What’s Screening: April 15 – 21

This week in Bay Area movies, the earth shakes, a lion grows up, and the world is destroyed. And the big SF film festival opens.


The Tiburon International Film Festival closes today.

The Green Film Festival closes Wednesday.

The big one, the San Francisco International Film Festival, opens Thursday. If you want to know what to catch at SFIFF, you can read my coverage.

New films opening

B+ Sold, opening Friday

Sold dramatizes an important issue, the millions of children sold into slavery as prostitutes, through the fictitious story of one 13-year-old victim (Niyar Saikia). Her story is powerful and moving, but the film suffers from a subplot involving well-meaning white people. Director Jeffrey Brown will appear in person Sunday, April 17 at the Rafael’s 4:30 show. Read my full review.

Promising events

Born Free, Castro, Wednesday, 6:30

This based-on-a-true-story tale follows a couple that raise a lioness in the African savanna and then set her free. It was a huge hit in 1966 (the theme song was an even bigger hit). I haven’t seen it in 50 years, but I remember it fondly. The film’s star, Virginia McKenna, will be at the screening, which is the closing night event of The Green Film Festival. New 4K digital restoration.

Earthquake movies, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Friday and Saturday

The ground under San Francisco shook and changed the city’s history 110 years ago this week. Friday night, the Museum will screen San Francisco, the 1936 MGM extravaganza starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Jeanette MacDonald (and yes, it’s a talkie). On Saturday, they’ll screen three silent shorts about the earthquake, including When the Earth Trembled.

The Harder They Come, New Mission, Monday, 10:00

The film that introduced reggae to American audiences returns to the big screen. When I first saw it in 1973, it was exciting, amazing, electrifying, and scored with a truckload of incredible music. Today, the music is still incredible, but I frankly couldn’t tell you if anything else holds up.

Honoring Art Director Ken Adam, Castro, Sunday

To honor the recently-deceased art director, the Castro will screen three films he designed: Stanley Kubrick’s brilliantly end-of-the-world comedy, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (see my commentary), the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, and the period piece, The Madness of King George. But when are they going to do a series that honors a screenwriter?

Recommended revivals

A Pan’s Labyrinth, Roxie, Wednesday, 7:00

Young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) lives in fascist Spain with a cruel and powerful stepfather. Her reality is very scar, but so is the fantasy realm into which she frequently escapes. But at least the fantasy world, which may or may not be a figment of her imagination, holds out the possibility of hope. Guillermo del Toro fashions a nightmare inside of a nightmare, filled with dark, gruesome, and often gory imagery, a child’s fantasy that’s appropriate only for adults, and an unforgettable experience. On a double bill with The Devil’s Backbone.

B+ District 9, New Mission, Sunday, 3:00

For once, aliens come to Earth and they’re neither conquerors or saviors; they’re a minority ready to be oppressed. This obvious parable of Apartheid, made in South Africa, is a black comedy, a thriller, and an action movie, with touches of the mockumentary. For a low-budget science fiction epic, it works remarkably well. But director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp can’t quite escape the attitudes that color his country’s past, and the movie’s Nigerian gangsters come off as a bizarre racial stereotype. Adam Savage and Neill Blomkamp in conversation after the movie.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)