Itâ€™s Oscar time. This Sunday evening we forget about war and oppression and find out who we really hate. For my money, thatâ€™s the advertisers, the choreographers, and anyone who takes the Academy Awards seriously.
Donâ€™t get me wrong. I never miss Hollywoodâ€™s annual festival of self-adoration. I find it fascinating; like a car wreck without a hair out of place. And yet, there are times every year when Iâ€™m genuinely moved, like when an award actually goes to someone who deserves it.
This year, Iâ€™m not sure who I want to win Best Picture. Million Dollar Baby is clearly a masterpiece, and deserves the award. On the other hand, Iâ€™ve publicly stated that The Aviator would win, and I want the Academy to prove me a genius–if only at predicting the obvious. Besides, itâ€™s Scorseseâ€™s turn.
But the big Oscar question isnâ€™t who will win but where to watch? The Balboa, the Castro, the Lark, and the Rafael are all hosting Oscar broadcasts. (So is the Parkway, but itâ€™s already sold out.) Me? Iâ€™m staying home with the family and the TiVo–which lets us start late and skip the commercials). Some shows belong on the small screen.
In other news, the March/April Pacific Film Archive calendar is out. Among the more promising series are a tribute to B picture director Edgar G. Ulmer and a continuation of Games People Play. The word color gets a workout with both a Women of Color Film Festival and Crying in Color: How Hollywood Coped When Technicolor Died. Not everything in the Women of Color series is actually in color, which makes me wonder if the PFA could do a Women of Color in Black and White Film Festival. The Archive is also the East Bay venue for the Asian-American and San Francisco International Film Festivals.
And now, your weekly dose of recommendations and other noteworthy presentations:
Recommendation: Jaws, Act I & II, Friday and Saturday, midnight movie. Steven Spielberg’s first big hit and one of the great suspense flicks of the ’70s.
Recommendation: The Palm Beach Story and Horse Feathers, Stanford, Friday through Sunday. Another Preston Sturges/Marx Brothers double-billâ€”two very different but very funny motion pictures. Just look out for the Weenie King; whatever it is, I’m against it.
Recommendation: Ninotchka, Balboa, Saturday and Monday. We don’t normally associate Garbo with comedy, but when a movie is written by Billy Wilder and directed by Ernst Lubitsch, you canâ€™t associate it with anything else. A great, anti-Communist romantic farce. Itâ€™s double-billed both nights with Anna Karenina.
Recommendation: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Castro, Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps the best science fiction film of the 50â€™s, and one of the few that saw our paranoia of the other, rather than the other itself, as the problem. Itâ€™s a little heavy-handed in the message department, but the Jesus symbolism is reasonably subtle.
Noteworthy: Tron, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday. I havenâ€™t seen this movie in more than 20 years, but I remember it as big, silly, mindless funâ€”and in those days, cutting-edge. It was the first movie to extensively use computer graphics, and one of the last to be shot in 65mm. The Archive will be showing a new 35mm print, but Iâ€™d rather see a new 70mm print, and on a bigger screen.