What’s Screening: January 22 – 28

Noir City opens at the Castro tonight for a 10-day run. I wrote a bit about it here.

Edison Theater 5 Year Anniversary, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. The Museum has been presenting silent movies in their own Edison Theater for five years now, and they’ve got a free show to prove it.  Five rare shorts restored and preserved by the Museum, four pianists, and board members talking “briefly” about the Museum, itself.

A Animal Crackers, Rafael, Sunday, 2:00. The Marx Brothers’ second film, like their  first, The Coconuts, is a crudely-shot Broadway animalcrackersplay. Such was the art of talkie filmmaking in 1930. But at least it’s a funny play—a very funny one–written specifically for the Marx Brothers and filmed for the most part with the original cast. Marxist humor was always about tearing down the pompous and the self-important, and a high-class party is the perfect setting for the Brothers’ own special form of anarchy. All that goes a long way in helping us forgive the technical crudity. With Bill Marx (Harpo’s son) and Dick Cavett in person. Part of SF Sketchfest.

A Playtime, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 5:30. An American tourist, Monsieur Hulot, and assorted other specimens of humanity adrift and befuddled in a very modern playtime[1]Paris. That’s all there is of plot in Jacques Tati’s large-scale comedy, and that’s all that’s needed. On one level, Tati is commenting on modern architecture. On another, he’s just making us laugh in his odd, almost meditative way. And even when you’re not laughing, you’re fascinated by the little details of Tati’s city-sized universe. Tati spent (and lost) a fortune on Playtime, building a giant set and shooting the movie in 65mm for 70mm release, and the result is ours to enjoy…immensely. Part of the series, Playtime: The Modern Comedy of Jacques Tati.

B+ M. Hulot’s Holiday, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Thursday, 7:30. Jacques Tati’shulotholiday_thumb[1]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.