What’s Screening: September 2 – 8

Ozu, Cooper, and a whole lot of Hitchcock in this week’s Bay Area screenings.


Promising events

Best of Cinekink 2016, New Parkway, Thursday, 9:00

According to the New Parkway website, this is “A collection of sexy shorts deemed the best during CineKink’s most recent festival run. This year’s assortment, with works ranging from documentary to drama, comedy too experimental, mildly spicy to quite explicit.” Sounds like fun.

Recommended revivals

A Tokyo Story, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00

A great film about family in all of its troubling complexities. An elderly couple travel to Tokyo to visit their busy and overworked adult children. Everyone greets them with the proper respect, but only a widowed daughter-in-law offers real warmth. Mortality hangs in the air. You can appreciate the life changes in Tokyo Story without having experienced them. But eventually, you will experience them. Read my Blu-ray review. Part of the series Contemplative Cinema: Ozu’s Late Films.

A High Noon, Stanford, Saturday through Tuesday

Gary Cooper discovers he has only fair-weather friends in this simple fable of courage under fire. On the day of his wedding and his resignation, the town’s sheriff (Cooper) discovers that hardened criminals are on their way, presumably for vengeance. But when he tries to form a posse, no one is willing to help him. Arguably a parable about a Hollywood gripped in McCarthyite fear. On a double bill with Destry Rides Again, which I saw once long ago.

A Days of Heaven, Castro, Thursday

The story seems a better fit for a 74-minute, 1940s B noir, but Days of Heaven isn’t about story, and only moderately about character. It’s about time, place, atmosphere, and arguably the Bible. The time is around 1916, and for most of the film, the place is a large, uniquely beautiful wheat farm on the Texas panhandle. Through the yellow of the wheat fields, the haze of the sun, and the smoke of early 20th-century technology, Days of Heaven creates a sense of something that is not quite nostalgia, and not quite a dream, but a reality seen through the haze of distant memory. See my longer commentary. On a double bill with Knight of Cups.

A- The Man Who Knew Too Much
(1956 version), Balboa, Saturday, 3:30

Alfred Hitchcock’s only remake (of his own 1934 breakthrough thriller) throws an ordinary American couple (James Stewart and Doris Day) into the middle of international espionage—a favorite Hitchcock plot device. They witness the wrong murder, so evil foreign spies kidnap their son to force their silence. Shot partly on location in England and Morocco. Thrilling and fun in that Hitchcock-patented way. Part of the Alfred Hitchcock Weekends.

B Rope, Balboa, Saturday, 6:00; Monday, 7:00

Not Alfred Hitchcock’s worst film, but easily his most frustrating; this time the master messed up an excellent screenplay (by Arthur Laurents, adapted by Hume Cronyn from a play by Patrick Hamilton). Hitchcock chose to make each reel a single take, and create the impression that the film was a single shot. This robbed Hitchcock of the ability to edit, and turned Rope into a stunt instead of a thriller. Part of the Alfred Hitchcock Weekends.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

* Balboa screenings part of Alfred Hitchcock Weekends