What’s Screening: August 19 – 25

I’m back from the longest vacation I’ve had in years, and there are still no film festivals in the Bay Area. But we do have great comedy, great dancing, and pods turning into real people.

New films opening

B Lo and Behold, Reveries of The Connected World, Clay, Rafael, opens Friday

Werner Herzog tries–and to some extent succeeds–in giving us an overview of the Internet and all that it means. Organized into ten clearly-marked chapters, his latest documentary starts with early tests on the Berkeley campus in the late 1960s and ends with predictions of the future. In between, he celebrates what’s wonderful about technology and warns us about its horrors. Read my full review.

Promising events

Snatchers Body the of Invasion, Roxie, Thursday, 7:00

Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers has received a very different type of remake. Anne McGuire re-edited the film, so that starts at the end and ends at the beginning. On a double bill with–you guessed it– Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Laurel and Hardy Newly Restored, Volume 2, Rafael, Sunday

Another collection of shorts by Hollywood’s greatest comic duo. I’ve only seen one of the four movies on this program, Busy Bodies, and it’s as good as they come. I suspect the others will be fun, as well.

Recommended revivals

A The Band Wagon, Stanford, Saturday through Tuesday

If Singin’ in the Rain is the best musical Hollywood ever created, The Bad Wagon is a very close second. A satire on the clash between serious art and frivolous entertainment, held together by great songs, masterful choreography, and comedy that never feels forced. Astaire’s character, an aging movie star nervously returning to Broadway, is clearly based on Astaire himself. On a double bill with Meet Me in St. Louis.

A To Be or Not To Be (original, 1942 version), Stanford, Friday

The Nazis conquered Poland with frightening speed. But they prove no match for Carol Lombard and Jack Benny in Ernst Lubitsch’s World War II comic masterpiece. As a married pair of egotistical stars of the Warsaw stage, Lombard and Benny lead a theatrical troupe of slightly lesser egos as they outwit the gestapo. The rare screwball comedy that’s willing to get serious when the story demands it. Read my Blu-ray review. On a double bill with Laurence Olivier’s 1948 version of Hamlet, which I saw way back in 1981 and thought it was awful.

B Burn After Reading, Balboa, Thursday, 7:30

The Coen brothers are back to their old tricks, mining the dark comic prospects of a crime gone wrong. While Burn After Reading lacks the humanity of Fargo, the Zen-slacker philosophy of The Big Lebowski, and the blazing, non-stop lunacy of Intolerable Cruelty, it still provides 95 very entertaining minutes. Read my review.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)