What’s Screening: May 25 – 31

Only one festival this week: New Czech Films at the Roxie. It runs Tuesday through Thursday, and then picks up again in the middle of next week.

Not much else, either.

Roxie Fundraiser Dinner, The Verdi Club, Wednesday, 6:30. Help keep the Roxie running with this special event. It’s extremely expensive, but all for a good cause. RSVP ahead of time.

A Marx Brothers Triple Bill: Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, & Horse Feathers, Castro, Saturday. Three of their best films. A crudely-shot, early talkie based on a Broadway play, Animal Crackers overcomes its technical crudity by being very funny. "Marxist" humor always tears down the pompous and the self-important, and Animal Crackers’ society party makes the perfect setting for the Brothers’ special form of anarchy. Monkey Business, their first film not based on a play, throws its plot to the wind as the world’s greatest Marxists disrupt an ocean liner. In Horse Feathers, the Marx Brothers go to college, where they major in puns, pranks, and chasing Thelma Todd. The only film where all four perform different variations on the same song–each sillier than the last.

B Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. Rudolph Valentino danced, female hearts fluttered, and a star was born. Aside from that justifiably famous tango sequence, the lavishly-produced Four Horseman makes for an entertaining evening. This World War I epic follows two Argentinian families who find themselves on different sides of the European war. The antiwar message is significantly diluted, however, by an insistence on blaming everything on the Germans.

B Hugo, Castro, Monday and Tuesday. Martin Scorsese’s family film (that almost sounds like an oxymoron) proves to be reasonably hugoentertaining. But then, its very plot seems intended to enchant cinephiles like myself. I doubt I would have liked it near as much if it had been about the meat-packing industry. Scorsese uses the latest CGI and 3D technology brilliantly to draw the audience into the universe of the story. And while that story is slight and cliché-ridden, it has the virtue of touching on early film history and ending with a message—integrated into the story—of the importance of film preservation. Read my Thoughts on Hugo. Both Hugo and the second feature, The Adventures of Tintin, will be presented in digital 3D.

Yellow Submarine, Elmwood, Saturday, noon. The Beatles’ one animated feature–which to my knowledge hasn’t played the Bay Area in years–has been restored, and is receiving special theatrical presentations. It’s been too long since I’ve seen this whimsical fantasy for me to issue a grade. If memory serves, Yellow Submarine is a wonderful movie for taking drugs, and equally wonderful for taking your kids. Just don’t take both.