What’s Screening: Nov 25 – Dec 1

Want more vintage cinema on the big screen? This week in the Bay Area you can go to a theater and see movies directed by David Lean, Jean-Luc Godard, William Wyler, Erich von Stroheim, and more.

Festivals & Series

Promising events

Greed (1924), Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Saturday, 7:30pm

I’ve seen Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece three times, and each time it blew me away. I’ve never seen the original cut, but no one alive has. Stroheim’s original version ran something like nine hours, and never left the MGM studio. The 1924 theatrical release ran about 140 minutes (this is the version that will be screened at Niles). In 1999, Turner Entertainment created a four-hour television by adding still photos to the theatrical release. I’m not giving it a grade because I haven’t seen any version in decades, but I suspect I’d give each of the cuts an A.

Greed will be preceded by two shorts: Alice’s Egg Plant and the hilarious Pass the Gravy. All three movies will have live piano accompany by Greg Pane.

Another chance to see (theatrically)

A- Concert For George (2003)
֍ Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30
֍ Elmwood, Tuesday, 7:30
֍ Sebastopol, Tuesday, 7:30pm
֍ Rafael, Tuesday, 7:00pm

A year after George Harrison’s death, musicians and comedians (and even Tom Hanks) gathered at Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the “spiritual” Beatle and movie producer. Great moments include the two surviving Beatles playing together, a great chorus of “I’m a Lumberjack” (Harrison had a business relationship with Monty Python), and the best ever rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” sung by Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton. I’ve only seen this on TV, and I’m looking forward to seeing it with an audience.

Theatrical revivals

A+ Lawrence of Arabia, Rafael, Sunday, 1:00pm & Monday, 700pm

4K! Lawrence isn’t just the best big historical epic of the 70mm roadshow era, it’s one of the greatest films ever made. Stunning to look at and terrific as pure spectacle, it’s also an intelligent study of a fascinatingly complex and enigmatic war hero. T.E. Lawrence—at least in this film—both loved and hated violence and tried liberating Arabia by turning it over to the British. No, that’s not a flaw in the script, but in his character. This masterpiece requires a very large screen and excellent projection. Read my article Thoughts on Lawrence of Arabia.

A Breathless, Vogue, Wednesday, 7:30pm

Jean-Luc Godard broke all the rules and created something dazzling in his very first film. There’s nothing special about the noirish plot: Young lovers go on a crime spree, the man murders a cop, and now they’re on the run. The wild and energetic camerawork, the crazy editing (I believe it’s the first film to cut within a shot), and the sexual energy of stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg are like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Godard never again made a film this good.

B+ Mrs. Miniver (1942), Lark, Sunday, 10:00am & Monday, 7:00pm

William Wyler’s first Best Picture winner celebrates the British stiff upper lip during the early months of World War II. These are the sort of people who enjoy a flower show with death all around them. The title character (Greer Garson) struggles to keep her family and small town together while German bombs rain down on them and their son is off fighting. Of course, this was made in Hollywood by a German-Jewish director, and it’s not exactly accurate, but it sure is inspirational.

B+ The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975),  Balboa, Saturday, 11:30pm

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.

Frequently-revived classics