What’s Screening: May 19 – 25

Philip Marlowe, a tour of Europe, and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll grace Bay Area movie screens this week. But no film festivals.

New films opening

A Long Strange Trip, Clay, Aquarius, Rafael, Thursday, 7:00

The Grateful Dead played great music for nearly 30 years, building up the most devoted fanbase in rock history. Amir Bar-Lev’s epic, four-hour documentary covers their story from Jerry Garcia’s first musical experiments to his fatal heart attack at the age of 53 (which surprised no one). Extensive interviews with the surviving band members, friends, and family tell the story, which is illustrated with archival photos and movies. Even clips from old Frankenstein flicks pop up. The effect is both informative and appropriately hallucinogenic.

B- Paris Can Wait, Embarcadero, opens Friday

Eleanor Coppola’s narrative feature can best be described as pleasant. The wife of a Hollywood producer (Diane Lane) needs to get from Cannes to Paris and doesn’t want to fly. So, a business partner of her husband offers to drive her. Did I mention that he’s French? The one-day drive turns into a three-day tour of French scenery, history, cuisine, and techniques of seduction. At times the movie feels like a travelogue or food porn. Lightly entertaining, Paris Can Wait works largely thanks to Lane’s excellent and sympathetic performance. Read my full review.

Promising events

Get Crazy, Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, Monday, 10:15

I’m glad I’m not the only person to fondly remember Allan Arkush’s follow-up to Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and if my memory serves, it’s the better of the two. A big New York rock venue, clearly modelled after the Fillmore East, celebrates New Year’s Eve with a massive multi-act concert. Every rock cliché gets fully mocked, from the sweating drummer to the stoned staff. Meanwhile, bad guys try to disrupt the concert so they can take over the venue. Malcolm McDowell does a wonderful imitation of Mick Jagger. For a Hollywood film only 34 years old, Get Crazy is a surprisingly difficult movie to find.

Recommended revivals

A- The Long Goodbye, Castro, Thursday

Screenwriter Leigh Brackett and director Robert Altman updated Raymond Chandler’s novel and put Philip Marlowe into the 1970s. Marlowe (Elliott Gould) still lives in a crummy apartment, but now he has a bunch of hippie chicks next door, constantly offering him brownies. The movie starts as a comedy, with Marlow trying to find the only cat food his feline will eat, but turns into a labyrinth of fear and violence. A not-yet-famous Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up briefly. On a double bill with The Big Fix, which I haven’t seen.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)