, 1 Emmy nom, 1 Oscar); Mary Steenburgen ...

Our cup bubbleth over

Three films about living in bubbles, literal and otherwise

Watching Bel Powley break free from her single-room existence in the coming-of-age werewolf drama Wildling brought to mind this trio of trapped teen tales. Randal Kleiser’s The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976) Your basic ...

A five-star farewell for Abbas Kiarostami

The late director's final work, 24 Frames, makes a movie from his photographs

Just moments before I headed out the door for a screening of I Feel Pretty, an email arrived from the Digital Gym containing a link to 24 Frames, the final film signed by the late ...

Blown away by a metaphysical whirlwind

Hirokazu Kore-Eda's latest at the Asian Film Festival's Spring Showcase

With its overall superb yearly batting average, the San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase, now in its 8th year, generally heralds the last gasp of quality moviegoing at the multiplex before the summer season ...

Cinderella in reverse

Nary a jiggle on my built-in geezer porn detector during Finding Your Feet

A sideways glance at the poster for Finding Your Feet was all it took before I began fanning away the aroma of flop sweat prompted by visions of the Boynton Beach Club Bucket Listers waking ...

Harold Lloyd's organic flow

These early slapstick two-reelers should be required text for all wannabe comic filmmakers

This week we feature a trio of Harold Lloyd shorts from 1920, all of which are available on YouTube. Alfred J. Goulding and Hal Roach’s Haunted Spooks While Lloyd was posing for promotional stills midway ...

Laurel & Hardy chased by Tex & Charley

The Sons of the Desert holds its next meeting this Saturday night

Hear, ye! Hear, ye! Attention Laurel and Hardy enthusiasts and all the saps at sea! The next gathering of the San Diego chapter of the Sons of the Desert will be held on Saturday night, ...

Fervent charm

Gayness gets Simonized

When was the last time you visited a mainstream multiplex and the sight of two men kissing on screen wasn’t greeted with either uncomfortable laughter from the audience or caterwauling rumbles of disapproval? Well now, ...

San Diego Latino Film Festival turns 25

Telenovelas no, melodramas sí

Before congratulating Moisés Esparza, Programming Manager for the San Diego Latino Film Festival and Digital Gym, on this year’s outstanding lineup, let’s unleash a whole lotta love in the direction of festival papa Ethan Van ...

Oscar autopsy

Positivity and gripes

Jimmy Kimmel opened by calling for a night for positivity, so I will begin my coverage of the 90th Annual Academy Awards accordingly. (Not surprisingly, threats of controversy never materialized.) Dept. of Happy Memories While ...

There are no alleys in San Diego

Typo or truth?

Who jumped the opening date of Flower by posting their rave review almost one month in advance? Color me guilty, but with an excuse! Make that a pair of excuses. This year, both February 23 ...

Ten reasons Three Billboards doesn’t deserve any of its technical nominations

Cursed weaknesses

Perhaps my admiration for Martin McDonagh’s previous films (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) made my disappointment with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that much more acute. I waited as long as possible before publishing this, but ...

We get letters

“Exclamation mark!”

Recently received in the Letter to the Editor voicemail: “I would like to submit a letter, and it would say, ‘Who is your movie critic? Exclamation mark! Please do not let them rate movies while ...

Kiddie matinee ends in bird-flipping silence

Tales of AMC Plaza Bonita's boneheaded projectionist, too!

And so my Saturday begins, as at least one weekend morning a month does, with an early-a.m. kiddie matinee, this one at AMC Plaza Bonita. Never mind the feature in question. The screening took place ...

How can you not love a Flower that blooms into such moments of unexpected tolerance as this?

A rare commodity

A minor, eager to raise her pappy’s bail money, offers to exchange video evidence — footage of her engaging in sex acts, secretly recorded by two accomplices — for trips to various ATMs with her ...

Get Out: Free President's Day Screening

Four-time Oscar-nominated contender at AMC Mission Valley

Budgeted at approximately $5 million, IMDB reports that as of January 26 the cumulative worldwide gross of Get Out has reached $254,716,534. Director Jordan Peele and the management at Universal can afford to paper the ...

Barack Obama in Barry Poppins

Official portrait painter Kehinde Wiley takes us on a jolly holiday!

From Shmuel's Loxicography of Yiddish Design: Hallucious, adj. Pronunciation: cha-lush-us. Etymology: from the Yiddish "a chaloshes," literally to faint. 1) Sick-making; atrocious, particularly in reference to artistic shlock.

S&M (smut & moronity) with Fifty Shades Freed

Laughably consensual tawdriness and corresponding bad acting

Fifty Shades Freed at last, that is, as moviedom’s favorite boy-beats-girl franchise draws to a halting climax. This viewer needed closure after having survived the first two, so it just makes sense that I cast ...

Twenty cartoons that need to be banned!

Warning: Do not read if you are allergic to blueberries

Alcoholism! Child abuse! Anal fetishism! Smoking! Bestiality! Suicide! Opioid abuse! Transgender latrines! White Supwemacy! The cartoons we grew up on were a celebration of evil, a microcosmic cesspool of all of America's ills distilled to ...

Films to see at the Jewish Film Festival

Jews in showbiz: 11 days at multiple venues

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival puts down stakes from February 8–18 with screenings to be held at Edwards Mira Mesa, Edwards San Marcos, the Lot, and the festival’s home base, the David and Dorothea ...

Damage won’t bring justice

Human Rights Watch Film Festival starts Thursday at MOPA

The Blood Is at the Doorstep opens, as so many documentaries on the subject of police shootings do, with the sights and sounds of a city — in this case Milwaukee — under siege. It ...

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