Around the Bay. Sparse and utilitarian, Alejandro Adams’ low-key drama gets right to the point, then tells its dysfunctional family story without pyrotechnics. Single dad Wyatt (Steve Voldseth) is so remote and disconnected from his five-year-old son (Connor Maselli) that he leaves the child home alone–“and that’s in a house with an unfenced swimming pool. Looking for a way out of his responsibilities, he asks his estranged 21-year-old daughter (Katherine Celio) to move in as caregiver. Slowly, they work out some of their problems, but by no means all of them. Adams made Around the Bay for very little money, shooting it on standard-def video. The low budget shows, but thanks to an excellent script and cast, doesn’t hurt the film. Cinequest screens Around the Bay Saturday, 7:45, at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, and Tuesday, 4:15, at the Camera 12, also in San Jose. (There’s an additional screening the following Saturday at the San Jose Repertory Theatre.)
The Irish Film Festival opens Wednesday at the Roxie with Garage, a comedy about a small-town misfit played by actor/comedian Pat Shortt. The festival runs through Saturday. Other features include Learning Gravity, a documentary about the family-run funeral parlor that inspired the series Six Feet Under; Kings, about Irish migrant laborers in London; and a documentary on the infamous Bloody Sunday.
I Was Born, But–¦. Yasujiro Ozu looks at the realities of potential upward mobility through the eyes of a child in this amazing late silent. Truthful, subtle, and frequently funny, Ozu focuses his seldom-moving camera on two brothers adjusting to life in the suburbs, and their realization that the father they look up to must kiss ass to achieve success. One normally doesn’t think of realistic character study as one of silent film’s strongest assets, but in 1932 (by which time Japan was pretty much the only country still making silents), Ozu proved just how much the medium could do. California Theatre, San Jose, Friday, 7:30. Cinequest presents I Was Born, But… with Jim Riggs at the Wurlitzer pipe organ.
And they booked this before the Academy Awards. The Castro runs Coen Brother double bills Friday through Sunday (actually, the series started on Thursday). Sunday has the best show, Fargo and Blood Simple–two of their finest. What’s missing? The most popular cult film of the decade, The Big Lebowski, and a personal favorite of mine: Intolerable Cruelty.
Killer of Sheep. Yes, Virginia, people made great low-budget films before digital video. Shot in 16mm in 1977, Charles Burnett’s neorealistic non-story lets us examine the day-to-day life of an African-American slaughterhouse employee struggling with poverty, family problems, and his own depression. Hauntingly made with a mostly amateur cast, Killer of Sheep takes us into a world most of us know about but have never actually experienced. Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 6:30.
The Stanford continues its Hitchcock series with a double-bill of Rear Window and the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The remake is fun, but Rear Window is the real treasure; on my short list of The Very Best Films of All Time.