Want to talk about Apocalypse Now? How about young newlyweds exploring sex (even if the groom doesn’t seem to care much). No? How about Anthony Hopkins going senile. Or, perhaps, Fellini’s personal comic masterpiece or Wong Kar Wai’s brilliant film about adultery. But while the Dark Knight goes after the Joker, Carl Th. Dreyer plays with gender assumptions of 1925. All in Bay Area cinema this week.
Festivals & Series
Legendary Godzillafest (weekend 2) runs Friday through Sunday
- The Rose Foundation’s 2021 Virtual Film Fest opens Wednesday
Special online events
A- or B- Thrillville Movie Club: Apocalypse Now (1978), Sunday, 3:00
The Movie: You can see Francis Coppola’s talent melt away in his Vietnam War adaptation of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The original version is brilliant until Martin Sheen reaches his destination and the whole movie collapses under its (and Marlon Brando’s) weight. I give this version an A-. The second version, Apocalypse Now Redux, lengthened the film by adding more bad scenes. I give it a B-. I have not yet seen the latest version, Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, so I have no opinion on it.
The Event: First, you should watch one of the three versions – Original, Redux, or Final Cut – before Sunday afternoon (aside from the usual Saturday). Then, at 3:00, join in the Zoom discussion.
New films opening
B- Ma Belle, My Beauty (2021), Embarcadero Center, Shattuck, opens Friday
You’d expect something interesting with American newlyweds in a beautiful home in Southern France. At least, you’d expect this handsome pair to be happy. But the bride pines for her female lover, who soon turns up. And another woman comes along, too. Meanwhile, the husband (a well-known musician), doesn’t seem interested in sex at all. The location is pleasant, and so is the sex, but the characters are less defined than they should have been.
Another chance to see (virtually)
A The Father (2020), New Mission
Losing a parent to senility must be torture (see The Artist’s Wife). But Florian Zeller’s excellent chamber film shows something more horrific – how it feels as your own mind recedes. Most of The Father is seen from the view of a man losing his memory (Anthony Hopkins in one of his best performances). His daughter (Olivia Colman – also great) tries to find a way to keep her father safe while she plans to move out of town. But as his mental capabilities collapse, we can’t be sure that we’re watching reality or a waking dream. A frightening view of something that many of us will experience.
A+ 8½ (1963), Roxie, Saturday, 4:00; Sunday, 1:20; Thursday, 8:35
Funny, exhilarating, perplexing, and tragic, 8½ is not only the greatest film ever made about writer’s block and the ultimate cinematic statement on the male midlife crisis, it’s also a movie about making a movie, where the movie being made appears to be 8½. Filled with one memorable and unique scene after another, Fellini’s autobiographical surreal comedy lacks nothing except a coherent plot, and it has no use for that. Read my A+ appreciation.
A In the Mood For Love (2000), Roxie, Sunday, 9:15; Monday, 4:20; Monday, 7:00
Wong Kar Wai’s brilliant film about adultery has no sex, little touching, and we never see who we believe are the adulterous couple. A handsome man and a beautiful woman live in the same apartment building. Both of their spouses are out of town, and they just may be out of town together. Inevitably, the two leads fall slowly in love. While there’s no sex, almost every shot is filled with deep eroticism. Starring Maggie Cheung, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and the color red.
A The Dark Knight (2008), Lark Drive-in, Friday, 8:10
In what is by far the best Batman movie I’ve ever seen, no one – including Bruce Wayne/Batman himself (Christian Bale) – gets away without moral compromises. But what can you expect when fighting the Joker (Heath Ledger), who believes that everyone can be turned to evil, and knows how to prove the point. The action scenes use very little CGI, making the mayhem all the more frightening. Read my full (but old) full review.
B Master of the House (1925), New Mission
This modest work by the great Carl Th. Dreyer has been called a comedy, although I’d call it a drama with some funny moments. An unemployed father/husband drives his wife and kids crazy with his imperial manner. Two old women – his mother-in-law and his former nursemaid – set out to rescue his family and change his attitude. He’s clearly suffering from depression, and yes, you feel sorry for him. But you feel much more for the wife and kids. The music for this silent film was resurrected by Gillian B. Anderson and performed by Sara Davis Buechner.