One Night Stands for the week of April 11-April 17 

In this week's rep picks: Everything you ever wanted to know about Venezuela.

Reviews by Michael Covino, Scott Foundas, Kelly Vance, Robert Wilonsky, and Naomi Wise

Thu., April 12

The Creature from the Black Lagoon — When the American archaeology team arrives at its Amazon campsite and discovers lots of fresh bones, it suspects something is amiss. The scale-covered creature lurking in the vicinity isn't the most impressive; nor is the acting, the dialogue, or the story, but there are several good jolts, and a 3D underwater sequence where the viewers feel as if they're inside an aquarium with exotic fish swimming all around. With Richard Carlson and Julia Adams. Directed by Jack Arnold (79 min., 1954). — M.C. (Cerrito, 8:00)

It Came from Outer Space — The opening scene of this 3D movie always prompts a collective gasp from the audience: a meteor appears to be hurtling straight at you — indeed, it comes right off the screen and explodes into a million pieces beneath your nose. I think this scene is called "creation" or something. But once humans crawl out of the primordial muck and begin walking upright and speaking lines and acting, the movie's charm evaporates. Alien creatures land outside a small desert town, hole up in a cave, and kidnap people whose bodies they return to town in, but you can't always tell the difference. With Richard Carlson. Based on a Ray Bradbury story. Directed by Jack Arnold (81 min., 1953). — M.C. (Cerrito, following The Creature from the Black Lagoon)

Time After Time — A program of contemporary experimental shorts. Artists appear in person (67 min. total running time). (PFA, 7:30)

Venezuela: Talking of Power — This documentary by Nina Lopez looks at class, race, and sex relations in revolutionary Venezuela (62 min., 2005). Plus two other feature docs. Presented by reelVENEZUELA Film Festival. (LP, 7:30)

Fri., April 13

The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun — Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty tells the story of a disabled girl who peddles newspapers on the streets of Dakar, despite competition from boys (45 min., 1999). Preceded by Mambéty's Le Franc (45 min., 1994). (PFA, 7:00)

The Passenger — Rumor has it this collaboration between writer-director Michelangelo Antonioni and star Jack Nicholson is a masterpiece of 1970s filmmaking. Problem is, it's better heard about than seen. Nicholson plays a journalist lost in Africa who assumes the identity of the dead man in the hotel room next door; next thing he knows, he's a gun-runner meeting all the wrong people in all the right places, which might be funny were this intended to be a comedy ... or thriller ... or something else besides an exercise in existential inertia. Certainly, one man's trash is another man's masterpiece, and more power to the viewer who can stick with this deadpan travelogue and make it to the ending that actually satisfies. But despite the rare opportunity to see Nicholson low-key it through an entire picture, The Passenger can hitch a ride elsewhere (1975). — R.W. (PFA, 8:50)

Scary Movie — Keenen Ivory Wayans' crude, occasionally funny parody of youth-market horror films makes fun of the Scream series, The Blair Witch Project, etc., with a storm of graphic sex jokes and lowbrow sight gags revolving around the usual Guy in the Mask who's killing teenagers played by people in their late twenties. Naturally, the more you know about the original movies, the funnier this is — but how much do you really want to know? Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Shannon Elizabeth, Marlon Wayans, and Dave Sheridan star (88 min., 2000). — K.V. (S, midnight)

Sat., April 14

Earthdance Environmental Film Festival — Two days of film, music and dance performances, panel discussions, parties, and "fireside chats" with filmmakers (total running time unknown). (Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., 10:00 a.m.)

Identification of a Woman — A filmmaker looks for the perfect woman, for his next film as well as for companionship. But paranoia pervades the Italian landscape while a sociable gangster dogs his steps. With Tomas Milian, Christine Boisson, Daniela Silverio, and Marcel Bozzuffi. Co-written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (128 min., 1982). (PFA, 8:30)

On the Beat — A rookie cop in Beijing keeps busy despite the absence of Hollywood-style shootouts. Writer-director Ning Ying's 1995 feature stars Li Zhanho and Yang Guoli (102 min.). (PFA, 6:30)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof, starring Tim Curry as the androgynous Dr. Frank N. Furter (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

Scary Movie — See Fri. (S, midnight)

The War of the Worlds — Mars invades Earth in one of the most spectacular science fiction films ever made. Byron Haskins directs, but it's George Pal's special effects that make this film — and others of this pre-Star Wars era — memorable. The model building is quite good, especially in the destruction of Los Angeles, and when we first see a Martian with its long, green, tentacular eyes while Gene Barry and Anne Robinson are foraging through some ruins, we feel properly, competently horrified. Based on H.G. Wells' novel (85 min., 1953). — M.C. (Cerrito, 6:00)

