What’s Screening: February 10 – 16

The Elite Squad of Colonel Blimp brings up baby.

If you’re feeling like a festival, IndieFest continues through this week.

B Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, 4-Star, opens Friday. Captain Roberto Nascimento elite_squadbelieves in killing "scumbags." And as an officer in Rio’s militaristic Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE), he gets plenty of opportunities to do so. Yet the street gangs and drug dealers don’t seem to bother him anywhere near as much as the liberal professor who wants to address the root causes of street crime and opposes excessive violence. This violent, gun-happy, rightwing cop is going to learn a lot over the course of this thoughtful, well-made, but ultra-violent crime thriller–a huge box office hit in its native Brazil. Read my full review.

A The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Stanford, Saturday through Monday. Here’s a rare treat: a great Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger epic from 1943 that seldom screens in the Bay Area. It follows the career of a British army officer through threelife_death_colonel_blimp wars and the peaces in between. We meet the women in his life, all curiously played by Deborah Kerr, and watch his close friendship with a German officer who is sometimes his enemy. Powell and Pressburger tell the tale in flashback, allowing us to meet the protagonist as a fat, pompous, and rather silly old man before we see the dashing young soldier he once was. Shot in three-strip Technicolor when that was still something special. The film has been recently restored, and the Stanford will screen a new 35mm print.

National Theatre Live: Travelling Light, Cerrito, Monday & Wednesday, 7:00; Kabuki, Monday, 7:00. I know little about this stage play, which will screen in HD. But it is about early cinema, as well as (I’m showing my ethnicity, here) Eastern European Jews immigrating to America.

A Bringing Up Baby, Pacific Film Archive, Tuesday, 7:00. How does one define a screwball comedy? You could say it’s a romantic comedy with glamorous movie starsbringing_up_baby behaving like broad, slapstick comedians. You could point out that screwballs are usually set amongst the excessively wealthy, and often explore class barriers. Or you could simply show Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby, a frivolous and hilarious tale about a mild-mannered paleontologist (Cary Grant), a ditzy heiress (Katharine Hepburn), and a tame leopard (a tame leopard). Part of the series Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man.

A Swing Time, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 3:10. If Top Hat is the perfect Astaire-Rogers movie, Swing Time is a close second, and the only other masterpiece in the series. Even by Astaire-Rogers standards, the plot is lightweight: Fred is an incredibly lucky gambler who for private reasons has to limit his winnings. It’s just an excuse for Fred and Ginger to fall in love, fight, break up, fall in love again, and repeat the cycle, all the while singing and dancing. The Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern songs (“Pick Yourself Up,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “A Fine Romance”) are among the best of that decade, and the dancing more than does them justice. The “Never Gonna Dance” number is one of the saddest, most sublime dances ever. Part of the class and series Film 50: History of Cinema, Film and the Other Arts.