Life is crazy. I don’t have time this week to pontificate about movies, so I’ll just go directly to this week’s comments and recommendations:
Recommended: The Best of Youth, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 3:00; also ongoing at the Balboa. If you live in the East Bay, Friday may be your only chance to see the best two-part, six-hour movie since Godfather I and II. At least, your only chance to see it on the big screen without crossing water. Yes, six hours is a long time to spend in a movie theater, but in those six hours you’ll make new friends, fall in and out of love, learn a lot of recent Italian history, and marvel at just how wonderful a story-telling medium motion pictures can be. The PFA will screen Part I at 3:00, and Part II, after a dinner break, at 7:00.
Recommended: Capote, Parkway, ongoing engagement starts Friday. I can’t think of a historical figure more challenging for an actor than Truman Capote–you can’t do that voice without it sounding like a broad comic impersonation. Yet Philip Seymour Hoffman makes it work in a Golden Globe-winning performance. The story sticks to the years that Capote researched and wrote his last and most-praised book, In Cold Blood. Hoffman creates a witty and self-centered Capote, utterly unable to handle an emotional attachment to a cold-blooded killer, or the sudden literary success of his research assistant, To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee (Catherine Keener).
Noteworthy: NoirQuake, Palace of Fine Arts, Saturday, 3:00. A literary as well as a cinematic event. Local notables will read from the novels that inspired Film Noir, followed by clips from the film versions of the books. Part of the Noir City festival.
Noteworthy: Sean Penn Night, Palace of Fine Arts, Saturday, 7:00. Sean Penn is an actor, an activist, a film director, and, apparently, a film noir fan. Penn will screen his 2001 directorial effort, the neo-noir The Pledge, then present his favorite classic-era noir–whatever that may be. Another Noir City event.
Noteworthy: Wings of Desire, Red Vic, Sunday and Monday. Another one I’ve seen too long ago to be entirely confident recommending. But when I saw Wim Wenders’ fantasy about an angel who longs to be mortal, I liked it.
Recommended: This is Spinal Tap, Parkway, Tuesday, 9:15. On a scale of one to ten, This is Spinal Tap rates an eleven. And if you didn’t get that joke, you haven’t seen the parody that put all “rockumentaries” in their place. The Parkway is presenting Spinal Tap as a benefit for HEROES (Helpers Engaged in Reaching Oakland’s Excelling Schools).
Noteworthy: Darwin’s Nightmare, Red Vic, Tuesday and Wednesday. I haven’t seen this documentary on the disruptions and destructions caused by the wrong fish in Lake Victoria, but it looks worth seeing.