If it wasn’t for BAMPFA, and for Agnès Varda, there wouldn’t be much in the Bay Area arthouse world this week – except, of course, for the film festivals.
Wild at Heart (1990), BAMPFA, Wednesday, 7:00
35mm! It’s been ages since I’ve seen David Lynch’s grotesque romance. I remember it being violent, strange, extremely sexy, and utterly unbelievable. And thoroughly enjoyable. Part of the series Next Door to Darkness: The Films of David Lynch.
A Open City (aka Rome Open City, 1945), BAMPFA, Wednesday, 3:10 matinee
Roberto Rossellini helped create Italian neorealism in this dark tale of the German occupation. Gritty and at times horrifying, it vividly recreates the physical dangers and mental strains of living under Nazi rule. Technically, I suppose, it shouldn’t count as neorealism, since two major parts are played by established stars: Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi. Part of the series In Focus: Federico Fellini (even though Fellini didn’t direct this film).
B+ Varda by Agnès (2019), SFMOMA. Thursday, 7:00; BAMPFA, Friday, 4:00
Warning: If you’re not an Agnès Varda fan, you probably won’t enjoy this documentary. Luckily, I am a fan of the French New Wave’s leading director. Varda’s final film and her last testimony starts with something I haven’t seen in a new film in decades: full opening credits. I suppose she wanted viewers to see the names of her collaborators. Knowing she wouldn’t have time for another film, she discusses cinema in movie theaters, lectures halls, and on the street. She even sits on a moving platform when discussing the traveling shots in Vagabond. Occasionally boring, but mostly fascinating.
B Vagabond (1985), BAMPFA, Thursday, 7:00
I think Agnès Varda intended this as a cap on the hippie movement, and it’s not a fond farewell. The plot is pure Citizen Kane, except instead of a newspaper magnate, the dead protagonist is a young woman hitchhiker who froze to death in a ditch. Then comes the flashbacks and interviews with people who crossed her path over the course of her last winter. Neither Varda nor actress Sandrine Bonnaire make her likeable. She’s dirty, smelly, unreliable, prone to theft, and doesn’t even thank the people who help her along the way. I would have liked to know the characters better. The film doesn’t quite hold together, but it has some wonderful scenes.
- Castle In the Sky (dubbed, 1986), New Parkway, Friday, 4:00; Saturday, 12:40; Sunday, 12:00 noon
- Fritz Lang’s Indian Epic, Part I: The Tiger of Eschnapur & Part II: The Indian Tomb (1959), BAMPFA, Saturday, 1:00
- La dolce vita (1960), BAMPFA, Sunday, 3:30