What’s Screening: August 2 – 8

This week in Bay Area movie theaters: Jack the Ripper meets Sherlock Holmes and Captain James T. Kirk. The Princess Bride meets William Shakespeare. A punk rocker meets a valley girl. Also, Hitchcock, zombies, and some good old rock and roll. Also two film festivals.


Promising events

Wattstax, BAMPFA, Saturday, 8:15

I saw this post-Woodstock concert movie before it opened (one of my professors worked on it). Along with amazing performances by The Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes, what I remember the most was an unknown stand-up comic named Richard Pryor.

A Study in Terror & Star Trek: Wolf in the Fold, Balboa, Wednesday, 7:30

This sounds strange and funny. A Study in Terror is a low-budget, seemingly exploitative Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper movie from 1965. I’ve never seen it. Wolf in the Fold is an original-cast Star Trek episode with a ripper vibe. I must have seen this one on TV, but I don’t remember it.

Great double bills

A- The Princess Bride & B A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(1935 roadshow version), Castro, Sunday, 4:30

The Princess Bride: William Goldman’s enchanting and funny fairy tale dances magically along that thin line between parody and the real thing. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright make a wonderful set of star-crossed lovers. There’s no funnier swordfight anywhere. On the other hand, some of the big-name cameos really grate on your nerves.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
The Warner Brothers adapted a Max Reinhardt stage production of Shakespeare’s romantic fantasy, and created one of the weirdest movies to come out of studio-era Hollywood. Spectacular visuals compete with a star-studded cast which includes James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, and best of all, Mickey Rooney as Puck.

Recommended revivals

A Valley Girl, New Parkway, Sunday, 9:00

Intended by investors to be just another teenage sexploitation comedy, writers Wayne Crawford and Andrew Lane and director Martha Coolidge turned Valley Girl into a semi-classic – a very funny update of Romeo and Juliette. It stars Nicolas Cage in his first major role (before he got weird) and makes some of the best use of rock ‘n’ roll ever in a movie that isn’t about music.

A Strangers on a Train, Castro, Wednesday

One of Hitchcock’s scariest films, and therefore one of his best. A rich, spoiled psychopath (the worst kind) convinces himself that a moderately-famous athlete has agreed to exchange murders. The athlete soon finds himself hounded by suspicious cops who think he’s killed his philandering wife, and a psycho who thinks he’s owed a murder. The first of four Hitchcock Wednesdays. On a double bill with Bad Influence.

A Night of the Living Dead, Castro, Thursday, 7:00

This is fear without compromise. The slow, nearly unstoppable ghouls (sequels and imitations would later rename them zombies) were shockingly gruesome in 1968. Decades later, the shock is gone, but the dread and fear remain, made less spectacular but more emotionally gripping by the black and white photography. Night of the Living Dead is scary, effective, occasionally funny, and at times quite gross. It can be viewed as a satire of capitalism, a commentary on American racial issues, or simply one of the scariest horror films ever made. Read my essay. 4K Restoration. On a double bill with Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, which I have yet seen.

A- Monterey Pop, BAMPFA, Thursday, 7:00

Free Outdoor Screening. 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. Part of the series It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics