What’s going on this week in Bay Area cinema? Two overlooked classics free (to members of BAMPFA). A couple of virtual revivals, and some really good movies at the drive-in. Also, two film festivals.
- SF Indiefest continues through the week and beyond. Read my preview.
- SF Urban Film Fest opens Sunday
Special online events
B- Show Me What You Got (2021), levelforward.live, Friday, Sunday, and Monday
The Film: It’s hard to watch this film without thinking about François Truffaut’s 1962 masterpiece Jules and Jim. Both movies are about two men, very close friends, and the woman they both love. It has much more sex than Truffaut’s, and way too much narration. Jules and Jim is a masterpiece; Show Me is enjoyable but will soon be forgotten.
The events: Friday, there’s an Opening Night Gala. Sunday, there’s a special Valentine’s Day screening. And finally, Monday, a screening with the filmmakers. All of these screenings happen 5:00 PST. I was told weeks ago that it would be available via the Roxie, but that didn’t seem to happen.
New to Me
A- Two of Us (2019)
A stroke tears apart a long-term relationship in this very realistic tearjerker. Retirees Nina and Madeleine have been lovers for decades, but to the rest of the world, they’re just friends and neighbors. Madeleine can’t dare to tell her family the truth. But when Madeleine can no longer communicate with the rest of the world, Nina has trouble taking care of her beloved, since no one else knows about the relationship. Madeleine’s family (which has its own problems) can’t understand why the neighbor acts so strangely, while Nina acts out in some destructive ways.
Free Streaming over the weekend
If you’re a BAMPFA member, you can stream two films without buying a ticket. I haven’t yet seen either of these. The films will be available Friday through Sunday. You’ll need your membership password.
The Edge of the World (1937)
This early Michael Powell drama is set among remote offshore islands where the hard life is drawing people away. According to Jason Sanders, “The Edge of the World is a film on death, isolation, and life on the precipice; it is rewarding viewing in any time, and especially in this time.”
This non-narrative film examines “an otherworldly and strangely beautiful landscape of massive salt flats in northeastern Venezuela.” It tied with Hiroshima, mon amour for the International Critics Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.
A Tampopo (1985), New Mission
Decades before movies about chefs and cooking became a thing (and my least-favorite arthouse genre), Tampopo put a comic twist on movies about food. In doing so, the movie also parodies westerns and material arts flicks. The title character, a young widow with a son to raise, struggles with her hole-in-the-wall ramen café until two truck drivers help her create the greatest ramen ever. The movie occasionally cuts away to comic scenes not connected to the story, except that they’re also about food. Very funny, extremely silly, and occasionally sexy.
A A Hard Day’s Night (1964), New Mission
When United Artists agreed to finance a movie around a suddenly popular British rock group, they wanted something fast and cheap. After all, the band’s popularity was limited to England and Germany, and could likely die before the movie got into theaters. We all know now that UA had nothing to worry about. The Beatles are still popular more than half a century later. What’s more, Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night still burns with outrageous camerawork and editing, subversive humor, and a sense of joy in life and especially in rock and roll.
Because these films sell out so quickly, I’m listing this week’s and next week’s offerings.
A In the Mood For Love (2000), Fort Mason Flix, Sunday, February 14, 7:00
Sold out! Wong Kar Wai’s brilliant film about adultery has no sex, little touching, and we never see who we believe are the adulterous couple. A handsome man and a beautiful woman live in the same apartment building. Both of their spouses are out of town, and they just may be out of town together. Inevitably, the two leads fall slowly in love. While there’s no sex, almost every shot is filled with deep eroticism. Starring Maggie Cheung, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and the color red.
A Shrek (2001), Fort Mason Flix, Tuesday, February 16, 5:00
Enough bad sequels can make us forget how much we loved the original, and in the case of Shrek, the original is very lovable indeed. This story of an ogre on a reluctant quest to save a princess turns both traditional fairy tales and their Disneyfied adaptations inside out. The evil prince’s castle looks like Disneyland, familiar characters make odd cameos, and that old song “Have You Seen the Muffin Man” turns very gruesome (in a very funny way). In the third act, Shrek rips apart one of the worst lessons that children learn from these old stories, providing a happy ending that neither Grimm nor Disney could have imagined.
A- The Last Black Man In San Francisco (2019), Fort Mason Flix, Sunday, February 21
A sad eulogy for San Francisco, which will never be what it once was. Two young men, a carpenter and a playwright, fix up an empty house that once belonged to the family, even though they know they can’t possibly live in a home on sale for $4 million. Cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra shoots The City in a way that looks nothing like any other San Francisco movie; It’s still magical, but no longer beautiful. The musical choices remind us of the long-gone Summer of Love.
B+ The Farewell (2019), Fort Mason Flix, Wednesday, February 24, 8:00
Lulu Wang’s comedy confrontation between the Chinese and Chinese-American sides of the same family provides a lot of laughs, held up by a serious structure built around mortality. Billi, a New Yorker of Chinese descent (Awkwafina), travels to China, along with the rest of her family, for a final goodbye to her dying, beloved grandmother. But following Chinese custom, no one tells Grandma that she’s dying. Only Billi disapproves of the deception. The family goes as far as to create a sham wedding as an excuse for everyone coming to town. Funny and touching. Read my full review.
Back To the Future (1985), Fort Mason Flix, Tuesday, February 16, 8:00
I haven’t seen this ’80s comedy since it was almost new. I found it moderately entertaining, and also moderately racist. But some people love it.