Movies » One-Night Stands

One Night Stands for the week of June 13-20, 2007

In this week's rep picks: Imamura at the PFA, and R. Buckminster Fuller and friends

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Movie theater abbreviations

AC = Act 1 & 2, AL= Albany, BA = Bal, BH = Blackhawk, BC = Brenden Concord 14, BP = Brenden Pittsburg 16, BS = AMC Bay Street, CA = California, CAPH = CinéArts Pleasant Hill, CB = Century Bayfair, CE = Central Cinema Alameda, CCC = CoCo Cinemas, CEPH = Century Pleasant Hill 16, CH = Century Hilltop, CN = Cinedome Newark, CRC = Crow Canyon, CS = Century Solano Drive-In, CSC = Chabot Space and Science Center, CUC = Century Union City 25, CWC = Century Walnut Creek, CF = Cinedome Fremont, E = Elmwood, EC = El Cerrito Speakeasy, GL = Grand Lake, JL = Jack London, N8 = Naz 8, OA = Oaks, OR = Orinda, P = Park, PM = Piedmont, PW = Parkway, RA = Regal Antioch, RH = Regal Hacienda, S = Shattuck,UAB = UA Berkeley, UAEB = UA Emery Bay, VL = Vine Livermore.

Thu., June 14

Endless Desire — Shohei Imamura's grimly comic "caper" picture features a mismatched gang of petty criminals who tunnel under a shanty town on the outskirts of Osaka looking for a cache of morphine buried in a WWII bomb shelter beneath a noodle shop. What they mostly uncover is Imamura's special brand of harsh futility, as things go wrong and the crooks begin to rat each other out (101 min., 1958). — K.V. (PFA, 7:30)

Firefly — The first three episodes of the cult-hit sci-fi TV series (total running time unknown). (EC, 9:15)

The Lost Boys — Dianne Wiest and her two sons move to the beach boardwalk town of Santa Carla, where teenage vampires are chewing up people left and right. This movie has the sort of artsy production values that let you know right away that the director, Joel (St. Elmo's Fire) Schumacher, thought he was doing something hip and original. He wasn't. This is MTV surrealism with the kind of souped-up, noisy editing that just masks incompetence. Occasionally funny, but this horror flick lacks fangs. With Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland (97 min., 1987). — M.C. (PW, 9:15)

Fri., June 15

Babel — Time perhaps scrambling it's for Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñàrritu to stop his narratives. After making an exciting debut in 2000 with Amores Perros, the director apparently decided to devote his feature-film career to telling multipart stories in initially disconnected fragments. In theory, it's an ambitious gambit; in practice — at least in this schematic new tract on the world's ills — it reduces global unrest to a cosmic game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In this kaleidoscopic study of tone-deaf culture collision and dislocation, a rifle links the fates of a Moroccan goat-herder's young sons (Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid), a grieving California couple (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), a San Diego nanny (Adriana Barraza) stranded with her privileged charges, and a deaf-mute Tokyo schoolgirl (Rinto Kikuchi). The director and his longtime screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga, mean to show the butterfly effects of American arrogance and post-9/11 solipsism throughout the world, but after a strong first hour, the movie settles for cheap ironies and climactic calamities rigged to unfold almost in unison. The result is conspiracy theory masquerading as humanism (2006). — J.R. (Movies That Matter, Neumayer residence, 565 Bellevue St., Oakland, 6:30)

An Inconvenient Truth — This isn't just another lefty doc for the art-house set, but "by far the most terrifying film you will ever see," according to the ads, which feature a trio of smokestacks spewing what looks like the perfect storm. How much can a film of Al Gore's self-described global warming "slide show" do to lower the temperature? Onstage, pointer in hand, the pedant politician mounts a hydraulic lift to follow the climb of carbon dioxide literally off the charts — a dramatic high point of his presentation. More effective in attention-getting terms are computer images of the ocean engulfing lower Manhattan (the projected result of the Greenland ice sheet's shrinkage by 2050) and Gore's accompanying commentary: "Is it possible that we should guard against other threats besides terrorists?" (2006) — R.N. (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St., 7:00)

The Princess Bride — Entertaining sword 'n' sorcery adventure shows the advantage of having good writing (by William Goldman from his novel) and imaginative direction (by Rob Reiner), as well as a cast primed for parody. Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, and Wallace Shawn steal the film from romantic pair Cary Elwes and Robin Wright (98 min., 1987). — K.V. (CLC, midnight)

Tonka of the Gallows — The first Czech talkie stars Yugoslav actress Ita Rina as a country girl turned urban prostitute who is drafted by the authorities to spend the night with a condemned prisoner. Consequently she gets a reputation as an angel of death. Directed by Karel Anton, based on Egon Erwin Kisch's novel (84 min., 1930). (PFA, 8:45)

