What’s Screening: October 15 – 21

What’s happening in Bay Area cinema this week? You can see one of the most suspenseful documentaries I’ve ever seen? Not your thing? How about a preview of one of the year’s biggest movies, even if it deserves to bomb.

Festivals & Series

Theaters opening

BAMPFA is now running movies five days a week, and they’re not all documentaries or part of Mill Valley. I’ll give more information soon.

New films opening

A The Rescue (2021), Piedmont, Rafael, Rialto, Shattuck, opens Friday

Now here’s a documentary as suspenseful as anything from Alfred Hitchcock. But then, nothing’s more frightening than children in peril. In 2018 Thailand, 12 teenage boys and their soccer coach got caught in a large cage flooded with water. Engineers, medical workers, and American Navy Seals came to the rescue. But according to the documentary, the true heroes were a handful of middle-aged, highly-trained, but non-professional cave divers. Some of the scenes (I assume the ones in the cave) were shot in a studio.

Preview screenings of upcoming movies

C- Dune, New Mission, Thursday, 7:00

If you enjoy big visual effects, loud explosions, and a lot of fighting by sword, bomb, and giant worm, you might enjoy this version of Frank Herbert’s epic novel. I admit I enjoyed the FX and action, but Dune offered little else. Every single character had the same two traits: courage and fortitude. No one is cowardly, or roguish, or funny. The movie is set on a desert planet where people fight for two rare commodities, water and something called spice – which seems to be both an hallucinogen and an interstellar rocket fuel. And beware: This movie is only Part 1! Read my longer report.

Theatrical revivals

A An American Werewolf In London (1981), Cerrito, Elmwood, Wednesday, 7:00,

Writer/director John Landis lightly laced sardonic humor into a terrifying, suspenseful, and yet romantic version of the werewolf myth. A young, nice, Jewish American boy vacationing in England is bitten by a werewolf, and from then on, whenever the full moon appears, he turns into a violent monster. Along with the humor and frights, there’s a sweet love story and a good doctor trying to find the awful secret. Rick Baker’s amazing makeup design forces you to feel the extreme pain of your body turning into something else. Meanwhile, the protagonist’s dead friend keeps coming back to talk to him; each time looking more decomposed.

B+ The Host (2006), New Parkway, Thursday, 9:30

A barely-functional family fights an uncaring government and a giant mutant predator, and it’s hard to say which is the scarier threat. I didn’t find this quite the masterpiece others saw–the political points are obvious, the third act gets confusing, and the big finale fails to satisfy. But director/co-writer Joon-ho Bong (who since made The Parasite) succeeds where it counts: He makes you care about the characters and scares you out of your seat.

B Kill Bill, Parts 1 & 2, Balboa, Thursday, 7:30

Quentin Tarantino creates a whole new universe for his two-part martial arts revenge epic. In a sense, it’s the ultimate Tarantino flick, since this time even Tarantino himself knows that it’s set in an alternate universe. Part 1 drags a bit with fight after fight, even though some of them are beautifully choreographed. And there are a great many clever and funny moments throughout. But Tarantino’s shallow ultraviolence doesn’t quite hold up for a three-hour story.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics