What’s Screening: April 21 – 27

Both SFFilm and Hollywood’s Golden Era end Sunday, which means I can rest a bit. But not much; There’s plenty of vintage movies in Bay Area cinemas this week.

Festivals & Series

Festival Recommendations: SFFilm

B I Have Electric Dreams, BAMPFA, Sunday, 5:30pm

At the age of sixteen, Eva lives with her mother, but she prefers to hang around with her artistic but unreliable father. He loves Eva, but staying with him can be dangerous. He races his car while his daughters are in it. Eva’s first sexual experience is with one of his father’s friends. Daniela Marín Navarro gives an exceptional performance as Eva.

B- Rally, BAMPFA, Sunday, 12 noon

Closed Captioned. If you’re interested in recent San Francisco history, this one is a must – even though it’s like every other biographical documentary. The subject of this particular doc is Rose Pak, a Chinatown political power broker. For decades, politicians did what she told them to do, and in doing so, helped life in Chinatown and the whole city. According to this film, she did more for the good than for the bad. Short, dumpy, and constantly smoking, she didn’t look like a powerful politician.

Another chance to see (theatrically)

B+ Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, New Parkway, Saturday, 12:40pm

You must understand three things about this movie: First, it’s basically two long motor vehicle chases broken up with short bits of dialog. Second, it’s surprisingly feminist for this sort of movie; the plot involves a woman warrior rescuing a tyrant’s enslaved harem. Finally, the title character is basically a sidekick, although we see the story through his eyes. The movie is filled with crashes, weapons, hand-to-hand combat, acts of courage, close calls, and fatal errors. It’s fast, brutal, feminist, and for the most part very well-choreographed.

B+ Crazy Rich Asians (2018), New Parkway, Saturday, 9:55pm

The setup suggests a ’30s or ’40s screwball comedy: When the boy brings his girlfriend home, she discovers his family is filthy rich and his mother doesn’t approve of the match. But the comedy never reaches the madcap intensity of screwball. In fact, if you’re only looking for laughs, Crazy Rich Asians will disappoint you. The film’s pleasures come from the likable characters; especially the super-smart heroine (Constance Wu) who must overcome the formidable and snobbish mother (the great Michelle Yeoh).

B Hunt For the Wilderpeople (2016), New Parkway, Sunday, 8:45pm

This New Zealand comedy starts out wonderful, touching, and very funny, but it wears out its welcome too soon. The story concerns a troubled boy (Julian Dennison) sent to a new foster home in the very rural outback. Soon the boy and his reluctant foster father are living in the woods, and the government creates a dragnet to catch these two escapees from civilization.

Theatrical revivals

A+ Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Grand Lake, Friday, 3:45pm & 7:45pm

Part of Hollywood’s Golden Era. 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. The Grand Lake has the technology to present Lawrence nearly perfectly. But I don’t know if the theater will use its best presentation.

A+ North By Northwest (1959), Grand Lake, Saturday, 1:45pm & 6:45pm

Part of Hollywood’s Golden Era. A glib advertising man (Cary Grant) becomes the victim of mistaken identity in Alfred Hitchcock’s most entertaining thriller. Foreign spies want to kill him, and the police want to arrest him for a murder he didn’t commit. Screenwriter Ernest Lehman provided almost as many laughs as thrills, balancing them deftly. Hitchcock made thrillers more frightening and thoughtful than North by Northwest, but he never made one more entertaining. Read my A+ appreciation. On a double bill with You Can’t Take It with You, which I haven’t seen in decades.

A+ The Godfather (1972), New Mission
֍ Friday, 3:40pm
֍ Saturday, 11:00am
֍ Monday, 2:00pm

Francis Coppola took the job simply because he needed the money, so he turned Mario Puzo’s potboiler into the Great American Crime Epic. Marlon Brando may have top billing, but Al Pacino owns the film as the son who does not want a life of crime – but proves exceptionally well-suited for the job. A masterpiece of character, atmosphere, and heart-stopping violence. Read my A+ list essay.

A The Conformist (1970), Roxie
֍ Friday, 6:30pm
֍ Saturday, 6:10pm
֍ Sunday, 3:40pm

It takes more than good men doing nothing to create fascism. According to Bernardo Bertolucci’s haunting character study, it also takes mediocre men with career ambitions. Jean-Louis Trintignant is chilling as a bland cog in the machine, ready to use his honeymoon in homicidal service to Mussolini. With Stefania Sandrelli as his not-too-bright bride and Dominique Sanda, in a star-making performance, as the object of everyone’s desire. Read my Blu-ray review.

A Tampopo (1985), New Parkway, Wednesday, 8:40pm

Decades before movies about chefs and cooking became a thing, Tampopo put a comic twist on movies about food. In doing so, the movie parodies westerns and material arts flicks. The title character, a young widow with a son to raise, struggles with her hole-in-the-wall ramen café until two truck drivers help her create the greatest ramen ever. The movie occasionally cuts away to comic scenes not connected to the story, except that they’re also about food. Very funny, extremely silly, and occasionally sexy.

B+ Clueless (1995), New Mission, Tuesday, 6:45pm

Movie Party (whatever that means)! Loosely adapted from Jane Austen’s Emma, this coming-of-age comedy follows a rich, well-meaning, but superficial teenage girl (Alicia Silverstone) as she tries to fix other people’s problems as well as her own. Sweet and funny, it looks at adolescent foibles with a sympathetic eye, rarely judging youthful behavior. With a surprisingly young Paul Rudd as the great guy she can’t appreciate.

B Bottle Rocket (1996), 4-Star, 7:30pm

Wes Anderson’s first feature (based on his short) brings a lot of smiles, but rarely creates the deep laughs of his later work. Two young men seem to have chosen a life of crime (Luke and Owen Wilson), even though they seem to be doing it for fun – they don’t seem to need the money. The best moments in the film involve a sweet romance between one of the would-be thieves and a motel maid who can’t speak English (the luminous Lumi Cavazos). But I have no idea why Anderson chose to call the film Bottle Rocket.

Frequently-revived classics

2 thoughts on “What’s Screening: April 21 – 27

  1. > CAAMFest closes Friday

    CAAMFest is next month, May 11-21. (You had me scared for a second that I missed it.)

Comments are closed.