What’s Screening: May 5 – 11

Film preservation, rock ‘n’ roll, a seductive Housemaid, and three film festivals grace Bay Area screens this week.

Festivals

  • CyberiaVR continues through Sunday
  • Want something international but on the dark side? A Rare Noir is Good to Find opens tonight and runs through Monday. I recommend two films from the festival below.
  • DocLands opens Wednesday

Worth Catching

A 13th, Elmwood, Tuesday, 7:00; Free!

The 13th amendment freed the slaves. Or did it? In the 150 years since emancipation, state and local governments have turned prisons into slave labor camps filled primarily with the decedents of those freed in 1865. And in our time of mass incarceration, it’s only getting worse. Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary (which is also available on Netflix) goes not only to the heart of the problem, but also to its bowels. This isn’t an easy movie to sit through, but every American should see it.

A Rare Noir is Good to Find

All shows at the Roxie

A Cairo Station, Friday, 7:30

Youssef Chahine packed a lot of story, character, social commentary, and suspense into this 1958 Egyptian movie’s 77 minutes. And yet it all works perfectly. On one level, it explores the people who work at the railroad station – their loves, concerns, joys, and struggle to create a union. Then there’s the beautiful woman, about to be married, who doesn’t seem quite ready to settle down. Among her admirers is a lame newspaper salesman obsessed with sex. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose. The climax is worthy of Hitchcock.

A The Housemaid, Monday, 9:00

This 1960 South Korean erotic thriller hits below the belt in more ways than one. A young woman with money problems takes a live-in servant job with a wealthy family. She’s not treated well, so she treats the husband very well, with some very shocking ideas up her sleeve. Not as sexually explicit as the 2010 remake, but much more suspenseful. And weirder.

Promising events

Celluloid Man, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 6:30

If it weren’t for film preservationist P. K. Nair, much of Indian cinema would be lost. Running the National Film Archive of India for more than a quarter century, he collected more than 12,000 prints. This 2012 documentary tells Nair’s story. Director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur in person.

Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, Monday, 10:15pm

I fondly remember this silly farce from 1979, about an enthusiastic rock fan and her war with the evil, anti-rock principal of Vince Lombardi High School. The movie damn near worships the Ramones, but I guess that was required to get them into the movie.

The Holy Mountain, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 7:00

I saw this really weird Alejandro Jodorowsky flick (yes, that’s redundant) soon after its 1973 release. Jodorowsky himself plays the leader of a band of people trying to find enlightenment. I vaguely remember that their path to redemption involves mountain climbing, a lot of sex, and a surprise ending. I kind of enjoyed it as a young man. Part of the series Hippie Modernism: Cinema and Counterculture, 1964–1974.

Recommended revivals

A All About Eve, Castro, Wednesday

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 Women.

A Galaxy Quest, Cerrito, Thursday, 9:30

There’s no better way to parody a well-known genre than to write characters who are familiar with the genre and find themselves living what they thought was fiction. And few movies do this better than Galaxy Quest. The cast of a long-cancelled sci-fi TV show with a fanatical following (think Star Trek) find themselves on a real space adventure with good and bad aliens. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman star. The funniest film of 1999–one of the best years for comedy in recent decades.

A- Shadows, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 4:15

Men are real jerks. That’s the big takeaway of John Cassavetes’ 1959 feature debut. With no main plot but multiple subplots, Shadows follows several young Manhattanites, mostly male, as they drink, argue, fight, talk about culture, and try to get laid. But it’s a woman, Lelia Goldoni, who steals the film with her outward bravado and inner vulnerability. The dialog, like Charles Mingus’ score, is entirely improvised. Part of the series Personality Is Plot: The Films of John Cassavetes.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)