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;
sbnature.org.

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; sbnature.org.

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; as.ucsb.edu.

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; magiclanternfilms.org.

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; magiclanternfilm.org.

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; magiclanternfilms.org.

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; magiclanternfilms.org.

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; sbnature.org.

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
artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

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; as.ucsb.edu.

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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