Back to profile

Stories by Scott Marks

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 ...

Bring the kids to this riot

Laurel and Hardy Fan Club mini-festival January 27

The San Diego Chapter of the Laurel and Hardy Fan Club, aka Saps at Sea, opens their 40th season on January 27 with another riotous one-night mini-festival. “I usually try to make each program a ...

How retro teen mags might have handled Harveygate

Authentic fake news

Hollywood has long looked the other way, covering up for the anomalies and sexual deviances of its stars as long as there was money to be made off of them. You think today’s entertainment industry ...

The Post — Spielberg’s stagiest work to date

Daniel Ellsberg, phone home

Steven Spielberg never has had much luck when it comes to using movie posters as timestamps. The WWII epic Empire of the Sun takes place after the 1939 release of Gone with the Wind, but ...

Tonya fights back

Blade mother

The house lights dim and the following legend greets viewers: “Based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews.” The disclaimer is almost immediately succeeded by bad mom LaVona Golden’s (Allison Janney) first appearance in flashback, ...

Angelika kicks off yearlong Leading Ladies series

Classics screen on the second Monday of every month

It’s always nice to begin the new year on a repertorial note, even one as safe as the Leading Ladies series that begins tonight at the Angelika Film Center. While it’s not a bad list ...

The year in must-avoid movies

How awful must a film have been to have earned a spot in this year’s bottom ten?

Such a monumentally bad year for movies just passed. Will Hollywood studios finally take the hint and look beyond the comic-book rack to find source material? The good news is that for the first time ...

Dig a hole: Rose Marie

Her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show was as iconic as it was uncharacteristic

When a star passes away at the age of 94 people are usually quick to remark, “Really? I thought they died years ago.” Not so of Rose Marie, the feisty comedienne who after working her ...

All the Money in the World lacks vision

But Plummer does unclog the Spacey role

Even with Christopher Plummer’s superb job of bottom-of-the-ninth, out-of-the-park pinch-hitting, Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World needed more than just a Kevin Spacey substitute to keep it from drifting off into the land ...

All the Money in the World buys retakes

Cast and crew gather to discuss controversial movie

Last week saw a pilgrimage (by me) to Los Angeles to cover the press conference for one of the most controversial pictures of the season, Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World. For those ...

How to fill 105 minutes with Ferdinand

Spanish bull as early pacifist

Will Ferdinand’s bravery prove intrepid enough to win this weekend’s box-office battle against The Last Jedi or will the mighty (and mightily fey) cartoon bull prove to be no match for the Force? We all ...

Aki Kaurismäki’s wise and gentle comedy, The Other Side of Hope

Neither of our heroes come equipped with a sense of humor

We open inside the dank hull of a coal freighter — only these lumps have eyes. Khaled Ali’s (Sherwan Haji) peepers blink awake as the stowaway sits up in the lumpy bed of black that’s ...

An unlikely Christmas story: The Man Who Invented Christmas

The velveteen costumes and production design are sumptuous

One month before Christmas, it’s The Man Who Invented Christmas. With three flops in a row and a string of creditors stretching around the block, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) floats the idea of a Christmas ...

Yes, but will He forgive Mark Wahlberg for this?

Terrible sequels, just in time for the holidays: A Bad Moms Christmas and Daddy’s Home 2

Albert Brooks can’t get arrested in Hollywood, but sequels to star-studded, empty-headed comedies continue to flourish. Back-to-back screenings of A Bad Moms Christmas and the second movement in the Daddy’s Home saga made it a ...

San Diego Asian Film Festival: The stench burns

My goal is to encourage audiences to attend more esoteric screenings

It’s time for the San Diego Asian Film Festival to once again take up residence at the UltraStar Mission Valley and the Digital Gym. (Festival #17 runs November 9-18, with the opening night at the ...

Wonderstruck, a near-deaf experience

Haynes and happenstance

Two deaf children, separated by five decades and both searching for the same thing, are flattened by a train of coincidence in Wonderstruck, the latest period(s) melodrama from director Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, Carol). ...

Psycho Heresy

The death of a beautiful woman

The title 78/52 refers to the 78 separate swatches of film and the 52 splices gluing them together that form the most influential three-minute sequence in the annals of modern-movie horror: the shower scene in ...

San Diego Arab Film Festival: this week and next

October 20-21 at Museum of Photographic Arts and October 28-29 at AMC Mission Valley

For the past six years, the San Diego Arab Film Festival has piggybacked off its sister fest in San Francisco. The same can’t be said of festival seven. Not only will they be flying solo, ...

Yes, German satire!

German Currents Film Festival, October 14-15

Think high tide, not slack water when the German Currents Film Festival returns to the Museum of Photographic Arts on October 14-15, bringing with it five films to celebrate its seventh year. Saturday evening’s opening ...

John Carroll Lynch's new film, Harry Dean Stanton’s last

Lucky’s actor-turned-director on Stanton’s last stand

“You’re not likely to get a one-word answer out of me,” laughed the as-a-rule loquacious John Carroll Lynch. Lucky marks the actor’s first time behind the camera — directing Harry Dean Stanton in what turned ...

How old is Burt Reynolds in Dog Years?

"I was blamed for what anyone didn’t like about Hollywood."

This year's screening list for the San Diego International Film Festival arrived, and it was my task to choose an interview subject. I dreamed big. Remember, this is the same organization that in the past ...

Year by the Sea seems a lot longer

A goopy, by-the-numbers women’s picture

Year by the Sea only feels like a decade. Karen Allen takes the lead in the big-screen adaptation of Joan Anderson’s best-selling memoir, and while the tagline promises, “It’s never too late to reclaim your ...

A Boston Marathon bombing victim's story

Stronger's director David Gordon Green

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, but don’t expect the Lifetime Channel. Stronger invites audiences to cast aside all fear of drippy sentiment in tight closeup. This tale of an ordinary ...

Sex & violence & sex & violence

Flesh and blood in this week's new movie releases, including The Villainess and The Wound

I mean, it's the movies, so what else is new? But still. The Wound has violence done to a bunch of guys' sexy bits. Also, sex and violence. mother! has much more violence than sex, ...

Get $5 off any Reader event

Sign up for our email list to get your promo code

Close