What’s Screening: January 29 – February 4

In festival news, Noir City closes on Sunday, and IndieFest opens Thursday.

A+ Brazil, Castro, Wednesday. One of the best black comedies ever  filmed, and the best dystopian fantasy on celluloid. In a bizarre, repressive, anally bureaucratic, andbrazil 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. On a double bill with the far less impressive 12 Monkeys, as the first of three Gilliam Wednesdays at the Castro.

A Mon Oncle, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sunday, 2:00. This may be the funniest visual comedy made after the death of silent film. The slight story involves the sister, brother-in-law, and nephew of filmmaker Jacques Tati’s onscreen persona, monuncleMonsieur Hulot. While the mischievous little devil likes his uncle (adores is too strong a word for this kid), his wealthy and image-conscious parents are none too happy with the unemployable relative. It’s just an excuse for wonderful, loopy comedy of that quiet Tati style. Many themes associated with his next film, Playtime, pop up here. It’s got elaborate sets designed to parody modern architecture and gadgetry. A disastrous garden party foreshadows Playtime’s accident-prone restaurant. People in their homes are observed through windows. But Tati did it all first in Mon oncle, he did it funnier, and he didn’t go over budget and broke doing it.

Cinematic Titanic: Danger on Tiki Island, Castro, Tuesday, 7:00. Several Mystery Science Theater alumni, including the show’s creator, Joel Hodgson, will be at the Castro to add comic commentary to another dumb sci-fi horror flick, this one set in the South Pacific. The Cinematic Titanic group is not to be confused with RiffTrax, yet another group of MST3K veterans still trying to earn a living joking about bad movies.

A Psycho, UA Berkeley, Thursday, 8:00. Contrary to urban myth, Alfred Hitchcock didn’t really want people to stop taking showers. He was, however, inspired by the television show he was then producing to make a low-budget movie in black and white.

B+

M. Hulot’s Holiday, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 5:30; Red Vic, Wednesday and Thursday. 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.

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