April 22 2015 12:42 PM

Dave Boyle’s neo-noir leads our rundown of movies screening around town

Man From Reno

Don’t get stuck in the spider’s web of curiosity. Or perhaps such a fate is inevitable in Man From Reno, Dave Boyle’s slippery neo-noir about a famous Japanese crime novelist who stumbles upon an intricate mystery while visiting Northern California. The film understands a specific invigoration felt by lonely people who suddenly feel inspired by brushing up against danger, but also the consequences of this pursuit.

Known for the popular Inspector Takabe Investigates book series, Aki (Ayako Fujitani) has fled the limelight of Tokyo for the dense fog and steep corridors of San Francisco. On her first night abroad, she meets the beguiling stranger Akira (Kazuki Kitamura) in a dimly lit hotel bar. Their encounter initiates a series of events that resemble one of her stories, including elements of mistaken identity, murder and blackmail. She eventually teams up with a local sheriff (Pepe Serna) who’s leading a parallel investigation.

Man From Reno excels at balancing menace and playfulness. The narrative may propel both lead characters into precarious situations, but it never loses track of their sense of revelry for the process. This is an important detail for a film about people wearing masks to deceive and destroy.

Boyle also appreciates the emotional impact a given space can have on the film’s mood. Man From Reno, which opens Friday, April 24, uses diverse Bay Area landscapes and settings to convey how quickly characters need to adapt in order to survive. Windswept hills are equally as prevalent as skyscrapers, each offering their own corners for the worst of us to hide.

A special post-screening Q&A with director Dave Boyle, and actors Ayako Fujitani and Pepe Serna will be held on opening weekend at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.


Adult Beginners: When his new business crashes and burns on the eve of its launch, a young entrepreneur is forced to move in with his estranged pregnant sister and his brother-in-law. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.

Clouds of Sils Maria: A middle-aged actress decides to star in a reboot of the play that made her famous 20 years before. Starring Juliette Binoche, Kristin Stewart and Chloë Grace-Moretz. 

Dior and I: Documentary that takes you behind the scenes of the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house. 

Ex Machina: Set in the near future, Alex Garland’s sci-fi film tells the story of an Internet mogul who convinces one of his employees to conduct a Turing test on his newest A.I. creation.  

Little Boy: With his father away in WW II, a young boy goes to great lengths to restore stability to his family. 

Man From Reno: A Japanese novelist known for a series of crime novels gets wrapped up in a mystery of her own while visiting San Francisco. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Spring: A young American on a backpacking trip in Italy meets a beautiful woman at an idyllic village and instantly falls in love. Runs through Thursday, April 30, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. 

The Age of Adaline: Rendered ageless after a fateful accident, a young woman born at the turn of the 20th century lives a lonely life of immortality until she finally meets a stranger who may be worth dying for. 

The Road to Juarez: An ex-con recruits his friends to pull off a daring heist against a powerful Mexican drug cartel. Opens Friday, April 24, at AMC Mission Valley 20 and AMC Palm Promenade 24.

The Water Diviner: After the battle of Gallipoli, an Australian man travels to Turkey hoping to locate his three missing sons. 

One time only

I Origins: A molecular biologist makes a startling discovery that will change the world. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the Mission Valley Public Library. 

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: The story of a young boy and the alien that changed his life. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

The One I Love: Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss star in this comedy/drama about a young couple on the brink of divorce. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 24 and 25, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me: David Lynch’s insane sequel/prequel to the Twin Peaks series only brings more ambiguity to the town’s history with murder. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Ken Cinema. 

Nightcrawler: A serpentine entrepenour fixes his sights on the underground world of crime reporting in Los Angeles. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 27, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village. 

Comedy Dynamics Presents: Bill Hicks: Takes audiences back to a classic Bill Hicks performance, recorded at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal in 1992. Screens at 8 p.m. Monday, April 27, at various area theaters. Go to fathomevents.com for more information. 

For a Woman (Por une femme): This French drama follows a young Jewish woman’s journey toward unraveling certain family secrets revolving around a cryptic photo of a mysterious stranger. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

Animal House: A fraternity of outcasts wreaks havoc after being harassed by the dean of their university. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. 

Now playing

Fifth Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase: Sixteen new Asian films from nine countries will make their San Diego premieres during this amazing cinema showcase, beginning with an opening night tailgate party from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, at Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas. The fest continues through April 23 before moving to Hoover High School April 24 and 25 in honor of the showcase’s Cinema Little Saigon retrospective.

