This week in Bay Area art cinemas: John Boorman’s wartime childhood, Federico Fellini’s runaway bride, and two epic tales of hippies. Also, Salma Hayek plays an artist, Harold Lloyd becomes romantic, and Steve McQueen calls bullshit. No film festivals, but another Kurosawa double feature and a whole lot of cats.
Hope and Glory (1987), Lark, Monday, 2:00; Tuesday, 6:00; Wednesday, 4:00
John Boorman’s autobiographical film recreates a child eye’s view of England during World War II. I haven’t seen Hope and Glory in more than 30 years, but I remember liking it very much.
The White Sheik (1952), Castro, Tuesday & Wednesday
4K restoration. I remember Federico Fellini’s first feature (from a long time ago) as something like a screwball comedy. A bride on her honeymoon abandons her hapless husband for the star of a cheap serial. Of course, the man of her dreams isn’t the character he plays. I remember it being quite funny, but much more conventional than what we associate with the name Fellini.
2020 Cat Video Fest (2020), Elmwood, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00pm; Rafael, check for dates and times; Roxie, Saturday, Monday, & Wednesday
Yes, we all watch cat videos on the web. Now you can see the best of them (I assume) on the big screen. If you’re going to the Elmwood, a portion of the ticket price will go to Berkeley Animal Care Services. For the Rafael, a bit of your money will go to Marin Humane. Roxie patrons’ tickets will help Give Me Shelter Cat Rescue.
Another chance to see
A Long Strange Trip (2017), Elmwood, Thursday; Rafael, Thursday, 7:00
The Grateful Dead played great music for nearly 30 years, building up the most devoted fanbase in rock history. Amir Bar-Lev’s epic, four-hour documentary covers their story from Jerry Garcia’s first musical experiments to his fatal heart attack at the age of 53 (which surprised no one). Extensive interviews with the surviving band members, friends, and family tell the story, which is illustrated with archival photos and movies. Even clips from old Frankenstein flicks pop up. The effect is both informative and appropriately hallucinogenic.
Great double bills
A+ Rashomon (1950) & B+ Stray Dog (1949), Stanford, Friday through Sunday
Both films in 35mm!
Rashomon: Can you really know what happened…even if you saw it with your own eyes? A notorious bandit waylays a high-born couple in the woods, and a horrible crime is committed. But despite a number of eyewitnesses, no one knows who did what. Seemingly simple, Rashomon is one of cinema’s great masterpieces. See my Blu-ray review.
Stray Dog: A young, rookie detective (Toshiro Mifune) loses his gun to a pickpocket, and soon the firearm is getting used in a series of violent crimes. Stray Dog works best as a straight-up thriller and doesn’t work at all when it tries to be meaningful. See my Kurosawa Diaries entry.
A- Girl Shy (1924), Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30
With this feature Harold Lloyd made one big step from slapstick comedian to romantic leading man (but still a funny one). Harold is so shy around women that he can’t talk in their presence, and yet he’s writing a book on seduction based on nothing but his own fantasies. Jobyna Ralston plays the one girl he can talk to. Girl Shy climaxes with one of cinema’s best comic chases. Screening with two Lloyd shorts, I’m On My Way and Number, Please? Jon Mirsalis will accompany these silent films on the Kurzweil keyboard.
A- One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977), BAMPFA, Sunday, 4:30
Agnès Varda’s small epic follows two young women from 1962 to 1976 – not always in chronological order. Suzanne (Thérèse Liotard) is an unwed mother who struggles to care for her two children and eventually works in family planning. Pomme (Valérie Mairesse, the subtitles call her Apple) writes and sings feminist folk songs and manages to get by. They experience troubles and tragedy, but overall the film feels optimistic. A few scenes were filmed in Iran, soon before the revolution. Part of the series Agnès Varda: An Irresistible Force.
A- Frida (2002), New Parkway, Sunday, 9:15
In Julie Taymor’s biopic of artist Frida Kahlo, paintings turn into real life and life turns into paintings. Salma Hayek gives a great performance as Kahlo, who painted the pain she felt from her damaged body. Alfred Molina also stands out as her husband, the much more famous (at that time) Diego Rivera. When I first saw this film, I assumed Hayek, who also produced, did all the tangos and nude scenes to show off her body. Now I know that Harvey Weinstein forced her to do them.
B+ Bullitt (1968), Balboa, Thursday
Age hasn’t been altogether kind to this once cutting-edge police thriller. But it has its pleasures, especially Steve McQueen’s exceptionally cool charisma and the best car chase ever shot on the streets of San Francisco. To my knowledge, McQueen’s single use of the word bullshit marks the first time that word was heard in a Hollywood movie.
- One Child Nation (2019), BAMPFA, Friday, 4:00
- La Pointe Courte (1955), SFMOMA, Saturday, 1:00
- Faces Places (2017), SFMOMA, Saturday, 3:15
- Open City (1945), BAMPFA, Saturday, 5:30
- Eraserhead (35mm, 1976), BAMPFA, Saturday, 8:00
- La strada (1954), BAMPFA, Wednesday, 3:10
- Vagabond (1985), SFMOMA, Thursday, 7:00