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Friday, July 30, 2021

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MoviesScreen GrabsScreen Grabs: A kung fu classic, an unsung war...

Screen Grabs: A kung fu classic, an unsung war epic …

A huge financial heist, some awesome Other Cinema weirdness, and more in cinemas this week.


SCREEN GRABS A few tasty revivals, one new documentary of unusually up-to-the-moment political relevance, and an avant-garde ode to retro 3-D highlight this week, your last before the annual cineaste overdose of the San Francisco International Film Festival:

British director Stuart Cooper’s very brief big-screen career—before and after, he worked primarily in television—was highlighted by this underseen 1975 feature, which many consider one of the greatest war films ever made. Shot by cinematographer John Alcott the same year as his astonishing contribution to Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, the B&W drama won multiple awards at the Berlin Film Festival. Its most striking achievement was closely intercutting actual WW2 combat footage (culled from both Allied and Axis sources) with a fictive dramatic narrative. Yet Overlord remains a rarity known by few. This 35mm screening will no doubt be your only chance to see it projected in the Bay Area for some time. Wed/28, Roxie. More info here.

The idiosyncratic sense of adventure Castro programmer Keith Arnold brought to Berkeley’s short-lived Fine Arts Cinema is fully present in this thematically linked double-bill. Mulholland Dr. is, of course, David Lynch’s last great big-screen exercise (even though it was originally shot as a 2000 failed TV pilot), still graded by some critics’ polls to be the greatest movie of the 21th-century to date. Its flummoxing fantasia of Hollywood’s sinister under-life is paired with the rare 1972 Play It As It Plays, which has never been released to any home format. Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins star as neurotic victims of success in Frank Perry’s (Diary of a Mad Housewife, Mommy Dearest) adaptation of Joan Didion’s angsty Hollywood-expose novel. It’s pretentious AF—but when will you ever get to see it otherwise? Thu/29, Castro. More info here.

If you don’t already feel enough terror over the direction in which the US (hell, the world) is heading already, check out this new documentary by the producers of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Having already picked apart that financial scandal, they and director Jed Rothstein turn their attention towards the little-reported subsequent financial-sector heist in which corrupt Chinese and US players managed to manipulate a shared investment market into a corner that (once again) benefitted a few while bleeding many. Deregulation: The leading vampire of our era. Opens Fri/20, Embarcadero and Shattuck Cinemas. 

If you like what used to be called “kung fu movies,” your sweet spot will be ‘gasming over this Roxie revival of a prime 1979 specimen newly restored by the Taiwan Film Institute. Purported to be visually magical, it’s a simple tale of a Buddhist scholar who falls into a fantastical warp bridging the worlds of supernatural and mortal peril—you know, like you did last Tuesday. This three-hour epic from late director King Hu (who also directed the more famous Taiwanese wuxia feature A Touch of Zen) won the first-ever prize at Cannes for a Chinese-language film. Opens Fri/30, Roxie. More info here

This evening-length Other Cinema ode to the 3-Dimensionally-Diabolical cinema features heavy input from “SF’s scariest band” Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinket, who are so scary that watching them on YouTube briefly disabled my word-processing abilities. They wear carpet pieces as clothing! Start trembling now. They will provide live accompaniment to two extended cinematic mash-ups: Brutallo’s “surreal mix” of excerpts from late exploitation “kiddie matinee” maestro K. Gordon Murray’s forays into fairy-tale cheese, and a re-edit of the 1961 3-D horror oddity The Mask (no, not the one with Jim Carrey). Plus the usual array of Other Cinema miscellany. Sat/31, Artists Television Access. More info here

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