What’s Screening: March 2 – 8

This week in Bay Area movie theaters: Paramount comedies, British hit men, Ingmar Bergman searching for God, two versions of the end of the world, and, of course, the Academy Awards. Also a really big festival in the south bay.


  • CineQuest continues through this week and beyond

Promising events

The Academy Awards, various theaters, Sunday
022417_1800_whatsscreen2You can watch the big awards show at home for free, or not watch it at all. But at least seven Bay Area movie theaters will be presenting the Oscars on their big screens, with prizes, costume contests, and even snark-filled live commentary. Click the theater name below for times, tickets, and how each theater will turn the program into a party:

Comedy double bill: Ruggles of Red Gap & Million Dollar Legs, Stanford, Saturday and Sunday

I’ve seen and liked both of these Paramount comedies, but not within decades. In Ruggles, Charles Laughton plays a quite proper British Butler who finds himself in the wild American west. One could call Million Dollar Legs W.C. Fields’ response to Duck Soup – except that Million was made first. Like Groucho, Fields is president of a small, European country. But instead of going to war, the nation of Klopstokia sets out to win the Olympics. Also on the program: Betty Boop for President.

In Bruges, Castro, Wednesday

I remember liking this darkly comic crime film from 2007, but I don’t remember it good enough to give it a grade. Two British hit men (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) cross the channel to kill a man in Bruges. Things get, well, strange. On a double bill with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which I liked very much. Both films are written and directed by Martin McDonagh.

Recommended revivals

A Through a Glass Darkly, Pacific Film Archive, Saturday, 8:00

While on vacation on an island, a woman thought cured of her mental illness slides back into madness, and her family doesn’t know what to do about it. There are other family problems of course – difficulties with her husband and brother, for instance – but these are soon overshadowed by the pointless tragedy of insanity. Like so much of Bergman’s best work, Through a Glass Darkly illuminates a crisis of faith. Part of the series Bergman 100: The Silence of God.

A- The Sacrifice, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sunday, 2:00

Andrei Tarkovsky’s quiet, low-key, final film seems to be about nuclear war, or a nuclear accident (it was made soon after Chernobyl), seen from a very spiritual, Christian point of view. The film puts you under a very strong, foreboding spell, as if the entire world is falling apart. And yet, the film sticks to a handful of people in and around a very nice house far out in the country. With cinematographer Sven Nykvist creating muted colors and careful shades, you can’t help feeling a strong Bergman influence here. Read my full report. New 4K restoration.

B Sacred Places, Pacific Film Archive, Sunday, 7:00

Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, holds a major African film festival every year. But Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Téno turns his camera instead on a little Cine Club in a poor but apparently vibrant neighborhood. We meet many interesting locals, including the guy who enthusiastically (and occasionally profitably) runs the club, screening pirated DVDs on an old TV. Part of the series Reverse Angle: Cinema Looks at Itself.

B- The Last Man on Earth, New Parkway, Saturday, 3:00

The first film version of Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend is also, I’ve been told, the closest to the book. But that doesn’t make it as good a movie as the 2007 version. This time around, Vincent Price is the one human being left in a world run over by mutant vampires. A low budget and unimaginative design hurt the thoughtful and moody story, but the wonderfully ironic ending saves the picture.

Continuing Engagements

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)