What’s showing in Bay Area art house cinema? Finnish sex, Niles without Zoom, Bridesmaids, a faraway galaxy, and two film festivals.
Helping a theater
Live Social Distanced Fundraising Social, Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum,
Since COVID shut down the theaters, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum has offered free, Zoom-based events. But this Sunday, you’ll be able to schmooze with other silent fans in the parking lot, where you can see the architectural model of the refurbished building. But considerable money is necessary to get the building in working condition. If you can’t come in person, make a donation online.
New films opening
B Tove (2020), Embarcadero Center, Shattuck, Rafael, opens Friday
This somewhat fractured biopic follows part of the life of Finnish illustrator and painter Tove Jansson. Judging from the movie, she had a difficult relationship with her father, struggled financially, but became famous drawing children’s comics. Zaida Bergroth’s film centers mostly on her sex life; focusing on two lovers – one male, one female – and both married (this was in the 1940s). Alma Poysti’s glowing and sexy performance is the best thing in the film.
Erin Brockovich (2000), Balboa, Wednesday, 7:30
It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Steven Soderbergh’s based-on-fact drama about a working-class woman who becomes an important environmental activist. I can’t give it a meaningful review after all these years, but I clearly remember that the film inspired my daughter at the time. Warning: The Balboa is screening the film on VHS, which they seem to believe is an asset.
A Bridesmaids (2011), AMC Bay Street 16, Richmond Hilltop 16, AMC Metreon 16, Sunday, 3:00 & 7:00; Wednesday & Thursday, 7:00
What do you expect from a Judd Apatow movie? A lot of laughs. Raunch. Some gross out humor. Close friendships tested. A reasonable quantity of heart. And a modern male point of view. Bridesmaids provides all but the last one, and you can thank screenwriters Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo for giving this Apatow-produced comedy a female perspective. Wiig also stars as a maid-of-honor whose life seems to be going down the tubes and taking her best friend’s wedding with it.
A- The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lark Drive-in, Saturday, 9:00
The middle chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy has a real feeling of dread that’s absent in the first movie. By keeping CP3O and R2D2 apart for much of the movie, the film tamps down the comedy (although there’s a humorous romance bubbling up). With Lando, we have a character who may be a hero and may be a villain. And, of course, the climax has one of the biggest surprises in cinema history. Note: This is an altered version; I prefer the 1980 original.
B+ Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Lark Drive-in, Thursday, 9:00
Bad sequels can ruin one’s memory of a good original, and that’s very much the case with the first Austin Powers movie. Parodying everything about 1960s swinging London, and especially the early James Bond movies, it takes one cliché after another and blows each one to bits. Both the brilliant but bucktoothed spy Austin Powers (Mike Myers), and his arch-enemy, Dr. Evil (Mike Myers), are frozen in 1967 and thawed out in 1997, where they’re clearly fish out of water. Myers also wrote the screenplay.