Black Panthers, Woody Allen, Chaplin’s best talkie, and a whole lot of Buster Keaton grace Bay Area movie theaters this week.
- The Albany Film Festival continues through Sunday
- Buster Keaton Weekend opens tonight and runs through the weekend. Read my report and recommendations.
- The Sonoma International Film Festival opens Wednesday
Panel discussion and special films, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Sunday, 1:00
Larry Telles will lead Harry Keaton, Martha Jett, and Lloyd Williams in a panel discussion on the work of Buster Keaton. Cottage Grove Film Historian Lloyd Williams will show home movies of Keaton directing The General, as well as the 1941 Tex Avery cartoon, Hollywood Steps Out, which includes a caricature of Keaton. You can read my festival preview for more Keaton recommendations, although pretty much everything (except maybe College) will be worth seeing.
The Murder of Fred Hampton, Pacific Film Archive, Thursday, 7:00
Documentary filmmakers sometimes get more than they wished for. Howard Alk and Mike Gray were filming the rise of Black Panther’s Chicago when its founder, Fred Hampton, was shot dead in his bed during a police raid. Alk and Gray then turned their documentary into an examination of an extrajudicial execution. I haven’t seen this 1971film, but I’ve heard strong things about it.
A Manhattan, Castro, Wednesday
Made two years after Annie Hall, Manhattan doesn’t quite measure up to Woody Allen’s masterpiece, but it’s still one of his best. A group of New Yorkers fall in and out of love, cheat on their significant others, and try to justify their actions–all in glorious widescreen black and white to the accompaniment of Gershwin tunes. Read my Blu-ray review.
A- The Great Dictator, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 4:00, Sunday, 6:30, Thursday, 7:00
Charlie Chaplin made his one good talkie on his first attempt, playing dual roles as a Jewish barber (basically the tramp with a voice), and Adenoid Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania. Slapstick and dark satire seldom work well together, but they do here. Many people criticize the final scene, but I’ve seen audiences burst into applause at it. With Paulette Goddard (Chaplin’s wife at the time) as the barber’s romantic interest, and Jack Oakie as the Mussolini-like Napaloni – Dictator of Bacteria.