Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wheeler Auditorium — ‘Spectre’ ($3 with Cal ID, $5 without)
Start your weekend off by heading out to Wheeler Auditorium to screen a new cinematic classic. Despite being the 24th film in the infamous James Bond film franchise, 2015’s “Spectre” is far from a dull and repetitive cinematic feat. Directed by Sam Mendes, who is best known for directing the Oscar-winning “American Beauty” and the preceding Bond film “Skyfall,” and starring Daniel Craig in the titular role, the film serves as a continuation of the 2012 Bond film’s storyline.
The film finds Bond pitted against a global criminal organization called Spectre, and the spy must use his wits and wiles to crack down on its cunning criminal activity. Featuring Sam Smith’s Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated theme song, “Writing’s on the Wall,” this film gives the audience an authentic, classic Bond-film experience. While it is unclear whether or not “Spectre” will be Craig’s last Bond film, his performance is worthy of a final bow.
March 11 at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium — ‘The Big Short’ ($3 with Cal ID, $5 without)
“The Big Short” is so many things. It’s a brutal satire of the corporate greed in America that led to the housing market crash. It’s a tragedy for all of the people who were shorted by the wealthy and are still feeling the lasting effects of subprime mortgages and bad deals. It’s an informative economics session. But at its core, it’s an entertaining film not worried about breaking the fourth wall, complete with Margot Robbie in a bubble bath explaining what a “tranche” is.
Directed by Adam McKay, who is known for over-the-top comedies such as “Step Brothers” and “Anchorman,” “The Big Short” is a great American tragedy. The heroes of the story are the ones who betted against America collapsing, yet the film places the audience on their side. It’s a film that looks straight into the eyes of economic injustice and asks, “Why?”
All this may sound like a little much, but thanks to an all-star cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, some laugh-out-loud scenes and an underdog story at its roots, “The Big Short” was one of the must-see films of 2015 not named “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” And the five Oscar nominations it received, including Best Picture, further that sentiment.
April 1 at 9 p.m. on Memorial Glade — ‘Concussion’ (Free admission, free popcorn with Cal ID)
Based off of Jeanne Marie Laskas’ 2009 GQ sports exposé, “Concussion” follows Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), a forensic pathologist who fought to publicize his research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, despite stark opposition from the NFL. As the title suggests, “Concussion” sheds light on the gruesome ramifications of head-on sports injuries and the blatant denial of the issue by the NFL.
The film is surprisingly stacked, with Smith in the leading role, Alec Baldwin as his co-star and producer Ridley Scott (director of the 2015 blockbuster hit “The Martian”). Will Smith’s performance in “Concussion” is revelatory, with activists and filmgoers lamenting his snub this award season, especially in light of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy rocking the film sphere. While it may not be at the forefront of award season acclaim, it’s a film that will undeniably have lasting effects on public policy and the multi-million dollar football industry that continues to ignore the wellbeing of its players.
—Rosemarie Alejandrino and Joshua Bote
April 15 at 9 p.m. at Memorial Glade — ‘Zoolander 2’ (Free admission, free popcorn with Cal ID)
Students of the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good, rejoice! “Zoolander 2” is upon us — and it’s going to be a wild, bumpy ride. Directed by Mr. Blue Steel himself, Ben Stiller, “Zoolander 2” will mesh the glittery world of the runway with the seedy underbelly of the criminal underground.
Follow the beloved but washed-up Derek Zoolander (Stiller) and old companion Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson) — as they’re tasked by Interpol to save the world’s most beautiful people from death with a side of Blue Steel looks. As they cavort through the realm of haute couture and Botox — the high fashion industry that has abandoned the duo — Derek and Hansel run into the villainous, fresh-from-prison Mugatu (Will Ferrell) and his plans to leave the fashion world in ruins.
With a murderer’s row of cameos and guest appearances, ranging from cameos by Justin Bieber and A$AP Rocky to Kimye’s illustrious acting debut as August and Trinitee Campbell, the star-studded “Zoolander 2” is bound to be a hell of a farce.
April 28 at 9 p.m. on Memorial Glade — ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (Free admission, free popcorn with Cal ID)
With the slew of rebooted franchises popping up in recent years, younger audiences who weren’t old enough to catch the originals growing up are often stuck with half-baked, divisive attempts — the most glaring of which are the angsty, Jar Jar Binks-featuring Star Wars prequels.
But at this point, it’s safe to say “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” doesn’t go down that route. A mix of reunions with old friends from Chewy to C3PO, and introductions to new characters, establishes the overall feel of revisiting a childhood neighborhood. Some things have changed, mostly for the better, but the good memories are still intact.
The sinister Empire has been replaced by the upstart First Order and the plucky Resistance is still fighting, with the notable exception of one Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Filling this void are compelling characters such as Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), each with their own mysteries and motivations to unpack.
The film starts off with a lovable little droid escaping the clutches of the evil knight to transport important information. In its escape, it runs into some inexperienced but brave heroes — and the adventure begins. To say any more would be too revealing of what follows, but know this: full of thrills, pathos and that good old John Williams score, “The Force Awakens” is definitely worth your time.
Contact the Daily Cal Arts Staff at [email protected]