What’s Screening: July 1 – 7

No festivals running this week.

Das Boot, VIZ Cinema @ New People, Thursday, 6:00. I haven’t seen Wolfgang Petersen’s breakthrough submarine epic in a very long time, but I remember being very impressed when I saw it. This screening will be the 208-minute director’s cut. Considering Petersen’s effective use of surrounds and the Viz’s sound system, this should be an impressive screening. Followed by Q&A with producer Ortwin Freyermuth.

A Marx Brothers Double Feature: A Night at the Opera & Duck Soup, Castro, Sunday. Here we have the last (and best) of the Marx Brothers’ Paramount movies, and the first (some say the best) of their MGM works. The A goes to Duck Soup, where a blatantly corrupt politician (Groucho ducksoupMarx) becomes the  country’s all-powerful leader on the whim of the wealthy elite (Margaret Dumont). Once in office, he cuts benefits for the working class, fills important positions with unqualified clowns, and starts a war on a whim. Sound familiar?  MGM was willing to spend more money on Marx Brother comedies than Paramount had, but the need to be more commercial cost them a lot of their bite. Their first MGM extravaganza has some of their best routines (“The party of the first part,” the overcrowded stateroom), but you have to sit through a dumb romantic plot, very unmarxist sentimentality, and insipid love songs.

A+ Rashomon, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 6:30. I know that I’ve reviewed Kurosawa’s first period masterpiece–the film that opened Japanese cinema to the world. But according to a search of this blog, I’ve never reviewed it. How could I remember it one way, when the WordPress search engine remembers it differently? I could check Google, but what if its memory contradicts both? If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you haven’t seen Rashomon, and that’s a real shame. For a more informative essay, read my Kurosawa Diary entry. Part of the series Japanese Divas.

A- Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Castro, Thursday. Only Werner Herzog would ask a scientist about his dreams. But that’s precisely why Herzog was the perfect choice to make this documentary about very ancient cave paintings—amongst the earliest works of art in existence, and works that show significant talent. Herzog’s unique narrative voice, the eerie beauty of the caves themselves, and the haunting score by Ernst Reijseger combine to turn Cave into an homage to what makes human beings special: the artistic, creative spark. And yes, the 3D is justified. Read my full review.

D Vertigo, Red Vic, Wednesday and Thursday. What? I’m vertigonot recommending Vertigo?  Everyone else thinks it’s a masterpiece, but it tops my short list of the Most Overrated Films of All Time.Vertigo isn’t like any other Alfred Hitchcock movie; it’s slow, uninvolving, and self-consciously arty.