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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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MoviesScreen GrabsScreen Grabs: Alice Cooper, Cecil Beaton, Rahsaan Roland Kirk....

Screen Grabs: Alice Cooper, Cecil Beaton, Rahsaan Roland Kirk….

A trio of tributes to vastly different personalities. Plus: Miracle Mile, Christopher Robin, Good Manners, and more in cinemas this week

SCREEN GRABS Let’s hope the weather is nice this weekend, because you should go out and play. In other words, there’s not a lot hugely worth going out of your way to see at the movies this week, unless you’re catching up on something worthy that’s been around for a while already. 

The major new releases are not exactly major events. There’s director Marc Forster draping what looks like the same warm-and-fuzziness on A.A. Milne (Christopher Robin) that he already did for James Barrie (Finding Neverland); a new hopeful YA fantasy franchise kickoff (The Darkest Minds—once again, only angsty teens can save the future); a purportedly middling spoof with a great title (The Spy Who Dumped Me); and for real comedy value, recently POTUS-pardoned felon Dinesh D’Souza’s new “documentary” Death of a Nation, which compares the terribly similar, mutually inspiring Presidencies of Lincoln and Trump because…well, up is down and nothing is too ridiculous to be taken seriously by somebody anymore, right? 

Of course, that last-named film may not be opening in the Bay Area, us being godless heathen Socialists and all. (Surely you’ve heard the cries of frustrated would-be patrons outside local multiplexes, sobbing “Who do I have to fuck to get some faith-based entertainment around here?!?” because God’s Not Dead 3 cannot be found closer than Fresno.) 

However, we have dug up a few things worthier of your attention than the above, all opening this Friday unless otherwise noted:

Broke, behind on her rent, Clara (Isabel Zuaa) is a woman in desperate need of a employment, so she doesn’t ask many questions when offered the post of nanny—despite her inexperience in that role—by Ana (Marjorie Estiano), a flighty Sao Paolo socialite type living alone in a luxury apartment. Actually the baby she’s supposed to care for hasn’t arrived yet (and the father is nowhere to be seen), so for the time being Clara is more of a housekeeper, companion, and go-fer for a “boss” who appears to have been dropped by all her family and friends for reasons unknown. 

Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas’ verrrrry slow-burning (but never dull) drama might be termed “A Brazilian Let the Right One In for werewolves.” But that would be somewhat misleading—it takes a full hour for any horror/fantasy element to get introduced at all here, and another 40 minutes before there’s conventional horror violence. If you adjust your expectations (and patience) accordingly, this is an intriguing tale that’s a well-acted, unpredictable mix of genre content and social commentary. Roxie. 

Most often described in personal terms as a “dandy,” Cecil Beaton wore many hats professionally: He was a famous fashion and celebrity-portrait photographer; wrote many books of a diaristic, high-end-dilettantish nature; and did the visual design (often encompassing both costumes and sets) for various Broadway shows and movies, including both original stage and screen incarnations of My Fair Lady. His career—and busy, well-connected social climbing—extended from the “bright young things” era of post-World War I England to the brighter, newer things of the Swinging ’60s and Me Decade, where he proved adaptable enough to praise such next-generation artistic scenesters as Warhol and David Hockney. 

This documentary tribute is colorful if somewhat frustrating, though that may be the inevitable consequence of expecting depth from a movie about a man dedicated to surface beauty. There’s far too little about Beaton’s stage career, though he won four Tonys for it, and not much penetrating insight into a personality that seems, frankly, pretty insufferable—his diehard snobbery and anti-Semitism are noted but barely explored. Then again, a movie produced in association with auction house Sotheby’s, directed by the granddaughter-in-law of style maven Diana Vreeland (seen here singing Beaton’s praises with a somewhat less enthusiastic Truman Capote), probably isn’t the place to look for critical analysis. 

Its subject’s writings read as voiceover narration by Rupert Everett, Love, Cecil does offer interesting archival footage, gossip (was the mostly-gay Beaton an actual lover of Garbo’s?), and latterday reminiscences from such figures as Penelope Tree, David Bailey and Leslie Caron. Opera Plaza. 

Adam Kahan’s highly praised 2014 documentary looks at the life and career of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, whom neither being blinded in infancy or suffering a paralyzing stroke much later prevented from his development as a woodwind player of unique technical and experimental abilities. (His trademark “stunt” was playing three saxes at once.) Utilizing animation, home movies, performance footage and other elements, Kahan provides a fittingly distinctive tribute to an artist whose too-short times nonetheless provided room for adventurous expressions both musical and political. Taking place 83 years after his birth (and half as long after his death at age 42), this Balboa “Birthday Bash” will also feature live jazz performances before and after the film by a band including local players Hugh Shick and Danny Brown. Tues/7, Balboa. 

Though it was barely a blip on the box-office radar in 1988, writer-director Steve De Jarnatt’s second (and last) feature before he permanently moved into television work has built a loyal cult following over time. Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham play strangers who meet and fall in love, only to have circumstances get in the way—namely, the apparent imminent beginning of full-on nuclear war. 

Unlike the era’s “post-apocalyptic thrillers,” or the earnest TV movies (The Day After, Threads) about potential global destruction also being made at the time, Miracle Mile is primarily a romance—albeit an existential doomsday one. With its Tangerine Dream soundtrack, eccentric support cast, and ambitiously offbeat narrative, it remains an unusually interesting major-studio release from a period when Hollywood was at its most artistically conservative. This 30th-anniversary screening will feature De Jarnatt onstage in conversation with Noir City’s Eddie Muller, along with an opportunity for audience questions. Thurs/9, Castro Theatre

School is, indeed, out for summer—at least for those under 18, and they were exactly the demographic that made Alice Cooper’s best-known song an international hit in 1972. (While it only reached #7 in the US, it performed the invaluable service in the UK of knocking Donny Osmond’s mawkish “Puppy Love” out of the #1 slot.) The still-active veteran rocker, who recently appeared as King Herod in the live TV broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar, entered his eighth decade earlier this year. 

As tribute, Midnites for Maniacs presents a double bill at the Roxie. There’s no Monster Dog (the 1984 Italian werewolf movie in which “Alice” aka Vincent Furnier starred), but there is his most famous big-screen appearance, as himself in 1992’s SNL spinoff comedy Wayne’s World. Also in that film’s cast is Meat Loaf, another theatrical rocker who probably never would’ve existed if not for Cooper’s precedent.

Much rarer is the accompanying screening of Welcome to My Nightmare, a glorified 1976 “concert film” that immortalized its star’s most elaborate touring stage show. It expands on the concert’s tongue-in-cheek “horror” theme by including sequences with genre superstar Vincent Price, and writing input from no less than future arthouse director Alan Rudolph (Afterglow, Choose Me).

It was directed by David Winters, a British juvenile actor turned choreographer, director and producer whose projects from ran an insane gamut from vehicles for Elvis, Ann-Margret and Raquel Welch to exploitation movies like Linda Lovelace for President, Killer Workout, Space Mutiny and Welcome 2 Ibiza. Once a staple on the midnight-movie circuit, Welcome is seldom seen these days, so bring a Bic to flick and head to the Roxie for a dose of vintage pop metal from the pre-hair band era. Thurs/9, Roxie.  

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