Virginity — Men are drawn to the innocent beauty of a poor cashier. With Lida Baarovà. Adapted from the novel by Czech writer Marie Majerovà. Directed by Otakar Vàvra (84 min., 1937). (PFA, 7:00)

Sat., June 16

A Man Vanishes — Shohei Imamura follows the trail of one of the many missing persons in overcrowded Japan. He interviews the missing man's family, employers, acquaintances, and fiancée, who believes her own sister might have murdered her betrothed. Surrealism takes over when the fiancée begins to take a liking to the interviewer (130 min., 1967). (PFA, 8:45)

Pigs and Battleships — The visual highlight of this fiercely satirical film by Shohei Imamura is a stampede of pigs through the dockside streets of Yokosuka, engulfing not only the obnoxious American sailors and their jeeps but also the pimps, prostitutes, and assorted lowlifes who feed on the Yankee military presence. Thus does Imamura bite every hand in sight in this 1961 tale, ostensibly of a petty gangster (Hiroyuki Nagato) but really about moral duplicity and hypocrisy (108 min.). — K.V. (PFA, 6:30)

Read You Like a Book — Tony Amendola, Catalina Larrañaga, Barbara Crampton, and Karen Black star in a drama about people who meet in a bookstore — in this case, Berkeley's Black Oak Books. Directed by Robert N. Zagone from a screenplay by Jim Vaccaro (101 min., 2006). (S, 7:00)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof, starring Tim Curry as the androgynous Dr. Frank N. Furter (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

West Side Story — Never mind the mediocre lead acting (Richard Beymer, Natalie Wood) or the fact that this Romeo and Juliet update set amid youth gang warfare in 1950s New York isn't exactly a gem of urban realism. It all melts away because you get to meet a girl named Maria. This adapted Broadway musical, one of the best, features Jerome Robbins' knockout choreography and the lovely Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim score. With George Chakiris, Rita Moreno, and Russ Tamblyn. Directed by Robert Wise and Robbins (151 min., 1961). — M.C. (EC, 5:00) Sun., June 17

L'Amour Fou — During stage play rehearsals, the director (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) and his actress wife (Bulle Ogier) wrestle with their strained relationship, under the direction of Jacques Rivette (255 min., 1968). (PFA, 3:00)

Legacy of Torture — A documentary on the case of three members of the Black Panther Party who were arrested and tortured by police in 1973, from the Freedom Archives of Oakland (running time unknown). (PW, 2:00, 5:00)

West Side Story — See Sat. (EC, 4:00) Mon., June 18

Frameline 31 — Find the Parkway's programs of the annual Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgendered Film Festival at Frameline.org (PW, 6:30, 9:15) Tue., June 19

Frameline 31 — See Mon. (PW, 6:30, 9:15)

The History of Postwar Japan as Told by a Bar Hostess — Shohei Imamura uses the cinema-vérité style to explore the life of a real-life bar hostess who has bought a bar in Yokosuka. In his discussions, the director gets her to talk about her life from the end of the war to the present (105 min., 1970). (PFA, 7:30) Wed., June 20

Ecological Design: Inventing the Future — A documentary on the rise of ecological design in the 20th century, focusing on the work of Buckminster Fuller, Jay Baldwin, Stewart Brand, et al. (running time unknown). (Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, 7:30)

Frameline 31 — See Mon. (PW, 6:30, 9:15)

The Long Riders — Walter Hill's film about the James-Younger gang tries to have it every which way — the Robin Hood mythicizing of earlier Jesse James films, the slow-motion shootouts of The Wild Bunch, the silhouette dusk lighting of Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales, and the low-keyed realism of Philip Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid — and the result is a film that never finds its own style or rhythms, and that fails to extend the Western genre while looking like an obvious bid to do so. The gimmick of casting real brothers (James and Stacy Keach) as the Jameses and Youngers (David, Keith, and Robert Carradine) turns out to be less a gimmick and more a very nice bit of casting (99 min., 1980). — M.C. (PFA, 7:30)

Top Gun — Here's Tony Scott's menu for a resurgent military picnic: boiled beefcake (fighter pilots Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer), a bucket of old creamed corn, several yards of synthe-syrup, and a piece of cheese (Kelly McGillis). Peacetime hotshot clutches at title flight program, redeems self by blasting Russian MiGs, gets girl. The aerial photography is as exciting as the last Navy TV commercial, which this otherwise lifeless film resembles (110 min., 1986). — K.V. (Wente Vineyards Restaurant, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, twilight)

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