What’s Screening: November 23 – 29

After all the film festivals we’ve had lately, you might feel that the Bay Area needs another one like it needs another hole in the head. And so, appropriately enough, the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival opens Wednesday.

Here’s what else is going on:

A McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Vogue, Thursday, 8:00 (movie starts at 9:00). Few people realize, at least on first viewing, how much the plot of Robert Altman’s genre-bending mood poem resembles a traditional western: A lone stranger with a violent reputation rides into a remote frontier town, tries to settle down to a peaceful existence, and eventually finds himself menaced by a trio of hired killers. Yet there’s nothing conventional about this sad yet beautiful tale of prostitution, alienated community, unrequited love, and a west that seems not so much wild as stranded in the middle of nowhere. Vilmos Zsigmond’s golden Panavision cinematography makes this one of the most perfectly photographed films ever made. Proceeded by a musical performance by Conspiracy of Beards.

A+ The Third Man, Rafael, Sunday, 7:00. Classic film noir with an international flavor. An American pulp novelist (Joseph Cotten) arrives in thirdmanimpoverished, divided post-war Vienna to meet up with an old friend who has promised him a much-needed job. But he soon discovers that the friend is both a wanted criminal and newly dead. Or is he? Writer Graham Greene and director Carol Reed place an intriguing mystery inside a world so dark and disillusioned that American noir seems tame by comparison. Then, when the movie is two thirds over, Orson Welles comes onscreen to steal everything but the sprocket holes. Presented by David Thomson.

Trailer War!, Roxie, Thursday, 8:00. Ever go to the movies, enjoy four or five entertaining trailers, only to then sit through a horribly boring feature? No danger of that here. Instead of a feature, the Roxie will screen "A meticulous selection of the best, strangest and most amazing trailers in the world! From the high flying, explosive metal mayhem of STUNT ROCK to THUNDER COPS’ disembodied flying head chaos…"

All the Trimmings: A Cornucopia of Comedy, Cartoons and Music, Oddball Films, Friday, 8:00. Short subjects from Buster Keaton, Chuck Jones, Laurel and Hardy, Jonathan Winters, Betty Hutton, and others. Sounds like a great way to spend an evening. RSVP required; 415-558-8117 or programming@oddballfilm.com.

A Beauty and the Beast, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 7:20. I’d be hard-pressed to think of another film that’s anything like Jean Cocteau’s post-war fantasy. It’s a fairytale, told with a charming and often naïve innocence, and contains absolutely no objectionable-for-children content. It’s also a supremely atmospheric motion picture, and one that takes its magical story seriously. But its slow pace and quiet magic never panders to unsophisticated viewers. And yet, I once saw a very young audience sit enraptured by it. See my Blu-ray review. Part of the series Grand Illusions: French Cinema Classics, 1928–1960.

C Sing-Along Sound of Music, Castro, opens Friday and continues through December 2.. Many people love it, but I find the biggest money maker of the 1960s lumbering, slow, and dull. Not funny or romantic enough to be light entertainment, yet lacking the substance to be anything else. And most of the songs give the impression that, by their last collaboration, Roger and Hammerstein had run out of steam. On the other hand, the Todd-AO photography of Alpine landscapes makes this one of the most visually beautiful of Hollywood movies. I’ve never experienced a Sing-Along Sound of Music presentation, however. This might be something entirely different.

Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock, Embarcadero, Shattuck, Thursday, 7:00. The classic rockumentary Woodstock ends with two songs by Jimi Hendrix/. Now, you’ll get to see his entire performance at that legendary festival. Also on the bill: the documentary "Road to Woodstock."

D+ The Three Ages, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30.  Buster Keaton’s first and worst feature tells the same story three times—in caveman days, imperial Rome, and modern times—intercutting between them. The result is a thin story told thrice, with a lot of forced anachronistic humor, and only occasional flashes of Keaton genius–including one of his most spectacular falls. The film’s structure suggests that Keaton didn’t yet feel ready to make a feature, and the film as a whole suggests that his intuition was right. With the short subjects "Koko’s Thanksgiving" and "The Caretaker’s Daughter." Frederick Hodges will accompany on piano.