Keaton, Coen, and Suzuki: Winter movies at BAMPFA

If you’re a Bay Area cinephile, you probably know that the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) doesn’t just show movies. It shows series of movies. Here are the series that will keep you cinematically warm over the winter.

Camera Man: Buster Keaton (Dec 4-21)

Sherlock Jr.
How much do I love Buster Keaton? My Blu-ray collection contains every silent movie with Keaton in it. I named my cat Buster Kitton. The name is appropriate; Keaton’s acrobatic dexterity was unbelievably feline. Aside from his athletic ability, he was a brilliant comedian and filmmaker. This series contains five of his silent features: Sherlock Jr., Our Hospitality, The General, The Cameraman, and Steamboat Bill, Jr., all preceded with Keaton shorts. There’s also a selection of shorts by other silent comedians. The series ends with a strange collaboration between Keaton and Samuel Beckett.

Elegy to Seijun Suzuki (Dec 8-Jan 15)

I don’t know much about this Japanese auteur. I’ve only seen one of his films, Yumeji, which isn’t in this series. I didn’t care for that one.

Cinema of the Absurd: Eastern European Film, 1958–89 (Jan 12-Feb 25)

The Witness
Was absurd cinema possible behind the Iron Curtain? If you’ve seen The Firemen’s Ball, you know the answer was a dangerous yes. I haven’t seen any of these movies, but I suspect they will teach me that Milos Forman wasn’t the only filmmaker who tweaked governments’ noses.

The Algerian War of Independence: Cinema as History (Jan 18-Feb 26)

The Battle of Algiers
Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers, isn’t the only film about France’s fight to keep its colonies under their boots. This series has nine other films about that horrible conflict – most of them made long before the war was over.

Joel Coen in Person (January 21-29)

Miller’s Crossing
Since 1984, Joel Coen has been creating dark comedies and even darker tragedies – mostly in collaboration with his brother Ethan. But no, they’re not showing The Big Lebowski or Fargo. Instead, Coen will screen some of his own films, ignoring his big hits, and some of his favorites from other film makers. The films made by the Coen Brothers that will be screened are Miller’s Crossing, Inside Llewyn Davis, and A Serious Man. He’s also screening four favorites from other filmmakers: F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, John Huston’s The Dead, Jacques Becker’s Le trou, and Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped. And, of course, there’s the only film Coen made without his brother, The Tragedy of Macbeth. Each film will be followed by a discussion with Coen.

Tales of Cinema: Hong Sangsoo (Feb 3-18)

The Power of Kangwon Province
Oscar-winning Bong Joon-ho isn’t the only important South Korean auteur. I know nothing about Hong Sangsoo, so I’m not going to write anything about him.

Pratibha Parmar in Person (Feb 9-23)

My Name Is Andrea
This series contains only two presentations – both documentaries – one from the UK and the other from the USA. A Place of Rage studies the social movements of the 1960’s. My Name Is Andrea is a documentary about the feminist writer Andrea Dworkin.