One Night Stands for the week of March 28-April 3,2007 

The glory that was Rome, the baloney that was Antonioni.

Reviews by Michael Covino, Don Druker, David Ehrenstein, Kelly Vance, and Naomi Wise

Thu., March 29

The Mystery of Oberwald — Adapted from Jean Cocteau's play The Two-Headed Eagle, Michelangelo Antonioni's movie (transferred from video) is a tale of murder and betrayal in an imaginary — but not peaceable — kingdom. With Monica Vitti, Paolo Bonacelli, Franco Branciaroli, and Luigi Diberti (129 min., 1980). Preceded by a short: Antonioni Visto da Antonioni by Lino Miccichè (28 min., 1978). (PFA, 7:30)

Underworld — Somewhere in the deepest mists of Eastern Europe lies an urban hell shrouded in shadowy azure, where darkly enchanted, black-leather-clad denizens leap about to thudding techno, blurting outrageously melodramatic proclamations in randomly accented English. Erupting anew is a centuries-old blood-feud between the Vampires (superbly solemn Kate Beckinsale, Trent Reznor-like clown boy Shane Brolly) and the wolfy, non-lichen Lycans (Michael Sheen, co-conceptualist Kevin Grevioux). It's The Crow meets The Matrix, gothcore tricked out with wire stunts, and visually it's wild fun, since fledgling feature director Len Wiseman started off in production design, and creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos' diverse credits span from Godzilla to Stuart Little. Yet with Underworld's guilty pleasures come copious clinkers, from its nuts-and-bolts narrative foundation (scientifically explaining vampirism and lycanthropy) to Wiseman's inability to direct actors beyond cartoonish interaction (2003). — G.W. (PW, 9:15)

Fri., March 30

Blow-Up — Michelangelo Antonioni's adaptation of Julio Cortazar's short story is more reminiscent of the '60s than critically emblematic of them, with its quasimetaphysical goings-on: tennis games minus the balls, mysterious clowns in whiteface, etc. David Hemmings is the photographer who accidentally photographs a murder and Vanessa Redgrave the haunting model who is photographed one too many times from one too many angles (111 min., 1966). — M.C. (PFA, 7:00)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch — A musical about an East German transsexual rock singer reduced to playing salad bars while his/her ex-boyfriend makes off with his/her charts (as well as heart) to become a pop idol may not sound like it has the makings of a mainstream success story. But John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed and stars in this amazingly imaginative film version of his Off-Broadway hit, is no more to be underestimated than his hero/heroine. In fact, it could well be a hit with moviegoers who've had no prior interest in either rock 'n' roll or sexual reassignment surgery. Part of the reason for this is that Hedwig functions on both stage and screen less as an actual transgender than as an all-purpose metaphor for self-realization. If this tranny-with-a-'tude can make it — the show seems to say — then so can you (2000). — D.E. (S, midnight)

Medium Cool — Cinematographer Haskell Wexler's fascinating idea — to film a socially conscious love story using the disastrous 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention as a documentary background — succeeds on the strength of its images alone. The real-life clash on the street swallows up the fictive story line, as it must, and mise-en-scene surrenders to montage, as it sometimes should. One of the best documentaries on the '60s (110 min., 1969). — K.V. (PFA, 9:15)

This Black Soil — This documentary shows how the poor, rural, African-American community of Bayview, Virginia, fought for basic civic and social services, and won (running time unknown). (Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, 7:30)

Sat., March 31

Le Amiche — A rough adaptation of Cesare Pavese's novella about the empty lives of wealthy women in Turin, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. With Eleonora Rossi Drago, Valentina Cortese, Yvonne Forneaux, and Madeleine Fischer (104 min., 1955). (PFA, 6:30)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch — See Fri. (S, midnight)

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)

The Sting — Top-notch entertainment, pairing Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two penny-ante con men who set up a hilariously complex "Big Con" to fleece Irish gangster Robert Shaw out of half a million dollars in Depression-era Chicago. The Chicago locations are well used by veteran director George Roy Hill, and the wonderful '30s movie style (lots of horizontal and vertical wipes, flipping screens, irises in and out) enhances the sense of good, harmless, nostalgic fun (129 min., 1973). — D.D. (Cerrito, 6:00)

A Summer's Tale — An indecisive young man and his guitar visit the Normandy coast in France, where he can't make up his mind between a soulful waitress and a vivacious singer. And then his long-awaited girlfriend shows up. Just another summer vacation with the eternally mischievous Eric Rohmer, through whose eyes the possibility of love is limitless (113 min., 1996). — K.V. (PFA, 8:40)

To Kill a Mockingbird — Harper Lee's child's-eye view of Southern bigotry gains something in its translation to the screen by Robert Mulligan, who knows exactly where to place the camera to catch a child's subjective experience. Mulligan even wrings a respectable performance from Gregory Peck (he won an Oscar for the role) as the country lawyer who defends a black man in a trumped-up charge. Peck's icy remove works for once — as a kid's idea of a parent, he's frighteningly effective (129 min., 1962). — D.K. (PFA, 3:00)

Sun., April 1

I Vinti — Three early tales by Michelangelo Antonioni of aimless and moral vacuity among youth in postwar Europe. Naturally, the landscape is as drained of feeling as the people. With Anna Maria Ferrero, Franco Interlenghi, and Eduardo Cianelli (110 min., 1952). (PFA, 3:45)

Short Films by Antonioni Program 1 — Eight early Michelangelo Antonioni shorts, including The People of the Po, The Villa of Monsters, etc. (80 min. total running time). (PFA, 2:00)

Stand and Deliver — Gripping inspirational "true-life" classroom drama about an East Los Angeles high school math teacher (warmly and movingly portrayed by Edward James Olmos), who, through a rigorous blend of personal charisma and strict discipline, made a difference to his barrio students — who wind up ranking at the top on nationwide AP math tests. Directed by Ramón Menendez (102 min., 1988). (Cerrito, 2:00)

The Sting — See Sat. (Cerrito, 5:00)

Tue., April 3

Anthology Film Archives: Recent Preservations — Among these rare short films rescued by New York's Anthology Film Archives are works by Marie Menken, Harry Smith, Saul Levine, George Landow, Hilary Harris, and Carolee Schneemann (85 min. total running time). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., April 4

Cléo from 5 to 7 — In Paris, a pop singer (Corinne Marchand) waits for the results of her cancer test, in Agnès Varda's drama (90 min., 1961). (PFA, 3:00)

The Medium Is — A selection of videotape shorts from the 1970s (59 min. total running time). (PFA, 7:30)


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