What’s Screening: March 31 – April 6

What’s happening in Bay Area cinema from March 31 to April 6? It’s outer space with Star Trek: First Contact, The Empire Strikes Back, and best of all, 2001: A Space Odyssey. But down to earth, there’s two new movies worth watching. In vintage cinema, Alfred Hitchcock can give you vertigo. There’s also the most famous rock music festival, a family in crisis, and a strange black bird.

Festivals & Series

The Week’s Big Event

Fundraiser & Vertigo, Vogue, Thursday, 7:00pm

I’m one of the few cinephiles who doesn’t like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (although I’m generally a Hitchcock fan). But if you’re in the majority, you can see this popular masterpiece on the big screen. This fundraiser will help CinemaSF – the company that runs the Vogue. The event is hosted by Chronicle columnists Heather Knight and Peter Hartlaub. CinemaSF suggests that you “Dress in your 1950s, noir-style finest! Sister Roma and Honey Mahogany will judge a costume contest, and there will be prizes!”

New films opening theatrically

A- The Forger (2022), Rafael, opens Friday

Cioma Schönhaus was an extraordinary forger. It’s a useful job for a young Jewish man in Berlin during the Nazi years. He forges everything from food rations to passes. He does it for himself, but he’s also connected to an illegal organization that we don’t really understand. Based on a true story, if that means anything.

B+ Roise and Frank (2022), Piedmont, Rafael, opens Friday

Here’s a sweet fable for children that adults can also enjoy, if the children know Gaelic or can read subtitles. Roise has been widowed for two years. She’s deeply depressed, and she can barely get out of bed. Then a stray dog comes into her life. But it’s more than that. Frank, the dog, seems to know a great deal about Roise and her deceased husband (also named Frank). Is she insane, or is this dog the soul of her dead husband?

Another chance to see (theatrically)

A Meek’s Cutoff (2010), BAMPFA, Friday, 7:00pm

This is a western unlike any other. The film follows a party of three families in covered wagons trying to find the Oregon Trail. They’re lost. Water is disappearing. A single native follows them. Has he been thrown out of his people? Or is he setting up an attack. These are people who clearly don’t know what they’re doing, and there’s very little luck they’ll survive. A realistic depiction of the hardships and dangers of looking for riches.

A- Lady Bird (2017), New Parkway,Friday, 10:30pm

As you would expect from Greta Gerwig, this coming-of-age film is both touching and funny. Every character seems real and worthy of our sympathy, and yet their foibles make us laugh. Christine, who prefers the nickname Lady Bird, is a senior in a Sacramento Catholic high school. She hates Sacramento and hates her money-obsessed mother. Class issues play a major part here, since Lady Bird’s family is on “the wrong side of the tracks.” Many of her friends and potential boyfriends live in mansions. The story is set in 2002, as America is about to invade Iraq. Read my full review.

B+ One Fine Morning (2022), Sebastopol,

This French romance has no real plot. But it works as a collection of minor and important events in a young woman’s life. Sandra lives with her young daughter (there’s no papa to be seen). She works as an interpreter. Her father is suffering from a degenerative disease, and she must find a good place for him. There’s a big and joyful Christmas party. But then a male friend becomes a lover – one with a wife and children. I have no idea why the film is called One Fine Morning; it takes place over several days.

Theatrical revivals

? Woodstock – 3 Days Of Peace & Music, Balboa, Sunday, 2:00pm & 6:30pm

I haven’t seen this film for a long time, so I can’t give it a grade. I first saw Woodstock in 1969, and I loved the movie and saw it many times over the decades. I really wanted to be a hippy. If I remember, the music was wonderful. But the last time I saw the movie, I felt like I was in a ocean of jerks waiting for mommy to clean up the garbage.

A+ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), 4-Star, Saturday, 6:00pm & 9:00pm

Stanley Kubrick’s visualization of Arthur C. Clarke’s imagination tells you little, although it shows you a lot. Unlike any other science fiction movie (or any other big-budget blockbuster), it offers a daring story structure, striking visuals, breathtaking use of music, plus a refusal to explain what it’s all about. As prophesy, 2001 failed. As fantasy, adventure, mystery, and even theology, it’s brilliant. Read my report, or perhaps my Eat Drink Film article on how this masterpiece should best be screened.

