What’s Screening: February 24 – March 2

In this week’s Bay Area movie theaters, you’ll find films that won Oscars, may win Oscars, should have won Oscars, as well as the Oscar ceremony, itself.

Festivals

New films opening

B The Women’s Balcony, Century 16 Theatres Pleasant Hill, Thursday, 7:30

A section of a small, Jerusalem synagogue collapses, and a war breaks out amongst Orthodox Jews over just how Orthodox they will be. Not surprisingly, it becomes a war of the sexes in this light comedy. The movie has a great villain in a young, handsome, charismatic, and dangerously fanatical rabbi (Aviv Alush). In a light and entertaining way, it attacks some of religious fundamentalism’s worst extremes. Opening night movie of the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival. This film will open theatrically on March 10.

Promising events

Academy Awards Ceremony
At least six Bay Area movie theaters will be screening the Oscars live on their big screens. Because of trademarks issues, most of these theaters can’t use the words Academy or Oscar in their announcements, but that’s what they’re talking about. Click the theaters below for more information, including starting times:

Chan Is Missing, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00

Wayne Wang pretty much launched Asian-American cinema – as well as his own impressive career – with this mystery/comedy set in Chinatown and other parts of San Francisco. Wang will attend the screening of a new 35mm print. [I’ve corrected this description via Brian’s comment below.]

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, New Mission, 10:00

I haven’t seen this weird Charlie Kaufman comedy from 2004 for a very long time. It concerns a medical procedure that erases specific memories – a convenient way to forget a painful romance. I remember liking it when I saw it. Starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

Recommended revivals

A+ Sunrise, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Haunting, romantic, and impressionistic, F. W. Murnau’s first American feature turns the mundane into the fantastic and the world into a work of art. The plot is simple: A marriage, almost destroyed by another woman, is healed by a day of reconciliation and romance in the big city. But the execution–with its stylized sets, beautiful photography, and expressionist performances – makes it both touchingly personal and abstractly mythological. One of the first films released with a soundtrack (music and effects, only). Read my Blu-ray review.

A+ Citizen Kane, Castro, Sunday

There are films more insightful about the human condition, pictures more dazzling in their technique, and movies that are more fun. But I’d be hard pressed to name any this insightful that is also as dazzling and entertaining. As Orson Welles and his collaborators tell the life story of a newspaper tycoon through the flashback memories of those who knew him, they also turn the techniques of cinema inside out. Read my A+ appreciation. On a double bill with The Power and the Glory, which I haven’t seen but I probably should. It was Preston Sturges’ first produced screenplay, and a major influence on Citizen Kane.

B+ Pride and Prejudice, New Mission, Wednesday, 7:00

A sweet romance about class-defying true love, set during a time when marriage was a business proposition. In this 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s oft-filmed novel, the British cast does an excellent job, and token Yank Donald Sutherland is simply grand. But Pride and Prejudice belongs to Keira Knightley, who really shines as Elizabeth Bennet. Not to be confused with the one with zombies.

B+ The Iron Giant, Shattuck, Thursday, 10:30

The young hero of Brad (The Incredibles) Bird’s first feature befriends a massively-huge robot from outer space. Hey, Steven Spielberg’s Elliot only had to hide the diminutive ET. The robot seems friendly enough, but there’s good reason to believe he was built as a weapon of mass destruction. Using old-fashioned, hand-drawn animation with plenty of sharp angles, Bird creates a stylized view of small-town American life circa 1958 that straddles satire and nostalgia, and treats most of its inhabitants with warmth and affection. A good movie for all but the youngest kids. Part of the GLAS Animation Festival.  [I added this Saturday morning after discovering the festival.]

B Cameraperson, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 7:00

Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson shot many documentaries, including Citizenfour and Farenheit 911.Now she’s gathered much of what she shot, including home movies, into a montage of her career and–to a lesser extent–her private life. The film’s best when it puts human faces into the far-too-many horrible atrocities of recent history. It also shines when it reminds us of the person behind the camera; there’s a great moment when Johnson sneezes and the camera shakes. Often fascinating and moving, but sometimes repetitive and dull. Part of the series Documentary Voices 2017.

B- The Lodger, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

Alfred Hitchcock’s second film and first thriller, The Lodger feels like the master in embryo. The plot and the atmosphere set up themes he would use again and again, but this first time, he doesn’t quite get it right. For instance, the protagonist just might be the murderer–a piece of mystery that robs the film of much of its potential suspense. It’s all made worse by Ivor Novello’s anemic and bizarre performance. But if you love Hitchcock, you have to see The Lodger for its historical importance. With the short comedies The Iron Mule and Be Reasonable. Accompanied by Frederick Hodges on piano.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)

2 thoughts on “What’s Screening: February 24 – March 2

  1. Chan Is Missing is set in many San Francisco neighborhoods, not just Chinatown; in fact “not just Chinatown” is a big part of what the movie is about.

    I know your Lebowski designations have some subjectivity to them, but how is Trouble In Paradise one if Citizen Kane isn’t?

    1. Good catch on Chan is Missing. Thanks.

      I put Trouble in Paradise in the Lebowskis because it played two weeks in a row (actually as part of the same two-day, Thursday-Friday engagement). Otherwise, I would have to either repeat the same description from last week or not mention it at all.

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