What’s Screening: August 12 – 18

Short films, funny films, scary films, but no film festivals in the Bay Area this week.

Last week, I confessed that I wrote the newsletter a bit early, and therefore it might not be entirely accurate. This one is even earlier. I wrote it on August 2. I promise that next week the newsletter will be hot off the word processor.

Promising events

Gary Meyer Selects: Trailers and Short Films, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 7:00

The the man who ran the UC Theatre in its heyday, and now  more recently the director of the Telluride Film Festival, will present short films and trailers both old and new. “The selection ranges from George Méliès to Gunvor Nelson, Norman McLaren to Stan Brakhage, Alfred Hitchcock to Mel Brooks.” Full disclosure: I’ve written for his blog, EatDrinkFilms.com, and have been paid for it. 8/19: I’ve corrected this blurb.

SF Sketchfest Summer Social, Castro, Saturday

The festivities start at 10:30am with The Great Muppet Caper. Then, after a very long intermission, The Rock–yes, the big ’90s action flick–will screen at 4:20, with comic commentary by Doug Benson and friends. Finally, at 9:00, we get the latest version of The Found Footage Festival. To get an idea of what that particular experience is like, you can read my reviews of the 2007 and 2012 editions. Separate tickets required.

Recommended revivals

A The Wrong Man, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 6:30

Although it uses one of Hitchcock’s favorite plots–the innocent citizen wrongly accused of a crime–The Wrong Man is unlike anything else he ever made. Based on a true story and apparently following it quite closely, The Wrong Man realistically shows you the horror of being an innocent accused. This is the film he made before Vertigo, and like Vertigo, it was a critical and commercial flop. But unlike Vertigo, it has yet to be properly rediscovered. Read my in-depth comments. Part of the series Hitchcock/Truffaut.

Laurel & Hardy Series Volume 1, Rafael, Sunday, 4:30 & 7:00

For the next four Sundays, the Rafael will screen newly-restored selections from the best comedy duo in movie history. Starting in silents and smoothly adapting to talkies, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy played two men without a brain between them, who managed to be both lovable, vindictive, and very deliberate. The first volume contains four of their talking shorts; I count three of them amongst my favorites. I haven’t seen the other. For some odd reason, this series completely ignores their silents.

A The 400 Blows, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 8:40

François Truffaut helped launch the French New Wave and modern cinema with this tale of a rebellious boy on the cusp to adolescence. Shot on a very low budget, it follows young Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud in the first of six films playing this role) as he cuts school, gets in trouble, discovers his parents’ marital problems, and refuses to fit in. Set to a brilliant jazz score, The 400 Blows captures the exhilaration and the horror (mostly the horror) of being 13. Another part of the series Hitchcock/Truffaut.

B A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 3:30

The Warner Brothers adapted a Max Reinhardt stage production of Shakespeare’s romantic fantasy, and created one of the weirdest movies to come out of studio-era Hollywood. Oddly, Reinhardt’s spectacular visuals are its weakest point. They amaze the eye at first, but eventually just slow down the story. And yet the many big-name movie stars, which include Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, James Cagney, and best of all Mickey Rooney, prove to be proficient in Shakespeare. Part of the series Vienna and the Movies.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)