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.
- The San Francisco Latino Film Festival closes Sunday
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), Cerrito, Elmwood, 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).
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.