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A Grin Without a Cat
Chris Marker's A Grin Without a Cat

Of the movies in theaters and newly available on DVD this weekend, here's what I like, with links to my reviews, if any. I felt compelled to see only one of the new films opening nationwide this weekend, for a personal project; I've filed Stop-Loss below.

Extremely Limited Release

I'm adding this category to highlight a few extremely small runs of new and revival releases worthy of mention. These are films that make their way from city to city, usually one or two stops at a time.

In very limited release, Alexandra, the latest film from Alexander Sokurov, is traveling slowly around the country. I enjoyed the film but found it less captivating than his previous film, The Sun, which was one of my favorites of 2005. The two revival prints of Last Year at Marienbad that are in circulation will be leaving New York and San Francisco this weekend for other towns. Check your local listings. Godard's colorful Contempt will be chasing Marienbad, and I'm eager to revisit it when it stops here.

The new film I probably most want to see at the moment is Chop Shop which has not opened in San Francisco; I've heard good reports from numerous sources.

Continuing in Theaters

In preferential order:
  • 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [trailer]
  • There Will Be Blood [trailer, brief comments on the podcast]
  • Paranoid Park — [trailer, my podcast comments from New York and J. Robert's from TIFF, see also: my chat with Van Sant in the March issue of Paste Magazine]
  • Persepolis [trailer, J. Robert's interview with the director on the podcast]
  • Snow Angels — [trailer, listen to my chat with Green on the next podcast, see also: my review in the March Paste]
  • Funny Games — [trailer, short review]

Minor Films and Amusements

No, Thanks

New on DVD

  • War Made Easy — a lucid and compact polemic on how mass media supports a militarized government, wittingly or not

Where I'll Be This Week (Bay Area)

This week provides an interesting mish-mash for cinephiles in San Francisco. I'm probably most looking forward to the two classic documents of 70s counterculture by Chris Marker and Alain Tanner. I'll also be at the opening press conference for the San Francisco International Film Festival and will report back on what already sounds like a strong lineup.

I'll be at some combination of the following:

  • March 29: Exiled (To) at the SFMOMA. I'm not always the biggest fan of this sort of thing, but tasteful observers from far corners seem to appreciate Johnny To's volume of recent output, so I think I ought to check him out. Here's Kehr, Noel Murray ("Nothing about Exiled is as resonant as To's best work, but ..."), Hoberman, and Edelstein ("If you’ve never seen a Johnnie To crime picture, Exiled is a simple, stylish, and utterly delightful introduction.")
  • March 29: Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (Tanner) at the PFA.
  • March 29: Divorce, Italian Style (Germi) at the PFA.
  • March 30: Chimes at Midnight (Welles) at the PFA.
  • March 30: Seduced and Abandoned (Germi) at the PFA.
  • April 1: Something Wild (Demme) at the Castro. An opportunity to catch a Demme film I've never seen, on a double bill with Blue Velvet. (I originally labeled this a Lynch film, but I was thinking of Wild at Heart!)
  • April 2: A Grin Without a Cat (Marker) at the PFA. A Chris Marker classic. I missed a Marker short playing last week, but I don't plan to miss this.
  • April 3 (conundrum): Either a double feature of 70's era Woody Allen at the Castro, Annie Hall and Love and Death; Bunuel's Simon of the Desert at the PFA with a DJ replacing the soundtrack; or a second chance to catch Sholay at the SFMOMA which I missed last week.
  • all week: Funny Games and Benny's Video (Haneke) at the Roxie. This double feature is an opportunity to see the original Austrian version of Funny Games and an earlier film in Haneke's career. It's playing all week, and I hope to catch it at some point.

Update: Sholay will probably be projected from a little DVD player at the back of the theater. San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art doesn't feel the need to point this out and proudly calls this a "film series". Also note: I heard the Lee Friedlander photography exhibit is just a bunch of copies of photos that the curator scanned from a really super book on Friedlander's work and printed on an OfficeJet all-on-one scanner, printer, fax machine. Steer clear.

