What’s Screening: March 25 – 31

The Dance FIlm Festival continues through Monday.

B+ The White Meadows, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sunday, 4:00. I was saddened, but not surprised, to learn that the Iranian government has sentenced writer/director Mohammad Rasoulof to six years in prison. There’s some definite political satire in this film, although not of the constant belly laugh variety. It follows an aging man with sad eyes as he travels by rowboat through a strange, salty world, listening to people’s tales of woe and collecting their tears. This is an astonishingly beautiful film, filled with striking, forbidding, yet lovely white landscapes and seascapes. The mood is oppressive, watchful, and occasionally funny in a dry, painful way. Part of the series Iran Beyond Censorship. I saw it at last year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. Read my longer report.

Down by Law, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 8:30. Roberto Benigni got his first American exposure in this strange, low-budget comedy from the then-unknown Jim Jarmusch. I haven’t seen it in about 20 years, but if it’s as good as I remember, it’s well worth seeing. Part of the series Under the Skin: The Films of Claire Denis, although Denis only worked on it as an assistant.

A I Am Legend, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00. I wonder if the Warner Brothers executives who greenlit this movie knew what they were getting into. You okay a big budget end-of-the-world scifi adventure starring Will Smith (seems a safe bet), and you get a slow-paced, dark, brooding, humorless horror film where the action scenes are few and very terrifying, and the CGI is used mainly to put wild flora in Manhattan streets. I am Legend is the sort of big-budget movie that gives you hope for Hollywood. With Art Director Patricia Woodbridge in person as part of the series Behind the Scenes: The Art and Craft of Cinema. Read my full review.

Bruce Springsteen The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Balboa, Thursday. I haven’t seen it, but I’m a Springsteen fan, so I’m mentioning it, anyway. This documentary examines the creation of that early album. It also has an absurdly ungainly title.

B+ Sing-A-Long Wizard of Oz, Castro, all week. I’ve never experienced the Sing-A-Long version, and Iwizardozdon’t really have to tell you about the non-interactive version, do I? Well, perhaps I have to explain why I’m only giving it a B+. Despite its clever songs, lush Technicolor photography, and one great performance (Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion). The Wizard of Oz never struck me as the masterpiece that everyone else sees. It’s a good, fun movie, but not quite fun enough to earn an A.

Satan Met a Lady, Stanford, Friday. I haven’t seen this one, but I know that it’s the second film version of The Maltese Falcon, Only this time, the character’s names have been changed and it’s not a falcon. The third version–the John Huston one with Humphrey Bogart–was the time they got right. On a double bill with something called The Golden Arrow.