What’s Screening: December 26-January 1

Sorry I’m late with this. I can’t even blame Christmas for the oversight, since I don’t celebrate Christmas. But here’s the newsletter, a few hours late.

Not much of note this week, anyway. Best to take the time to catch a new film. I recommend Bolt (especially in 3D) and very highly recommend Milk. I’ll let you know if I see a good movie with more than four letters in the title.

3 Bad Men, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. I’ve never seen John Ford’s second big budget western (his first was The Iron Horse). But biographer Joseph McBride described it as “the silent film pointing most clearly to the strengths of his mature masterpieces.” Musical accompaniment by Greg Pane.

Mary Poppins, California Theatre, San Jose, Saturday and Sunday. The best live-action movie Walt Disney ever made, and one of the great all-time children’s pictures. Julie Andrews may have won the Oscar through a sympathy vote, but she really is wonderful in this movie. So what if it takes liberties with the books.

Singin’ in the Rain, Castro, Thursday. In 1952, the late twenties seemed like a fond memory of an innocent time, and nostalgia was a large part of Singin’ in the Rain’s original appeal. The nostalgia is gone now, and we can clearly see this movie for what it is: the greatest musical ever filmed, and perhaps the best work of pure escapist entertainment to ever come out of Hollywood. Take out the songs, and you still have one of the best comedies of the 1950’s, and the funniest movie Hollywood ever made about itself. But take out the songs, and you take out the best part.

W., Red Vic, Thursday through next Saturday. The very fact of W.’s existence raises an interesting and important question: Why go to an Oliver Stone movie after all the times he’s disappointed us? And W. provides an answer: There is no good reason. The movie looks as if Stone couldn’t decide between a comic farce or a serious character study of our disastrous president. He fails on all counts, creating a film that isn’t funny, dramatic, or particularly insightful. Read my full review.

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