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One-Night Stands

Repertory film listings for April 3-9



Reviews written by Don Druker, Dave Kehr, Kelly Vance, Gregory Weinkauf, and Naomi Wise.

Thu., Apr. 3

Simon of the Desert Luis Buñuel zeroes in on one of his favorite satiric targets, the spurious mythology of the church, in this sardonic little comedy on the sufferings of St. Simon Stylites. Made in Mexico from a script by Buñuel and Julio Alejandro, inspired by a theme from Garcia Lorca (43 min., 1965) — K.V. (PFA, 7:30)

Fri., Apr. 4

The Trial Orson Welles' nightmarish version of the Franz Kafka novel was shot mainly in the disused Gare D'Orsay in Paris — and Welles uses the cavernous interiors to create a dark, baroque, echoing world of corridors, crannies, and more than a few nooks from which pop the most startling series of Wellesian surprises since Citizen Kane. A magnificently atmospheric film, with the less-than-perfect casting of Anthony Perkins as K, and the always-welcome presences of Jeanne Moreau and Orson himself as Hastler (118 min., 1962). — D.D. (PFA, 7:00)

La Chinoise A chinoise is a fine-mesh food strainer made from the hair of Chinese women, a favored tool in French haute cuisine. Here, Jean-Luc Godard views the revolutionary process as a fine-mesh strainer of political ideas and human relationships, in a Maoist commune consisting of Anne Wiazemsky, Juliet Berto, Jean-Pierre Léaud, and Michel Semeniako. Godard's half-comic, half-pathetic portrait of young leftists proceeding uncertainly and sometimes foolishly into militant action was proven as prophecy a year later, in the "events" of May, 1968 — after which, Godard more or less disowned this work for its political ambivalence. Like all late-'60s Godards, however, it's hardly episodic and eternally fresh (99 min., 1967). — N.W. (PFA, 9:15)

EarthDance: Short-Attention-Span Environmental Film Festival The fifth EarthDance festival features 24 shorts from around the world. (Oakland Museum of California, 7:30, 9:30)

Sat., Apr. 5

The Battle of Algiers With its fortieth anniversary approaching in 2005, this astonishingly gritty film maintains its strong niche between Roberto Rossellini's Open City and Paul Greengrass' Bloody Sunday as a pinnacle of war-torn neo-realist drama. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo (who co-wrote with Franco Solinas), this Italian-Algerian coproduction digs into the French-Algerian conflict between 1954 and 1960, as terrorists/freedom fighters from the Algerian National Liberation Front stage covert attacks upon the French colonialists, who are freshly rancorous following their failure in Indo-China. It drags in bits, but recovers with great intensity. And technically, it's stunning: Brilliantly staged conflicts segue via Ennio Morricone's haunting score, and the performances (particularly from Brahim Haggiag as a resistance fighter and Jean Martin as his determined opponent) are top-notch. So realistic is the footage — the bombings, the tortures, the harrowing riot at the end — that the filmmakers wisely offer a disclaimer that there's no documentary or newsreel footage involved. More important, though, is that the project's applicability to world events remains completely untarnished by time (123 min., 1966). — G.W. (PFA, 6:30)

F for Fake A quasifilm by Orson Welles that uses some odds and ends of footage (some shot by Welles, some by others) to explore the respective mysteries of Howard Hughes, Clifford Irving, art forger Elmyr de Hory, and Welles himself. The end result is some fairly obvious illusion versus reality stuff that hardly represents the director at the height of his powers (85 min., 1973). — D.K. (PFA, 8:50)

All in This Tea East Bay filmmaker Les Blank's documentary explores the world of tea (70 min., 2006). (EC, 6:00)

Sun., Apr. 6

Summer of War: Lebanon 2006 A program of five shorts shot during and immediately following the war in Lebanon in 2006 (total running time 84 min.). (PFA, 3:30)

The Roof Kamal Aljafari's essayistic documentary on his family's sense of place and home in Israel (61 min., 2006). Preceded by short: Visit Iraq, a humorous look at the abandonment of an Iraqi Airlines office (26 min., 2003). Kamal Aljafari in person. (PFA, 5:30)

All in This Tea See Saturday. (EC, 5:00)

Ori Film Noir A program of two features: Cubamor, a mystical drama set in Cuba, and Favela Rising, about a man, a movement, and music in a Brazilian squatter settlement. (La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, 6:00)

Kiss My Wheels Documentary that follows the Zia Hot Shots, a nationally ranked junior wheelchair basketball team, through a season of training and competition. (Berkeley Public Central Library, 2:00)

Le Silence De La Foret Drama set in Cameroon, Central African Republic, and Gabon from directors Bassek ba Kobhio and Didier Ouénangaré. In Diaka, French, and Sango with English subtitles (93 min.). (PW, 2:00) 

Tue., Apr. 8

Intimate Communication: Films by Audrius Stonys Four short films from the Lithuanian filmmaker dating from 1992 to 2006 (total running time 92 min.). Audrius Stonys in person. (PFA, 7:30)

Unflinching Triumph: The Philip Rockhammer Story Mockumentary about Staredown Champion of the World Philip Rockhammer. Shot in Oakland and directed by Mark Decena (80 min., 2007). (PW, 9:15)

Wed., Apr. 9

Belle du Jour Luis Buñuel's stylish, surreal 1967 film stars Catherine Deneuve as Séverine, a bored bourgeoise who spends her afternoons in a high-class brothel (101 min.). (PFA, 3:00)

We Are Cinema Eight short films from UC Berkeley students (total running time 92 min.). Artists in person. (PFA, 7:30)

Behind Every Terrorist There Is a Bush Documentary uses humor (including clips from standup comedians) to question the war on terror and the events of 9/11. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30) 

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