Hot Fuzz, Balboa, Cerrito, continuing. Director/co-writer Edgar Wright fills every frame of Hot Fuzz with his love for mindless action movies. More precisely, he fills the splices between the frames, cutting even the scenes of quiet village life in the frantic style of Hollywood violenceâ€“accompanied by overloud sound effects, of course. (And yes, heâ€™s smart enough not to overdo it.) This technique, along with a funny story, clever dialog, and charming performances, help make this genre parody the funniest film in years, with the longest sustained laugh Iâ€™ve experienced since I first discovered Buster Keaton. If Hot Fuzz doesnâ€™t make my Top Ten list as the funniest film of the year, 2007 will be the best year from comedies in a very long time.
Venom & Eternity, Roxie, Wednesday. This picture by Jean-Isadore Isou apparently caused riots when first shown in 1951. Iâ€™ve never seen it, or even heard of it until recently, but judging from the description on the Foundationâ€™s site, itâ€™s extremely weird. This is the first screening by the Film on Film Foundation, and while it will be on film, it’s only 16mm, as there are no known 35mm prints.
Going Under, Roxie, opens Friday. First, let me tell you what this film is not. Itâ€™s not fun, itâ€™s not kinky (in any positive sense of the word), and itâ€™s not, except for a few brief moments, erotic. It is, however, a thoughtful and fascinating (if a bit dry) study of two damaged people on the edge of getting together, even though a relationship could only damage them even more. A psychotherapist (Roger Rees) falls heavily for the professional dominatrix (Geno Lechner) heâ€™s been paying to give him the pleasure he canâ€™t get from his wife. He wants a real relationship with her; sheâ€™s tempted, but she has her very well-founded doubts. Besides, she seems incapable of having a relationship. Nothing much really happens in Going Under, but the small details tell us plenty about these two individuals. Not surprisingly, Going Under was directed and co-written by a psychotherapist, Eric Werthman, who at 65 had never before made a film.
The Princess Bride, Cerrito, Saturday and Sunday, 2:00. William Goldmanâ€™s enchanting and funny fairy tale dances magically along that thin line between parody and the real thing. Thereâ€™s no funnier swordfight anywhere. A, uh, Poop presentation.
Some Like It Hot, Cerrito, Saturday, 6:00 and Sunday, 5:00. Maybe this isnâ€™t, as the American Film Institute called it, the greatest American film comedy yet made. But Billy Wilderâ€™s farce about desperate musicians, vicious gangsters, and straight men in drag definitely belongs in the top 20. And its closing line has never been beat. Another Cerrito Classic.
The Graduate, Washington Square Park, San Francisco, Saturday, 8:30. Maybe itâ€™s no longer the breakthrough movie it was in 1967, but The Graduate is still a well-made romantic comedy with serious overtones. And, of course, it gets Bay Area geography all wrong. A Film Night in the Park presentation, which means–and take this as a warning–that no actual film is involved. A DVD presentation.
Pan’s Labyrinth, Elmwood, opens Friday. Young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) lives in fascist Spain with a cruel and powerful stepfatherâ€“a very dangerous and scary place to live. But so is the fantasy realm into which she frequently escapes. But at least the fantasy world, which may or may not be a figment of her imagination, holds out the possibility of hope. Guillermo del Toro fashioned a nightmare inside of a nightmare, filled with dark, gruesome, and often gory imagery, a childâ€™s fantasy thatâ€™s appropriate only for adults, and an unforgettable experience.
The Host, Red Vic, Thursday through the following Saturday. A barely-functional family fights an uncaring government and a giant mutant carnivore, and itâ€™s hard to say which is the scarier threat. I didnâ€™t find this quite the masterpiece others sawâ€“the political points are obvious, the third act gets confusing, and the big finale fails to satisfy. But director/co-writer Joon-ho Bong succeeds where it counts: He makes you care about the characters and scares you out of your seat. Much of the credit goes to the talented computer animators at San Franciscoâ€™s own The Orphanage, who brought the monster to life.
Blades of Glory, Cerrito, opens Friday, and continuing at the Parkway. Itâ€™s no wonder Will Ferrell does such a great George W. Bush imitation; no one plays the self-confident fool like Ferrell. His macho figure skater and a handful of very funny gags make this by-the-numbers Hollywood gross-out comedy (or as gross-out as PG-13 can get) reasonably entertaining. Donâ€™t look for any insightful satire of competitive figure skating; Blades of Glory is just a low-brow comedy taking obvious potshots. Whatâ€™s important is that a reasonable number of the jokes hit home.
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