I’m stepping back into Bayflicks, and plan to get to writing about movies–and going to them. So what’s going on?
DocFest moves from San Francisco to Berkeley’s Shattuck for its final week. I didn’t have time to check out what they’re showing this year, and I’m not about to start now. Here’s what else is playing this week:
Ikiru, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 7:00. One of Akira Kurosawa’s best, and arguably the greatest serious drama ever put up on the screen. Takashi Shimura gives the performance of his lifetime as an aging government bureaucrat who discovers he’s dying of cancer. Emotionally cut off from his family–including the son and daughter-in-law that live with him–he struggles to find some meaning in his life before he dies. A deep and moving meditation on mortality and what it means to be human, Ikiru manages to be deeply spiritual without ever mentioning God or religion. Kurosawa followed Ikiru with Seven Samurai, a very different and arguably better masterpiece, and one where Shimura got to play an action hero. The PFA will screen a new 35mm print as part of its Cinema Japan: A Wreath for Madame Kawakita series.
An Evening With Animation Legend Richard Williams, Balboa, Sunday, 7:00. Award-winning animator Richard Williams (Who Afraid of Roger Rabbit) will discuss his work and promote his new book and DVD collection, The Animator’s Survival Kit. Karl Cohen, president of the San Francisco chapter of the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, will moderate. The show is a benefit for the ASIFA-SF.
Delwende, Kabuki, Friday through Thursday. Children mysteriously die in an African village, and the elders suspect witchcraft. But the ancient traditions they use to find the witch appear to have more to do with local politics than detective work or even magic. And so the wife of an elder is cast out from respectable society, and her daughter sets out to rescue her mother and prove her innocence. Writer/director S. Pierre Yameogo gives us a feminist fable set in a very male-dominated world, with the pleasures of a mystery thrown in. But he ends the film too soon; I would have liked another 10 minutes or so to better finish the story. See my full review.
Rashomon, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 3:00. I know that I’ve reviewed Kurosawa’s first masterpiece–the film that opened Japanese cinema to the world. But according to a search of my site, I’ve never reviewed it. How could I remember it one way, when the WordPress search engine remembers it differently? I could check Google, but what if its memory contradicts both? If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you haven’t seen Rashomon, and that’s a real shame. The PFA will screen a new 35mm print as part of its Cinema Japan: A Wreath for Madame Kawakita series.
Happy-Go-Lucky, Albany, Aquarius, opening Friday. There’s no excuse for hHappy-Go-Lucky working as well as it does, and not only because the term “Mike Leigh comedy” sounds like an oxymoron. This movie has no real plot, no significant conflict, and not an overwhelming supply of laughs. But it has a bubbly, upbeat, outgoing, loving, caring and extremely happy protagonist named Poppy (Sally Hawkins in a glowing performance). Nothing truly horrible happens to her in the course of the entire film, aside from a few sessions with a truly obnoxious driving instructor (Eddie Marsan). Leigh’s films have always observed everyday life, and this one observes the everyday life of a very happy person. Read my full review.
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