One-Night Stands 

Repertory Film Listings for Feb. 28-March 5

Reviews by Kelly Vance (K.V.) and J. Hoberman (J.H.).

Thu., Feb. 28

Juju Factory Proudly intellectual story of a novelist living in and writing about the Brussels neighborhood of Matonge, center of the Congolese expatriate community (97 min., 2006). (PFA, 7:30)

Lessons from the Color of Fear Documentary on racism and deeply embedded beliefs about ethnicity, power, and community (1995). (First Congregational Church of Oakland, 7:00)

Fri., Feb. 29

La vie de Bohème Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki goes back to the original 1851 novel by Henri Murger and makes an anti-Puccini story of bohemian life in contemporary Paris. Starring Evelyne Didi, André Wilms, and Kaurismäki regular Matti Pellonpää (100 min., 1992). (PFA, 7:00)

Irma Vep Some nice shots of Hong Kong superstar Maggie Cheung scampering around Paris in a black latex body suit, but that alone is a pretty flimsy excuse for a narrative feature. Writer-director Olivier Assayas structures his film as the "making of" a remake of Louis Feuillade's 1915 serial Les Vampires by a flaky, depressed film director, and all the characters save Maggie think he's crazy for doing it. After an hour of semi-improv, loosely plotted fric-frac, we think so too — and that goes double for the real director, Assayas. Nathalie Richard, though, is memorable as a lesbian wardrobe mistress with eyes for Cheung (99 min., 1996). — K.V. (PFA, 9:00)

Sat., Mar. 1

Colossal Youth A documentary on the former residents of the Lisbon slum known as Fontainhas, directed by Pedro Costa (155 min, 2006). Costa in person. (PFA, 6:30)

Sun., Mar. 2

The Blood Pedro Costa's debut feature is a black-and-white blend of classic Hollywood, youthful energy, Portuguese romanticism, and modernism (95 min., 1989). Costa in person. (PFA, 3:00)

Bones In the first of three Pedro Costa films set in the Creole slums of Lisbon, a baby is born to a suicidal teenage mother and a dazed, uncaring father (94 min., 1997). Preceded by Costa's Ne change rien (11 min., 2005). Costa in person. (PFA, 5:30)

Tue., Mar. 4

Shoot Shoot Shoot: Program 1 Eight shorts demonstrating British avant-garde filmmaking during the 1960s and '70s (total running time 77 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

King Corn Homemade-looking digital documentary arrives at its Super Size Me-style message by sending two Boston guys to Iowa to learn first-hand what an acre of commercial "industrialized" corn is all about, from planting to fertilizing to harvesting to market to food processing plants and feed lots, where the dirty business takes place. Their conclusions: Corn is ubiquitous and bountiful, makes possible cheap food for Americans, and is killing us. If you thought corn-fed ground beef ("fat disguised as meat") was bad, consider high fructose corn syrup, the inescapable, nutritionally worthless "raw material for an overweight society" that dominates every grocery in the land. This entertaining, depressing eye-opener is directed by Aaron Woolf, featuring Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis as the two amateur farmers (88 min., 2007). — K.V. (Oakland Museum of California, 6:30)

Wed., Mar. 5

Yolanda and the Thief Vincente Minnelli directed this 1945 musical that stars Fred Astaire as a con man who tries to convince a convent-bred girl that he's her guardian angel in this lavish musical fantasy produced by Arthur Freed with musical direction by Lennie Hayton. "Coffee Time" is considered the film's best musical number (108 min.). (PFA, 3:00)

Killer of Sheep There are first films like Citizen Kane or Breathless, which, as radically new and fully achieved as they are, unfairly overshadow an entire oeuvre. And then there are first films — perhaps even more radical — that haunt an artist's career not through precocious virtuosity, but because they have an innocence that can never be repeated. This second type includes Charles Burnett's legendary Killer of Sheep, which was finished in 1977 and, despite its enormous critical reputation, didn't get its theatrical release until 2007. Made while Burnett was a 33-year-old grad student at UCLA, Killer of Sheep is a study of social paralysis in South Central Los Angeles a dozen years after the Watts insurrection; its protagonist, Stan, works in an abattoir (hence the title) and is depressed, dreamy, and always worried-looking. The subject matter harks back to the heyday of Italian neorealism, but Burnett uses the film language of experimental documentaries for his urban pastoral — an episodic series of scenes that are sweet, sardonic, deeply sad, and very funny (83 min.). — J.H. (PFA, 6:30)

My Brother's Wedding Independent filmmaker Charles Burnett returns to the Watts family for this character study of Pierce Monday, an angry young man who finds himself alone at thirty, all of his friends having been imprisoned or killed, and his brother bound for an upper-middle-class life, which Pierce aspires to. The film stars Everett Silas, Jessie Holmes, Gaye Shannon-Burnett, and Ronnie Bell (115 min., 1983). (PFA, 8:10)


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