A Tokyo Story (1953), Roxie
֍ Saturday, 6:00pm
֍ Sunday, 1:00pm

Yasujirō Ozu shows us a family in all of its troubling complexities. An elderly couple travel to Tokyo to visit their busy and overworked adult children. Everyone greets them with the proper respect, but only a widowed daughter-in-law offers real warmth. Mortality hangs in the air. You can appreciate the life changes in Tokyo Story without having experienced them. But eventually, you will experience them. Read my Blu-ray review.

A The Maltese Falcon (1941), Vogue
֍ Wednesday, 7:30pm
֍ Thursday, 4:00pm

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), 4-Star
֍ Saturday, 11:00am
֍ Saturday, 2:00pm
֍ Sunday, 11:00am
֍ Sunday, 2:00pm

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 In the Mood for Love (2000), 4-Star, Thursday, 5:00pm & 7:30pm

Wong Kar Wai’s brilliant film about adultery has no sex, little touching, and we never see who we believe are the adulterous couple. A handsome man and a beautiful woman live in the same apartment building. Both of their spouses are out of town, and they just may be out of town together. Inevitably, the two protagonists fall slowly in love. While there’s no sex, almost every shot is filled with deep eroticism. Starring Maggie Cheung, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and the color red.

A- Bound (1996), 4-Star, Friday, 5:30pm & 8:00pm

Before The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers created a stylish and fun crime thriller about a lesbian couple that go up against the mob. Jennifer Tilly hooks up with Gina Gershon, both sexually and in crime, to steal from her gangster husband (Joe Pantoliano). A very sexy, violent, and suspenseful thriller which adds new meaning to the phrase “money laundering.”

A- Star Trek: First Contact (1996), New Mission, Wednesday, 6:45pm

The best Star Trek Next Generation feature film brings the Enterprise to the year 2063 to protect earth from the Borg. (If you didn’t understand that last sentence, you won’t understand the movie either.) While Picard and crew fight the Borg on the Enterprise, Riker, Geordi, and Troi struggle on the ground to make sure that history happens the way it’s supposed to. While the Enterprise scenes rachet up the suspense, the people down below provide charming comedy relief. James Cromwell steals the movie as the drunken libertine who invents warp drive. The great Alfre Woodard plays another 21st-century earthling. Just don’t think too much about the story; but then, that’s true with all things Star Trek.

A- The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lark
֍ Sunday, 10:00am
֍ Sunday, 5:30pm
֍ Monday, 8:00pm

The middle chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy brings a deep feeling of dread. By keeping CP3O and R2D2 apart for much of the movie, the film tamps down the comedy (although there’s a humorous romance bubbling up). With Lando, we have a character who may be a hero and may be a villain. And, of course, the climax has one of the biggest surprises in cinema history. Note: This is an altered version; I prefer the 1980 original.

B+ Princess Mononoke (1997), Subtitled, New Mission
֍ Sunday, 7:30pm
֍ Monday, 6:30pm
֍ Tuesday, 2:30pm

For much of its runtime, this Japanize, animated, action fantasy takes you on a wild and exciting ride. The hand-drawn characters, the strange animals, and the amazing moments of fear, struggle, and love are surprisingly powerful. But the climactic battle between animals and people drags on too long, seemingly just for the point of making things big. The environmental message is both obvious and shallow. Too extreme for young children.

B+ Scarface (1983 version), New Mission
֍ Friday, 10:00pm
֍ Saturday, 9:45pm
֍ Sunday, 11:00am
֍ Monday, 2:30pm
֍ Tuesday, 9:10pm

This Brian De Palma/Oliver Stone remake of a 1932 Howard Hawks/Ben Hecht crime thriller has surpassed the original in popularity, although I prefer the first version. Al Pacino plays way over the top in the lead role, but then everything in this movie is over the top. Utterly absurd, but somehow compelling.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics