What’s Screening: February 28 – March 5

Robbie Robertson ignores his Band. Kurosawa goes ’60s noir. Hitchcock becomes stranger on a train. And a giant mutant predator hits South Korea (and no, it’s not Donald Trump). All this, plus three film festivals and more this week in Bay Area arthouse cinemas.


New films opening

B Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (2020), Embarcadero Center, California (Berkeley), Rafael, opens Friday

Any documentary about The Band – one of rock’s greatest groups – should be worth watching. But Daniel Roher’s documentary centers so completely on Robby Robertson that it doesn’t really tell you much about his “brothers.” True, Robertson has an interesting story, growing up in Canada with a Mohawk mother and a Jewish gangster father he never knew. But I wanted to see more points of view. The only other surviving Band member, Garth Hudson, is not interviewed. Nor are wives and children of the three who passed on. For six years, The Band created great music. Then they fell apart. Too bad this documentary tells only one side of the story. Read my full review.

Great double bills

Kurosawa noir double bill: A The Bad Sleep Well (1960) & A High and Low (1963), Stanford, Friday through Sunday

Both films in 35mm!
The Bad Sleep Well: Few people know Akira Kurosawa’s dark, contemporary, and suspenseful tale of a large, successful, and thoroughly corrupt corporation, and a young man (Toshiro Mifune) out to destroy it from within. Read my Kurosawa Diaries entry.
A High and Low: A successful businessman (Toshiro Mifune) faces a moral conflict when a kidnapper attempts to snatch his son but grabs the wrong kid instead. The criminal still insists on a ransom large enough to wipe out the businessman. Read my Blu-ray review.

Recommended revivals

A Strangers on a Train (1951), Alameda, Wednesday, 2:15, 4:30, 7:00

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.

B+ The Host (2006), Castro, Wednesday, 6:30

A barely-functional family fights an uncaring government and a giant mutant predator, and it’s hard to say which is the scarier threat. I didn’t find this quite the masterpiece others saw–the political points are obvious, the third act gets confusing, and the big finale fails to satisfy. But director/co-writer Joon-ho Bong (who since made The Parasite) succeeds where it counts: He makes you care about the characters and scares you out of your seat. On a Joon-ho Bong double bill with Snowpiercer, which I saw years ago and didn’t find it all that great.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics