What’s Screening: September 14 – 20

Herzog’s vampire, Cameron’s cyborg, Eisenstein’s mutiny, and Visconti’s Postman, along with three film festivals, light up Bay Area movie screens this week.


Promising events

Nosferatu the Vampyre, New Mission, Tuesday, 10:00

I saw Werner Herzog’s remake and reimagining of F. W. Murnau’s classic, silent Nosferatu soon after its 1979 release. I didn’t like it much. But that was in the days when I disapproved of remakes on principle. I might like it considerably more now, but who knows. Klaus Kinski plays the blood-sucking count.

Recommended revivals

A Big Screen Science: Terminator 2: Judgement Day, New Mission, Monday, 7:00

In James Cameron’s sequel to the movie that put him on the map, another killer robot (Arnold Schwarzenegger) returns from the future. But this time, he’s here to help the good guys, stop a worse killer robot, and prevent nuclear war. Linda Hamilton returns as the original’s intended victim, now a hard-as-nails and probably insane heroine. A wonderful mix of action, special effects, and character development. After the film, Kishore Hari and Jeff Silverman will discuss the film’s science and pseudo-science.

A- Battleship Potemkin, Castro, Thursday, 7:00

Make no mistake: This ground-breaking movie is simplistic Communist propaganda. The workers and sailors are all good comrades struggling together for a better world. The officers, aristocrats, and Cossacks are vile filth who deserve to die. Yet the story of mutiny, celebration, attack, and escape stirs your blood. And it does this primarily through editing techniques that were revolutionary in 1925 and still impressive today. On a revolutionary double bill with The Battle of Algiers.

A- Monterey Pop, Sebastiani, Monday, 7:00

In 1967, promoter Lou Adler, along with John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, put together a popular music response to the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, and music history was made. Over the course of a June weekend, The Who and Jimi Hendrix cracked the American market, and Janis Joplin became a star. Documentarian D. A. Pennebaker got it all on 16mm film and created one of the first memorable concert documentaries. A moment frozen in time, and a lot of great rock and roll.

B+ Ossessione, BAMPFA, Sunday, 7:00

Luchino Visconti adapted James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice years before MGM’s version, creating one of the sexiest films of the 1940s. A drifter wanders into a small, roadside restaurant run by a mean-spirited, fat, disgusting slob and his beautiful but long-suffering wife. Once the drifter and wife get a good look at each other, both agree that the wife should become a widow. But happiness proves elusive in their post-murder relationship. Part of the series Luchino Visconti: Cinema of Struggle and Splendor.

B Lost In Translation, Roxie, Thursday, 7:00 (sold out), 9:30

Sophia Coppola introduced us to Scarlett Johansson and gave Bill Murray his best performance since Groundhog Day in this strange meditation where barely nothing happens. Murray plays an American movie star in Tokyo to shoot a whiskey commercial. Johansson plays the bored wife of a photographer. They sense a bond, but what you expect to happen never does. That’s okay because it probably wouldn’t happen in real life, either. Coppola allows us to enjoy these people’s company, and their reaction to a foreign culture, for 104 minutes.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics