Medicine For Melancholy, Embarcadero, opens Friday for one-week engagement. One could describe this low-budget indi as the African-American version (and the Bay Area version) of Before Sunrise. We discover the two characters as they discover each other, maneuver around their mutual attraction, and talk about their very different attitudes about life and race. Wyatt Cenac (of the Daily Show) and Tracey Heggins make attractive and likable leads, and for the first hour they’re completely worth spending time with. But two-thirds of the way through the movie takes a wrong turn to nowhere. Beautifully shot with a color palette so desaturated it often looks like black and white. I saw Medicine for Melancholy at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival. Read my more in-depth report.
Star Trek Movie Marathon, Castro, Friday through Sunday. The Castro screens all six original-cast Star Trek features in chronological order. That’s not really a marathon, which would be all six screenings in one day. It’s really too bad they’re not, because if memory serves, movies II, III, and IV make a pretty good trilogy. The rest are simply for hardcore trekkies. So for best results, go to Wrath of KhanFriday, then catch both movies (in the right order), on Saturday.
Intolerance, California Theater, San Jose, Friday, 7:00. One of the most spectacular movies ever made, Intolerance interweaves four stories–the fall of Babylon, the life of Jesus, the Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre, and a modern tale of poverty and injustice in urban America–cutting back and forth between them. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this massive spectacle (and disastrous flop back in 1916), but I remember it as a mixed bag, clumsy one moment and amazing the next. I suspect that watching it at the California, in 35mm, with Dennis James at the Wurlitzer, the amazing just might overwhelm the clumsy. Another Cinequestscreening.
Canary, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Saturday, 4:00. As a fan of Alejandro Adams’ excellent Around the Bay, I was naturally eager to see his latest feature. I’m sorry to say that–based on a work-in-progress disc Adams sent me some months ago–I was disappointed. A weird piece of science fiction involving corporate organ donating, it never lets you close to any of the way too many characters, or even gives you much of an idea what’s going on. The only thing that keeps me from giving it an F is that I have not seen the complete work. Part of Cinequest.
Brazil, Red Vic, Friday and Saturday. One of the best black comedies ever filmed, and the best dystopian fantasy on celluloid. In a bizarre, repressive, anally bureaucratic, and thoroughly dysfunctional society, one government worker (Jonathan Pryce) tries to escape into his own romantically heroic imagination. But when he finds a real woman who looks like the girl of his dreams (Kim Greist), everything starts to fall apart. With Robert De Niro as a heroic plumber. This is the second of Gilliam’s three great fantasies of the 1980’s, and the only one clearly intended for adults.
Belle de Jour, Red Vic, Tuesday and Wednesday. bout as close as one gets to a Luis Buñuel commercial hit, for reasons that probably have more to do with sex than art. Catherine Deneuve plays a bored housewife who starts working in a brothel. At least I think that’s what happens; a lot of the story takes place in her imagination. Although not as profound as it thinks it is, it’s funny and charming and sexy and playful in ways unlike any other movie.