This must be my thinnest Bayflicks Newsletter ever. One film festival, two recommended revivals, two continuing engagements, and one frequently-revived classics.
So, to add some heft, I’m adding another section just for this week (and maybe occasionally in the future) called Still in theaters. These are for good independent films that opened more than a month ago but are still on Bay Area screens.
A+ 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lark, Saturday, 6:00
4K restoration. Stanley Kubrick’s visualization of Arthur C. Clarke’s imagination tells you little, but it shows you a great deal. Unlike any other science fiction movie (or any other big-budget blockbuster), it offers a daring story structure, striking visuals, breathtaking use of music, and a refusal to explain what it’s all about. As prophesy, 2001 failed. But as fantasy, adventure, mystery, and even theology, it’s brilliant. Read my report. This is Leon Vitali‘s 4K digital restoration, as opposed to Christopher Nolan’s analog unrestored version.
A- The Atomic Cafe, BAMPFA (formerly Pacific Film Archive), Sunday, 5:00
Historically and hysterically fascinating, this 1982 documentary takes an unusual approach to nuclear war, Communism, and the first years of the Cold War. There’s no new footage, no narration, and very few facts. Instead, directors Jayne Loader, Kevin Rafferty, and Pierce Rafferty present TV clips, educational movies, military training films, and other bits of propaganda. The resulting montage provides a sense of what Americans were being told, and how they felt, when the red hordes and nuclear war had us all petrified. The movie ends with a nuclear attack on America, created in the editing room from various old clips.
Still in theaters
A The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Embarcadero Center, Shattuck, New Parkway
In the 1990s, Cameron (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets caught having sex with another girl. Her parents send her to an ultra-Christian camp intended to cure teenagers of SSA (Same-Sex Attraction). Initially, she views everyone as her enemy. But as she realizes that all the other “patients” are in the same boat, her courage begins to awaken. Unlike But I’m a Cheerleader (same plot; very different approach), Miseducation goes for down-to-earth realism instead of over-the-top jokiness. It’s a much better approach to the subject.
A Three Identical Strangers, Opera Plaza, Piedmont, Shattuck, Lark
This is one of the best documentaries I saw at this year’s SFFILM Festival. In 1980, three young men who didn’t know each other, all of them adopted, discovered that they were identical triplets. Filmmaker Tim Wardle created an original, deeply empathetic documentary about their lives, their brief celebrity, and the discovery that they and their adoptive parents were guinea pigs in a long-term, secret, nature/nurture experiment. Wardle breaks generally-accepted documentary rules to create a fresh way of telling his story. Read my full review.
A- Sorry To Bother You, Embarcadero Center, California, Lark, New Mission
Telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) rises quickly in the company (thanks to his “white voice”), while his co-workers go on strike, creating a wedge between him and his friends (and lover). Meanwhile, something very sinister is going on. Boots Riley’s first movie is at times hysterically funny, and in its commentary on wealth and poverty, occasionally shocking. It’s almost always entertaining. Riley creates a very dark view of current American society, where poor people will do anything to keep a roof over their heads. Read my full review.
B+ RBG, New Parkway
There’s nothing objective about this documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The filmmakers clearly believe that the Supreme Court’s progressive heroine is a rock star, a superhero, and a major bulwark protecting American democracy. I believe that, too. But I didn’t know until I saw this film that young women not only see Ginsburg as a role model, but tattoo her likeness on their bodies. An entertaining and enlightening film about someone I’m afraid to lose. Read my full review.
B+ Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, New Parkway
Ordained minister Fred Rogers – with his long-lived children’s show that taught inclusivity and self-worth – just may be the most moral and decent human being in the history of television. Filmmaker Morgan Neville shows us Rogers’ life and career through clips from his show, archival interviews with Rogers himself, and new interviews with his family and co-workers. One big surprise: Rogers, who was inevitably attacked by Fox News, was a life-long Republican. Read my full review.