Movies for the Week of April 15

I’m extremely busy this week, so I’ll skip the usual essay and go directly to this week’s recommendations and noteworthy movies.

Wait! Before I do that, I should let you know that I’ve added a Readers’ Feedback page to the site. I’m always eager to read your comments. Send them to me by clicking // protects email from bots user = ‘webaddress’; site = ‘’; message = ‘here’; document.write(‘‘); document.write(message + ‘‘); here.

Okay, now I’ll go directly to this week’s recommendations and noteworthy movies.

Noteworthy: It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Castro, Friday. I can’t really recommend this three-hour, big budget, slapstick comedy, even if some people consider it a classic. But I have to admit that I loved it when I was a kid. What’s more, the Castro will be screening a dye transfer Technicolor print from 1966, which is bound to look spectacular.

Recommendation: The Big Lebowski, Lumiere, Friday and Saturday, midnight, and the Red Vic, Wednesday and Thursday. This Coen Brothers gem was originally panned–a disappointing follow-up to their previous endeavor, Fargo. Well, it isn’t as good as Fargo, but it’s still one hell of a funny movie.

Recommendation: Office Space, Act 1 & 2, Friday and Saturday, midnight. If you’ve ever worked in a soul-killing office, at the mercy of a boss who was evil-incarnate, you’ll like this one.

Recommendation: Strangers on a Train, Stanford, Saturday through Monday. One of Hitchcock’s scariest films, and therefore one of his best. A rich, spoiled psychotic killer (isn’t that the worst kind), cozies up to a moderately-famous athlete and then convinces himself that the two of them have agreed to trade murders. The Stanford is showing Strangers on a Train on a double-bill with Sabotage.

Recommendation: The Ten Commandments, Castro, Sunday. I can’t really call DeMille’s overblown epic a great film, or even a good one, but it’s absolutely the best bad movie ever made. Nearly four hours long, it’s corny, melodramatic, beautiful to look at, and often hilarious, but never, ever boring. I’m a religious Jew; I take the story of the Exodus very seriously, but that doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of DeMille’s great unintentional comedy. This is the silly way to get in the mood for Passover.

Recommendation: Himalaya, Pacific Film Archive, Monday afternoon. Himalaya takes you to one of the most remote places human beings call home. This isn’t a documentary, but a dramatic film cast almost entirely by actual inhabitants of Nepal’s harsh Dolpo region.

Recommendation: The Conversation, Balboa, Thursday, Friday. Francis Ford Coppola made this modest study of paranoia and alienation in-between Godfathers I and II, and it’s every bit as good as the two epics that surround it. Gene Hackman stars as a surveillance expert who finds himself caring about the young couple whose privacy he’s been hired to violate. Perhaps even more than Coppola, this film belongs to the great editor and sound engineer Walter Murch. On a double-bill with Petula as part of the Balboa’s Reel San Francisco festival.