What’s Screening: January 8 – 14

This week in virtual cinema: Film historian Joseph McBride talks about writing biographies, Live Master Pancake talks about sexy killer bee women, other films streaming for theaters, and the close of 2021’s first film festival.


Special online events

Writing Directors’ Lives: A Conversation with Joseph McBride, Rafael, Thursday, 7:30

Film historian Joseph McBride has written at least two excellent biographies, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success, and Searching for John Ford. He also wrote Steven Spielberg: A Biography, but I haven’t yet read that one. He’s also written books on Welles, Hawks, and Lubitsh. In a virtual discussion, McBride will tell stories about writing these books. I plan to be there.

LIVE! Master Pancake – Invasion of the Bee Girls Watch Party, New Mission, Wednesday, 6:00 Pacific Time

I remember Invasion of the Bee Girls as a cheap, nudie, science fiction flick where beautiful women kill men by giving them too much sex. Or something like that. I remember laughing a lot. I’m not exactly certain what Live Master Pancake is, but it appears to be a comedy team commentating on movies in a MST3K style. Or maybe something different. It’s a live performance, so you must to get in on time.

Another chance to see

A- Mayor (2020), BAMPFA, Rafael,

Guiding a large, modern city is difficult enough; it’s much harder when you’re occupied. This documentary follows Musa Hadid, the mayor of Ramallah – a large Palestinian city where Christians and Muslims mingle peacefully. At first, Hadid struggles like any other mayor – getting new doors for a school or setting up the city’s Christmas tree. But few mayors deal with settlers shooting at citizens, while the Israeli government won’t allow them to build a much-needed sewage plant. Then President Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The film climaxes with a one-sided battle as Israeli soldiers storm into the city shooting gas and brandishing guns. A powerful doc about trying to have a normal life under occupation.

B+ Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan (2020), CerritoElmwood, Rafael

If you’re not familiar with The Pogues, you have a treat to discover. For some 27 irregular years, this Irish band melded punk rock, traditional folk music, and deeply-felt left-wing politics. But this documentary isn’t about the band. It’s about the lead singer and main songwriter, Shane MacGowan. I would have liked more about his bandmates, but MacGowan’s own story is a fascinating one. While nearly drinking himself to death since childhood, his songs have made him almost a living shrine, with people claiming that he saved Irish music (and maybe Irish politics, too).

Virtual revivals

A Get Out (2017), New Mission

Writer/director Jordan Peele took the concept of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and turned it into a comic horror movie. When a young, successful, and Black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) meets his white girlfriend’s parents, he finds something very strange about every African American he encounters. Soon trapped, he must find a way to escape from the privileged folks who want to turn him into yet another zombie slave. Funny, scary, and with a very sharp point.

B+ Knives Out, New Mission

This old-fashioned murder mystery, set mostly in a big mansion, feels like Agatha Christie with giggles. Not over-the-top comedy, but with enough laughs to lighten the story and remind us not to take it too seriously. Daniel Craig plays the brilliant detective (well, occasionally brilliant), speaking in a not-quite believable southern accent. The cast includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Christopher Plummer, and Frank Oz, but the lesser-known Ana de Armas carries the film.

Continuing engagements