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Stories by Scott Marks

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, ...

Anne Frank in the attic

Local Matt Sivertson’s first feature, Love All You Have Left

A private message arrived from local actress (and new Facebook friend) Caroline Amiguet asking that I attend this Friday’s screening of her husband Matt Sivertson’s first feature, Love All You Have Left, in which she ...

Remembering Jerry Lewis

A first-hand account

The elevator doors parted just in time for me to spy the hotel maid emptying the contents of a garbage can into the housekeeper’s trolley. We exchanged smiles as she passed, the opulent carpeting of ...

A Rumble: “Indian” vs. “Native American”

Political correctness rules in critic’s favor

Political correctness is a game one must master in order to keep the paychecks coming. One thing this woefully incorrect chronicler has learned the hard way is: what plays in the head need not always ...

Scorsese to produce a comic book movie

It’s the death of cinema!

My response is always the same: “I’ll attend Comic-Con when Scorsese puts in a personal appearance.” Be careful what you bitch for. Seven months ago Scorsese proclaimed, “Cinema is gone!”, in effect admitting that he’s ...

Escapes, a docu-biography

Who knew that Blade Runner was financed in part by Flipper’s TV dad?

Contemporary documentarians, adrift without historical recordings to help illustrate their case, too often try and pass off stock shots from vintage black-and-white studio releases as the emmes. Michael Almereyda’s docu-biography Escapes never once attempts to ...

How do you like your popcorn?

By the bucket or by the bag?

Popcorn became part of the moviegoing experience beginning in the late ’20s. The cinematic staple was originally dispensed in a paper sack, the crinkling of which by inconsiderate patrons was said to drown out dialogue. ...

Damaged parents

The Glass Castle, by San Diego’s own Destin Daniel Cretton

An old joke came to mind while watching Destin Daniel Cretton’s The Glass Castle. A father and his two young children stand outside a 7-Eleven, asking all who enter to spare a little change. Before ...

The Glass Castle: local director goes from self-made DVD to Naomi Watts

Destin Cretton just wanted to stick a disc on the shelf and see if anyone bit

Flash back a decade: I’m working the counter at Citizen Video in South Park. Enter Destin Daniel Cretton, a lanky, well-scrubbed local lad in his late 20s with a DVD copy of Drakmar: A Vassal’s ...

Valerian is a...dim the lights, would ya?

A true-life story from the front lines of cinema

The private screening, generally a matinee performance that plays to an audience of one, is becoming an all-too-common occurrence. At a time when patrons can’t log off long enough to survive a feature without developing ...

Dig a hole: June Foray

Cartoon-character voice-artist made it to 99

Little Scotty’s weekdays began with Chicago’s legendary Ray Rayner Show. One could always count on Ray for a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon featuring June Foray as the voice of Granny. Lunchtime fun consisted of Bozo’s ...

Where to see Dunkirk in 70mm

Pick your battle station wisely

When a studio goes to the effort of setting up an IMAX screening for the press, consider me first in line. It’s a luxurious perk and one that generally comes back to reward its backers ...

The original Rotten Tomato

B.J. wouldn’t allow anyone to make it out the front door without asking, “How many stars?”

For every knowledgeably staffed Kensington Video, Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, Facets Multimedia, or any number of cutting-edge video rental stores that once gave lonely cinephiles a place to go and someone to talk to, there ...

Damn hurty Apes

We now believe a motion-capture monkey thinks, feels, reasons, and eventually speaks

The 20th Century Fox fanfare (with CinemaScope addendum) that opened War for the Planet of the Apes was performed on jungle drums and didgeridoo. Sometimes a film earns points even before the opening credits hit ...

Director Nick Hamm on his Journey

The road less troubled?

The historical understructure of Nick Hamm’s The Journey came as news to me. Your humble correspondent Mr. Ugly American must have been at the movies the week Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) ...

No refund on free passes?

How about cash back if you don't like the picture?

The sun was shining, the climate genial, and a Terence Davies picture that deserved a fate better than a single-screen living room playing at the Digital Gym. Time to go to the movies. Talk about ...

A warm Kaiser role from Christopher Plummer

Knew more about Wilhelm II than the movie reveals

The last time San Diegans saw Christopher Plummer perform was as fictional Nazi hunter Zev Guttman in Atom Egoyan's Remember. This time around he plays an exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception which opens ...

Beatriz at Dinner makes the history books

Salma Hayek’s Beatriz has the worst haircut of the actress’s career

I’m not alone in my observation that Beatriz at Dinner will make the history books as the first narrative feature released since Trump took office that takes direct aim at the billionaire-game-show-host-turned-POTUS. It also has ...

Beatriz at Dinner is served

Director Miguel Arteta feasts on Salma Hayek

Sometimes the first impression of an artist whose work one will later grow fond of drops anchor in the unlikeliest of places. Such was the case of Miguel Arteta, whose latest, Beatriz at Dinner, opens ...

Let’s get younger females to see a movie about war

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and producer Pete Shilaimon discuss Megan Leavey

Read the review and enjoy a few words about Megan Leavey (and Blackfish) from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and producer Pete Shilaimon. Scott Marks: You got a lot of nerve, sister, showing your face in this ...

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