A The Wages of Fear, SF Film Society Cinema, opens Friday for one-week run. You’ll find few other thrillers this painfully suspenseful. Four poverty-stricken Europeans, desperately stranded in South America, take on a frightfully dangerous job because their only other choice is starvation. They agree to transport a very large quantity of nitroglycerin, in two ill-equipped trucks, across poorly-maintained mountain roads. But Wages of Fear is more than just a thriller. Director and co-writer Henri-Georges Clouzot had some strong opinions on poverty, exploitation, and American economic imperialism, and he used this nail-biting movie to discuss them. An exceptional work, and a new 35mm print.
A- Stranger Than Paradise, Castro, Wednesday. Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch didn’t so much burst upon the scene as casually stroll onto it with this strange, low-key, black-and-white road picture. Two men and a woman drive from New York to Cleveland to Florida with very little money or motivation. Unhurried in the extreme–every scene consists of a single shot, each one separated from the next by a short fade out. Funny and touching in its quiet, odd little way, and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. On a double bill with another early Jarmusch feature, Down By Law, which I haven’t seen in a very long time and will therefore reframe from grading (although I remember liking it a lot).
A+ Citizen Kane, Kabuki, Wednesday. How does a movie survive a half-century reputation as the Greatest Film Ever Made? By being really, really good. True, there are films more insightful about the human condition, pictures more dazzling in their technique, and movies more fun. But I’d be hard pressed to name many this insightful that are also this dazzling and so much fun. Now I’ll tell you what Rosebud is: It’s a McGuffin.
B+ Ghostbusters, Camera 3, Thursday. Comedy rarely gets this scary or visually spectacular. Or perhaps I should say that special-effects action fantasies rarely get this funny. Either way, it’s not a bad way to pass an evening.
Yellow Submarine, Castro, Friday, then Sunday through Tuesday. 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.