What’s Screening: January 1 – 7

Not much this week. The Stanford and Pacific Film Archive are closed. The Rafael and Castro are showing first-run, and there’s not much else to report.

Short Films from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Rafael, opens Friday for one week. Just what the name says. Ten of the 91 short films screened at the big festival.

B- Russian Ark, SFMOMA, Thursday, 7:00. Alfred Hitchcock wanted to shoot Rope as a single, unbroken shot, but that wasn’t feasible with 35mm film. But Alexander russianarkSokurov did it with video in this 2002 excursion through Saint Petersburg’s State  Hermitage Museum as well as Russian history. Huge, sumptuous, and spectacular, it’s a treat for history buffs, museum fans, and movie technology geeks (I’m all three). But like Rope, it has needless dull patches that could easily have been fixed with the very tool that Sokurov and Hitchcock refused to use for these features–editing.

B The Fifth Element, Red Vic, Tuesday. This big, fun, special effects-laden science  fantasy adventure refufifthelementses to take itself seriously. It never manages to be particularly exciting, but it succeeds in being rousing and funny—intentionally funny—eye candy. It’s also one of the few futuristic movies that’s neither utopian nor dystopian, making it—for all the silliness of the plot—relatively realistic.