What’s Screening: October 21 – 27

Harry Potter, Nightmare on Elm Street, My Fair Lady, and six film festivals in this week’s Bay Area screenings.


Promising events

The Battle of Algiers, Opera Plaza, Shattuck, opens Friday

I haven’t seen Gillo Pontecorvo’s powerful story of oppression and resistance–a narrative feature designed to look like a documentary–in decades, so I’m not going to give it a grade. But if memory serves, I’d probably give it an A. The film has just received a 4K restoration, so it should look better than ever. But I don’t understand why Rialto Pictures, which is distributing the rerelease, is advertising the film with a still that makes it look like West Side Story.

Carnival of Souls, Friday, 8:30, Phyllis Wattis Theater at SFMOMA

I haven’t yet seen this low-budget horror film from 1962. It’s acquired quite a reputation. Unfortunately, I have other plans for Friday night. Part of Modern Cinema‘s Haunted Cinema.

All Eight Harry Potter Movies, New Mission, Friday through Sunday

The eight Harry Potter movies don’t quite come up to the quality of the books. How could they? The books’ success pretty much forced the filmmakers to stay as close to the originals as possible, which is never a good way to adapt a novel. But they’re still a lot of fun. But be warned: You must buy a separate ticket for each film.

Nightmare on Elm Street Marathon, New Mission, Sunday, noon

Believe it or not, I’ve never seen any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I was never that big on slasher flicks. Anyway, if you don’t share my opinion, you can see all seven of them in one long day and night. Unlike the Potter films above, one $35 ticket buys you entrance to the whole marathon.

Recommended revivals

A Shadow of a Doubt, Stanford, Thursday and next Friday

In Alfred Hitchcock’s first great American film, a small-town girl begins to suspect that her beloved, newly-arrived Uncle Charlie is a notorious serial killer (Joseph Cotton at his most charming). Then he begins to suspect that she suspects. Cotton’s performance makes the movie; most of the time he’s warm, friendly, and relaxed, but he can quickly turn dark and say something frightening. Written in part by Our Town playwright Thorton Wilder. The locations were shot in Santa Rosa. On a double bill with Waltzes from Vienna, which Hitchcock considered amongst his worst.

B+ Halloween, Clay, Friday and Saturday, 11:55 PM (just before midnight)

John Carpenter made a very good low-budget thriller that started a very bad genre: the slasher movie–also known as the dead teenager flick. In the original Halloween, an escaped psycho racks up a number of victims on the scariest night of the year. Yes, the story is absurd–the guy seems capable of getting into any place and sneaking up on anyone–but Carpenter and co-screenwriter Debra Hill take the time to let us know these particular teenagers, and that makes all the difference. By the time he goes after the mature, responsible one (Jamie Lee Curtis), you’re really scared.

B+ My Fair Lady, Vogue, Sunday, 7:00

George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play Pygmalion brilliantly examined issues of class, culture, and gender roles in an intimate story deftly balanced between drama and comedy. The musical version adds spectacle, which is completely unnecessary but doesn’t really hurt the story. Rex Harrison makes a wonderful Henry Higgins–tyrannical, cruel, and yet slowly falling in love and not understanding why. Audrey Hepburn is miscast. Stanley Holloway steals the movie as Eliza’s happily slothful father; his two songs are the movie’s musical highlights. Read my essay. Part of the Vogue’s Audrey Hepburn Weekend.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)