What’s Screening: April 1 – 7

It finally happened! Erich von Stroheim’s original cut of Greed will play in eight Bay Area theaters this week! And April Fool’s Day.

Less surprising but actually true: Thanks to the Oscars, at least six Bay Area theaters are playing CODA this week. Also Star Trek at its best, Studio Ghibli, the movie that started 1970’s cinema, and British sex.

Festivals & Series

New films opening theatrically

B Mothering Sunday (2021), Aquarius, Opera Plaza, opens Friday

This is one of those stiff-upper-lip British films about aristocrats and their servants. But this time there’s a lot of sex and nudity – male and female. Sometimes it seems kind of ridiculous – as when a maid wanders naked through her lover’s otherwise empty mansion. And then there’s a couple of monologues that sound like literature instead of natural talking (it’s based on a novel). But the ending brings what seemed to be a scattered story into an interesting and unique one.

Promising events

Speed Date Cinema: A 35mm Trailer Show, Roxie, Wednesday, 9:20pm

35mm! Want to see a lot of movies in the time it takes to watch a B noir? Just watch the trailers. Here are 70 minutes of coming attractions selected by the Film on Film Foundation.

Another chance to see (theatrically)

A CODA (2021), Aquarius, Elmwood, Opera Plaza, Piedmont, Sebastopol, Shattuck, opens Friday

The new Best Picture is funny and heartfelt. Teenaged Ruby is the only person in her family who’s not deaf (Emilia Jones, and she’s very good). In one embarrassing scene, she plays translator while a doctor discusses her parents’ sex life. That’s not a good job for a teenage girl interested in music and boys. Ruby wants to be a singer – she has the voice – and her family can’t even understand what music means.

C+ Revolution of Our Times (2021), Roxie, Sunday, 11:30am

I so much wanted to give this documentary a better review. When you watch adolescent students march in the streets of Hong Kong, knowing that the Chinese government will inevitably crush them, you can’t just ignore it. But the film has so many problems. It has no real construction. You rarely get connected to any of the demonstrators. And most of all, it could have been 45 minutes less and still get the same message across.

Theatrical revivals

A The Conversation (1974), Sebastopol, opens Friday

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- Star Trek: First Contact (1996), New Mission, Tuesday, 7:00pm

The best Star Trek Next Generation feature film brings the Enterprise to the year 2063 to protect earth from the Borg. (If you didn’t understand that last sentence, you won’t understand the movie either.) While Picard and crew fight the Borg on the Enterprise, Riker, Geordi, and Troi struggle on the ground to make sure that history happens the way it’s supposed to. While the Enterprise scenes rachet up the suspense, the people down below provide charming comedy relief. James Cromwell steals the movie as the drunken libertine who invents warp drive. The great Alfre Woodard plays another 21st-century earthling. Just don’t think too much about the story; but then, that’s true with all things Star Trek.

B+ Princess Mononoke (1997), various theaters, Sunday & Wednesday, dubbed; Monday, subtitled

For much of its runtime, this Japanese, animated, action fantasy takes you on a wild and exciting ride. The hand-drawn characters, the strange animals, and the amazing moments of fear, struggle, and love are surprisingly powerful. But the climactic battle between animals and people drags on too long, seemingly just for the point of making things big. The environmental message is both obvious and shallow. Too extreme for young children.

B Easy Rider (1969), Balboa, Sunday, 1:00pm

16mm! This iconic film changed Hollywood for the better…at least temporarily. Weird, low-budget, and breaking every rule, it nevertheless became a big hit, opening studio doors to young directors and serious art. The two anti-heroes (played by producer Peter Fonda and director Dennis Hopper) seem totally counterculture on the outside, yet they’re irredeemably materialistic to their cores. Easy Rider hasn’t aged well, but it’s still worth seeing as a bug in amber from a lost age. On a double bill with Out of the Blue.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics

4 thoughts on “What’s Screening: April 1 – 7

  1. I think you mean the Glas Animation Festival starts on Wednesday, April 6, not ends. And it is Virtual, offering its extensive selection through May 1.

  2. I once curated a 15 hour trailer show, all on 35mm, at the UC Theater. If I remember correctly I called it “Beyond the Valley of the Return of the Son of the Bride of Coming Soon.” Who can guess what the first trailer was?

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