What’s Screening: July 26 – August 1

A boy and his horse, a woman and her leopard, a samurai without a master, and a killer rabbit. All these and more in Bay Area movie theaters this week. Also, three film festivals.


Promising events

The Black Stallion, BAMPFA, Saturday, 3:30

I haven’t seen this family film since it was new, about 40 years ago. I barely remember it, but I liked it. So did almost everybody else. Pauline Kael said this boy-and-his-horse story “may be the greatest children’s movie ever made.” New digital restoration. Part of the ongoing series Movie Matinees for All Ages.

Great double bills

Howard Hawks directing Cary Grant! A Only Angels Have Wings & A Bringing Up Baby, Stanford, Saturday through Tuesday

Only Angels Have Wings: Cary Grant heads a team of mail plane pilots in a remote corner of South America. There’s little plot here, just a study of men who routinely fly under very dangerous conditions, and how they cope with death as an every-day part of life. The only Hawks/Grant collaboration that wasn’t a comedy.
Bringing Up Baby: One of the best screwball comedies follows the adventures of a mild-mannered paleontologist (Cary Grant), a ditzy heiress (Katharine Hepburn), and a tame leopard (a tame leopard). Frivolous and hilarious.

Recommended revivals

A Harakiri, BAMPFA, Wednesday, 7:00

Probably the best samurai film not made by Akira Kurosawa. A samurai (Kurosawa regular Tatsuya Nakadai) comes to a fort and asks permission to kill himself, then tells a harrowing tale of poverty made unbearable by the strict samurai code. Director Masaki Kobayashi had no love for feudal Japan’s social structure, which he shows as cruel, arrogant, and hypocritical. And yes, it ends with an awesome fight. Part of the series Against Authority: The Cinema of Masaki Kobayashi.

A Monty Python and the Holy Grail, New Parkway, Saturday, 9:45

Bump your coconuts and prepare the Holy Hand Grenade, but watch out for the Killer Rabbit (not to mention the Trojan one). The humor is silly and often in very bad taste, and the picture has nothing of substance to say beyond ridiculing the romantic view of medieval Europe. But the Pythons’ first feature with an actual story (well, sort of) keeps you laughing from beginning to end. Arguably the funniest film of the 1970s, and certainly the funniest of the 1070s. Co-presented by Laughing Monk.

B+ The Iron Giant, New Mission, Monday, Wednesday, 12:00 noon

The young hero of Brad (The Incredibles) Bird’s first feature befriends a massively-huge robot from outer space. The robot seems friendly enough, but there’s good reason to believe he was built as a weapon of mass destruction. Using old-fashioned, hand-drawn animation with plenty of sharp angles, Bird creates a stylized view of small-town American life circa 1958 that straddles satire and nostalgia and treats most of its inhabitants with warmth and affection. A good movie for all but the youngest kids. A Kids Camp event.

Frequently-revived classics