Desert Dancer: An ambitious young man risks everything to start a new dance company despite the politically volatile climate of his home country of Iran. 

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter: A young Japanese woman travels to America searching for a briefcase full of cash that was hidden in the snow during 1996’s Fargo

Lambert and Stamp: This documentary looks at the unlikely partnership between two aspiring filmmakers who ended up producing one of the greatest rock bands in history: The Who. 

Monkey Kingdom: A documentary about one newborn monkey and its mother attempting to survive the social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a group of monkeys who live in a series of ruins deep in the jungles of South Asia. 

True Story: James Franco stars as a murder suspect who has stolen the identity of a disgraced New York Times reporter played by Jonah Hill. Weird casting. 

Unfriended: The Facebook horror film you knew was coming but didn’t think would be here quite this soon. 

Havana Curveball: A young and enthusiastic teenager decides to create a grand plan of supplying Cuba with baseballs after being inspired by the holy words associated with his Bar Mitzvah. 

Kill Me Three Times: After a botched assignment, a professional hitman played by Simon Pegg gets wrapped up in three different tales of murder, blackmail and revenge. 

Mr. Kaplan: An older Uruguayan man of Jewish descent suspects a fellow community member of being a runaway Nazi, and enlists the help of a retired police officer to investigate. 

Ned Rifle: The final leg of Hal Hartley’s trilogy that includes 1997’s Henry Fool and 2006’s Fay Grim, this drama/absurdist comedy tells the story of a young man who sets out to take revenge on his criminal father. 

The Longest Ride: An older man reflects back on his life while he’s trapped in a crashed car. 

The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders and Julian Ribeiro Salgado’s documentary examines the life and work of famed photographer and activist Sebastião Salgado. 

White God: An army of dogs wreaks havoc all across a European city after one particular canine is cast out by the father of its owner, a young girl named Lili. 

An Honest Liar: This documentary explores the worldview and life of James Randi, renowned stage magician and skeptic of the paranormal.

Danny Collins: Al Pacino plays an aging rock star who discovers a 40-year-old letter written to him by John Lennon, the contents of which force him to reassess his life. 

Furious 7: The criminal pit crew led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker is back and ready to battle with Jason Statham’s villain in this globetrotting action film that is sure to have some out-of-this-world stunts.

While We’re Young: Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play insecure and bored 40-something’s whose life together gets a boost after meeting a young hipster couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). 

Woman in Gold: Helen Mirren plays an elderly Jewish women who, with the help of a young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds), attempts to reclaim the possessions stolen from her by the Nazis during WWII. 

Get Hard: A white-collar criminal (Will Ferrell) bound for San Quentin enlists the help of a smooth-talking friend (Kevin Hart) to prepare him for life behind bars. 

Home (3D): An alien on the run from his own species lands on Earth and makes friends with an adventurous young girl trying to find herself.  

Serena: Bradley Cooper stars as a logging baron trying to make it rich in Depression-era North Carolina. His business starts to crumble after meeting a mysterious young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with a traumatic past.

Seymour: An Introduction: This tender documentary about pianist Seymour Bernstein doubles as a passionate love story about the power of craft and music. 

The Hunting Ground: Investigative documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick looks at the wave of sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States.  

Merchants of Doubt: Robert Kenner’s documentary about pundits-for-hire tells an unspeakable truth about corporate malfeasance in America today.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent: Super-revolutionary Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) confronts the powerful alliance that threatens to tear her society apart. 

The Gunman: Sean Penn plays a former special-forces soldier who must clear his name after his old compatriots try to frame him. 

’71: During a violent battle in the middle of Belfast, an English solider is left behind to fend for himself against a hostile community. 

Ballet 422: Jody Lee Lipes’ documentary goes backstage at New York City Ballet to watch the process of an exciting new choreographer named Justin Peck. 

Cinderella: Kenneth Branagh’s lavish live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale stars Lily James as the servant stepdaughter who wins the heart of a dashing prince. 

Deli Man: Hungry? This delicious-looking documentary takes a look at the history of delicatessens in New York City and the United States at large. 

Run All Night: A former hit man (Liam Neeson) must go back to his old ways to save his son from a mafia boss out who’s for revenge.  

Chappie: Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directs this sci-fi film about a police robot who’s reprogrammed to think and feel for himself, drawing the wrath of his totalitarian overlords. 

The Salvation: Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Danish immigrant seeking revenge for the death of his family, this western set in the 1870s echoes the work of Leone and Eastwood.  

