The Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive‘s summer program offers popular classics and little-known works. And, since it’s the BAMPFA, it includes a lot of films you might want to see.
Since it’s the PFA, every movie must be part of a series. Here are the nine series starting in the summer:
Julio Bracho and Mexican Cinema’s Golden Age
June 7 – July 18
I’m not familiar with this Mexican director’s work, but according to the series introduction, he was a commercially successful filmmaker of the midcentury. The series will show six films, from the 1941 musical comedy Those Were the Days, Señor Don Simón! to the controversial and banned The Shadow of the Tyrant. In between we have star-crossed lovers, labor activists, noir, and experimental cinema.
Those Were the Days, Señor Don Simón!
Looking Again at Orson Welles
June 9 – July 10
This is in no way a complete retrospective of Welles’ work, screening only four of his films: Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai, Chimes at Midnight, and Macbeth. That’s a disappointment. I can’t really imagine a Welles series without The Magnificent Ambersons and Touch of Evil. In addition to Welles’ own works, the series includes Mark Cousins’ documentary, The Eyes of Orson Welles.
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
June 13–August 31
Concert movies, documentaries, and narratives go with the big beat this summer. They’re showing Stop Making Sense, Dont Look Back, Wattstax, Monterey Pop, The Last Waltz, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, and the most depressing rock doc ever made, Gimme Shelter. If you want a little fiction with your music, there’s King Creole, A Hard Day’s Night, and The Harder They Come. Several of these films will be shown free out-of-doors where there’s plenty of room to dance. On the other hand, inside you get the Meyer Sound system.
The Last Waltz
Cine Manifest: A Radical 1970s Film Collective
June 20–30, 2019
Cine Manifest was a Bay Area film collective with a very leftist intent. This series shows three of their films from the old days, including the somewhat well-known Northern Lights. Also on the schedule: a 2006 documentary called Cine Manifest about the group. Unlike the earlier films in this series, I’ve actually seen this newer doc, where they spent far too much time in self-critical discussion.
Fritz Lang’s America
June 21–August 11, 2019
Earlier this year, BAMPFA screened a selection of Fritz Lang’s German films. But with the coming of Nazism, Lang came to America, where he mostly made noirs (not surprising for the creator of M). This series starts with my favorite American Lang, The Big Heat. Others in the series include Fury (in an archival print), Human Desire, You Only Live Once, and Scarlet Street. I’m looking forward to seeing many of these for the first time on the big screen, or any screen at all.
The Big Heat
Jean-Pierre Léaud at 75
July 4–August 30, 2019
In the late 1950s, François Truffaut cast a young boy skipping school to play the lead role in his first feature film. That boy was Jean-Pierre Léaud, and now at 75, he has a considerable body of work behind him. And yet, Jean-Pierre Léaud is still mostly remembered as the young Antoine Doinel in The 400 Blows and its three sequels – plus a Doinel-like character in Truffaut’s love letter to cinema, Day for Night. Léaud also worked with other directors, including Jean-Luc Godard in Masculine Feminine and Weekend.
Day for Night
View Finders: Women Cinematographers
July 12–November 21, 2019
it’s probably easier for a woman to get a job as a director than a cinematographer. I’ve only seen one of the ten films in this series, Cameraperson, which I liked but with reservations. Too bad that Mudbound, shot by Rachel Morrison, is not in this series; her work on that film made her the only woman (so far) to be nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar.
Against Authority: The Cinema of Masaki Kobayashi
July 20–August 18, 2019
Akira Kurosawa’s films try to reform the samurai ethic; Masaki Kobayashi’s pictures want to tear it down. His Harakiri, a complete take-down of the medieval system, is my all-time samurai film not made by Kurosawa. I must admit that I never got passed the first film in Kobayashi’s nine-hour anti-war epic trilogy, The Human Condition, but maybe I’ll get to it this time. The series also contains Samurai Rebellion, some contemporary-set films I haven’t yet seen, along with the anthology horror film Kwaidan, which I saw way back in 1972.
Abbas Kiarostami: Life as Art
August 2–December 21, 2019
I finish this article the way I started it; by writing about a filmmaker whose work I don’t know. This Iranian auteur made films from 1970 (before the Islamic Revolution) pretty much up until his death in 2016. Not all his films were made in his native country. Kurosawa was a fan of Kiarostami’s work, and that in itself makes me want to see his films. This is a very long series, going into late December.