What’s Screening: March 10 – 16

It’s Oscar week, and at least eight Bay Area cinemas are projecting the ceremony onto their big screens. One theater is giving us a selection of Buster Keaton shorts from half a century. Aside from all that, there are excellent works by Hayao Miyazaki, Wim Wender, Christopher Guest, and Philip Kaufman.

Festivals & Series

The Oscars in the theaters

As far as I can tell, here are the Bay Area theaters that will screen the Academy Awards Ceremony live. These events are almost always more entertaining than watching it at home.

Most of the theaters will start running the pre-show at 4:00pm, but some theaters open at 3:30. The main show starts at 5:00pm. I’m listing the theaters alphabetically.

Cerrito: A Benefit for the Contra Costa Civic Theatre. There will be prizes.

Elmwood: Another benefit for the Contra Costa Civic Theatre. And yes, there are prizes.

Lark: There’s a champagne reception with d’oeuvres by Left Bank; wines from Backstage Marin, dinner by World Wrapps, and an auction.

New Parkway: There’s all-you-can-eat appetizers, and beverages, both hard and soft.

Orinda: They’re starting early: 3:30. There’s a Souvenir Champagne Glass, along with ballots and prizes.

Rafael: The Red Carpet opens late at 4:30. There’s a raffle and a Predict-the-Winner Contest. It’s a benefit for Cafilm Education.

Roxie: This theater calls the event The Up the Awards Benefit Bash. “Your $15 donation goes directly to the operations of our independent, nonprofit, historic theater.” The event starts at 3:30pm.

Sebastopol: A Benefit for Food For Thought.

The Week’s Big Events (except for the Oscars)

A- The Buster Keaton Follies, Roxie
֍ Saturday, 4:50pm
֍ Tuesday, 6:40pm

Here’s a selection of Buster Keaton shorts that stretches throughout his filmed career. The show started with three of his best silent shorts: One Week, Cops, and Neighbors. They were followed by two talkie shorts – Grand Slam Opera and Pest. The second one, which I had not seen before, was hilarious. A real joy. I’d never seen it and it was hilarious. After that, they showed us two very funny beer commercials starring Buster. The show ended with Keaton’s famous and hysterical performance on Candid Camera. Unfortunately, all the shorts were screened from very bad 16mm prints. But the audience’s laughter made up for the bad prints five times over.

New films opening streaming

B- Back to the Drive-In (2023), streaming only

COVID brought drive-in theaters back into the spotlight. This documentary takes you to the people who run several drive-ins throughout the country. They talk about preparing the food, how they came into the business (often they were family). Before I saw this doc, I never really thought about how the people running the theaters worry about the weather. As far as I know, this film is only streaming; it should be shown in a drive-in.

Another chance to see (theatrically)

B+ Wonder Woman (2017), 4-Star, Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am & 2:00pm

This movie has all the problems that make today’s superhero movies so tiring: bombastic music, overly CGI-enhanced fights, end-of-the-world stakes, and worse, movies designed to advertise the next movie. But something delightful happens between the clichés in Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot plays the feminist icon as both a strong heroine and also a confused fish out of water. The result is warm, friendly, and funny. She explains, to the first man she meets, that men are necessary for procreation but not for pleasure. Chris Pine plays that lucky and unlucky man. The fight scenes occasionally turn dull, but for the most part it’s grand entertainment.

Theatrical revivals

A Spirited Away (2001), Balboa
֍ Friday, 11:00am (dubbed)
֍ Sunday, 7:00pm

Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece is a beautiful, complex, and occasionally scary tale of a young girl cast into a strange and magical world. The intriguing and imaginative creatures, not to mention the moral dilemmas, are beyond anything that Dorothy ever had to deal with in Oz. A truly amazing work of animation.

A- Paris, Texas (1984), Roxie
֍ Saturday, 6:15pm
֍ Monday, 6:20pm
֍ Thursday, 6:30pm

Harry Dean Stanton gives a masterful, understated performance as an amnesiac who walks out of the desert and back into the lives of his family. Missing for years, he’s taken in by his brother’s family, which now includes his own son. As the man’s memory slowly returns, he becomes obsessed with earning his son’s love and finding out, not so much the mystery of his own disappearance, but that of his wife’s.

B+ Best In Show (2000), Balboa, 2000
֍ Tuesday, 7:30pm
֍ Wednesday, 5:30pm

Christopher Guest’s dog-show mockumentary has more than its share of hilarious moments. The rest of it is pretty funny, too. Second City veterans Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara steal the show as a dog-obsessed couple.

B+ Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 remake), Balboa
֍ Friday, 8:00pm
֍ Saturday, 2:00pm & 7:00pm

Phil Kaufmans San Francisco-based remake of the classic alien invasion movie isn’t quite as good as the low-budget, 1956 original, but it comes close. One by one, Donald Sutherland’s friends and loved ones turn into emotionless pod people, and he knows that he too will be lost if he can’t stay awake. A very good sci-fi thriller.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics


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