The Mill Valley Film Festival closes Sunday, without my getting a chance to attend anything. The Arab Film Festival continues throughout this week. Docfest opens tonight, starting a two-week run. And Global Lens 2010 opens Tuesday.
A The Kids are All Right,Castro, Thursday. Lisa Cholodenko’s serious comedy about a middle-aged lesbian couple, their teenage children, and the very heterosexual man who ambles his way into their lives could just be the best film of 2010. Few movies have caught with such fidelity the love, stress, joy, and day-to-day battles of an endangered but not altogether lost marriage. And even fewer have done it in such a funny, sexy, entertaining package. But why Cholodenko picked a title that would be easily confused with the Who rockumentary is beyond me.
B+ Winter’s Bone, Red Vic, Thursday (and continuing through the following Saturday). This may be the slowest mystery/thriller ever made, and that doesn’t hurt it a bit. With her father gone and her mother hopeless, teenager Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) has become the responsible caregiver for her younger siblings in their ramshackle home in the Ozark back woods. But things get worse when the sheriff visits. Her father has jumped bail, and unless he’s found in seven days, they lose the property. You’ll never easily dismiss these people as “hillbillies” again.
Home Movie Day Film Check-In and Screening, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 11:00am (check-in) and 1:00 (screening). Not all movies are made by professionals. Here’s your chance to get your home movies checked by an archivist, then screened for an audience. Or, you can just pay admission and see other people’s home movies.
Left in the Dark Celebration, Balboa, 7:00. Gary Meyer’s theater will celebrate R.A. McBride’s new large-format book about San Francisco Movie Theatres with several of the book’s authors (including Meyer). Other festivities promised include sing-a-longs, prizes, a photo exhibit in the lobby, and, of course, movies. The short films promised include D.W. Griffith’s special effects comedy “Those Awful Hats,” “Becall to Arms,” and “Movie Pests.” I’m not sure, but I think all of these are set in movie theaters.
A+ Notorious, Stanford, Saturday through Monday. One of Hitchcock’s best. In order to prove her patriotism, scandal-ridden Ingrid Bergman seduces, beds, and marries Claude Rains’ Nazi industrialist, while true love Cary Grant grimly watches. Sexy, romantic, thought-provoking, and scary enough to shorten your fingernails. On a double bill with Lubitsch’s World War II comedy, To Be or Not to Be, which I haven’t seen in a very long time but I remember really liking.
Miracle in Milan, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 9:10. I haven’t seen Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realistic fantasy/comedy in a very long time, but I remember it fondly. And I’m pretty sure my oxymoronic description is accurate. Visually, it’s as bleak and poverty-centered as The Bicycle Thief, but its playful fable of a story seems closer to Peter Pan. Part of the series Days of Glory: Revisiting Italian Neorealism.
A Metropolis, Pacific Film Archive, Tuesday, 7:00; Rafael, Tuesday through Friday. The first important science fiction feature film still strikes a considerable visual punch, and with the latest restoration, tells a compelling story, as well. The images–workers in a hellish underground factory, the wealthy at play, a robot brought to life in the form of a beautiful woman–are a permanent part of our collective memory. Even people who haven’t seen Metropolis know them through the countless films it has influenced. Recently-discovered footage elevates the story of a clash between workers and aristocrats from trite melodrama to a tale of real people in an artificial world. Read my longer report. Digitally projected. The Rafael will play the recorded original score, but the PFA will have piano accompaniment by Judith Rosenberg.
D Romeo + Juliet, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 4:00. Updating Shakespeare to the present (or the more recent past) has been all the rage for the last 20 years or so. Sometimes it works brilliantly, but not so in Baz Luhrmann’s ultra-frantic take on the Bard’s most famous romantic tragedy. Set in a modern-day “Verona Beach,” this R&J uses its setting as a gimmick, distracting us from the story rather than enhancing it. For instance, we see a close-up of a very modern rifle with the brand name Sword before Benvolio cries out “Put up your swords.” On the rare occasions when the settings don’t distract, the flashy editing does. A lot of great Shakespeare films were made in the 1990s, but oddly, this is the only one from that decade in the PFA’s current Shakespeare on Screen series.
B The Big Lebowski, United Artists Berkeley, Thursday, 8:00. Critics originally panned this Coen Brothers gem as a disappointing follow-up to the Coen’s previous endeavor, Fargo. Well, it isn’t as good as the Coen’s masterpiece, but it’s still one hell of a funny movie. It’s also built quite a cult following; The Big Lebowski has probably played more Bay Area one-night stands in the years I’ve been maintaining this site than than any three other movies put together.