What’s Screening: Nov 18 – 24

Last week, I discovered that the Orinda Theatre did more than just show current movies. It screens vintage ones and even hosts its own festivals. In 1942, The Orinda opened as a full picture palace. I’ve added the theater to this blog.

Inside The Orinda

Somehow, most of the pictures screening this week are light fare, but not entirely. There are films from Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Festivals & Series

Theatrical revivals

A+ Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Vogue, Wednesday, 7:30pm

In 1952, the late twenties seemed like a fond memory of an innocent time, and nostalgia was a large part of Singin’ in the Rain‘s original appeal. The nostalgia is long gone, so we can clearly see this movie for what it is: the greatest musical ever filmed, and perhaps the best work of pure escapist entertainment to ever come out of Hollywood. Take out the songs, which are easily the best part of the movie, and you still have one of the best comedies of the 1950′s. It’s also the funniest movie Hollywood ever made about itself. Read my A+ appreciation.

A Shrek (2001), Balboa, Thursday, 12:00pm & Saturday, 11:00am

Enough bad sequels can make us forget how much we loved the original, and in the case of Shrek, the original is very lovable indeed. This story of an ogre on a reluctant quest to save a princess turns both traditional fairy tales and their Disneyfied adaptations inside out. The evil prince’s castle looks like Disneyland, familiar characters make odd cameos, and that old song “Have You Seen the Muffin Man” turns gruesome in a very funny way. In the third act, Shrek rips apart one of the worst lessons that children learn from these old stories, providing a happy ending that neither Grimm nor Disney could have imagined.

B+ The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), BAMPFA, Saturday, 7:00pm

Imported 35mm Print! This must be the most low-key, matter of fact, and inexpensive life-of-Jesus movie ever made; and it was made by an Atheist. Pier Paolo Pasolini used non-actors, vaguely Biblical costumes, and the Italian countryside to simply recount the first Gospel. It’s as if Pasolini is daring the audience to follow Jesus’ words. But like all life-of-Jesus movies, it ultimately suffers from a protagonist who is too perfect to be dramatically effective. Read my longer comments. Part of the series Pier Paolo Pasolini.

B+ Clueless (1995), Balboa, Friday, 9:30pm

Loosely adapted from Jane Austen’s Emma, this coming-of-age comedy follows a rich, well-meaning, but superficial teenage girl (Alicia Silverstone) as she tries to fix other people’s problems as well as her own. Sweet and funny, it looks at adolescent foibles with a sympathetic eye, rarely judging youthful behavior. With a surprisingly young Paul Rudd as the great guy she can’t recognize.

B Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Orinda, Saturday, 9:30pm

Universal Pictures combined their horror franchise with their top comedy team to create a high-concept mixture of thrills and laughs. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty good. The filmmakers knew when to be funny and when to be scary. But the title is misleading; Bud and Lou never meet Dr. Frankenstein. They do meet his monster, unfortunately played by Glenn Strange instead of the great Boris Karloff. But Bela Lugosi gets to play Dracula one more time and Lon Chaney Jr. does his tortured wolfman bit.

C The Sound of Music
(1965), Lark
֍ Monday, 2:00pm
֍ Tuesday, 4:00pm
֍ Wednesday, 10:00am
֍ Thursday, 7:00pm

Many people love it, but I find the biggest money maker of the 1960s lumbering, slow, and dull. It’s not funny or romantic enough to be light entertainment, yet lacking the substance to be anything else. And most of the songs give the impression that Roger and Hammerstein had run out of steam. On the other hand, the Todd-AO photography of Alpine landscapes makes this one of the most visually beautiful of Hollywood movies–in a picture postcard kind of way.

Frequently-revived classics

One thought on “What’s Screening: Nov 18 – 24

  1. “Take out the songs, which are easily the best part of the movie, and you still have one of the best comedies of the 1950′s.”
    …Okay. Put it that way and I have to agree: it is the best musical- at least, of the 50s. I love “The Bandwagon”, and it runs a close second, but for all its send-up of “classical theater”, the plot is, simply, cringe worthy. Thanks for clearing that up- and for reminding us of the beautiful Orinda Theater. Just a short drive away.

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