Sun., April 15

Anger Rising: The Restoration of Works by Kenneth Anger at UCLA Film and Television Archive — Restorer Ross Lipman presents four Anger films: Fireworks (1947), Rabbit's Moon (1971), Scorpio Rising (1963), and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) (63 min. total running time plus 30 min. lecture). (PFA, 7:30)

Chung Kuo China — Mao Zedong evidently saw Blow Up (or was it Red Desert?) and invited Michelangelo Antonioni to China to make this documentary on daily life in Beijing, Hunana, Suchow, Nanking, and other locales. After exposing some 100,000 feet of film, Antonioni edited it down to four hours. When the party bosses saw it he was immediately branded "a worm who speaks for the Russians," and the film (now owned by Cinecitta) went into limbo. It's a magnificent piece of cinema vérité, an unhurried look at playgrounds, hospitals, provincial villages, imperial gardens — but especially faces, thousands of Chinese faces, many of them trimmed in the bright red kerchiefs of the Cultural Revolution. We get the feeling that these faces were what really frightened the leaders. The four hours pass very quickly. Recommended (217 min., 1972). — K.V. (PFA, 2:00)

Earthdance Environmental Film Festival — See Sun. (total running time unknown). (Oakland Museum, noon)

Hi/Lo Film Festival — Forty short films/vids in the tenth annual festival, presented by Killing My Lobster (total running time unknown). (PW, 2:00, 5:00)

San Francisco Women's Film Festival — A showcase of films and videos by, for, and about women (total running time unknown). (Cerrito, 8:00)

The War of the Worlds — See Sat. (Cerrito, 5:00)

Tue., April 17

Dr. Strangelove — Lewis Mumford once said, "Dr. Strangelove would be a silly, ineffective picture if its purpose were to ridicule the characters of our military and political leaders by showing them as clownish monsters — stupid, psychotic, obsessed." Mumford, notwithstanding, that is precisely what Stanley Kubrick's film does, and does effectively, successfully, hilariously in this cackling nightmare about a psychotic general's decision to bomb the Soviet Union. Peter Sellers plays the title role (said to be modeled in part on Henry Kissinger), and George C. Scott rides up a storm as General Buck Turgidson, the cowboy who packs ICBMs in his holsters. Screenplay by Terry Southern, Peter George, and Kubrick (93 min., 1964). — M.C. (PW, 9:15)

Wed., April 18

8 Bit — Game images form the basis of Marcin Ramocki and Justin Strawhand's mashup. Shown with artifacts from 8-bit game imagery, rearranged by artists Joe McKay and Xik in person (76 min.). (PFA, 8:00)

After Life — With its half-documentary, half-allegorical structure, this story of a school-like way station between heaven and earth, where departed souls are quizzed about that one special memory of life, is far too formal to deliver the emotional impact it probably intends. Still, writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda gets good footage of actual oldsters (as well as younger people) reminiscing about their lives, and the rest is a rather standard feel-gooder with a requisite dollop of Japanese sweetness (118 min., 1999). — K.V. With a lecture by Marilyn Fabe. (PFA, 3:00)

Antonia — Narrative feature about female rappers in São Paulo, Brazil, starring Negra Li and Cindy Mendes. Directed by Tata Amaral (90 min., 2006). (160 Kroeber Hall, UCB, 7:00)

The History Boys — On Broadway, where The History Boys won six Tonys and became a modest hit despite the absence of a Disney cartoon character in the cast, Alan Bennett's dog-eared paean to grammar-school life carried a nearly mythic resonance. No matter the 1980s Sheffield setting; it was instantly familiar to anyone who has ever been young, questioned the purpose of a slide rule, and felt that the world was his for the taking. Made by the same creative principals — Bennett, director Nicholas Hytner, and a superb cast who have now been with their roles for far longer than a term — the film version is a lesser thing, more fixed in space and time, and rendered almost unbearably "cinematic" in patches by Hytner's gymnastic camerawork. Yet the ideas and feelings of the piece remain so rich that it almost doesn't matter. The "history" under discussion here is that of history itself, as a classroom becomes a crucible for the debate over learning for its own sake versus "teaching to the test." But if The History Boys arrives at a perilous moment for culture and learning, it nevertheless instills in you hope for the youth of tomorrow and a newfound appreciation for the lyrical value of compound adjectives (2006). — S.F. (JCCEB, 7:00)

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