One Night Stands for the week of April 4-April 10, 2007 

So many festivals, so little time.

Reviews by Melissa Levine, Rob Nelson, Kelly Vance, Gregory Weinkauf, and Naomi Wise

Thu., April 5

Antonioni: The Vision That Changed the Cinema — Bio doc of the Italian director, directed by Carlo di Carlo and Sandro Lai (60 min., 2001). Followed by a short: The Last Sequence of The Passenger by André S. Labarthe (12 min., 1974). (PFA, 5:30)

The Ground Truth — A documentary on American military men and women in Iraq by filmmaker Patricia Foulkrod (running time unknown). (Zocalo Coffeehouse, 645 Bancroft Ave., San Leandro, 7:00)

ReelVenezuela — This film festival includes twelve feature-length documentaries covering political and social issues in today's Venezuela (total running time unknown). (LP, 7:30)

Tropical Malady — Controversial Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has high artistic ambitions, but he executes them so slowly and so listlessly as to lose his audience. The film runs two hours and is split down the middle by a change of venue; neither half offers much by way of plot, character, or conflict. In the first half, soldier Keng (Banlop Lomnoi) and "country boy" Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee) enjoy a sweet and eventless romance, wandering from city to country without doing much. The latter half is consumed by an archetypal quest, in which a different (perhaps) soldier journeys deep into the forest, hunting a beast that has been slaughtering cows. In the way of every sylvan quest, the soldier meets his animal nature, begins communicating with beasts, and finally confronts his foe. Tropical Malady might have worked had Weerasethakul stuck to the first story and added a conflict; there is tenderness and joy to the initial proceedings. The second half could have used a ruthless edit (2005). — M.L. Director appears in person. (PFA, 7:30)

Fri., April 6

The Motorcycle Diaries — Spanning much of 1952 and hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers across South America, this chapter of Ernesto "Ché" Guevara's storied existence concerns his misadventures at age 23, the year before he earned his medical degree and several years before his guerrilla philosophies would transform the lives of millions and lead him to his execution and martyrdom. Directed with great indigenous poetry by Walter Salles, the movie starts out frothy, with prim Guevara (Gael García Bernal) and his lusty amigo Alberto Granado (Rodrigo de la Serna) almost playing Latino Tom and Huck, setting off from Buenos Aires through Argentina, Chile, and Peru, until the motorcycle ceases to be their focal point and the road transforms them. — G.W. (Movies That Matter, Neumayer residence, 545 Bellevue St., Oakland, 6:30)

Run Lola Run — German writer-director Tom Tykwer doesn't waste time in his story of the hectic afternoon of a young Berliner (Franka Potente) who must raise DM 100,000 in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend's life. Lola runs (literally) through three alternative scenarios in eighty minutes, chased by animations, manic jump cuts, flash forwards, film-to-video transfers — whatever techniques Tykwer found lying around. The sheer imaginative energy of the piece makes it work (1998). — K.V. (S, midnight)

Tropical Malady: Shot by Shot — A close discussion of the film (see Thursday) delivered personally by its director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul (running time unknown). (PFA, 7:00)

Sat., April 7

Blissfully Yours — In rural Thailand, a young Burmese man, his Thai girlfriend, a middle-aged Thai woman, and her lover go out for some hanky-panky in the woods. But it's more of a political allegory. "Conceived" by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (125 min., 2002). (PFA, 5:30)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof, starring Tim Curry as the androgynous Dr. Frank N. Furter, with Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Directed by Jim Sharman (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

Run Lola Run — See Fri. (S, midnight)

A Streetcar Named Desire — Elia Kazan, apparently drunk on neorealism after Panic in the Streets, grafted pieces of that style onto Tennessee Williams' Southern dreamscape, and the result is a legend. What becomes a legend most? Marlon Brando's ripped T-shirt, Vivien Leigh's involuted soliloquies, and Kim Hunter's nervous perseverance (125 min., 1951). — K.V. (Cerrito, 6:00)

Zabriskie Point — Michelangelo Antonioni's uncomfortable after-the-fact attempt to portray American counterculture politics alternates between the draggy and the overly dramatic (112 min., 1970). (PFA, 8:30)

Sun., April 8

The Four Seasons — When film buffs describe Arthur Peleshian as a master of montage, this exhilarating short is probably what they're thinking of. It shows, in a delightfully repetitive series of rhythmically edited shots, the springtime labors of sheepherders in the mountains of Armenia. Watching shepherds slide down a hill with sheep in their arms may not sound like entertainment, but when Peleshian does it to the strains of Vivaldi, the effect is bracing (30 min., 1975). — K.V. Shown with two Peleshian shorts: In the Beginning (10 min., 1967) and We (30 min., 1969). (PFA, 2:00)

Pastorale — A string quartet visits a small Georgian village — and life there is observed wryly in this film by Otar Ioseliani, whose visuals owe a loving debt to Renoir (95 min., 1975). (PFA, 3:30)

A Streetcar Named Desire — See Sat. (Cerrito, 6:00)

Mon., April 9

The Swing Era — A film discussion series by Dr. Dee Spencer (running time unknown). (Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 2:00)

Tue., April 10

BB Optics: Optical Printing and Preservation Work — A collection of Super 8 films, circa 1968-1989, chosen and introduced by Bill Brand (99 min. total running time). (PFA, 7:30)

A Self-Preservation Workshop for Film and Video Makers — A presentation and booksigning by author and archivist Bill Brand (60 min. total running time). (PFA, 6:00)

Wed., April 11

Half Nelson — Unawarded at Sundance despite ample acclaim, this indie drama drags the white-teacher-inspires-black-students movie onto the mat and pins the flabby genre in the first round, such is the film's acute understanding not only of its opponent's weaknesses, but its own. "What can I teach them?" Ryan Gosling's Brooklyn junior-high history instructor wonders aloud in the bar after school — as well he might, given that this lefty intellectual crack addict, called daily to stand and deliver at the podium, isn't exactly the image of stability. Neither is he an entirely plausible protagonist, but, as Gosling's Mr. Dunne likes to employ metaphor in the classroom, so first-time feature-maker Ryan Fleck instructs us to see his wannabe-activist basehead as a symbol of American do-gooding gone bad — or at least gone woefully undirected. (2006) — R.N. (JCCEB, 7:00)

The Purple Rose of Cairo — A dull, frail, and peculiarly mirthless meditation on the "magic" of the movies by Woody Allen, featuring Mia Farrow as a put-upon waitress whose dream comes true when a movie hero (Jeff Daniels) steps down off the screen and into her life. An able cast including Danny Aiello, Edward Herrmann, and Dianne Wiest is pushed and pulled into the unwieldy scenario like lumps of dough (84 min., 1985). — K.V. With a lecture by Marilyn Fabe. (PFA, 3:00)

ReelVenezuela — See Thu. (LP, 7:30)

Sentenced Home — This documentary by David Grabias and Nicole Newnham profiles the unhappy lives of three young Cambodian men as they struggle with all sorts of issues, including gangs, in Seattle (90 min., 2006). (Oakland Asian Cultural center, 388 9th St., 6:30)

Zéro de Conduite- At once lucid and anarchic, Jean Vigo's 1933 short feature gave birth to the French New Wave. Pyrotechnic visuals abound in a story about a boys' boarding school where the teachers are repressive but the students are irrepressible. Few current films are as overtly enthusiastic about the medium of film, as knowing in their narrations, as liberated in their executions (41 min.). — N.W. Live musical soundtrack by UCB student DJs. Preceded by a Vigo short: Taris (9 min., 1931). (PFA, 8:00)

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