B+ M. Hulot’s Holiday, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00. Jacques Tati’s second feature, and his first as the hapless Mr. Hulot, is odd, plotless, nearly dialog-free, and in its own quiet and reserved way, pretty damn funny. The pipe-smoking Hulot takes a vacation at a seaside resort, and while anarchy doesn’t exactly break out, it pops up a bit from just below the surface. The PFA will screen a brand-new, restored 35mm print, along with the short “Watch Your Left,” as the opening presentation of its series Playtime: The Modern Comedy of Jacques Tati, and as its first screening after winter break.
A+ Rear Window, United Artists, Berkeley, Thursday. Alfred Hitchcock at his absolute best. James Stewart is riveting as a news photographer temporarily confined to his apartment and a wheelchair, amusing himself by watching his neighbors (none of whom he knows) and guessing at the details of their lives. Then he begins to suspect that one of them committed murder. As he and his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) begin to investigate, it slowly begins to dawn on us that they’re getting into some pretty dangerous territory (something they don’t realize until it’s almost too late). Hitchcock uses this story to examine voyeurism, urban alienation, and the institution of marriage, and to treat his audience to a great entertainment.
The Vanishing American, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. I saw this 1926 pro-Native American western twice, a long time ago. I don’t remember it all that well, but the fact that I saw it a second time suggests that I must have liked it. Judy Rosenberg on the piano.