Following an arguably lackluster movie year, it seems January is all about starting fresh — at least for the Santa Barbara cinema scene. This Sunday, January 16, the Ojai Film Society returns to the fold with the S.B. premiere of Mexico’s Nora’s Will at the Ojai Playhouse. The film follows an elderly man trying to make sense of his ex-wife’s recent suicide. On Friday, January 21, and Monday, January 24, Magic Lantern and I.V. Theater host another S.B. premiere — Buried, starring Ryan Reynolds as an Iraq-based U.S. contract worker who gets buried alive. On Sunday, January 23, the Ojai Playhouse screens the financial-crisis doc Inside Job. Bruce Willis’s latest action flick, Red, gets a viewing on Tuesday, January 25, at I.V. Theater. On Thursday, January 27, Santa Barbara comes alive with the start of the 26th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The opening-night film, Sarah’s Key, starring Kristin Scott Thomas, gets the whole thing rolling at the Arlington. On Friday, January 28, and Monday, January 31, I.V. Theater plays host to the drama Never Let Me Go, starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. The French romantic comedy Heartbreaker gets its first S.B. showing at the Ojai Playhouse on Sunday, January 30.
February starts right smack in the center of the film fest’s two-week-long run, with the Wednesday, February 2, world premiere of That’s What I Am at the Arlington. The coming-of-age story stars Ed Harris and will serve as the fest’s centerpiece. Also that night, Arts & Lectures presents Genius Within at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, a captivating new documentary about piano virtuoso Glenn Gould. Magic Lantern and SBIFF team up to present the new horror flick Stake Land at I.V. Theater on Friday, February 4. And on Sunday, February 6, the Ojai Playhouse screens Tamara Drewe. Also on the 6th, the film fest wraps up its run with the Georges Bizet opera Carmen in 3D at the Arlington.
Later in the month, I.V. Theater gives us all a chance to catch some films we’ve missed on the cheap. The hilarious Zach Galifianakis stars in Due Date, which screens on Tuesday, February 8. And The Social Network reappears there on both Friday, February 11, and Monday, February 14. The Ojai Playhouse hosts the area premiere of Carlos, a biopic about Venezuelan revolutionary Carlos the Jackal on Sunday, February 20. And Arts & Lectures brings the exhilarating adventure film collection of the Banff Mountain Film Festival to the Arlington for a two-day run on Tuesday, February 22, and Wednesday, February 23. I.V. Theater hosts something for the kiddies with Megamind, playing on Tuesday, February 22, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 on Friday the 25th and Monday the 28th. And March is all about the indies, with the foodie doc Kings of Pastry screening at Campbell Hall on Thursday, March 3. Vision, the story of German nun Hildegard von Bingen, will be shown at the Ojai Playhouse on Sunday, March 6. And the U.K. dramedy about sexual discrimination Made in Dagenham gets its regional premiere at the Playhouse on Sunday, March 13.