One-Night Stands 

Repertory film listings for February 5-11, 2009.

Thu., February 5

Awaiting for Men Katy Léna N'Diaye takes a look at female independence and burgeoning feminism in the red-walled clay city of Oualata, on the far edge of the Mauritanian desert (56 min., 2007). Preceded by short: Coffee Colored Children (16 min., 1988). (PFA, 6:30)

Chief! Filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno's wry documentary comments on his native Cameroon and its penchant for titles and figures of petty authority — too many chiefs (61 min., 1999). (PFA, 8:15)

Friday, February 6

Morocco This is Josef von Sternberg's second vehicle for Marlene Dietrich, the one that made her a Hollywood star, and it's decidedly less flamboyant than those that followed. Dietrich is a cafe singer working in North Africa. Gary Cooper is the stoic legionnaire she meets while singing "What Am I Bid for My Apples?" As always with Sternberg, the real chemistry is visual, realized here with the help of photographers Lee Garmes and Lucien Ballard. — K.V. (93 min., 1930). (PFA, 6:30)

Landscape After Battle A 1970 film by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The film is based on the autobiographical stories of poet Tadeusz Borowski. Borowski survived Auschwitz and the post-war displaced persons camps, only to commit suicide in 1951 at the age of 29. Screenplay by Wajda and Adrzej Brzozowski (106 min.). (PFA, 8:30)

Sat., February 7

11th Annual Bay Area High School Film and Video Festival A wide-ranging collection of new films by Bay Area high school students. The final program was selected by students at Berkeley High School (total running time 90 min.). (PFA, 1:00 and 3:30)

An American Tragedy Josef von Sternberg directed this 1931 film adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel. Phillips Holmes portrays the ambitious young man who is captivated by the beauty of a wealthy young debutante on his climb up the social ladder, but is later charged with the drowning murder of his textile-worker girlfriend (95 min.). (PFA, 6:30)

Dishonored Marlene Dietrich portrays a streetwalker turned spy in her third film for Josef von Sternberg, which was based on his original story. La Dietrich has a chance to pose in some raffish leather outfits and display her femme fatalism while Sternberg's worshipful camera laps up her image. Pretty standard "Mata Hari" plot, but technically a gem, with photo and sound innovations ahead of their time. Victor McLaglen, Lew Cody, and Gustav von Seyffertitz co-star (90 min., 1931). – K.V. (PFA, 8:30)

Sun., February 8

The Salvation Hunters Josef von Sternberg, the Austrian-American director noted for creating Marlene Dietrich's American image, wrote, produced, and directed this classic 1925 silent about three characters — simply called the Boy, the Girl, and the Child — who flee a cruel "drudgemaster" to the city, where a white slaver tries to turn the Girl in to a prostitute. With Georgia Hale, George K. Arthur, and Bruce Guerin (79 min.). (PFA, 2:00)

Cairo Station Hind Rustum and Farid Shawqi are featured in this 1958 drama that focuses on the lives of the people who are employed in a Cairo railroad station. Directed by Youssef Chahine (98 min.). (PFA, 5:00)

Until the Violence Stops A documentary on the growth of the Vagina Monologues stage dramas into an international call for an end to violence against women and girls. (EC, 2:00)

Tuesday, February 10

Perfumed Nightmare A hilarious, off-beat, personal and political comedy from the Philippines' Kidlat Tahimik, whose point of view seems most similar to that of Les Blank. A jitney driver (played by Tahimik) who adores Werner Von Braun manages to travel to Paris, only to discover the truth about the Western technology that's taking over his country. Wicked, witty, and thoroughly unique, filmed for only a few pesos but adept enough to engage F.F. Coppola's notice, it takes a mouth-filling abstract concept called "cultural imperialism" and brings it to life with such cutting intelligence and breezy humor that even the end-credits tickle (93 min., 1980). — N.W. (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., February 11

Meet Me in St. Louis A nostalgic musical confection from Vincente Minnelli, in many ways Judy Garland's most appealing performance. Same message as The Wizard of Oz: Happiness is to be found right here at home. (Of course, it helps when home is a three-story rambling Victorian with a storybook family.) Shot in vivid Technicolor in 1944, with Margaret O'Brien, Leon Ames, Mary Astor, Tom Drake, and Marjorie Main (113 min.). — K.V. (PFA, 3:00)

Man of Iron Andrzej Wajda's Man of Marble (1977) rode the cutting edge of the then-resurgent Polish nationalism movement, while Man of Iron simply brings up the rear. It's an uneasy mix of romance and documentary (including some startling, previously suppressed footage of the bloody 1970 Gdansk shipyard strikes during which more than 10,000 workers battled government troops) that never quite comes together; and if it is politically more volatile than Marble, it's aesthetically less satisfying. Krystyna Janda, the fireball heroine of Marble, has been reduced to a secondary role as wife of a Solidarity leader, while a whiney government radio reporter, assigned to do a hatchet job on her husband, is the lead. Iron does contain the suppressed ending of Marble, and concludes with the historic August 31, '80 signing of the Gdansk Charter. Lech Walesa plays himself in several non-documentary scenes (156 min., 1981). — M.C. (PFA, 7:00)

The Iron Wall A documentary on the history of the Palestinian struggle against occupation. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)


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