Imagine E.T. recast as a low-rent comedy, conceived by the cheerfully profane Shaun of the Dead co-stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and you should have some idea what to expect from Paul, their first big-screen collaboration as screenwriters.
Absent the subversive touch of Edgar Wright, who directed and co-wrote Shaun (2004) and the pair’s buddy-cop parody Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul is a slighter diversion, as much a loving homage to geek culture as a gentle send-up of the genre’s lesser entries, including 1988’s Mac and Me.
This has been heralded as the year of the animated movie, and with good reason: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline and Up, among others, proved as engaging for adults as for children, validating a genre unfairly dismissed as kiddie fare by some critics and too many Oscar voters.
To me, 2009 was most memorable for its documentaries. Tyson, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Beaches of Agnes and The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers entertained as well as informed, and all remain worthy candidates for end-of-the-year accolades. Consider them (as well as Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are) runners-up to my list of the year’s best films.
Those expecting another hormonally charged, cheerfully outlandish sex comedy from Superbad director Greg Mottola may be surprised to discover that Adventureland, despite a deliberately misleading ad campaign, is nothing of the sort. It is a far more grounded, even somber affair, populated by thoughtful, unaffected characters whose misadventures ring invariably true. It is also one of the year’s best films.
If you’re ready to experience Vertigo – the Hitchcock classic, not the super-friendly bar and dance club on Polk Street – now’s your chance. As always, here’s a list of some of the films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.
Where: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., 415-668-3994
When: June 3-4
With Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian vying for box-office supremacy this Memorial Day weekend, the cineplex will be alive with the sound of sequels. For those seeking more original fare, here's a list of some of the films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.
1. The Girlfriend Experience
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week