John Cho is tired of getting high – literally, at least. That doesn’t mean he’s ready to retire Harold Lee, the normally cautious investment banker whose buttoned-down approach goes up in smoke whenever he’s around best buddy Kumar Patel. But Cho, who stars opposite Kal Penn in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, could certainly use a break from flying.
After tour stops in Chicago, Washington and Toronto, the 39-year-old Seoul, South Korea, native has arrived at San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel to promote the doped-up duo’s latest misadventure, and make no mistake, his spirit is willing. But his body? Not so much.
Reluctant to buy into the Moneyball hype? Not a problem. There is no shortage of worthy alternatives to be found this week in the city, including the San Francisco Irish Film Festival (playing through Sunday at the Roxie) and these fine offerings:
1. The Long Goodbye
Where: Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., 415-621-6120
When: Sept. 28
Don't expect Kevin Smith, the soon-to-retire (but hardly retiring) director of seminal '90s comedies Clerks and Mallrats, to be shaking hands and signing autographs this Sunday at the Balboa, where his first horror film, Red State, will make its one-night-only Bay Area debut. But that doesn't mean you can't engage the uncommonly candid filmmaker in a battle of wits.
Smith will host two screenings of State, his blood-soaked indictment of religious fanaticism and all-around hypocrisy, via live interactive broadcast from the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, rapping with fans and critics alike after each show.
To say that critics made Kevin Smith’s career might seem to ascribe too much significance to the whims of a vocal but oft-ignored minority. But to hear Smith tell it, it was New York Times writers Janet Maslin and Dave Kehr whose unreserved praise of his modestly budgeted Clerks (1994) helped put the former convenience-store cashier on Hollywood’s map.
Miguel Sapochnik’s love letter to American health care and the subprime lenders who felled the country’s economy takes us 20 years into a bleak, bloody future where artificial organs are sold at a premium ($600,000 for a synthetic heart) and reclaimed by knife-wielding thugs once clients default on their payments.
Remy (Jude Law) is one of those thugs, coldly carving up the hopeless saps whose bodies are essentially on loan from his employer, the Union Corporation. He is unmoved by the grislier aspects of his work, perhaps because he buys so readily into the company credo. “You’re not taking a life,” his boss (a smugly soulless Liev Schreiber) explains. “You’re keeping the Union viable so we can continue to give it.”
Former Saturday Night Live player Tracy Morgan has by now trademarked the dizzy persona that has served him well on the NBC ensemble comedy 30 Rock and here, in Kevin Smith’s weightless new farce, as a New York cop hunting a vicious gang leader and a stolen baseball card. He is self-absorbed, endearingly eccentric and rarely at a loss for words, especially when logic escapes him. He’s never all there.
January is traditionally treated as a dumping ground for Hollywood's most embarrassing blunders and stalest leftovers, but there are still plenty of viable options for those seeking a satisfying night at the movies. Among them: