One Night Stands for November 1 

Reviews by Michael Covino, Kelly Vance, and Robert Wilonsky

Thu., Nov. 1

Living on Tokyo Time: Berkeley-based filmmaker Steven Okazaki's first narrative feature is certainly thoughtful and good-natured in its lighthearted look at cross-cultural love and manners. Unfortunately, the characters and story are so anemic that it's hard to take seriously the film's tag line about the three R's: Romance, Rejection, and Rock 'n' Roll. As slow as this is, Remorse, Reaction, and Robitussin are more like it. Smashing concept, weak follow-through. — K.V. (PFA, 5:30)

Accattone: Set in the subproletarian slums of postwar Rome, Pier Paolo Pasolini's first movie follows, with a coolly lyrical, rambling, yet methodical camera, the days and nights of a smalltime thief and pimp (Franco Citti, a nonprofessional actor found by Pasolini during his own nocturnal rambles in these slums). Sloppy filmmaking or a deliberate flaunting of the rules? In a poem to his cameraman, Pasolini would write: "Come on, Tonino, come on, set it at fifty, don't be afraid of the light sinking — let's take this unnatural shot!" (1961). — M.C. (PFA, 7:30)

Cinema Paradiso: A small boy obsessed with cinema comes of age in his one-moviehouse Sicilian village where a kindly older man, the local projectionist (movingly portrayed by Philippe Noiret), serves as his mentor about movies and then life. Writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore fills this beautiful movie with his own love of cinema, but, more importantly, with his own love of life. Charming, sweet, melancholy, magical, and very, very funny, Cinema Paradiso somehow overcomes — or earns the right to — its own sentimentality. (1988). — M.C. (PW, 9:15)

Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad: Documentary by Jill Freidberg about the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, who took the media into their own hands to expose government corruption. (LP, 7:00)

Fri., Nov. 2

Invisible Light: In the narrative debut of documentarian Gina Kim, two otherwise unconnected Korean-American women have serious marital problems. (78 min., 2003). (PFA, 7:00)

Mamma Roma: With a coarse laugh and full toothy smile, Anna Magnani gives a dazzling performance as an aging hooker trying to retire while reclaiming her adolescent son. She doesn't stand a chance though, not in writer-director Pier Paolo Pasolini's scheme of things in post-WWII Rome, where the dome of the Eternal City, as out of reach as middle-class respectability, glistens behind the bleak new housing developments. (1962). — M.C. (PFA, 8:50)

Serenity: Spawned from Joss Whedon's failed Fox TV series Firefly, the story 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 (Nathan Fillion) — the bastard son of Indiana Jones, Captain Kirk, Robert Conrad's Jim West, and Rowdy Yates — 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. — R.W. (PM, midnight)

The Black Line: A Profile of the African-American Man: Through a study of African-American men from all walks of life (including Quincy Jones, Danny Glover, the late Brock Peters, Bill Duke, Dr. Keith Black, Ernie Bank, and many others), D. Channsin Berry brings to light their shared truths and experiences. (Oakland Museum, 8:00)

Life and Debt: Where do your bananas come from? Your favorite chair? How about that T-shirt? This documentary by Stephanie Black takes us there while explaining the gross unfairness of "free trade" and the "new world order" (80 min., 2001). (St. Joseph the Worker School, 7:00)

Sat., Nov. 3

The Way I Spent the End of the World: Romanian director Catalin Mitulescu pines for his homeland in this sympathetic human drama set against a severe political background (110 min., 2006). (PFA, 6:00)

California Dreamin' (Endless): It's got little to do with California and much to do with the political atmosphere of Romania in 1999, where the film's humor of absurdity is set amidst NATO involvement in Kosovo. Writer-director Cristian Nemescu was killed in a car crash before the final edit, hence the parenthetical label "Endless" (155 min., 2007). (PFA, 8:10)

Serenity: See Friday. (PM, midnight)

Sun., Nov. 4

The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Gary Gilmore wrote in a letter, "I saw a picture of Christ by a Russian artist that really haunted me for a long time. Christ didn't look anything like the popular beaming Western Christian version of the kindly shepherd we're used to. He looked like a man, with a gaunt, lean, sort of haunted face with deep-set, large dark eyes ... No halo, no radiant beam from haven above. Just this extraordinary man — this ordinary human being who made himself extraordinary." Gilmore might well have been describing the Christ of this movie (though I'm sure it was never screened at Utah State Prison), which is the gospel according to Pier Paolo Pasolini. Slow-going at times but haunting and strangely literal. (1964). — M.C. (PFA, 2:00)

The Way I Spent the End of the World: See Saturday. (PFA, 4:30)

Spirited Away: Ten-year-old Chihiro (Daveigh Chase) is on her way to a new home with her parents when Dad (Michael Chiklis) takes a wrong turn and winds up at the mouth of a big mysterious tunnel. Strangely drawn to explore, the parents drag Chihiro reluctantly along, and come out the other side at an empty-looking town in a vast meadow. Chihiro is more creeped out than awed, but her parents suddenly become hungry, and follow their noses to an abandoned buffet table loaded with fantastic eats. But as the sun rapidly begins to set without warning, and ghostly shapes start appearing in the streets, Chihiro finds her parents transforming into pigs, and her own body fading to transparency. Hayao Miyazaki's animated masterpiece is being brought to US screens in dubbed and subtitled versions, and both are fantastic — you won't see flights of fancy like this except in the very best children's literature. (125 min., 2001). — L.Y.T. (EC, 2:00)

Tue., Nov. 6

Dog Star Man: Color is king in this silent epic drama on the creation of the universe from Stan Brakhage (78 min., 1961). (PFA, 7:30)

Carnival of Cinema: A collection of "weird, wild, and wondrous" short films from Bay Area filmmakers. Total running time 80 min. (PW, 9:15)

An Unreasonable Man: Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan's documentary profiles consumer advocate and presidential candidate Ralph Nader (122 min., 2006). (Oakland Museum, 6:30)

Wed., Nov. 7

Behold the Asian: Videoworks by James T. Hong: Six short films over sixty-six minutes from San Francisco filmmaker James T. Hong, who traces his brash provocative works not to a desire to be a fanatic or a preacher, but simply to the fact that he is Asian. (PFA, 7:30)

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