What’s Screening: September 23 -29

This Saturday is National Art House Theater Day, where we celebrate the kind of movie theaters I cover in Bayflicks. In the Bay Area, the Rafael, the Lark, the Balboa, the Vogue, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the New Mission are taking part.

Other than that, we’ve got six five festivals this week (yikes!), Madeline Kahn and Gene Wilder celebrations, and a lot of good movies.


Promising events

Madeline Kahn-a-thon, Balboa, Friday, 5:00

A triple bill of High Anxiety, Blazing Saddles, and Clue. I kind of like Blazing Saddles, although it’s far from my favorite western comedy. I haven’t seen the other two. But Madeline Kahn was a wonderful comedienne. Two days after the Kahn-a-thon, the Balboa will screen Blazing Saddles again in a “Gene Wilder Tribute”–actually a double bill with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

A Fuller Life, Roxie, Friday, 7:00; Rafael, Sunday, 4:15

Judging from his autobiography, crime reporter, novelist, soldier, screenwriter and Hollywood director Sam Fuller had an interesting life. This documentary, made by his daughter, should be fun. See my article on him.

Recommended revivals

A Rome Open City, Castro, Saturday, 1:00

Roberto Rossellini helped create Italian neorealism in this dark tale of the German occupation. Gritty and at times horrifying, it vividly recreates the physical dangers and mental strains of living under Nazi rule. Technically, I suppose, it shouldn’t count as neorealism, since two major parts are played by established stars: Anna Magnani takes the central role of a pregnant woman who discovers that her fiancé is working for the underground, and the usually comic Aldo Fabrizi takes on a rare dramatic role as a priest who finds he has to administer to more than just souls. Part of Anna Magnani – a Film Series.

A Pickup On South Street, Roxie, Saturday, 5:30; Rafael, Friday, 5:00; Saturday, 2:00

This Cold War noir stars Richard Widmark as a pickpocket who lifts the wrong wallet on a crowded subway. The wallet’s owner (Jean Peters) has no idea that it contains a piece of microfilm with important government secrets. She’s merely a dupe of Communist agents. The US government, of course, is also after this valuable piece of celluloid. A hell of an exciting story. Part of Samuel Fuller: A Fuller Life.

A M, Stanford, Thursday and next Friday

In this early talkie, director Fritz Lang shows us a Germany sinking into corruption, depression, and paranoia. The paranoia is understandable; someone is murdering little girls and successfully eluding the police. Eventually the underworld must do what the authorities cannot and stop the killer. Peter Lorre became famous as the oddly sympathetic child molester, driven by inner demons to kill. I’m not sure film noir would ever have happened without M. Part of the series Vienna and the Movies.

A Pandora’s Box, Stanford, Friday, 7:30

Nearly 70 years after her last film, cinephiles still debate whether Louise Brooks was a first-class talent or just a beautiful woman in the hands of a great director. Either way, her oddly innocent femme fatale wins our sympathy and our lust as she sends men to their destruction without, apparently, understanding what she’s doing. A great example of what the silent drama could do in the hands of a master; in this case, G.W. Pabst. Accompanied by Dennis Jameson the Wurlitzer pipe organ. On a double bill with a talkie called The Devil is a Woman.

A Time Bandits, Balboa, Saturday, 10:00am

What would you do with a map of the universe’s flaws? For a band of unruly dwarves, the answer is easy: Make it the guide for a time-traveling crime spree. Unfortunately, Evil Incarnate believes that the map will give him unlimited power, and the Supreme Being wants it back. Terry Gilliam takes the children’s fairy tale for a ride in the movie that turned Monty Python’s animator into a major filmmaker. Read my Blu-ray review.

B+ In the Realm of the Senses, Roxie, Thursday

Probably the first, and best, serious work of cinematic art to show real sex on the screen. Based on a true story, it examines a man and woman who become sexually obsessed with each other. But as the pleasures increase, darker impulses begin to take hold, leading to tragedy. Part of the Roxie’s Banned Movie Week.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)