One-Night Stands 

Repertory Film Listings for the Week of November 14

Reviews by Kelly Vance, Robert Wilonsky, and Reece Pendleton

Thu., Nov. 15

Serenity: For those unfamiliar with the story line of this movie, spawned from Joss Whedon's failed Fox TV series Firefly, it takes place 500 years in the future, sometime after a sort of civil war that pit Earth's Alliance against folks who didn't take kindly to being ruled and regulated. Among the rebels is a cowpoke named Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds and a crew right out of every western ever made. Their mission is to protect a young woman whose mind's been tinkered with by the Alliance, which wants back this powerful prophet with the ability to see the future and destroy all comers. (119 min., 2005) — R.W. (PW, 9:15)

Star Trek: The Original Series: Two original episodes from Star Trek's first season: "The Menagerie," parts one and two. (DV, RH, BS, 7:30, 10:30)

Fri., Nov. 16

The Roe's Room: The cinematic version of his own "autobiographical opera" Pokój saren, Lech Majewski's The Roe's Room is a dreamlike story set in a decaying Polish apartment complex. In Polish with subtitles (90 min., 1997). With Majewski in person. (PFA, 7:00)

Glass Lips: Thirty-three short video pieces bound by stunning surrealism and a loose narrative. In Polish with subtitles (100 min., 2007). With director Lech Majewski in person. (PFA, 9:15)

When the Levees Broke: An American Tragedy: The second half of Spike Lee's mournful, indignant four-hour documentary investigation into the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast locations. The film takes its time and builds its case carefully — and when Lee's through, FEMA and the Bush administration have been tried and convicted in their colossally inept response to what might have been an avoidable loss of life and property. The big-shots are upstaged by ordinary people from the Lower Ninth Ward. Made for HBO (2006). – K.V. (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 7:00)

Sat., Nov. 17

Modern Times: One of Charlie Chaplin's best, the tale of a downtrodden working stiff and his guttersnipe girlfriend (radiant Paulette Goddard), who persevere against everything modern industrial society throws at them. Chaplin's factory assembly line scene is a deserved classic, but there are many other great scenes in this all-time favorite movie (87 min., 1936). (PFA, 3:00)

Occident: Seemingly trapped in a trash-strewn, deteriorating Romania, youngsters face the eternal question: Should I stay or should I go? (99 min., 2002) (PFA, 6:00)

The Decameron: Pier Paolo Pasolini's conception of the Boccaccio classic sees the stories as a meditation on the spuriousness of moral absolutes, particularly those dealing with sex and death. The film is weak in narrative development, rich in the form of smelly visual metaphors that distinguish Pasolini's previous works (Pigpen, Teorema). Very slow going for the relatively simple-minded payoff (112 min., 1971). (PFA, 8:15)

Chicken Run: As a feature-debut follow-up to its successful Wallace and Gromit shorts, Britain's Aardman Animations chose this mock-heroic tale of a flock of chickens' escape from a poultry farm, then stocked it with fine voice actors, funny-looking cluckers, and Aardman's patented old-fashioned, subtle humor. Nice try. It's longer and eventually less amusing than a typical W&G adventure, a problem embodied in Mel Gibson's rooster. He seems to be in the wrong movie, something that neither sight gags nor the spirited voice acting of Miranda Richardson, Jane Horrocks, Tony Haygarth, et al. can remedy. Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park (85 min., 2000). — K.V. (EC, 3:00)

Sun., Nov. 18

The Knight: A young knight leaves his kingdom in search of a gold-stringed harp, which will bring peace and harmony to all humanity. Along the way he encounters mysticism, strange characters, and life's big questions. In Polish with English subtitles (81 min., 1980). With director Lech Majewski in person. (PFA, 4:30)

Angelus: Lech Majewski's dazzling visual talents are on full display in this absurdist comedy set in a rural Silesian mining town during the 1940s and '50s, where seven miners — followers of a 300-year-old Rosicrucian holy man — attempt to prevent the apocalypse prophesied by their dubious spiritual leader. Though their plans hit a major snag when they run afoul of the communist government, the miners are more often derailed by the constant clash of their own goofy eccentricities. Told through a series of tableau-like vignettes and drawing on everything from the Old Testament to Disney, the movie is leavened by Majewski's deadpan sense of humor. None of this is profound, but it's great fun to watch. In Polish with subtitles (108 min., 2000). With Majewski in person. — R.P. (PFA, 6:30)

Chicken Run: See Saturday. (EC, 2:00)

Tue., Nov. 20

Film and Video at CCA: Relational Aesthetics: Films and videos by faculty and students of the California College of the Arts (90 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

Darwin's Nightmare: Ecological documentary shows what happened when Nile perch were introduced into Tanzania's Lake Victoria by fish-farming companies. Hubert Sauper directs the Australian production (107 min., 2004). (Hillside Club, Berkeley, 7:00)


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