What’s Screening: May 12 – 18

What in the world is going on? The awful Mamma Mia plays four times on big Bay Area screens this week! Thankfully, there are plenty of good, vintage movies playing this week, as well.

Festivals & Series

Promising events

Phantom of the Paradise
(1974), 4-Star
֍ Friday, 7:30pm
֍ Friday, 10:00pm
֍ Saturday, 7:30pm
֍ Saturday, 10:00pm
֍ Sunday, 5:00pm & 7:30pm

It’s been decades since I’ve seen Brian De Palma’s bizarre mixture of Faust, Phantom of the Opera, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, all-tied up with strings of ’70s rock and roll. I don’t remember the movie enough to give it a grade, but I remember it was a wild ride. Annie Rose Malamet, creator and host of “Girls, Guts, & Giallo,” will host both Saturday night screenings.

Another chance to see (theatrically)

D+ Mamma Mia!
֍ Lark, Sunday, 12:30pm
֍ New Mission, Friday, 3:20
֍ New Mission, Saturday, 12:30pm
֍ New Mission, Sunday, 7:00pm

What could go wrong with a musical comedy about long-passed promiscuity, set on a picturesque Mediterranean island? Plenty! Here you can watch formless choreography, played to ABBA’s catchy but ultimately unmemorable music, and way too many exterior scenes obviously shot on a soundstage. But in terms of sheer embarrassing badness, nothing in Mama Mia! comes close to Pierce Brosnan’s nails-on-chalkboard singing voice. I liked Brosnan as James Bond, but he sings like a strangled cat. This could have killed Meryl Streep’s career.

Theatrical revivals

A Spirited Away (2001), Balboa, Saturday, 11:00am & Monday, 7:30pm

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 Cléo From 5 to 7 (1962), Wednesday, 7:30pm

One of the best films of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda’s Cléo From 5 to 7 follows a young woman as she wanders through Paris on a summer evening. But it isn’t simply a joyful lark; she’s waiting for the results of her cancer screening. Cléo meditates on life from the point of view of a young woman who may soon be famous, or dead. There’s even a silent movie tribute starring Jean-Luc Godard. You can read my longer report, but you’ll have to scroll down a bit.

A Mary Poppins (1964), 4-Star, Saturday & Sunday, 11:00am

The best live-action movie Walt Disney ever made is, not surprisingly, one of the great all-time children’s pictures. Julie Andrews may have won the Oscar because of a sympathy vote, but she really lights up the screen in her first movie appearance, managing to upstage Dick Van Dyke and some wonderful special effects. So, what if it takes liberties with the original books?

A- Eraserhead, Balboa, Friday, 7:30pm

Weird and extremely gross, David Lynch’s first feature has a ridiculously commonplace story. Henry meets his girlfriend’s parents. They have a baby, she leaves him, and the not-too-bright Henry must take on all the parental responsibilities. And yet it’s entirely unlike anything you’ve seen before. The extremely high-contrast black and white photography makes everything, and everyone, look ugly. The sound effects are disturbingly loud and frightening. hideous, living things seem to be growing everywhere. And the baby…well, you’ll have to see it for yourself. A deeply disturbing and very funny experience.

B+ The Thin Man (1934), Lark
֍ Sunday, 10:00am
֍ Sunday, 5:00pm
֍ Monday, 6:00pm

Here we have a murder mystery, a screwball comedy, a wallow in classic MGM glamour, and a 93-minute commercial for alcohol as the secret for a happy marriage (wealth helps a lot too). William Powell and Myrna Loy make great chemistry together as Nick and Nora Charles, the rich, drunk-and-in-love couple with a little murder to clear up. The mystery never quite jells, but the picture is so much fun, you really don’t care. The movie started a very long franchise.

Frequently-revived classics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s