The Second Best Marigold Hotel: The long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel to the movie you never thought would get a sequel, this time sporting the charms of Richard Gere. 

Timbuktu: This Oscar-nominated drama by Abderrahmane Sissako depicts the oppression of a Malian town under siege by Islamic militants. 

Unfinished Business: Three hard-working business associates travel to Europe, hoping to close a massive deal, only to get sidetracked by numerous distractions involving booze and women. 

Focus: Will Smith and Margot Robbie talk wise and look sexy as grifters embarking on one last con job. It’s directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem: A distraught Israeli woman spends years in a rabbinical court trying to obtain a divorce from her well-respected husband. 

The Lazarus Effect: Olivia Wilde stars in this thriller about a team of medical students who discover a way to bring back the dead. From the looks of the creepy trailer, this was not the best idea. 

Leviathan: A land dispute in a rural Russian town escalates quickly, leaving a family in ruin and reinforcing the corruption wielded by government and religious institutions. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev updates The Book of Job with striking force.

Red Army: Documentary about the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army hockey team, as seen through the eyes of the squad’s leader.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: In order to save a friend who’s been shot, the Hot Tub gang jumps back into the time machine and begins messing with the past.

McFarland, U.S.A.: Kevin Costner stars as a cross-country coach in a small California town who takes a team of Latino athletes and transforms them into championship contenders. Disney strikes again. 

The Duff: Bianca (Mae Whitman), a teenager who’s been labeled unattractive by her more popular friends, decides to lead a social revolution that will undermine the pecking order at her high school. 

The Last Five Years: Richard LaGravenese adapts the famous musical about a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist lover (Jeremy Jordan) who experience the highs and lows of a volatile relationship. 

What We Do in the Shadows: Four vampires living in modern-day New Zealand struggle to find happiness and friendship in Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s hilarious mockumentary.

Fifty Shades of Grey: The perfect Valentine’s Day present for your masochistic significant other. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Colin Firth leads a team of British secret agents against a maniacal bad guy played by Samuel L. Jackson. 

Seventh Son: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore team up in the craziest sequel to The Big Lebowski that you could possibly imagine.  

Jupiter Ascending: Have you ever hoped to experience Channing Tatum in full eye shadow and Mila Kunis as a world-saving goddess? Andy and Lana Wachowski’s long-delayed sci-fi opus will be your chance. 

Humpback Whales: Experience the awe-inspiring and diverse world of the humpback whale, which 50 years ago was on the verge of extinction. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of the Water: “Making waves in our world.” That tagline says it all, really. 

Still Alice: Columbia University professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and must come to grips with her own fading memory and mortality.

Song of the Sea: Merging folklore and fairy tale, Tomm Moore’s gorgeous animated film tells the story of a brother and sister who get swept up into a fantasy world of selkies, sprites and giants. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

A Most Violent Year: When his business is threatened by a string of armed robberies, the owner of a New York City gas company (Oscar Isaac) must adapt to the volatile surroundings to survive. 

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood’s unflinching and critical biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who became the deadliest sniper during four tours in Iraq.

Paddington: Traveling from Peru, a young bear arrives in London hoping to find a home. There he meets the Brown family, who offer him a temporary safe haven. 

The Wedding Ringer: Who best to impress your new in-laws than a loud, vivacious Kevin Hart? Josh Gad’s shy young groom-to-be agrees.

Selma: Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) attempts to create voter reform in Selma, Alabama, a hotbed of racism and disenfranchisement.

Taken 3: Liam Neeson reprises his role as the badass who keeps losing family members to kidnappings. Maybe third time’s a charm? 

Into the Woods: Beware the Wolf, Sondheim. Beware the Wolf. 

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as real-life code breaker Alan Turing, who led a squad of British mathematicians in breaking the Enigma code during World War II.

Unbroken: Angelina Jolie’s sophomore effort examines the life of Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who overcame extreme odds to survive a Japanese internment camp.

Wild: Based on the best-selling novel, this drama tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who trekked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to reassess her troubled life. 

Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller’s dark sports film tells the tragic true story of the Schultz brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum), wrestlers who became forever entwined with the wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune (Steve Carell).

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease just as he’s graduating with a doctorate degree in physics from Cambridge and starting a new life with his wife (Felicity Jones).

Birdman: A burnt-out superhero actor (Michael Keaton) tries to mount a play on Broadway in order to prove his worth. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.

Whiplash: A sadistic music teacher tortures a young drummer at a posh New York City conservatory. 

Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.