Star Trek Into Darkness, set for a May 17 release, updates San Francisco's iconic skyline to Stardate 2259.55 (aka February 24th, 2259).
1. Knife Fight: California politics as a carnival of scandal damage control? Who’da thunk it? Available on demand January 28, this partly local satirical comedy was co-scripted by San Francisco-based Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, an operator at least shrewd enough to get Rob Lowe to play him in the movie. Look for a few familiar local faces in Knife Fight’s (sorta) fictive press corps, too.
2. House of Cards: Yet more nasty politics, and this time it’s national. Premiering February 1, this Netflix original series, adapted from the BBC thriller, stars Kevin Spacey as a cutthroat congressman, with longtime Marinite Robin Wright as his schemingly supportive wife. Executive producer David Fincher also directed the first two episodes.
3. Oz the Great and Powerful: Repeated big-screen visits to L. Frank Baum’s fantasy world have been fair game at least since Return to Oz, local maestro Walter Murch’s unofficial 1985 sequel to a certain golden-age classic. Now here’s a prequel, of sorts, with James Franco in the title role. Promisingly, it’s from Sam Raimi, the director whose Spider-Man trilogy made Franco world famous. Opens March 8.
4. Star Trek Into Darkness: J.J. Abrams’ big-screen 2009 reboot of the beloved sci-fi franchise had enough good sense not to change the essential stuff, like Kirk being brash, Spock being logical, and Starfleet being headquartered in San Francisco. This apparently rollicking sequel, due May 17, adds Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch as the bad guy. What more could you want from a blockbuster?
5. Monsters University: June 21 brings Pixar’s first-ever prequel, perhaps because the recent 3D re-release of Monsters, Inc. just wasn’t enough in the way of franchise propagation. Now witness the frat-house antics of a pair of frighteners (John Goodman and Billy Crystal, reprising their roles) who will later join the corporate world of harvesting children’s screams.
6. The Bling Ring: Also in June, Sofia Coppola gets into the caper game with this true tale of a group of web-savvy teen burglars who stole millions in loot from tinseltown celebrities. The cast includes Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, and Leslie Mann.
7. Blue Jasmine: The movie Woody Allen shot in San Francisco last August is said to be about a woman who moves here because she can no longer afford New York. Obviously Allen hasn’t lost his flair for a joke. Completists will recall that our fair city also is where Allen shot his 1969 directorial debut, Take the Money and Run, and starred in the 1972 movie of his play Play It Again, Sam. Nice, after all these years, to have him back. Release date TBA.
8. Inequality for All: In which two resolute Berkeleyans, Haiku Tunnel director Jacob Kornbluth and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, make a documentary together about about America’s widening income gap.
9. Lovelace: Who better to portray the difficult life and turbulent times of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) than Howl directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman? James Franco again— as Hugh Hefner!
10. Sweetwater: The sophomore feature from North Bay twins Logan and Noah Miller re-teams these self-made moviemakers with their Touching Home star, Ed Harris. This one’s a period western set in 1800s New Mexico, with co-stars including January Jones and Jason Isaacs.