No festivals this week. But we still have some movies worth seeing.
B Young and Beautiful, Opera Plaza, Shattuck, opens Friday. François Ozon’s almost-unwatchable drama about a 17-year-old girl takes a major turn at the halfway point, suddenly becoming a good film. In the first half, she goes from virgin to whore without explanation or visible motivation. We watch her have sex with old men and older men, but we can’t figure out why (she doesn’t seem to enjoy it and she doesn’t need the money). Then her mother finds out, conflicts arise, and we begin to understand what’s really going on. It’s a close call, but I’d say that getting to the second half is worth sitting through the first. Read my full review.
B+ Noah, New Parkway, opens Friday. Darren Aronofsky fleshed out the short and troubling Bible story, adding both philosophical food for thought and rousing, CGI-laden adventure. Some of it is ridiculously silly (such as the rock creatures that reminded me of Lord of the Ring’s Ents), but the good scenes outweigh the bad ones. Although Paramount has marketed Noah to the conservative Christian community, this is really a very Jewish take on the tale, following the tradition of a midrash. Not surprising, since both Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel are Jewish. But someone needs to explain why this Middle Eastern story is cast entirely with white people.
An Evening with Ken Burns, Castro, Wednesday, 7:30. This looks interesting. Public Television’s premiere documentarian will be live onstage answering questions. Also on the program, a "sneak preview" of Burns’ upcoming miniseries, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.
A-Titanic, various CineMark Theaters, Sunday, 2:00; Wednesday, 2:00 & 7:00. Forget the out-of-control budget and the teenage crushes.On its own, Titanic is a big, broad, rousing entertainment told on an epic scale, and worth every minute of its long running time. Writer/director James Cameron skillfully balances the intimate melodrama of a doomed love with the big adventure of a doomed ship, giving us romance, class warfare, history, tragedy, suspense, sex, and plenty of special effects. Best of all, this is the original, 2D version.
B+ Forty Guns, Stanford, Friday through Sunday. Samuel Fuller’s Cinemascope western is best remembered for its shocking ending (which isn’t anywhere near as shocking as what Fuller intended). But it has a lot more than that going for it, especially with the female leads. Barbara Stanwyck plays a wealthy rancher who’s used to getting what she wants (the title refers to her small army of gunfighters). You’re never quite sure what side she’ll land on. Lesser-known Eve Brent plays a beautiful gunsmith who’s a wonderful person yet not at all a proper lady. A lot of fun. On a double bill with The Violent Men, which I haven’t seen.
White Heat, Castro, Sunday, 7:00. Cagney returned to the studio that made him famous for one last gangster movie. But this time, instead of a basically decent guy who has made a few mistakes, he gets to play a psycho. But at least he loves his mother. Come to think of it, maybe he loves her a little too much. I’m not giving White Heat a grade because it has been years since I saw it. But I remember liking it very, very much. On a double bill with Animal Kingdom, which I have not seen.
B Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Balboa, Saturday, 10:00am. Tim Burton’s first feature revels in its own silliness. Pee-Wee Herman, before children’s television and indecent exposure, is a strange, almost neurotically innocent creature. The movie is uneven, and most of the jokes are extremely dumb, but the oddball charm cannot be denied. Besides, the last sequence, reworking the plot as a Hollywood action flick, is alone worth the price of admission.
Mystery Science Theater 3000, New Parkway, Friday, 10:30. Regular readers know that I’m a fan of the classic bad-movie-with-commentary TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. I have never seen an episode on the big screen with a full audience, but I suspect I’d enjoy it–especially if it’s a really good episode. I hope this will be a good episode, no one is telling us which one will be screened.