This week in Bay Area movies: A Castro opening on the horizon. $5 Tuesdays. A serious art film that should be shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The Octopus documentary on the big screen. And classics from Orson Welles, the Coen brothers, and New Zealand. And one virtual film festival.
- The Livable Planet Film Festival closes Sunday
The Castro, according to Dan Gentile’s Chronical article, San Francisco’s best movie palace is “scheduling screenings in June for the Frameline LGBTQ film festival, comedy events in July, and more bookings in late 2021.”
I’ve already noted the Alameda‘s opening, but this week, I discovered that it now offers $5 tickets on Tuesday.
New films opening
F About Endlessness, New Mission, Rafael, Roxie, opens Friday
The best thing about Roy Andersson’s extremely weird film is the short, 76-minute runtime. And yet, as the title suggests, it still feels endless. This movie isn’t enjoyable to watch. It doesn’t make you think. It has few things to say, and those are obvious. By keeping the camera as far as possible from the actors, you never get to know or care about any of the people on screen. With absolutely nothing to say, it has a narrator who tells you what you’re already seeing. Read my full review.
New to the big screen
B+ My Octopus Teacher (2020), Rafael, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, 4:45
I’ve been fascinated by octopuses for years, so I eagerly waited for this documentary. I wasn’t disappointed. While swimming daily in a kelp forest near his home, Craig Foster befriends an adult octopus. Foster watches while the cephalopod hunts and avoids being hunted, and sometimes just plays in the water. These are surprisingly intelligent creatures that are nothing like human beings. The sad part is that they don’t live very long. As you’d expect, the film is beautiful to look at. Foster tries to make us believe he’s the only human swimming there when it’s obvious that someone is filming him.
A+ Fargo (1996), AMC Bay Street 16, AMC Metreon 16, & Century 9 San Francisco Centre; Sunday, 3:00 & 7:00; Wednesday, 7:00
The ultimate crime-gone-wrong thriller and the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, Fargo treads that thin line between the horrific and the hilarious while never forgetting the humane. With star-making performances by William H. Macy, as a man in way over his head, and Frances McDormand, as a very pregnant cop with a lot of empathy and common sense. Also starring the bleakest snowscapes in American cinema. Read My Thoughts on Fargo.
A Waltz with Bashir (2008), New Mission
Animated documentary sounds like an oxymoron, but I’m not sure what else to call this excellent film. The bulk of the film consists of actual interviews that writer/director Ari Folman had with other veterans of Israel’s 1982 Lebanon war, as he tries to reconstruct his own traumatic memories of the front line. But the interviews, and the flashbacks that illustrate them, are animated in a sparse yet aggressively 3D style. The result carries a documentary’s authenticity, but with a visual power that can only come out of the imagination. Extraordinary.
A- Whale Rider (2002), New Mission
Modern concepts of equality come face to face with ancient customs in this New Zealand fable. Within a 21-century Maori community, a young girl (Keisha Castle-Hughes) sets out to learn and practice rituals intended only for men. This is a family movie about girl’s empowerment that should be seen by children, despite the PG-13 rating – earned by one use of the word shit and a marijuana joke you could miss if you blink.
A+ Citizen Kane (1941), Fort Mason Flix, Friday, 5:30
How does any movie survive an 80-year reputation as the “Greatest Film Ever Made?” I think it’s simply because it’s so very good. True, there are films more insightful about the human condition, pictures more dazzling in their technique, and movies more fun. But I’d be hard pressed to name any film this insightful that’s also this technically dazzling and fun to watch. As Orson Welles and his collaborators tell the life story of a newspaper tycoon through the flashback memories of those who knew him, they also turn the techniques of cinema inside out. Read my A+ appreciation.