What’s Screening: August 11 – 17

Both the Castro and the Rafael are honoring Robert Mitchum on his centenary; the Rafael series will run for three weeks.

Also 3 Women, two swashbucklers, one Bogart, a flock of porn stars, and several animated monsters on Bay Area screens this week.


New films opening

A- Whose Streets?, Embarcadero, California, opens Friday

The police murder of Michael Brown rocked the town of Ferguson, Missouri – and the nation. This incendiary documentary does more than tell you the story. It puts you on the ground – thanks largely to smartphones and social media – with the people who marched, protested, and rioted as their city became a symbol of all that’s wrong with America. Read my full review.

Promising events

3 Women, Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, Monday, 10:15pm

I saw Robert Altman’s strange and improvised non-story ages ago, and it blew my mind. Many, many years later, I’m not sure if its mind-blowing properties are still relevant. But if you can stay up that late on a weeknight, you might want to find out. Part of the series Tales of the Obsessed.

Recommended revivals

A+ Great swashbuckler double bill: The Adventures of Robin Hood & The Flame and the Arrow, Stanford, Saturday through Monday

My two all-time favorite swashbucklers! The A+ goes to Adventures of Robin Hood. Errol Flynn was no great actor, but no one could match him for handling a sword, a beautiful woman, or a witty line, all while wearing tights. Read my appreciation. The Flame and the Arrow, a Robin Hood-like story set in medieval Italy, stars Burt Lancaster at his most acrobatic, with a wonderful sidekick in the equally athletic Nick Cravat. I give it an A, and I’ve got an appreciation of this one, too. Like all the best swashbucklers, both are witty, exciting, beautiful to look at, only slightly suspenseful, completely ridiculous, and a lot of fun. Part of the Stanford’s amazing Warner Brothers series.

Robert Mitchum Centennial: The Night of the Hunter & Cape Fear, Castro, Sunday

the A goes to Night of the Hunter, where widow and mother Shelley Winters makes a very bad choice for a second husband–a cruel, sanctimonious, violent, and criminally insane so-called preacher played by Robert Mitchum. Told mostly through the eyes of two terrified children, the story is grim, atmospheric, frightening, and haunting. In Cape Fear (the 1962 original), Mitchum again worms his way into a reasonably healthy family, with extremely dishonorable intentions. Gregory Peck places the loving patriarch who must protect his family. This very effective noir earns an A-.

A In a Lonely Place, Pacific Film Archive, Friday, 6:30

Nicholas Ray critiqued masculinity in many of his films, but rarely as strongly as he does here. Early on, the movie feels like an exposé of Hollywood. Then it becomes a murder mystery. It ends up studying the worst of masculinity. Humphrey Bogart, in one of his best performances, plays a struggling screenwriter whose violent temper makes any good relationship impossible. Charming and friendly, he will inevitably lash out physically at those he loves. Gloria Grahame plays the woman with the bad luck to fall in love with him. An amazing character study disguised as film noir. Part of the series Band of Outsiders: Women Crime Writers.

A Boogie Nights, Balboa, Thursday, 7:30

Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic tale of pornographers with delusions of talent provides us with several heart-wrenching characters, from Mark Wahlberg’s nice, well-endowed, but not-too-bright young man to Julianne Moore’s porn queen/mother hen. Set in the late 70s and early 80s, Boogie Nights tracks porn’s fall from gutter chic to soulless video. The excellent cast also includes Heather Graham, Don Cheadle, Burt Reynolds, William H. Macy, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

B+ The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Balboa, Saturday, 10:00am

The first and best of Ray Harryhausen’s three Sinbad movies. In fact, of all his movies, only Jason and the Argonauts is better. The stop-motion animation is splendid, and the story, while trivial, is fun. Not a must-see like Jason, but still an entertaining escape into a fantasy past. 7thVoyage is an important movie in Harryhausen’s career; his first in color, his first period piece, and his first out-and-out fantasy after a series of sci-fi pictures. I discuss the movie in more detail in Earthquakes and Monsters. A Popcorn Palace presentation.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)