Robert Altman, Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, Gus Van Sant, Michael Powell, and a very fine selection of shorts grace Bay Area movie screens this week.
New films opening
B+ 2017 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, Rafael, Roxie, opens Friday
A men’s room attendant has a bad night. A young woman must wait 24 hours for an abortion. Cows die mysteriously. A lonely woman attempts masturbation but can’t seem to do it. And swimmers face their fears. You would expect that only the best of the best short films can make it into this annual, feature-length collection of shorts that wowed audiences and judges at Sundance. And, for the most part, you’d be right. But not entirely. Read my full review.
A Matter of Life and Death, Castro, Saturday and Sunday
I have yet to see this Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger World War II fantasy drama about a dying RAF pilot (David Niven) who pleads in heavenly court to be returned back to life. But, as it has just received a 4K restoration, I think it’s time for me to see it. On Saturday, you can see it on a Powell/Pressburger double bill with The Red Shoes; on Sunday, it’s paired with Black Narcissus.
Gus Van Sant double bill: To Die For & Psycho (1998 version), Roxie, Saturday, 7:00
I saw To Die For soon after its 1995 release, and I vaguely remember liking it. Nicole Kidman stars as a meteorologist who will do anything to get ahead; we’re talking about a serious psychopath, here. I didn’t care much for Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake of Hitchcock’s last masterpiece, Psycho. But it’s an interesting experiment. If you take the same screenplay, and use the same camera angles and cuts, can you still create a new movie?
A Hollywood attacks Hollywood double bill: Sunset Boulevard & The Player, Castro, Wednesday
The A goes to Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder’s meditation on Hollywood’s seedy underbelly, which can be seen as a very dark sequel to Singin’ in the Rain. Gloria Swanson gives one of the great over-the-top performances as the forgotten silent movie star with delusions of grandeur. In The Player, Robert Altman and Michael Tolkin trick you into rooting for a cruel, self-centered studio executive who commits murder (Tim Robbins). It’s not too serious a crime; the victim was only a screenwriter. Funny, suspenseful, sexy, and filled with movie stars, The Player earns an A-.
A His Girl Friday, New Parkway, Saturday, 3:00
Director Howard Hawks turned Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s hit play The Front Page into a love triangle by making ace reporter Hildy Johnson a woman (Rosalind Russell), and scheming editor Walter Burns her soon-to-be ex-husband (Cary Grant). And thus was born one of the funniest screwball comedies of them all–with some of the fastest dialog ever recorded. And as a side bit, there’s some serious drama thrown in about an impending execution.
Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Roman Holiday, Castro, Friday
- The Iron Giant: Signature Edition, Clay, Friday and Saturday, 11:55pm (just before midnight). The Signature Edition has two scenes not in the original release.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show, Guild, Saturday, 11:55pm (just before midnight). MY REPORT
- Die Hard, Alameda, Wednesday. MY APPRECIATION.
- Blade Runner: The Final Cut, New Parkway, Thursday, 9:30. MY REPORT.