What’s Screening: May 24 – 30

The Playground Film Festival continues through Saturday, while the Green Film Festival opens Thursday.

Other than that, not much going on that I can tell you about.

A- What Maisie Knew, Embarcadero, Albany, opens Friday. This family drama follows the aftereffects of a very angry, messy, and vindictive image_thumbdivorce–as seen through the eyes of the bickering couple’s  young daughter. We see nothing that she doesn’t see, or hear anything she doesn’t hear. Of course we realize, even if she doesn’t, that both of her parents are jerks. Julianne Moore plays Maisie’s monster of a mother, an aging rock star incapable of relating to another human being as anything other than an extension of herself. Maisie’s art dealer father (Steve Coogan) fights for joint custody not out of love but revenge. Luckily for her, there are better adults in her life, but they may not be enough to make up for her lousy parents. Read my full review.

A King Kong, New Parkway, Sunday, 6:00. The first effects-laden adventure film of the sound era still holds up. It’s not just Willis O’Brien’s breathtaking special effects–technically crude by today’s standards but still awe-inspiring. kingkong33It’s the intelligent script by Ruth Rose, the evocative score by Max Steiner, and the wonderful cast headed by Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong. But most of all, it’s the title character. Kong is the stuff of nightmares, utterly terrifying as he grinds people into the ground or bites them to death, but also confused, loving, majestic, and ultimately doomed. Pretty good for an 18-inch model covered with rabbit fur. Sure, the story is silly, but so are dreams. This Thrillville Theater presentation will be hosted by Lord Blood-Rah, and no, I have no idea who that is.

B Valley of the Giants, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30. This story of good loggers vs. evil loggers is simple, lurid, yet well-done melodrama, and highly out-of-date by today’s more environmentally-enlightened standards. (Someone must have liked it, though; this is one of three film versions.) But never mind the story; the action sequences are as thrilling and suspenseful as any you’re likely to see. The location photography, shot near Eureka before that area was, well, ruined by loggers, makes The Valley of the Giants terrific eye candy. Accompanied by Judy Rosenberg at the piano.

B Something in the Air, Roxie, opens Friday. Youthful innocence takes strange forms. For Gilles, a French high school student in 1971, it takes the imageforms of radical activism and artistic ambitions. Sometimes those drives support each other in Olivier Assayas’ loose tale, and at other times they conflict. Something in the Air doesn’t grab you like a great film; you often have to force yourself to stay involved. But the effort is worthwhile. As Gilles grows beyond his radical idealism–even if he never quite renounces it–you’ll find yourself appreciating how we all mature and find ourselves. And yes, the esoteric Marxist arguments are intended to sound ridiculous. Read my full review.