What’s Screening: December 28 – January 3

As one year ends and another begins, we get to celebrate with Kubrick, DeMille, Cuarón, Murnau, and Chaplin – all in Bay Area movie theaters.

But still no film festivals.

The Week’s Big Event

A+ 2001: A Space Odyssey — The 70mm / 4K Challenge, Castro, Friday through Tuesday

70mm and/or 4K presentations! Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece received two very different restorations this year – one digital (by Kubrick’s right-hand man, Leon Vitali), and one analog (by filmmaker Christopher Nolan). Now’s your chance to decide which is better…or to confirm what you already believe. The Castro will alternate between 4K and 70mm screenings, allowing you to compare the two. To learn more about the restorations and how 2001 should be screened, read my Eat Drink Films article, 2001: A PROJECTION ODYSSEY – Big Screen, Small Screen, 70mm, & Digital. For why it’s a masterpiece, read my essay.

Promising events

Male and Female, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30

If my memory serves (I saw this more than 20 years ago), Cecil B. DeMille’s version of J. M. Barrie’s play The Admirable Crichton is considerably more DeMille than Barrie. Although the movie follows play’s plot – a blue-blooded family and two servants are shipwrecked on a desert island, where the butler becomes the group’s leader – DeMille finds an excuse to give us a Babylonian slave girl dance scene. Funny, although not always the way DeMille intended. Starring Gloria Swanson as the pampered aristocrat who falls in love with the butler (Thomas Meighan). Piano accompaniment by Judy Rosenberg.

Another chance to see

A Roma, Castro, Wednesday through next Saturday

70mm presentation!
Director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) returned to his native Mexico and created an amazing film – a loosely-plotted study of Mexico City, 1970-71, through the eyes of an indigenous maid who works for a comfortable middle-class family. And no, this is not entirely about class differences, although that always lurks in the background. Roma is a study of a time and a place, a culture, a people, women who trust untrustworthy men, and one special person, who happens to be a maid. Beautifully shot in black-and-white scope. Read my full review.

Recommended revivals

A Bending the Arc, New Parkway, Sunday, 12:30pm matinee

If this documentary doesn’t make you feel guilty, you’re probably a sociopath. The film covers more than 30 years of struggle as Partners in Health fights tuberculous, AIDS, and Ebola in the poorest places on the globe. They also fight the World Bank and other organizations that have written off whole populations as expendable. With no narration but plenty of on-camera interviews, Bending the Arc shows how altruism, determination, optimism, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes can make a better world. We should all behave like these people. A benefit for Partners In Health.

B+ Faust, BAMPFA, Friday, 7:00

F.W. Murnau’s last German film before coming to America and making Sunrise, Faust doesn’t quite measure up to his best work. But the story has always been a strong one, and Murnau’s mastery of images and special effects are as amazing as ever. Besides, Emil Jannings makes one heck of a fascinating devil. With piano accompaniment by Judith Rosenberg. Part of the series Fritz Lang & German Expressionism.

B- The Gold Rush (reedited 1942 version), BAMPFA, Friday, 2:30

In his 1942 re-release of his epic comic masterpiece, Charlie Chaplin desecrated his own work to a degree that would shame George Lucas. He removed all the intertitles, and added a near-constant, over-explaining, and extremely annoying narration that he wrote and performed himself. Voice work was not his strength. Annoying as it is, this lesser Gold Rush still offers some of cinema’s funniest set pieces, including the Thanksgiving dinner of boiled shoe and the fight over the rifle that always points at Charlie. Read my Blu-ray Review, which discusses both versions. Part of the ongoing series Movie Matinees for All Ages.

Frequently-revived classics