Aside from the SFFilm Festival, here’s what’s happening in Bay Area cinema this week: Five art house theaters are preparing to open. You can ask questions about flipbooks and Shiva Baby. Two movies from last year will play in 35mm. And at the drive-in, you can watch Tootsie, Into the Spider-Verse, A Star Is Born, and a little movie called The Sound of Music.
Theaters planning to open
New Parkway: After more than a year of being nothing but a take-out restaurant, Oakland’s community theater has announced that they will start showing movies again…but not until September. Here’s the full story.
Special screenings in 35mm!
A- The Trial of The Chicago 7 (2020), Rafael, Friday, 7:30
35mm! Aaron Sorkin’s suspenseful courtroom drama, based on actual events, takes you back to another time when another president was getting out of hand. The Nixon administration set out to make an example of arresting seven members of the new left, and the trial became major news for months. The judge went in ready to throw the book at the hippies, yippies, and Panthers, and never changed his mind. Meanwhile, some of the defendants – especially Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) – set out to turn the courtroom into a clown show. Dramatic, historical, and sometimes hysterical. Other recognizable actors in the film include Eddie Redmayne, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Frank Langella, and Michael Keaton.
B Mank (2020), Rafael, Saturday, 7:30
35mm! Yes, it’s fun to watch David Fincher’s recreation of 1930s and early 40s Hollywood, even when the inaccuracies stick out. Gary Oldman plays Herman Mankiewicz, who wrote the Citizen Kane screenplay (or co-wrote, depending on who you believe). The main story has Mank writing the script while two women take care of him. As one would assume in a film about Kane, the film has plenty of flashbacks – but this time, they’re about MGM in the 1930s. Shot in black and white to make it look like the movies of that time, but also in ‘scope to make it look modern.
Special online events
B+ Watch Party: Shiva Baby (2020), New Mission, Saturday, 7:00. Also available at any time through the Cerrito or the Elmwood
The movie: A young, Jewish woman secretly doing sex work goes to a shiva meal which turns into a nightmare. Her high school girlfriend wants to rekindle the relationship. Her overbearing mother drives her crazy. She loses her smartphone. Everyone asks about her future plans. And worst of all, the man paying her for sex arrives with his trophy wife. Shiva Baby turns out to be a less funny but more insightful comedy than the setup suggests.
The Watch Party: This Virtual Scener (sic) Theater only happens at 7:00, Saturday night, and only through Alamo Drafthouse theaters like the New Mission. There’s a Q&A, but I don’t know with whom – probably director Emma Seligman. If you just want to watch the movie at your own time, go to the website of the Cerrito or Elmwood.
Amazing Tales Online: Discovering Lost Treasures In Fin De Siècle Flipbooks, Sunday, 12:00 noon.
Free! Restoration expert Robert Byrne and researcher Thierry Lecointe will discuss and show how much of early cinema was saved not on nitrate, but on paper – in the form of flipbooks.
Drive-in movies this week
A Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Fort Mason Flix, Wednesday, 5:15
This animated superhero feature brings laughs and joy. True, Peter Parker dies in the first act, but there’s another Peter Parker, older and with a pot belly. There are several other Spider people from different dimensions as well. But the main Spider-Man here is Miles, a black kid from Brooklyn who must learn how to use his new powers. He’s awkward, funny, and just entering adolescence. And the last thing he wants to do is fight supervillains.
A A Star Is Born (2018), Fort Mason Flix, Wednesday, 8:30
The same old tragedy still carries that emotional punch. A major star, ruining his life and career with alcohol, falls in love with a talented nobody. As his career self-implodes, his lover’s fame skyrockets. This fourth version is at least as good as the 1954 classic starring Judy Garland and James Mason. Lady Gaga holds the screen and proves she’s a movie star as well as a singer/songwriter (she also wrote most of the film’s excellent songs). Co-star Bradley Cooper proves that along with acting, he can sing, write, and direct. Sam Elliott has a major supporting role.
A- Tootsie (1982), Lark Drive-in, Thursday, 8:10
Gender roles turn upside-down in what is easily the second best Hollywood comedy about straight men in drag (the best, of course, is Some Like It Hot). Dustin Hoffman plays a struggling actor who no one wants to hire, so he disguises himself as a woman, gets a job on a soap opera, and becomes a sensation. Things get complicated when he falls for one of his co-stars (Jessica Lange). The very funny screenplay was written by Larry Gelbart, who also created Corporal Klinger on TV’s M*A*S*H. Teri Garr and Bill Murray show off their exceptional comic timing in supporting roles. Directed by Sydney Pollack.