Posted by davis | Link | Other Weekends
Reader Comments
March 28, 2008, 01:19 PM

Come to think of it now, Demme's Something Wild *does* share a common bond with Lynch, esp. the Lynch of Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive: it suffers a certain rupture in the'll see what I mean. It's a fun, crazy little road movie. I've only seen the Marker on the small screen but I agree, it's a knockout.

March 28, 2008, 01:31 PM

D'oh. Thanks for the correction. How strange that I had Wild at Heart in my head even as I saw Something Wild in the schedule. Maybe I'll watch it anyway. :-)

I've never had the energy to seek out Wild at Heart for some reason, and I thought this was my opportunity to see it lazy-like. Oh well.

Yeah, looking forward to the Marker on a big screen. In fact I believe I saw it on the small screen with your assistance, Mr. Shambu. Merci beaucoup.

March 28, 2008, 01:35 PM

Can I hire you to be my fact checker? Name your price.

March 28, 2008, 02:05 PM

You know...even before I clicked on the link, I thought you might've had Wild at Heart in mind. I haven't seen either film in over 15 years and could go for them myself.

March 28, 2008, 02:18 PM

Thanks for the Benny's Videoheads-up. I had not noticed that myself yet.

I'm told Sholay was projected on a DVD when it played SFMoMA the other day. Perhaps they'll have a 35mm print in place for this repeat screening, but I'd be cautious.

March 28, 2008, 02:34 PM

You know, that MOMA thing really burns me. I like DVDs as much as the next guy, and I can understand falling back to DVD in an emergency situation where a 16mm print arrives and looks like shit and they have to do something at the last minute -- including making an apology before the screening.

But they really need to mention it in the program if they know in advance. I mean if I showed up to their Picasso exhibit and they just had some calendars and a couple of fucking posters stuck on the wall, I think they'd be ridiculed far and wide. But show a bunch of patrons a DVD, eh, what the hell.

And they've done this several times.

March 28, 2008, 05:10 PM

I've heard of this kind of thing happening more and more frequently in New York too. (e.g. this post by Dan.)

March 28, 2008, 10:57 PM

Speaking of DVD projections and Marker, wasn't the screening at Artists's Television Access one of those? If that's the case, you shouldn't feel too guilty about doing a DIY screening yourself with the Wexner Center DVD of First Run's The Embassy and Sixth Side of the Pentagon (they have an exclusive window to sell it ahead of FRIF's DVD official release).

March 28, 2008, 11:26 PM

Yes, it was. And they very clearly said "21 min. super 8mm (shown on DVD), 1971" in their program. So, yeah, I didn't feel like it was super rare, which is why I opted for something else.

But, hey, I didn't know about that Wexner Center deal. Nice. I see that in addition to the Marker discs they have some MacBooks for sale, too. Odd.

March 29, 2008, 07:09 AM

And just to offer a little more context... both venues do show film. Luc Moullet's A Girl is a Gun at the SFMOMA last week was on film, as were the Jennifer Reeves shorts at the ATA that I mentioned before.

The ATA screenings are staffed by volunteers and take place in a little room with folding chairs. The SFMOMA's are in a 278-seat auditorium in the largest, most expensively constructed museum in the city. I see no reason for the SFMOMA to fall back so often to DVD, first of all, but more to the point I don't appreciate their never mentioning this on their web site.

March 29, 2008, 07:34 AM

Heheh, yeah, that's my kind of upselling. Where's the "Add fries" pop-up?

That kind of switcheroo happens at Walter Reade too every now and then, where the film is listed as a print, then they show a DVD projection instead. Sometimes, they announce it just before starting, sometimes, they don't. They do offer refunds for purists who walk out (like the cinemania folks), but they're also banking on the vast majority of ticket holders to just suck it up.