What’s Screening: October 11 – 17

Coming to Bay Area movie theaters this week: An aging filmmaker, rebellious students, creatures from the dead, a future that never happened, pre-Columbian America, and lots of beautifully photographed water. And six film festivals.

Important message: Yesterday, October 9, I received an email from BAMPFA stating that the museum/theater was closed do to the blackouts. We cannot be sure if any of the theaters below will be running on the dates listed.


New films opening

B+ Pain and Glory, Embarcadero Center, Shattuck, Aquarius, New Mission, Rafael, opens Friday

Salvador (Antonio Banderas) loves to make movies, but he can’t make them anymore. With age comes back problems, throat problems, and all sorts of physical problems. He frequently thinks of his childhood, with Penélope Cruz playing his strong, poverty-stricken mother in beautiful flashbacks. For the aging writer/director who made this film, Pedro Almodóvar, Pain and Glory may be therapy. For the rest of us, it’s a view of an old man in distress. Read my full review.

Promising events

If . . ., BAMPFA, Wednesday, 3:10

Digital Restoration! I loved Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 attack on British schools when it was new and I was not quite old enough to see an R-rated film. I saw it many times in the 1970s, usually double-billed with its superior sort-of sequel, O Lucky Man. I’m not sure if it will play well in 21st-century America, where mass shootings are weekly events. With a lecture by David Thomson. Part of the series In Focus: The British New Wave.

Another chance to see

A Aquarela, Lark, Wednesday, 4:20

Presented in a high frame rate. Aquarela is about water in its more extreme conditions. We see dangerously thin ice, glaciers calving, and the strikingly beautiful underside of an iceberg. In warmer climates, we see flooding in rural and urban settings. Is the film about climate change? But as much as anything else, Aquarela is a celebration of modern cinema technology, from the fast framerate, to the Imax-like resolution, to the all-embracing Dolby Atmos sound mix. Read my full review.

C American Muslim, Roxie, Sunday, 1:00

Documentarian Adam Zucker studies a very important issue: the racist treatment of American Muslims exasperated by the Trump Administration. We meet a lot of Muslims, mostly in family situations, and they’re all very nice people. The film also shows the frightening hate and bigotry of the MAGA crowd. There’s a lot of political activism, and scenes of Muslims and Jews working together against the hate. But after about an hour, the documentary becomes repetitive. I thought the picture was ending three or four times before it finally closed. Part of the Arab Film Festival.

Great double bills

Double bill: B+ Frankenstein & A Bride of FrankensteinStanford, Saturday & Sunday

Frankenstein: No one played Dr. Frankenstein’s nameless creation like Boris Karloff, who interpreted the monster as a child in a too-large body – an outcast torn between his need for love and his anger at the society that rejected him. James Whales’ original Frankenstein is atmospheric and beautiful.
Bride of Frankenstein: Whale’s first and only sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, is his masterpiece – the film that opens up the monster’s poetic soul. With Colin Clive as the mad scientist, Ernest Thesiger as a delightfully over-the-top madder scientist, and Elsa Lanchester as both Mary Shelley and the monster’s mate.

Recommended revivals

A+ 2001: A Space Odyssey, Castro, Monday

4K digital restoration! 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 and my Eat Drink Film article on how it should best be shown. On a double bill with Terrence Malick’s The New World, which I haven’t seen recently enough to discuss.

B+ HalloweenCastro, Oct. 18, 7:30

John Carpenter made a very good low-budget thriller that started a very bad genre: the slasher movie – also known as the dead teenager flick. In the original Halloween, an escaped psycho racks up several kills on the scariest night of the year. Yes, the story is absurd–the guy seems capable of getting into any place and sneaking up on anyone–but Carpenter and co-screenwriter Debra Hill take the time to let us know these particular teenagers, and that makes all the difference. By the time he goes after the mature, responsible one (Jamie Lee Curtis), you’re really scared. On a very strange double bill with Rock ‘N’ Roll High School (which I remember liking).

B The Silent Enemy, BAMPFA, Thursday, 7:00

16mm The ethnographic film is a lost art form. Filmmakers have long stopped making fiction films that recreate the earlier lives of aboriginal people – with a cast of these people’s descendants. (Ten Canoes is a rare, recent example.) The Silent Enemy, a late silent, looks at pre-Columbian Ojibway Indians as they desperately search for food and the right leader. It works better as anthropology than melodrama, even if I suspect some historical liberties were taken. Beautifully photographed. The recorded music score is the same one used for the 1930 premiere. Part of the series Out of the Vault: Native American Reelism.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics