What’s Screening: April 29 – May 5

The SFFilm Festival ends Sunday, but you’ll only have four non-festival free days before two other major fests open. Outside of these events, theaters are opening two new indie films, along with two of the greatest movies made about Hollywood. Also other vintage pictures worth watching.

Festvals & Series

New films opening theatrically

B The Duke (2020)

Kempton Bunton may have thought of himself as a British Gandhi, going to prison for his beliefs. But he wasn’t trying to free a nation. He only wanted to remove the tax on the BBC. The movie is based on a true story, but I don’t know or care how much it follows actual history. This entertaining movie about a holy fool stars Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Read my full review.

New films opening streaming

D+ Meat the Future (2020)

A Bay Area tech startup is working to help the environment and end animal cruelty. They take tissue from living animals (cows, chicken, ducks, etc.) and grow meat in test tubes and petri dishes. Few living animals are involved, and none are slaughtered. But if the products shown here are as bad as this movie, a hell of a lot of cows are going to meet their maker. Meat the Future isn’t really a documentary; it’s just a feature-length commercial for one company. Read my full review.

Theatrical revivals

A Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Billy Wilder’s meditation on Hollywood’s seedy underbelly feels like the flip side of Singin’ in the Rain (now that would make a great double bill). Norma Desmond can easily be Lena Lamont after a generation of denial and depression. And in the role of Norma, Gloria Swanson gives one of the great over-the-top performances in Hollywood history.

    • Monday, 4:30pm
    • Thursday, 7:30pm

A A Star is Born (1954 version)

The second film with this title and basic story was the first to be a musical, and one of the best. Judy Garland plays a singer who breaks into Hollywood as a singing and dancing star. But this is not the sort of musical where people simply break into song because they feel like it. As in real life, they only sing when rehearsing or performing. In fact, the joyful songs in the films-within-the-film play a strange counterpoint to the serious story, reminding us of the artifice of Hollywood make-believe.

    • Tuesday, 4:00pm
    • Thursday, 4:00pm

A- Hot Fuzz (2007)

Anniversary Movie Party! Director/co-writer Edgar Wright fills every frame of Hot Fuzz with his love for mindless action movies. Even the scenes of quiet village life have the frantic style of Hollywood violence–all accompanied, of course, by overloud sound effects (he doesn’t overdo it). Hot Fuzz also contains a funny story, clever dialog, and charming performances, all of which help make this genre parody an exceptionally funny movie. it also contains one of the longest sustained laughs outside of silent movies.

A- Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

On a Wes Anderson double bill with Bottle Rocket! In one of his sweetest and funniest comedies, Anderson is at his most playful. Two pre-teens in love run away, disrupting everything on the small New England Island where the story is set. While the fantasy of young love makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, the adults’ reactions keep you laughing – largely because the major stars playing the main adult characters are having such a good time clowning. They include Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, and, best of all, Tilda Swinton as “Social Services.”

    • Sunday, 1:00pm
    • Sunday, 5:00pm

B+ Fantastic Planet (1973)

As a story, this French animated sci-fi mortality tale comes off as a very obvious allegory. Human beings, imported from Earth, struggle to survive on a planet populated by blue giants who view us as either pets or vermin. But it’s the imaginative visuals, not the story or the message, that makes Fantastic Planet worth watching. The filmmakers couldn’t afford Disney-quality animation, but they made up for it with striking and original designs. Creatures, plants, devices all look like something never seen before.

    • Monday, 7:00pm
    • Tuesday, 9:15pm (Little Roxie)
    • Wednesday, 7:00pm

B+ The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

With the Bawdy Caste Live Shadow Cast! This is in no way, shape, or form a great movie. It’s cheaply shot. The songs, while catchy, are hardly great rock. The characters are broad clichés, and the plot is almost non-existent. But it’s a crazy, funny, absurd celebration of everything sexual, with Tim Curry carrying the movie as a cross-dressing mad scientist. Also starring a very young Susan Sarandon. Read my report.

B+ La La Land (2016)

I loved the first part of this musicalThe opening song, Another Day of Sun, burst onto the Los Angeles freeway with one of the best ensemble dance numbers I’ve seen. And the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling duet, A Lovely Night, is sweet, romantic, and beautiful, and very much a 21st-century Fred and Ginger. But somewhere along the way, the filmmakers seemed to forget that this was a musical. After establishing in the first act that the characters could suddenly break into song and dance, they stopped doing so. The movie turned into a semi-sweet love story, which was a disappointment after all the song and dance.

    • Friday, 4:30pm
    • Sunday, 4:00pm

Frequently-revived classics