saving the blank brains

The way up to summer is through a dank spring of Hollywood’s blank‑brained films, a lot of ridiculous sequels and remakes and — maybe, just maybe — a couple of cool films. Luckily, our own entrepreneurial troupes and university-associated friends will make a difference this season. Start with a Human Rights Film Festival from the folks at UCSB’s Arts & Lectures, sprinkle in a pair of exclusive Santa Barbara premiere rock films from Isla Vista Theater’s Magic Lantern Films (which is organized by this author), toss on a couple of monster movies at the Natural History Museum, and it seems suddenly that The Da Vinci Code (coming in May — don’t worry, you’ll see some ads) can be good or bad, who cares. We, the hungry‑for‑truth‑and‑beauty consumers, will define our own times with the film we want to see, from Mothra to Emmanuelle Duris and Alice in Wonderland heard through The Wall. Goddamn the pusher man.

Inside Man Spike Lee directs a film that he does not define as a “joint.” Does he think it’s too commercial? Fri., Mar. 24; general release.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea The first of the Monster vs. Myth series showing up at the Natural History Museum, this one features our own beloved Kirk Douglas, James Mason, and a giant squid in an underwater adventure from the pen of Jules Verne and the studio of Mickey Mouse — their first live action production. It will be followed by a chat on the beasties involved. Sat., Mar. 25, 4pm; S.B. Museum of Natural History;

One Last Thing The S.B. Cinema Society presents this free West Coast premiere of a film about a teenager fighting cancer, which will feature a Q&A afterward with writer Barry Stringfellow, director Alex Steyermark, actor Michael Angarano, and S.B. Hospice director Gail Rink. Fri., Mar. 31, 7:30pm; Lobero Theatre; 963 0761.

Alpha Dog It almost feels wrong promoting this film built on the tragedies of our neighbors, those involved in the Jesse James Hollywood murder case. But why did nice Santa Barbara kids commit that horrible, senseless murder? Not that this film will discover that for us, with star Justin Timberlake and direction by world class wimp Nick Bassinettes. But who knows? Sat., Apr. 1; general release.

Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney and Ed Murrow take on McCarthy. Wed., Apr. 5, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

The Birds Second in the monster series, this is one of the most seductively dreamlike of Hitchcock’s late life Hollywood masterpieces. Wed., Apr. 5, 8pm; Museum of Natural History;

Capote UCSB’s Associated Students Program Board starts a stellar season of flicks with Capote. To follow are Brokeback Mountain April 18, The Ringer April 25, Transamerica May 2, Match Point May 9, The Matador May 15, and Night Watch May 23. They’re only $3 for UCSB sters too. Tue., Apr. 11, 7:30 and 10pm; Isla Vista Theater;

Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul The Eurasian capital as seen through its musical superstars. Wed., Apr. 12, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Hostel Magic Lantern begins its spring quarter with a scream, not a whimper. Fri., Apr. 14, 7 and 9:30pm; Isla Vista Theater;

Hard Candy A big favorite from the S.B. Film Festival this year, this film is directed by David Slade with Sandra Oh and a big surprise from 15 year old Haylek Stark. Fri., Apr. 14; general release.

The Coachella Movie The Santa Barbara premiere is the one time only chance to see this documentary before its big city release. It features everyone from Radiohead and the Pixies, to Fiery Furnaces, Flaming Lips, and Bright Eyes. Fri., Apr. 21, 7 and 9:30pm; Isla Vista Theater;

Alice and The Wall Fans of The Dark Side of Oz will understand. It’s Alice and it’s The Wall. Fri., Apr. 29, 7 and 9:30pm; Isla Vista Theater;

The Beat That My Heart Skipped Roman Duris stars as a criminally minded pianist in this French film by director Jacques Audiard. Tue., May 2, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Kings & Queens Emmanuelle Devos and Matthieu Alaric in love revisited. Mon., May 8, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

After Innocence This documentary tells the stories of seven innocent men locked up for years only to later be exonerated by DNA evidence. Filmmaker Jessica Sanders and exoneree Herman Atkins will chat after. Thu., May 11, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Awesome: I Can’t Believe I Fucking Shot That Magic Lantern’s premiere rock quarter continues with the Beastie Boys concert film in which 40 fans were given digital cameras to record a day in the life of some Buddhist white boys who are still fighting for their rights. Fri., May 12, 7 and 9:30pm; Isla Vista Theater;

Hostage Filmmaker Constantine Giannaris will be in attendance to discuss his film about Greek Albanian relations. Mon., May 15, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Godzilla vs. Mothra Reptile takes on flying insect in the oddest of all the early Daiei Studio. Will the talk that follows be about lizards or moths? Thu., May 18, 8pm; Museum of Natural History;

Touch the Sound This sonically amazing film examines the life of percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Wed., May 17, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Human Rights Watch International Film Festival UCSB hosts this festival of geopolitical films about social justice around the world. Begins Fri., May 19, 7:30pm and runs through Sun., May 21, at various locations. See

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till The story of the black boy who was killed for whistling at a white woman gets reexamined. Mon., May 22; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold UCSB’s ASPB presents this documentary on Neil Young as its final film of the season. Fri., May 30, 7:30 and 10pm; Isla Vista Theater;

The Shutka Book of Records The Roma, a k a “Gypsies,” call Shutka, Macedonia their home and this film shows why and how. Wed., May 31, 7:30pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; 893 3535.

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