One-Night Stands for the week of August 15-22, 2007 

In this week's rep picks: Tom Tykwer meets Michael Lehmann. Black LGBTs, too.

Thu., Aug. 16

Oakland International Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival — The fifth annual, a series of narrative and documentary shorts and features (total running time unknown). (PW, 6:30, 9:15)

Ten — The latest film from celebrated Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami takes place almost entirely in the front seat of a moving automobile and consists of conversations the driver, an educated and stylish woman in her late thirties, has with the various individuals she picks up as she goes about the city. The passengers include the woman's sister, a friend, several female hitchhikers and, perhaps most important, her ten-year-old son, Amin, who is still angry with his mother for divorcing his father and marrying another man. Through the conversations, the audience gets an inside view of the pressures and anxieties that plague women in contemporary Iran. In many ways, the concerns are universal: how to balance family and work, how to achieve a sense of self-worth, how to gain recognition and respect in a patriarchal society. The actors, all nonprofessionals, improvised the dialogue. The result, a cross between fiction and documentary, is far more captivating than a series of talking heads might suggest (92 min., 2002). — J.O. Followed by a short: Roads of Kiarostami (32 min., 2005). (PFA, 7:00)

Viva Las Vegas — The King rocks 'n' rolls the dice in this better-than-average 1964 Elvis Presley vehicle that also features booty-shakin' mama Ann-Margret (in the days before anyone knew she could really act). The chemistry between the two stars sparkles almost as much as the lights on Vegas' Strip and is fun to watch, especially since the latter revealed in her autobiography that they were indeed doing the wild thing offscreen. Not that the plot matters, but Presley is a race-car driver in this one (how original!) who goes head-to-head with swimming instructor Ann-Margret (yeah, right) in a talent contest. As usual, the script only serves to fill the gaps between songs, which include "The Lady Loves Me," "C'mon, Everybody," "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and the now-classic title tune, which I defy you not to sing when leaving the theater. Directed by George Sidney (85 min.). — V.C. (EC, 9:00)

Fri., Aug. 17

The Earrings of Madame De ... — The vain, bored wife (Danielle Darrieux) of a rich nobleman (Charles Boyer) surreptitiously pawns a pair of earrings to raise some discretionary cash, and sets off a chain of giddy coincidences orchestrated by director Max Ophuls to a waltz tempo. Through a series of endless balls, fetes, and operas, the little deceits add up to a portrait of frothy, empty elegance, one of Ophuls' chilliest commentaries on the notions of love and marriage (105 min., 1953). — K.V. (PFA, 7:00)

Shut Up and Sing — Not quite the Bush-bashfest its publicity might lead you to believe, Shut Up & Sing is closer to the Metallica movie Some Kind of Monster than to Fahrenheit 9/11. Like Metallica, the Dixie Chicks begin the movie as a multiplatinum band looking to move their sound forward on a new album, only to have external circumstances throw a wrench into the works and send things in a vastly different direction than anyone expected. The political angle is the film's hook, but its real goal seems to be to persuade noncountry fans who support the band's politics that, hey, y'know, their music's pretty good too. And we see how the controversy both helped and hurt, gaining the Chicks national magazine covers and unprecedented crossover exposure, even as they were systematically shut out of country radio/TV and lost substantial US ticket sales (93 min., 2006). — L.Y.T. (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St., 6:30)

Sixteen Candles — Could have been the Airplane of teenage movies but chickens out into a predictable girl-gets-stud hormonal free-for-all, another bout with Ordinary People. More ordinary than most, in fact. The writing (by director John Hughes) is strictly from TV; the acting, by determined nerd Anthony Michael Hall, is a cut above (93 min., 1984). — K.V. (CLC, midnight)

The Sixth Sense — Another dull, unacknowledged retooling of the wonderful Ambrose Bierce short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Bruce Willis plays a child psychiatrist who in the opening moments gets shot by a former patient. Months later he's back on his feet trying to connect to a child (Haley Joel Osment) who can see the troubled dead walking about. Osment is good, but this psychological horror pic crawls. It's as if writer-director M. Night Shyamalan is so impatient to get to his terrific trick ending that he's forgotten he has two hours to fill up first. With Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, and Trevor Morgan (106 min., 1999). — M.C. (Movies That Matter, Neumayer residence, 565 Bellevue St., Oakland, 6:30)

The Tender Enemy — The ghosts of three men visit their former beloved to seek revenge for their loveless lives on the eve of an engagement party for the woman's daughter, who is being forced into a loveless marriage by her mother. Directed by Max Ophuls (69 min., 1936). (PFA, 9:05)

Sat., Aug. 18

Close-Up — Iranian "doctored doc" is a genuine puzzler. Its verité camera follows a distracted man who poses as a film director to gain a Tehran family's confidence, for no other reason, apparently, than that he is lonely. The impostor and his victims are played by nonactors using their real names, in an apparent attempt to restage reality by filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. In the end, the dramatic payoff is so meager the whole concept seems a waste of time (100 min., 1990). — K.V. (PFA, 8:00)

Fires on the Plain — Director Kon Ichikawa's WWI story of a Japanese soldier marooned in the Philippines stars Eiji Funakoshi and Mickey Curtis (105 min., 1959). (PFA, 5:45)

Jailhouse Rock — Elvis Presley goes to jail and emerges a rock star in this excitingly choreographed, tune-filled musical directed by Richard Thorpe (96 min., 1957). (EC, 6:00)

Little Miss Sunshine — Like the shambling VW van its hapless characters steer from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, this antic extended sitcom from first-time feature makers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris is a rickety vehicle that travels mostly downhill. When his seven-year-old daughter (Abigail Breslin) gets a surprise slot in a beauty contest, a failed motivational speaker (Greg Kinnear) loads up his squabbling, despondent family to make the 700-mile road trip. The ensemble — including Steve Carell as a suicidal Proust scholar, Paul Dano as a mute Nietzsche freak and Alan Arkin in the thankless role of a foul-mouthed, heroin-snorting grandpa — works gamely, but this is the latest in a long line of Sundance clunkers that seems to have developed its impression of human behavior from incomplete space transmissions. There are strains of generosity in the script and performances, but the platitudinous payoff — winning isn't everything, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, etc. — would go down a lot easier if the movie didn't roam from scene to scene searching for new characters to patronize (2006). — J.R. (Old Oakland Outdoor Cinema, 9th St. at Broadway, dusk)

Oakland International Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Film Festival — See Thu. (total running time unknown). (PW, 3:00)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof (95 min.). (PW, midnight)


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