What’s Screening: September 9 – 15

Mr. Spock, Dekalog, Merchant Ivory, and a Big Parade in this week’s Bay Area screenings.


New films opening

B+ For the Love of Spock, Roxie, opens Friday

Adam Nimoy splits this feature documentary between his father Leonard and the character that made Leonard famous: Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock. He tells us how the character developed, and then became one of the last century’s most iconic figures. But he also shows us how his father developed, from a struggling actor to a star to a director, how he struggled with family conflicts and alcohol. It’s a loving tribute, but also an honest one. Read my full review.

Promising events

Dekalog, New Mission, Rafael, starts Friday

I’ve yet to see Krzysztof Kieślowski’s masterpiece about the Ten Commandments and the last days of Polish Communism. I suppose I need to fix that. But since it was made as a 10-episode television series, I’ll probably wait until I can see it on the small screen.

Merchant Ivory double bill: Remains of the Day & Howard’s End, Castro, Sunday, 5:00

It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve seen either of these films, both examining the British class system in the first half of the 20th century. I remember liking both of them very much; especially Remains of the Day.
New 4K restoration of Howard’s End.

The new restoration of Howards End will also screen at the Elmwood as a regular feature, opening Friday.

David Thomson Lecture & Lola Montez, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 4:30

Max Ophuls’ last film, Lola Montez, screens at 5:30 as part of the ongoing series, Vienna and the Movies, curated by film critic and historian David Thomson. I haven’t seen the film. But if you get there at 4:30–even if you haven’t bought a ticket–you can listen to Thomson’s pre-screening lecture about the movie.

The Holy Mountain, Castro, Friday, 7:00

I saw Alejandro Jodorowsky’s very strange film about a spiritual quest some 42 years ago at a Los Angeles film festival. I remember it being bizarre, religious, sacrilegious, confusing, and sexual–with a lot of nudity. I kind of liked it (I was 19 at the time). On a double bill with Zardoz, which I saw around the same time, but didn’t care for–despite the nudity.

Recommended revivals

A The Big Parade, Castro, Sunday, 1:30

One of the best films about World War 1, made while the war was still a recent memory. John Gilbert sans mustache plays a spoiled rich kid who signs up almost on a lark, enjoys fun and games safely behind the lines, falls in love with a French girl (neither speaks the other’s language; a perfect match for a silent film), and then is dropped into an unrelenting Hell. With Bruce Loeb live on the organ.

A- Elevator to the Gallows, Opera Plaza, Shattuck, new 2K restoration opens Friday

Louis Malle launched his directing career, and arguably the New Wave, with this noir tale of a perfect crime gone wrong. Laced with dark, ironic humor, the film cuts back and forth between a murderer trapped in an elevator (Maurice Ronet), the murderer’s lover wandering the streets searching for him (Jeanne Moreau), and two young lovers enjoying a crime spree in a car stolen from the murderer. And all of it set to a powerful jazz score by Miles Davis. Read my longer comments.

A Animal Crackers, Stanford, Wednesday through next Friday

The Marx Brothers’ second film
overcomes the crudity of early talkies by delivering loads of laughs. “Marxist” humor always tears down the pompous and the self-important, and Animal Crackers’ setting–a society party filled with the wealthy and the pompous–makes the perfect setting for the Brothers’ special form of anarchy. On a very strange double bill with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1953 version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

A The Terminator, Balboa, Tuesday, 7:00

James Cameron’s first hit provides non-stop thrills that keep you on the edge of a heart attack. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the title character–a heartless machine sent back in time to murder the future mother of the man who will save humanity. Simple, straightforward, and modestly budgeted (three things you can’t say about recent Cameron pictures), The Terminator maintains an internal logic rare in time travel stories. On a double bill with RoboCop.

A All About Eve, Stanford, Saturday through Tuesday

Here’s your chance to explore the sordid ambition behind Broadway’s (and by implication, Hollywood’s) glamour. Anne Baxter plays the title character, an apparently sweet and innocent actress whom aging diva Bette Davis takes under her wing. But Eve isn’t anywhere near as innocent as she appears. Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride. On a double bill with the 1947 version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

B The Son of the Sheik, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

You can’t discuss Rudolph Valentino’s last and most famous movie without confronting outdated attitudes about romance and sex. The film’s treatment of rape is deeply offensive by today’s standards (as is the use of white actors in swarthy makeup)–and this in a movie designed to appeal to female libidos. But if you can put aside 21st-century values, it’s still a lot of fun. And yes, I know several modern women who find it sexy. I discuss the movie in more detail in this festival report. With the shorts Arabiantics and A Trip to Paramount Town. Frederick Hodges accompanies on piano.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

* Part of Alfred Hitchcock Weekends