What’s Screening: April 5 – 11

What’s on Bay Area movie screens this week? Student films, silent films, Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Tarantino films. Also, the SFFILM Festival opens this week.

Festivals

  • SFFILM (the San Francisco International Film Festival) opens Wednesday. You can read my reports.

The Week’s Big Event

A Safety Last, Lark, Friday, 7:00

Even Alfred Hitchcock never mastered the delicate balance between comedy and suspense as well as Harold Lloyd, who made that equilibrium perfect in Safety Last’s final act. The first two thirds of the feature, with Harold struggling with a lousy job and a girlfriend who thinks he’s a successful executive, makes an excellent piece of comic work, with more than enough laughs for a comedy twice as long. But the final third, where Harold climbs a skyscraper, tops any other comic sequence I’ve seen. Read my Blu-ray review. With selected shorts and live piano accompaniment by Frederick Hodges.

Promising events

BAMPFA Student Committee Film Festival, BAMPFA, Friday, 9:00, FREE!

No, this isn’t really a festival, but a collection of shorts made by student filmmakers. The movies have such titles as Monica’s Path to Creative Growth, Casa Sin Fronteras, Sam Headphones, and Your Bones Are Starving.

Who Is Regina Doyle?, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 6:00

What if you knew your mother was a movie star, but you knew nothing else about her? In a free presentation, Doyle’s descendants will discuss how they searched and what they found about their once-famous ancestor.

Jackie Brown, New Mission, Monday, 7:00

I haven’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s follow-up to Pulp Fiction in at least 20 years, when my then-teenage son insisted. If I recall correctly, it may be his most conventional movie, and not in a bad way. Besides, any movie that gives Pam Grier her first leading role since the blaxploitation days is worth seeing.

Great double bills

A The Wrong Man & B+ I Confess, Stanford, Wednesday and Thursday

The Wrong Man: Following a true story, Alfred Hitchcock took one of his favorite plots–the innocent citizen wrongly accused – and treated it seriously. Not a fun thriller, but a sober study of what happens when the law gets it wrong. See my longer report.
I Confess:
In Hitchcock’s most Catholic movie, Montgomery Clift plays a priest suspected of murder. He knows the murderer’s identity, but it’s a matter of confession. A very good thriller with a very bad climax. Set and partly shot in Montreal.

Recommended revivals

A- 2001: A Space Odyssey, New Parkway, 9:00

Note: I’m giving 2001 an A- instead of an A+ because the New Parkway does not have the large, immersive screen the film calls for. 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.

Continuing engagements

  • Vertigo, Castro, Friday & Saturday. Double-billed with Dark Passage (Friday) and San Francisco (Saturday).
  • Detour, BAMPFA, Saturday, 6:00

Frequently-revived classics

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