What’s Screening: November 19 – 25

The New Italian Cinema runs through Sunday, while the Chinese American Film Festival continues through Tuesday.

B Kings of Pastry, Balboa, Elmwood, Lark, opened last Wednesday. You may have seen, or heard of, two shows on The Food Channel kingsofpastrycalled Iron Chef and Ace of Cakes. Combine the two, and slow down the editing for people not suffering from ADD, and you’ve got Kings of Pastry. Legendary documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker joined forces  to document the grueling three-day event where 16 chefs strove for France’s Meilleur Ouvrier de France. coveted medal and collar. Hegedus and Pennebaker focus on one of these contestants: Jacquy Pfeiffer—a Frenchman now teaching at a culinary school in Chicago. But the movie’s real stars are the amazing-looking deserts. Read my full review.

Special Kings of Pastry Event, Balboa, Sunday, between the 3:00 and 5:05 screenings. The Bakers Dozen will be on hand with a wide selection of culinary treats.

A Double Bill: Raging Bull & Mishima, Castro, Wednesday. Martin Scorsese put a cap on 70’s cinema with Raging Bull, his study of boxer Jake La Motta. It isn’t an easy film to watch; the experience is not unlike a good pummeling, but it’s absolutely worth it. Robert De Niro gives one of the great physical performances in cinema, changing from a taut athlete to a man who has let himself go, and at no point does De Niro ask for our sympathy. Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is not a great film. It’s more like several great short films that kind of hang together, creating an image of novelist and fascist hero Yukio Mishima as a brilliant lunatic, motivated by fears of aging, fantasies of a heroic death, and unease over his own homosexuality. See my post Mishima at MVFF.

Silent Comedy Shorts, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. As usual, the museum is treating us to two-reelers by Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy. This week’s Lloyd entry, "Never Weaken," is my favorite of his shorts. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Keaton’s "The High Sign." It was his first film both as director and as lead star, and he didn’t care for it, much. I remember liking it. I know nothing about the Chaplin and L&H entries. Greg Pane accompanies everything on piano.