As 2022 becomes 2023, we can buy tickets and enter a Bay Area cinema. There you can see works by Martin Scorsese, John Huston, Walt Disney, Billy Wilder, Quentin Tarantino, and whoever directed The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
There are no film festivals this week.
A+ Taxi Driver (1976), Balboa, Tuesday, 7:30pm
35mm! When I think of the best of 1970’s Hollywood, my mind goes to Robert De Niro walking the dark, mean streets of New York, slowly turning into a psychopath. Writer Paul Schrader and director Martin Scorsese put together this near-perfect study of loneliness as a disease. It isn’t that De Niro’s character hasn’t found the right companion, or that society has failed him, or that he doesn’t understand intimacy. His problems stem from his inability to relate to other human beings. This is a sad and pathetic man, with a rage that will inevitably turn violent. Read my Blu-ray review.
A The Maltese Falcon (1941), 4-Star
֍ Monday, 5:30pm
֍ Tuesday, 7:30pm
֍ Wednesday, 5:30pm
Dashiell Hammett’s novel had been filmed twice before, but screenwriter and first-time director John Huston did it right – thanks to the perfect cast and a screenplay that sticks almost word-for-word to the book. The ultimate Hammett motion picture, the second-best directorial debut of 1941 (after Citizen Kane), an important, early film noir, and perhaps the most entertaining detective movie ever made. This movie is truly the stuff that dreams are made of.
A Fantasia (1940), Rafael, opens Friday
Decades before rock videos and popular marijuana, Walt Disney and Leopold Stokowski turned music into funny, surreal, and frightening images. Countless visual artists took major works of classical music and created something very special. Of course, they had plenty of help from some famous composers, including Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky (the only one who lived to see the movie). Not every piece is brilliant, although even the weakest parts are still worthwhile. A great achievement and an entertaining two hours.
A The Apartment (1960)
֍ Lark, Wednesday, 12:30pm
֍ New Mission, Sunday, 11:00am
Billy Wilder won a Best Picture Oscar for this serious comedy about powerful men exploiting those working below them. Jack Lemmon gave one of his best performances as a minor white-collar worker who rises in the company by loaning his apartment to company executives. These married men need a private place for hanky-panky with their mistresses. With Fred MacMurray as the top exploiter and Shirley MacLane as the woman he exploits and Lemmon loves. Read my Blu-ray review.
A- Mean Streets (1973), 4-Star, Friday, 5:00pm
This is the movie where Martin Scorsese came into his own. He made other films before this one, although this story of young hoodlums is the first that had the mark Scorsese stamped all over it. You get the moving camera, the guys who don’t know how to talk to women, and the sudden violence. Charlie (Harvey Keitel) works in the mob. He’s a good gangster, by which I mean that he understands the mafia hierarchy and what he’s supposed to do. But his friend Johnny Boy is wild, violent, and uncontrollable (Robert DeNiro). When you first meet Johnny, he’s dropping a bomb into a mailbox. With a friend like Johnny Boy, Charlie has his hands full.
B+ Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood (2019), Balboa, Thursday, 7:30pm
Anyone with a wicked sense of humor will enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s silly romp about 1969 Hollywood (I was 15 at that time and place). Leonardo DiCaprio plays a has-been TV western star, while Brad Pitt plays his combination stuntman, chauffeur, and best friend. There’s a dark side: One lives in a mansion, the other in a trailer. While it feels often like a fun romp, Tarantino makes you fall in love with Sharon Tate of the Charles Manson murders.
B+ Bullitt (1968), Vogue, 7:30pm
Age hasn’t been altogether kind to this once cutting-edge police thriller. It has its pleasures, especially Steve McQueen’s exceptionally cool charisma and the best car chase ever shot on the streets of San Francisco. To my knowledge, McQueen’s single use of the word bullshit marks the first time that word was heard in a Hollywood movie.
B+ The Rocky Horror Picture (1975), Balboa, Saturday (New Year’s Eve), 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.