One-Night Stands 

Repertory film listings for September 18-24.

Thu., September 18

Breathless Jean-Luc Godard's 1959 film revolves around an outlaw hero named Michel Poiccard (Jean-Paul Belmondo), an American student working for the New York Herald Tribune (Jean Seberg), and their dalliance in France (90 min.). (PFA, 6:30)

Xiao Wu In the Chinese city of Fenyang, a two-bit hood named Xiao Wu finds his hustles going nowhere. Must be the dawn of a new era in China, or so director Jia Zhang Ke and his non-actor cast seem to indicate. A China-Hong Kong coproduction (105 min., 1997). (PFA, 8:20)

Thrillville's Shatfest: Tribute to William Shatner A screening of spaghetti western White Comanche, starring Shatner as a cowboy and his ruthless Indian half-brother, plus a live performance by music group Pollo del Mar. (EC, 9:15)

A Jihad for Love Parvez Sharma, a gay Muslim filmmaker from India, takes us on a sober documentary tour of such places as Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, France, etc., to show us how conscientious, religiously devout gay men and women are coping with Islamic fundamentalism and its blanket condemnation of homosexuality. Even as many gay Muslims choose exile in the West, they are caught in the cultural strife of "anti-terrorism" directed against Muslims, thus Sharma's title, in the sense that "jihad" is defined as "struggle." Worthwhile reporting (81 min.). — K.V. (Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, Berkeley, 7:30)

Fri., September 19

Brief Encounter This is the film that established David Lean's reputation (before he went on to such bombastic exercises as Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan's Daughter, and shifted from being — in Lindsay Anderson's view — England's white hope to England's white elephant). Though based on a short play (and screenplay) by Noel Coward that rarely rises above the level of the old women's magazines, this tale of the chance meeting and almost-affair of a bored suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) and a married doctor (Trevor Howard) in a provincial railway buffet does manage to zero in on some of the more depressive aspects of English middle-class life, and thus survives more as a social document than a genuinely compelling drama. With Cyril Raymond and Stanley Holloway (86 min., 1945). — D.D. (PFA, 6:30)

Xiao Shan Going Home A student film from the Beijing Film Academy that won the top prize at the Hong Kong Independent Film Awards, Jia Zhangke's Xiao Shan Going Home tells the story of a cook in Beijing who is anxious to return home to his rural village for Chinese New Year, but none of his old friends want to join him (58 min., 1995). Preceded by In Public (32 min., 2001). (PFA, 8:30)

Sat., September 20

Great Expectations This film would be interesting even without the sumptuousness of the production because it was Alec Guinness' first appearance in pictures. The graveyard scene is still a shocker, the details are still astonishingly well-assembled, and the performances are wonderful. With Anthony Wager and John Mills as Pip; Jean Simmons and Valerie Hobson as Estella; and Finlay Currie, Martita Hun, Bernard Miles, and Guinness as Herbert Pocket. Winner of three Oscars, including Best Cinematography (Guy Green) (118 min., 1946). — D.D. (PFA, 3:00)

Blithe Spirit Delightful British adaptation of Noel Coward's comedy-fantasy with Rex Harrison as a man who remarries but is haunted by the ghost of his dead wife (Constance Cummings). Kay Hammond and Margaret Rutherford (in a hilarious role as a fumbling medium), and Hugh Wakefield costar (96 min., 1945). (PFA, 6:00)

I'm Going Home This deceptively simple little film by Manoel de Oliveira is designed to showcase the great city on the Seine via the experiences of a senior thespian named Gilbert Valence (Michael Piccoli). Ostensibly pedestrian in its depiction of Valence's foibles on and off stage — despite the tragic deaths of the actor's close family — the film studiously avoids cinematic and emotional grandstanding in favor of extremely subtle but generally effective portraiture, constructed around Valence's roles in three classics: Ionesco's Exit the King, Shakespeare's The Tempest, and a film adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses (the latter directed by a typically effete John Malkovich in a glorified cameo). Catherine Deneuve and Antoine Chappey show up briefly, but the project mainly concerns the old man, his work, and his glorious city (90 min., 2001). — G.W. (PFA, 8:00)

Sun., September 21

Christopher Columbus: The Enigma A search for Colombus' true identity told through the eyes of those seeking it: a Portuguese couple who've anointed themselves amateur historians (70 min., 2007). (PFA, 3:30)

A Talking Picture Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira wrote and directed this allegorical story of a Lisbon history professor and her daughter, three goddesses (played by Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas, and Stefania Sandrelli), and ship's captain John Malkovich (96 min., 2003). (PFA, 5:00)

Tue., September 23

Bang: Robert Breer in 35mm A collection of twelve animated shorts, ranging from 1956 to 1986, by experimental filmmaker Robert Breer (total running time 64 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., September 24

Belle Toujours Manoel de Oliveira's twisted homage to Luis Buñuel's Belle du Jour (68 min., 2006). (PFA, 6:30)

Belle du Jour The peregrinations of an upper-middle-class prostitute (Catherine Deneuve) turning tricks in the afternoons with an increasingly bizarre series of clients. Thus does wily old Surrealist Luis Buñuel catch the spirit of the ´60s. Adapted by Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière from the novel by Joseph Kessel (101 min., 1967) — K.V. (PFA, 8:00)

Iran (is not the problem) This feature-length film disputes the notion that Iran is at fault for the US government's (and public's) increasing hostility toward the Middle Eastern country. (Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center, Walnut Creek, 7:00)

The Story of Stuff and The Greening of Cuba A short film double-feature. The Story of Stuff takes a look at production and consumption patterns in our society, while The Greening of Cuba profiles Cuban farmers and scientists who are working to develop a self-sufficient, sustainable model for local agriculture. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)


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