This week in Bay Area cinema: More of Star Wars – along with Indiana Jones, an excellent drama set in Montana, and the cheap sci-fi flick that started John Carpenter’s and Dan O’Bannon’s careers.
Festivals & Series
- Doc Fest, which is not to be confused with the recently closed DocLands, opens Wednesday, and ends next week.
New films opening theatrically
A Montana Story (2022), Sebastopol, opens Friday
Family drama set against the magnificent Montana sky. A very serious stroke has thwarted the hated family patriarch from doing any more damage. Yet the damages from the past leave deep phycological scars. On the surface, the two adult children argue mostly about what to do with their beloved horse. Everyone in the film seems to be a decent, loving human being. But the true villain is the stricken man in the bed, no longer able to hurt anyone again. One of the best new films I’ve seen this year.
? Dark Star, New Mission (1974), Monday, 10:00pm
John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon started their careers with this very cheap, weird, and pretty much crazy science fiction movie. I haven’t seen it in almost 50 years, so I can’t tell you if the movie is any good or not. But I do remember enjoying it.
A- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Lark Drive-In, Saturday, 9:00pm
The first Indiana Jones movie doesn’t have much of a story. The plot is just an excuse to take us from one action sequence to another. But these action sequences are amongst the best ever filmed. They’re brilliantly choreographed, exciting, and despite the fast cutting, completely clear. A vein of comedy runs through it all, reminding the audience not to take the story seriously. Warning: There’s a thin vein of unthinking racism. Also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Read my full essay.
A- Return of the Jedi (1983), Rafael, Thursday, 7:00pm
The final chapter of the first Star Wars trilogy manages to merge the fun of A New Hope with the darkness of The Empire Strikes Back. The first half hour gives us a fun subplot where a more mature, more confident Luke gets to buckle his swash. The movie ends with three simultaneous fights: one so fun you can ignore that it’s ridiculous, another that revisits the first film’s climax, and finally, the struggle to master your own violent emotions. It closes with the happiest of endings.
B+ The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Balboa, Saturday, 11:00pm
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.
C But I’m a Cheerleader (1999), Balboa, Wednesday, 7:30
This very broad satire of homophobia and gay conversion therapy has its heart in the right place, but Jamie Babbit’s heavy-handed direction ensures that most jokes miss the funny bone. Even the usually hilarious Cathy Moriarty can only seldom provoke laughter. And when the heroine finally gets a chance to save the day with her cheerleading skills, it’s obvious that star Natasha Lyonne didn’t train enough for the part.
- The Empire Strikes Back, Rafael, Saturday, 4:15pm
- Videodrome, Roxie
- Saturday, 8:40pm
- Sunday, Sunday, 6:20pm
- Saturday, 8:40pm
- Eraserhead, Roxie
- Saturday, 6:30pm, 35mm!
- Sunday, 8:30pm, 35mm!
- Grease, Lark Drive-In, Lark Drive-In, Friday, 9:00pm
- Saturday, 11:45am,; Brunch
- Sunday, 11:25am
- L’Atalante, BAMPFA, Saturday, 7:00pm. 4K Restoration!
- Smokey and the Bandit, several theaters, check dates and times