As July turns into August, here’s what’s happening in Bay Area cinema this week: a scientist and his butterflies, a pig and her children, Irish punk, and the best film Terry Gilliam ever made.
- The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival closes Sunday
New films opening (virtual)
A Son of Monarchs (2020), BAMPFA, available today
This story of a young man between two countries doesn’t really have much of a story, but in this film, that’s not a problem. Mendel was born and raised in Michoacán, where he and his older brother were amazed by the monarch butterflies that migrated through their neighborhood. They also saw their parents’ accidental deaths. Now the adult Mendel lives in New York as a biologist, studying those same monarchs. Standing between two cultures, he doesn’t always know where he belongs. A visual and audio treat that brings you into different worlds.
Another chance to see (virtually)
A- Gunda (2020), Rafael
The non-fiction version of Babe is an amazing feat of cinematography. Viktor Kosakovskiy’s camera crew captures farm animals like no other, bringing us the emotions of creatures that we usually think of as food. Most of the film focuses on a mama pig and her large herd of adorable babies. We see them playing, enjoying the sun, and growing up. We also see some curious chickens, one of which has only one leg, and a lot of cows. At the end, we see mama pig, alone and wondering where her children have gone. The black and white photography captures the critters’ expressions masterly. In beautiful black and white.
B+ Crock of Gold (2020), New Mission
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. Read my full review.
A+ Brazil (1985), Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30
35mm! One of the best black comedies ever filmed, and the best dystopian fantasy ever. In a bizarre, repressive, anally bureaucratic, and thoroughly dysfunctional society, one government worker (Jonathan Pryce) escapes into his own romantically heroic imagination. But when he finds a real woman who looks like the girl of his dreams (Kim Greist), everything starts to fall apart. With a very funny Robert De Niro as a heroic plumber. Read my Blu-ray review.
- Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power, Grand Lake, theatrical, Monday, 7:00
- The Story of a Three Day Pass, BAMPFA, virtually
- Tove, BAMPFA, Rafael, virtually