In Bay Area Virtual Cinema: August 28 – September 3

Feeling nostalgic? This week through Bay Area movie theaters, you can enjoy American Graffiti, the original Ghostbusters, Grease, Airplane! (maybe), and some serious cinema.

Virtual Festivals

Bay Area theaters with virtual cinema

Special online events

B+ American Graffiti, New Parkway, Saturday, 3:00

The movie: A long time ago, in a Bay Area that feels very far away, George Lucas made an entertaining (and extremely profitable) comedy without a body count, a big budget, or special effects. Talk about nostalgia. You can also talk about old-time rock ‘n’ roll. American Graffiti makes great use of early 60s music in one of the most effective and creative sound mixes of the ’70s.
The event: Watch the movie before Saturday afternoon. Then, at 3:00, join in a Zoom discussion of the film. Part of Will Viharo’s Thrillville Movie Club.

New films available

A- Made in Bangladesh, Lark, Rafael

The women working in an apparel factory are badly exploited. But one of them, the extremely determined Shimu (Rikita Nandini Shimu – an actress with very determined eyes) is tired of overtime pay that never materializes. After an activist connects with Shimu, she sets out to form a union. This is the sort of woman who, at 14, ran away from an arranged marriage. We assume she chose the husband she has now, but as her union work takes over her life, the marriage suffers. And if she fails, she and many other workers will lose their jobs. Yes, the story has been done before (remember Norma Rae), but this time it’s done very well and it’s worth revisiting.

Drive-in theaters

B+ Ghostbusters, Corica Park, Friday, 8:45

Comedy rarely gets this scary or this visually spectacular. Or perhaps I should say that special-effects action fantasies rarely get this funny (at least intentionally so). Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver appear to be having a great time as they try to control the phantasm and monsters suddenly attacking New York City. Not a bad way to pass an evening.

Grease (1978), Corica Park, Saturday, 8:45

I haven’t seen the blockbuster musical of the 1970s in a very long time. I remember enjoying it – in a moderate way. Besides, it seems like an appropriate movie to see in the drive-in.

In a real theater

A Airplane! (1980), AMC Bay Street 16, Sunday, 2:00 and Tuesday, 7:00

The event: Fathom Events and AMC appear to be actually screening a movie in a theater. I’d love to see Airplane! again theatrically, but I don’t want to see it that bad. I strongly suspect that these screenings won’t happen.
The movie:
They’re flying on instruments, blowing the autopilot, and translating English into Jive. So, win one for the Zipper, but whatever you do, don’t call him Shirley. Airplane! throws jokes like confetti – carelessly tossing them in all directions in hopes that some might hit their target. Surprisingly enough, most of them do.

Not quite new

A Tikkun (2015), New Mission

A young, male Chasid, extremely religious and prone to accidents, survives a near-death experience. He comes out of it changed in slight but (for his family) frightening ways. He doesn’t need his glasses. He refuses to eat meat. He hitchhikes late at night as a way to study the world outside his enclosed community. I found Tikkun strange, spiritual, and very critical of rigid religion. I’m not sure how much a non-Jew would appreciate this fantasy drama set in Jerusalem’s strictest Orthodox community.

Recommended and available

A- Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly (2019), BAMPFA

This documentary, with its interviews with prisoners of conscience and their families, will leave you feeling guilty – and that’s a good thing. It’s not really about the Chinese artist and political agitator Ai Weiwei, but about the many peaceful dissidents imprisoned around the world. Much of the film concerns co-director Cheryl Haines’ 2014 collaboration with Weiwei to create an artistic installation on Alcatraz Island about political prisoners. Weiwei couldn’t be there; he was not allowed out of China at that time. By the way, Weiwei now lives in the west and made the excellent but overlooked documentary Human Flow.