3D at the Castro

When the pressures of life conflict with the pressures of running a Web site, life wins. By life, I mean the Jewish High Holidays and some articles that (unlike this blog) I’m actually getting paid to write. For the next few weeks. I’m going to have less time than usual to devote to Bayflicks.

So I’m going to take a two-week semi-break. I’ll post a schedule this Sunday for the week of October 9, and I’ll update the schedules through the week as I usually do (well, maybe a little less promptly), but I won’t post schedules for the weeks of October 16 or 23. I will try to post weekly Lincoln Logs, but no promises. The schedules should be back up to normal by the end of October.

While I’m taking my break, the Castro will host a series of 3-D movies. The Castro is, to my knowledge, one of only two local theaters that can still project the two-strip polarized 3D of the 1950’s (the other being the Stanford). The process involves two synchronized projectors, a polarized screen, and, of course, special glasses. The system was considerably better than the over/under single-strip polarized 3D of the 1970’s and ‘80’s, and vastly superior to that dreadful red-and-green slop that crops up from time to time (which is, in fact, usually red and cyan, and technically is called anaglyph 3D).

If anyone shot an actual masterpiece in 3D, I haven’t seen it. But there were some fun movies shot that way, especially during the big 3D craze of 1953 and ’54, and the Castro has put together quite a program. Not just cheap horror movies (although it certainly has those), but a musical, a film noir, a western, two Three Stooges shorts, and the only 3D film ever made by one of the world’s greatest filmmakers.

And speaking of great filmmakers, here are this week’s recommendations and comments. Most of these films are merely in 2D, and only the nearsighted will need glasses.

Recommended: Red Eye, Balboa, ongoing engagement starts Friday. Who knew that Wes Craven could make a really scary movie with almost no stage blood (okay, Music of the Heart lacked gore, but it wasn’t very scary, either). Set almost entirely within the confines of an airliner’s coach cabin, Red Eye is an old-fashioned nail-biter in the Hitchcock tradition, keeping you on the edge of your seat with every little thing that you don’t like about flying. Unfortunately, as with Collateral (last year’s neo-Hitchcock gem), logic and plausibility are thrown to the wind in the last half hour to give you an “exciting” finish. Despite the flaws, it’s still a wonderful ride…or flight. On a double-bill with 40 Year-Old-Virgin.

Recommended: Some Like It Hot, Stanford, Friday through Thursday. A few years ago, the American Film Institute called this the greatest American film comedy. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it’s definitely in my top twenty—and it has the best closing line of any movie ever. On a double-bill with It Should Happen to You.

Recommended: Miss Sadie Thompson, Castro, Monday and Tuesday. There’s nothing quite like this 3D melodrama about sexual hypocrisy, with Rita Hayworth’s sexuality arousing Jose Ferrer’s hypocrisy. The tropical locations look great in 3D, as does Hayworth. As Howard Hughes’ publicity machine said about Jane Russell’s 3D debut, she’ll “knock both your eyes out!”

Noteworthy: Man in the Dark and Gun Fury, Castro, Wednesday. I haven’t seen or (until now) even heard of either of these movies. But a western directed by Raoul Walsh, and a low-budget film noir, both in 3D, seem worth checking out.

Noteworthy: The Beginning or the End?, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday night. Is the classy Archive the place to go to laugh at a movie that’s allegedly so bad it’s funny? I’m guessing it will be Wednesday night, when the PFA shows this odd-sounding, apparently wildly inaccurate 1947 “docudrama” about the invention of the atomic bomb. Introduced by John Wranovics. Part of the Archive’s Doctor Atomic Goes Nuclear series.

Recommended: Hurricane Katrina Rescue Benefit, Parkway, Thursday night. I’m going to break my own rules here and recommend something I’ve never seen. But this isn’t about the movies (The Big Easy and Live and Let Die, both set in New Orleans). It’s about a big event for a good cause. The entire theater—both auditoriums—will be devoted to the party, which will also include live music by Blue Bone Express and A. J. Roach, a zydeco dance contest, and Cajun food.