One-Night Stands 

Repertory film listings for January 29-February 4, 2009.

Thu., January 29

The Man with a Movie Camera Dziga Vertov, born Denis Abramovich Kaufman, was one of the leading Russian film theorists of the early-20th century. His concept of "Kino Pravda" (cinematic truth) was never more compellingly illustrated than in this 1929 masterpiece, a documentary in name only, that takes us into the whirring, frenetic workings of a composite city (filmed in Moscow, Kiev, and Odessa) where a lone cameraman is shown dodging traffic and capturing reality. The parade of images is intensely, gorgeously stimulating, filled with elaborate tracking shots, double exposures, freeze-frames, and other extravagant uses of film language (67 min). Lecture by Jean-Pierre Gorin. Judith Rosenberg on piano. Preceded by a short: À propos de Nice (27 min., 1930). (PFA, 7:30)

Friday, January 30

One Man's War A pastiche of "quotations" from Ernst Junger's "Parisian Diaries" on the Nazi occupation of Paris, French newsreel footage, so-called Aryan music by Hans Pfiltzner and Richard Strauss along with so-called degenerate music by Arnold Schonberg and Franz Schreker, et al, all add up to a frightening picture of war and the lies we devise to evade its abnormal reality. Written and directed by Edgardo Cozarinski. With the voice of Niels Arestrup (105 min., 1981). (PFA, 7:30)

Sat., January 31

Thunderbolt A rarely seen, early sound film by Josef von Sternberg about a gangster and a bank clerk in love with the same girl, and the dire consequences for all (92 min., 1929). (PFA, 4:00)

Letter to Jane: An Investigation of a Still A product of the then recently formed French Dziga Vertov film collective, led by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, which deconstructs a notorious news photograph of Jane Fonda surrounded by Vietnamese communists in Hanoi (52 min., 1972). Preceded by a short: LBJ (20 min., 1968). (PFA, 6:00)

Everything for Sale A tribute to the late Polish actor Zbigniew Cybulski (regarded as the Polish James Dean), who was killed in a freak accident in 1967. Director Andrzej Wajda weaves fact and fiction in this film-within-a-film that is highlighted by interviews with the actor's wife and other associates. Daniel Olbrychski stars in the title role (97 min., 1968). (PFA, 8:30)

Sun., February 1

The Blue Angel Adapted from a Heinrich Mann novel, Josef von Sternberg's film traces the downfall of an authoritarian high school teacher (Emil Jannings) who falls in love with nightclub singer Lola Lola of the ambiguous half-smile (Marlene Dietrich in the role that launched her career). Dietrich's sulking sexuality dominates the movie, which otherwise is steeped in the thick Germanic expressionistic atmosphere of the era (108 min., 1930). (PFA, 2:00)

Shoot the Messenger A well-meaning black Briton struggles with issue of identity and race in this bold and dynamic BBC film from director Ngozi Onwurah (100 min., 2006). (PFA, 4:45)

Tuesday, February 3

A Diary for Timothy English director Humphrey Jennings' most accomplished and arguably greatest film is a portrait of the battle-weary home front in 1944 and 1945 (40 min., 1945). Followed by The Passerby, a 1995 Donald McWilliams film about a man who finds a full suitcase abandoned by the side of road (58 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., February 4

I Was Born, But ... Yasujiro Ozu, the consummate Japanese formalist (Late Spring, Tokyo Story), made this light, understated comedy — about middle-class mores and the problem children have understanding their parents' often absurdly comic behavior — in 1932, just as he was beginning to develop the acute social consciousness that would result in his solemn masterpieces of the late '40s and early '50s. A sympathetic, perceptive study of family relations — Ozu's perennial subject (92 min., 1932). (PFA, 3:00)

Man of Marble Andrzej Wajda's heroine, Agnieszka, is smart, sarcastic, talented, and thoroughly contemporary and striking in her blue jeans and her head-held-high gait as she stalks the subject of her student documentary film — Mateusz Birkut, a bricklayer who in the 1950s was elevated to the rank of national hero because of his speed in laying bricks. At that time his portrait appeared everywhere — in papers, on wall posters, in news films — but now he's dropped completely from sight and nobody in the government will talk to him. Her film — and Wajda's by extension — thus becomes a comparative study of Stalinist Poland and non-Stalinist Poland, as well as a fascinating analysis of the insidious nature of film, not just its ability to create and nurture mass illusions, but also its central role in the state's program for the manufacture of a hallucinatory social reality (153 min., 1977). (PFA, 7:00)

Palestine Is Still the Issue John Pilger's 2002 film with the same name as one he made in 1974 argues that though Palestinians are still unjustly stateless and humiliated, they've begun to rise up against their occupiers. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)


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