What’s Screening: May 5 – 11

Want to see new movies and old movies on the big screen? Here are reviews of two fresh films from CAAMFest (the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival). There is also a new film of the great outdoors and the people trying to save it. Also, there’s a Soviet silent, one of the best cartoons ever for very young children. But don’t bring the kids to watch The Thing.

Festivals & Series

  • CAAMFest – the Asian American Film Festival, opens Thursday and continues into the next week
  • DocLands opens Wednesday
  • The Film Fest Petaluma runs only one day, and that day is Saturday

Festival Previews: CAAMFest

A Nurse Unseen, The Great Star Theater, next Friday, 7:15pm

This documentary about Filipino nurses in America covered far more than I thought it would. What’s more, watching this film feels like you’ve gained several new friends. The picture covers such important issues as USA’s invasion of the Philippines (it’s not in many history books), and that America didn’t allow Filipinos into the country until we had a nurse shortage. But most of this doc focuses on the early stages of COVID, where nurses were not given the needed safety equipment.

B B-Side: For Taylor, The New Parkway, next Sunday, May 21, 3:00pm

Director Christina YR Lim tries to push too much in this heartwarming movie. There’s language differences, alcoholism, adoption, bullying, and clashing lifestyles. Taylor is an early adolescent boyish girl – although LGBTQ issues never come up. She’s adopted, and she gets a job teaching the new Korean girl on the block. Her father is an alcoholic, and her mother died a year ago. Yes, the film plucks your heartstrings, and you care about most of the major characters. But too many climaxes come together at the end.

New films opening theatrically

A Wild Life (2023) opens Friday, New Parkway, Opera Plaza, Rafael, Roxie

Old hippies trying to save the world…and they seem to be succeeding. Doug Tompkins created North Face, with the help of his second wife, Kristin McDivitt, they created Esprit. After they became filthy rich, they used their money to buy massive tracks of land in South America and return them into their natural habitats. It’s more than just the story of two rich do-goodies, but a tragedy. The film begins with Doug’s sudden death (both were rugged outdoors people who did dangerous things), so much of the story comes from Kristin’s memories.

Theatrical revivals

A- Man With A Movie Camera (1929), Tuesday
֍ 4-Star, Tuesday, 7:30pm
֍ New Parkway, Wednesday, 7:00pm

Dziga Vertov’s documentary of people at work and play uses strange and comical double exposures, visual effects, and maddeningly fast editing to keep things lively. Or is it a mockumentary? The movie often follows a cameraman making a documentary of people at work and play. The result is exhilarating, entertaining, and, of course, Communist propaganda. Vertov paints a picture of the Stalinist USSR as a place where people work hard, then play hard in healthy activities. The musical group Montopolis will accompany this silent film.

A- My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Balboa
֍ Sunday, 11:am
֍ Monday, 7:30pm

This Studio Ghibli feature may be one of the best cartoons ever for very young children. Adults can enjoy the beautiful animation and their children’s delightful reactions. Two children and their father (mother is in the hospital) move into a rural house that turns out to be haunted – in a good way. The magical creatures, including the powerful Totoro, make friends with the new people in the neighborhood. Warning: You should tell your kids beforehand that it takes place before everyone has a phone in their pocket.

A- The Thing (1982 version), New Parkway, Sunday, 9:30pm

John Carpenter created a remake that’s better than Howard Hawks’ 1951 original – even if it’s much more gruesome. Things get dangerous for a group of men (no women) in a science station in Antarctica. Communication or transportation is shut down. Worse, an intelligent, evil, and ravenous alien is killing everything it can. What’s more, it’s a shapeshifter, so you don’t know if you’re talking to your best friend or a monster intent on eating you. But with all the grisly effects, the most horrible makeup in the film is Kurt Russell’s eyeliner. Party at the Parkway!

B+ Clueless (1995), Vogue, Wednesday & Thursday, 7:30pm

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.

? The Harder They Come (1972), Balboa, Tuesday & Wednesday, 7:30pm

I don’t remember much of the film that introduced reggae to North America. I do remember that it was exciting, amazing, and electrifying – especially because of the music. Today, the sound is still incredible, but I frankly couldn’t tell you if anything else holds up.

Continuing engagements

Frequently-revived classics