One-Night Stands 

Repertory film listings for Jan. 24-30, 2008

Reviews by Michael Covino, Kelly Vance, Luke Y. Thompson, & Naomi Wise

Thu., Jan. 24

Bamako — The World Bank is "put on trial" in this political drama from Mali, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako (108 min., 2006). (PFA, 6:30)

Sweet Love, Bitter — Partly based on the life of jazz musician Charlie "Bird" Parker, and adapted from John Alfred Williams' novel Night Song by Herbert Danska and Lewis Jacobs. Directed by Danska. With Dick Gregory as Parker. Also with Don Murray, Diane Varsi (92 min., 1967). (PFA, 8:40)

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 — effectively, successfully, and 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. Also with Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, and Peter Bull. Screenplay by Terry Southern, Peter George, and Kubrick (93 min., 1964). — M.C. (EC, 9:15)

Spirit of the Marathon — A documentary that follows six runners as they prepare for and compete in the Chicago Marathon (2008). (RA, RH, BS, CEPH, CUC, CWC. 7:30)

Fri., Jan. 25

Love on the Run — This film is François Truffaut's homage to the actor with whom he has worked most often — Jean-Pierre Léaud — and, by extension, to himself. It is a self-indulgent exercise, but the effect of slipping in footage from his first film, the astonishing 400 Blows, is to rupture the surface of Love on the Run — though perhaps unintentionally. Léaud, like Truffaut himself, has traded on his early dignity and grace for a kind of sick humor that mistakes clumsiness and the bungling of one's affairs for good-natured humanism (94 min., 1979). — M.C. (PFA, 7:00)

Day for Night — The title refers to the cinematic practice of shooting night scenes during the day using a fake filter — in effect, using film as magic, illusion, or fakery. In François Truffaut's comic film-on-filmmaking, an international movie crew (including Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Léaud) play out games of romance and intrigue on location. While the mature Truffaut has generally been a disappointment after his adventurous start as a filmmaker, Day for Night is one of his best later films. Though it may be as complacent as his other work, at least it has enough charm, humor, and vitality to afford an evening's entertainment (116 min., 1975). — N.W. (PFA, 9:00)

Sat., Jan. 26

Waiting for Happiness — Life in the West African town of Nouadhibou is brought to life in glimpses, in filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako's 2002 narrative drama (95 min.). (PFA, 6:30)

Bamako — See Thursday. (PFA, 8:30)

Bullitt — Steve McQueen, his jaw firmly set, makes director Peter Yates look good in this 1968 policier with the car chase that launched a thousand like it. If nothing else, this picture reestablished the hilly excitement of San Francisco locations for action films, which even Clint Eastwood wasn't able to completely exhaust. Robert Vaughn makes a slimy two-faced villain, Jacqueline Bisset is the miniskirted girlfriend, and that's Robert Duvall as the tipster cabby. I wish Don Siegel had made this film (113 min.). — K.V. (EC, 6:00)

Head Trip — This documentary by local art community personalities John Law and Flecher Fleudujon chronicles the journey of the iconic Doggie Diner heads across the country on a flatbed trailer towed by an old bus full of yet more San Francisco charactersƒ (85 min., 2008). Preceded and followed by performances by Bishop Joey and the First Church of the Last Laugh, Loop!Station, Blake More, and more. (Rythmix Cultural Works, Alameda, 4:00, 9:00)

Sun., Jan. 27

The Trial of Joan of Arc — The much-overused adjective "austere" applied to the work of Robert Bresson is a convenient critical hedge from behind which to observe what is in fact a very rich, sensuous use of the camera. In all its "reduced" glory, this 1962 rendering of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc (Florence Carrez) substitutes Bresson's unique objective style of acting for Carl Dreyer's crushing subjectivity in his 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc. Not for everyone, and not the most representative Bresson film, but nevertheless a rewarding approach to a notorious story, which proves that there is no last word in cinema. Photographed by L.H. Burel (65 min.). — K.V. (PFA, 3:00)

The Passion of Joan of Arc — Carl Dreyer's austere, harrowing silent version of the legend of Saint Joan, shot mostly in close-up against backgrounds of extreme simplicity, removes the tale from medieval specificity to a timeless realm of soul-made-visible, with unforgettable images and an ascetic technique that, after fifty years, still looks fresh. Jean-Luc Godard provided the best critique (and tribute): in his Vivre Sa Vie, a prostitute goes to the movies and sees Maria Falconetti's tearful face on the screen. Antonin Artaud and Michel Simon are equally extraordinary (85 min., 1928). — N.W. (PFA, 4:30)

The Connection — The epitome of the beat aesthetic, rather dated but it has some clever touches. Shirley Clarke's 1961 film concerns a documentary maker who gets too involved with his subject, a circle of strung-out jazz musicians. The film we're watching is the film he's "making" — as he's seduced into trying a taste himself, his cameramen ignore his orders to stop shooting. Too tricky for its own good and fairly clichéd at its heart, it's still an intriguing evocation of a bygone milieu (110 min.). (PFA, 6:15)

Bullitt — See Saturday. (EC, 5:00)

Tue., Jan. 29

we will live to see these things, or, five pictures of what may come to pass — Experimental documentary by Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, working under the name the Speculative Archive, on Syria at a tense and uncertain time (47 min., 2007). Preceded by the short not a matter of if but when: brief moments in time when expectations were repeatedly raised and lowered and people grew exhausted from never knowing if the moment was at hand or still to come (31 min., 2006). Julia Meltzer in person. (PFA, 7:30)

Freeway Philharmonic — Bay Area filmmaker Tal Skoot introduces "the road warriors of the classical music world" — musicians who perform in multiple orchestras concurrently and frequently travel large distances for rehearsals and concerts in hopes of earning a spot on a major symphony orchestra (60 min., 2008). (EC, 7:00)

Wed., Jan. 30

From the Cinema of Attractions to Narrative Illusionism — A film lecture by Marilyn Fabe, with piano accompaniment by Bruce Loeb (running time unknown). (PFA, 3:00)

The Legend of Suram Fortress — The film is based on a Georgian legend about the repeated efforts of the Georgian people to build a fortress against invaders that doesn't collapse, and the need for a sacrificial lamb to ensure this. Directed by Sergei Paradjanov (Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors) and Dodo Abashidze. Written by Vazha Ghigashvili. With Levan Uchaneishvili and Zurab Kipshidze (90 min., 1985). (PFA, 7:30)

Paradise Now — The mere mention of a Palestinian movie about martyrdom seems to raise immediate defensive postures, but Paradise Now, while taking a definite antiviolence stance, ventures even deeper into controversy by daring to be a black comedy. All the marketing focuses on how it's a call for peace, but the movie also has the sheer brazenness to find humor in the suicide bomber's experience. Said (Kais Nashif) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) have been informed by their friend that they've been chosen for the next suicide mission against the Israelis. Neither one wants to be involved without the other, but together they agree to go for it, and undergo all the necessary religious and practical training. But when the time comes to slip through the fence into Israeli territory, things don't go as planned. Some won't appreciate the mix of tones, but none of the humor cheapens the film's final blow, nor is it designed to condone terrorism in any way (90 min., 2005). — L.Y.T. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)


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