What’s Screening: April 13 – 19

Women by Bergman and Altman, Eisenstein’s love letter to Stalin, Jack Nicholson’s first starring role, the movie that made Christopher Nolan famous, and the last few days of the SFFILM Festival.


The San Francisco International Film Festival, the only festival running this week, continues through Tuesday, which is kind of weird, because the closing night show and party happen two days before on Sunday. My extensive festival coverage should help you decide what to see.

Promising events

Persona & 3 Women, Castro, Wednesday
It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, and an even longer without Robert Altman’s 3 Women. Both films deal with troubled protagonists and the relationships between women (even if both films were made by men).

Ivan the Terrible, Part I, Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, 3:10

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Sergei Eisenstein’s celebration of the concept of the strong leader. Eisenstein celebrates the king who united Russia as a way to please another powerful czar: Josef Stalin. I remember a visually striking film helped by Prokofiev’s great music, but little else. It’s certainly better than Part II, which plays next week.

Recommended revivals

A+ Five Easy Pieces, Castro, Monday

Call it the Great American Loosely-Plotted Character Study. In his first starring role, Jack Nicholson brilliantly plays a relationship-averse blue-collar worker with a surprising family history. Of course, he goes on a personal, emotional, and physical journey in the film, but there’s nothing redemptive in it, and he’s not a better man for having gone through it. Little happens in Five Easy Pieces, but what happens is more than worth following. See my A+ appreciation. On a double bill with Jacques Demy’s only American film, Model Shop (I haven’t seen it).

A Memento, New Mission, Monday, 7:00

Only this exceptional thriller by Christopher Nolan. And how many tell the story backwards, putting you into the mind of someone who can’t remember what just happened? Okay, but how many give that man a mental disability that guarantees failure and makes him dangerous to himself and others? Too many to name. How many thrillers center on a hero bent on identifying, and then killing, the man who murdered his wife? (If you didn’t understand the sentences above, read them from last to first. Or better yet, see Memento.) In this special Science vs. Cinema screening, Kishore Hari and Jeff Silverman will discuss brain damage and memory.

Lebowskies (frequently-revived classics)