San Diego Film Insider Series — Bringing J.K. Simmons to Town

One of the many things I love about the San Diego International Film Festival is the fact that they bring movies to town that you might not see anywhere else. I could give you a long list of the movies we’ve seen. Some that never make it to San Diego, and others that go on to win Oscars.

One of the movies we saw last year at the San Diego Film Insider Series was The Bachelors, starring Julie Delpy and J.K. Simmons. It was a touching film, and I thought of that when I heard the news that Simmons’ latest film would be shown at the Insider Series. It’s called I’m Not Here and was co-written and directed by his wife, Michelle Schumacher. And both of them are going to be in attendance and talking after the film.

Everyone knows the 100 movies Simmons has done, but hey…Schumacher is no slouch. The former Chula Vista resident has sang, danced, and acted on Broadway. And the couple, married since the mid-90s, seem to be a rare Hollywood marriage that’s working. In fact, when Simmons won the well-deserved “supporting actor” Oscar for Whiplash a few years ago, he gave the sweetest speech I’ve ever heard. He called his wife “the most wonderful person I know,” before adding “I’m grateful for your love, your kindness, and your patience.”

He followed that with the zinger, “Which brings me to the above-average children.”

The laughs from that line turned to tears in my eyes as he talked about all the good traits his kids (Joe and Olivia) had, before ending with, “That’s because you are a reflection of your mother.”

I can’t say I’m looking forward to “I’m Not Here” because of the nude scene he does. It’s the fact that Simmons always does such incredible work. I mean, you think Terrence Howard is so intimidating, he’s got nothing on Terence Fletcher, the maniacal music teacher in Whiplash.

One of his lines in the Coen brothers’ movie Burn After Reading (which is one of my favorites), I couldn’t stop saying during the Trump/Russia conversations. I’d squint my eyes and say to the TV, “The Russians??”

He was also in a Coen brothers’ movie that wasn’t so well-received, but was actually pretty good — The Ladykillers.

He’s the only thing I liked in the movie The Meddler (Susan Sarandon).

Everyone knows Mike Judge for creating Beavis & Butthead and Office Space, but most missed his terrific film with Simmons (as well as Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis) — Extract.

A movie Kevin Pollack directed, that you got to see at the San Diego International Film Festival a few years ago (with Pollack in attendance) — The Late Bloomer. If you can find it, watch it. A true story that’s hysterical.

My favorite animated movie of 2016 was Zootopia. Simmons did a voice in that. He did more voice work in a few episodes of The Simpson’s, playing the newspaper editor character he did famously in a trio of Spider-man films.

When it comes to baseball movies, I still can’t decide what manager I liked better — Wilfred Brimley in The Natural, or J.K. Simmons in For Love of the Game.

He’s played terrific dads on screen — to Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man…as well as the surprisingly understanding and caring father to Juno.

As a movie critic, I don’t have time for a lot of TV, so I’ve never seen his work in Law & Order, Oz, or The Closer. I think I’ve seen him more in the Farmers Insurance commercials.

I’m thrilled to be seeing his new movie I’m Not Here, and to see him here! He and his wife in person, talking about the film afterwards; and these are the types of events you can be part of with the Film Insiders Series.

For more details on how you can attend this special screening, go to the San Diego International Film Festival’s Film Insider Series page.