What’s Screening: August 13 – 19

What’s in Bay Area cinema this week? You can experience something like theatrical MST3K. A young girl tries to find her home in the big city. Star Trek with whales. And don’t forget teenage vampires in 35mm!

But no festivals.

New films opening

B Naked Singularity (2021), open Friday, Century Northgate and other theaters

You need to suspend a lot of disbelief to enjoy this movie, but it’s worth it. At least It starts realistically. A compassionate public defender (John Boyega) fights against a cruel and racist legal system. Then, for ridiculous reasons, he and two friends get involved in a dangerous drug heist involving some very scary people. Yes, it’s three smart people doing really stupid things. But for the most part, it’s an entertaining crime thriller. [[I added this review after I posted this article.]]

Promising events

RiffTrax Live: Hobgoblins, check website for theaters and times

If you’re a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 – a TV show where bad movies are shown with comic commentary – you’ve probably seen Hobgoblins. This dreadful rip-off of Gremlins provided a hilarious MST3K episode. Now you can see it in a real movie theater, with a new set of punchlines provided by three veterans of the show.

The Mirror (1997), Roxie, opens Sunday

This Iranian film, directed by Jafar Panahi, blew me away when it was new, and I wasn’t writing about every film I saw. A very young girl tries to go home after school, dealing with public transportation and big city traffic. If it’s as good as I remember, it’s a gem.

Another chance to see (virtually)

B+ Lucky Grandma (2019), New Mission

It’s rare for a comedy to turn into a thriller – especially a thriller that forces you to feel the horror of violence. And yet, writer/director Sasie Sealy manages that task with surprising flair. Veteran actress Tsai Chin, with a stone face almost like Buster Keaton’s, plays the chain-smoking Grandma of the title to perfection. When a stash of gang money drops into her lap, she hires a large but kindly bodyguard (Hsiao-Yuan Ha) who becomes her best friend. Read my full review.

Theatrical revivals

A Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), check website for theaters and times

The best big-screen chapter in the Star Trek franchise (yes, I prefer it, just barely, to Wrath of Khan) has the original cast time travel to 1986 San Francisco. Why? To save the whales, who, according to the Star Trek universe, were hunted to extinction in the late 20th century. Played largely for laughs (with a plot like that, how else could you play it), it finds plenty of fish-out-of-water humor–from Scotty’s struggles with a Macintosh to McCoy’s horror at the “medieval” medical procedures. Leonard Nimoy directed and played Spock.

B+ The Lost Boys (1987), Roxie, Friday, 9:15, Sunday, 8:45, Wednesday, 9:10

35mm! This clever and funny – and even occasionally scary – teenage vampire movie was shot in Santa Cruz and is clearly set there (even though they give the town another name). So, you have the undead partying in the summer on the beach, on the boardwalk, and dealing with teenage angst. But then, what do you do when peer pressure tells you to become an immortal bloodsucker? Hey, all the cool kids are doing it. A lot of fun in a horror movie that refuses to take itself seriously.

Frequently-revived classics