Come Sunday night, we’ll finally know what’s the best movie of 2022…if you agree with the members of the Academy. I’m not even sure if I’ll be watching the show. But if you prefer older films to new ones, Bay Area theaters will be screening quite a few classics this week.
Festivals & Series
- The East Bay Jewish Film Festival closes on Saturday
- Noir City continues through Sunday
- The Sonoma International Film Festival is also closing Sunday.
Benefits for Ukraine
- Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30pm.
- The Guide, Grand Lake, Friday through Wednesday, except Tuesday, 3:45pm
The Week’s Big Event
The Academy Awards will be broadcast to television Sunday at 5:00pm. But you don’t have to watch them by yourself. At least six Bay Area theaters will project the ceremony on big screens. Based on my experiences of watching the show in theaters and at home, the theatrical experience is much more fun. You can pick between these theaters (and maybe more):
A The Artist (2011), Vogue, Wednesday, 7:30pm
Michel Hazanavicius not only made a silent movie about the death of silent movies; he also created a warm, funny, heartfelt, and occasionally sad tale about the talkie revolution. One major star watches his career collapse while a struggling actress becomes a star in the new medium. Meanwhile, they fall in love. Hazanavicius fills the picture with funny bits that illuminate the characters, the setting, and the medium. A black-and-white, narrow-screen, silent film is a hard sell in today’s market, and I was pleasantly surprised to see The Artist find an audience. Read my full review.
A Chan Is Missing (1982), BAMPFA, Wednesday, 7:00pm
A cab driver can’t find his friend and business partner – the Chan of the movie’s title. So, the cabbie and his nephew set out to find the missing Chan who may not want to be found. After all, Chan owes money to the cabbie. Wayne Wong’s breakthrough film is more than just a mystery. As the cabbie tries to find Chan and people who know him, the film gives us a view of San Francisco’s Chinatown…or at least the Chinatown of 1982. Part of the series Wayne Wang in Person.
A Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30
One of the best films of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda’s Cléo From 5 to 7 follows a young woman as she wanders through Paris on a summer evening. But it isn’t simply a joyful lark; she’s waiting for the results of her cancer screening. Cléo meditates on life from the point of view of a young woman who may soon be famous, or dead. There’s even a silent movie tribute starring Jean-Luc Godard. You can read my longer report, but you’ll have to scroll down a bit.
A Pulp Fiction (1994), Balboa, Monday, 7:30
Quentin Tarantino achieved cult status by writing and directing this witty mesh of interrelated stories involving talkative killers, a crooked boxer, romantic armed robbers, and a former POW who hid a watch in a very uncomfortable place. Tarantino entertainingly plays with dialog, story-telling techniques, non-linear time, and any sense the audience may have of right and wrong.
A The Conversation (1974), Cerrito, opens Friday for a week-long run
Francis Coppola’s low-budget “personal” film, made between Godfathers I and II, is almost as good as the two epics that sandwich it. The Conversation concerns a professional snoop (Gene Hackman) who bugs peoples’ private conversations for a living. Remote and lonely, his emotional armor begins to crack when he suspects that his work could lead to murder. Walter Murch’s ground-breaking sound mix exposes us to layers of meaning within the titular recorded discussion as we hear it over and over again.
A The Maltese Falcon (1941), Grand Lake, Monday through Wednesday
Dashiell Hammett’s novel had been filmed twice before, but screenwriter and first-time director John Huston did it right with the perfect cast and a screenplay (by Huston) that sticks almost word-for-word to the book. The ultimate Hammett motion picture, the second-best directorial debut of 1941 (after Citizen Kane), an important, early film noir, and perhaps the most entertaining detective movie ever made. This movie is truly the stuff that dreams are made of.
- Seven Samurai, Roxie, Saturday, 3:00pm; Tuesday, 7:00pm. 35mm!
- Playtime, Roxie, Wednesday, 8:45pm. 35mm!