One-Night Stands

Repertory film listings for October 23-29, 2008.

Thu., October 23

For Fun In director Ning Ying’s character study, Old Han, the doorman at the Peking Opera Theater, endeavors to start an amateur opera company of his own — an idea that leads to conflict. The non-professional cast is headed by Huang Zongluo. Screenplay by Ning Dai and Ning Ying, based on a novella by Chen Jiangong. A Hong Kong-Chinese coproduction (98 min., 1992). Ning Ying in person. (PFA, 7:30)

Paloma Delight Presented by the Arab Film Festival. Director Nadir Moknèche’s tale of Algeria’s national benefactress and her young recruit Paloma, who gets in over her head (128 min., 2007). (PW, 9:15)

Thrillville’s Halloween Hellabaloo A screening of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), plus the Hubba Hubba Revue live on stage and appearances by special guests Mr. Lobo & the Queen of Trash. (EC, 7:30)

Burning Man: Voyage in Utopia Documentary on artist David Best, who builds a temple out of recycled materials and uses it as a spiritual icon at Burning Man. (GL, 8:00)

Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival A collection of four award-winning short films that promote environmental activism. (Clif Bar Headquarters, Berkeley, 5:00)

Fri., October 24

The Mirror Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev) uses a combination of reality and fantasy in this tale of a young boy seeking a cure through hypnosis for his stuttering problem. It has been called one of Tarkovsky’s most striking films (106 min., 1976). (PFA, 6:30)

On the Beat A rookie cop in Beijing keeps busy despite the absence of Hollywood-style shootouts. Writer-director Ning Ying’s 1995 feature stars Li Zhanho and Yang Guoli (102 min.). Ning Ying in person. (PFA, 8:30)

The Shining If this were some little horror film by an unknown director, it would probably achieve instant cult status as an audaciously elegant work of bravado cinema, which explodes the horror genre as it exploits it. Instead, it’s a high-priced Stanley Kubrick production that dares to defy our expectations. For all its eccentric splendor, this “film maudit” is anything but likable. With characteristic perversity, Kubrick alienates the audience from the film’s content to draw attention to the film’s technique — it’s not merely “Now I’m going to scare you,” but “Now I’ve just scared you, and I did it with my camera angle.” Jack Nicholson gives a ravishingly amusing performance as himself, playing at playing a man going mad; he’s no more meant to believable than the preposterous Stephen King “haunted hotel” plot. A Mannerist artwork of brittle brilliance: stylish, self-conscious, and self-destructive, but always thrillingly cinematic (146 min., 1980). — N.W. (PM, midnight)

Koryo Saram: The Unreliable People The story of Josef Stalin’s 1937 ethnic cleansing campaign to forcibly deport everyone of Korean descent in Far East Russia to central Asia, nearly 4,000 miles away. (60 min.). (Gaia Arts Center, Berkeley, 4:00)

Arab Film Fesitval The twelfth annual Bay Area festival opens in Berkeley with a pair of features: Slingshot Hip Hop and The TV Is Coming (S, 7:00)

Sat., October 25

I Love Beijing Director Ning Ying’s trilogy on modern Beijing concludes with this story of a taxi driver who makes the rounds and picks up the tempo of the city. Seems everyone’s in a hurry (80 min., 2001). Ning Ying in person. (PFA, 6:30)

The Russian Question From Russian director Mikhail Romm, the story of an American journalist who sees socialism in action while spending time in Russia. When he returns, he gets an advance and a book deal to write about his experiences, but with one caveat — that he be critical of Soviet society. Will he keep the money or speak the truth? (91 min., 1947). (PFA, 8:45)

The Haunting Director Robert Wise preys on the imagination with the use of shadows and bumps in the night to create more horror than any graphic violence could. And although Nelson Gidding’s screenplay strays slightly from the original material, it hardly matters because it’s played out beautifully by Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Johnson, Lois Maxwell, and in particular Julie Harris as a reluctant medium both reviled by yet drawn to a house “born bad.” For those already afraid of the dark, this film could make them even more timid about turning off the lights, for, as the wonderfully creepy housekeep Mrs. Dudley says, “No one [will hear you scream] … in the night … in the dark” (112 min.). — V.C. (EC, 6:00)

The Shining See Friday. (PM, midnight)

Arab Film Fesitval A full day of programming with a mix of shorts and features. (S, noon)

Sun., October 26

Railroad of Hope In this 2001 documentary, Chinese documentarian Ning Ying takes a trans-China train ride with a group of migrant workers from Sichuan looking for work in Xinjiang in the Northwest (53 min.). Ning Ying in person. (PFA, 1:30)

Perpetual Motion A frank look at women’s sexuality from director Ning Ying that achieved cult status and has been pegged by Western critics as a Chinese Sex and the City (90 min., 2005). Ning Ying in person. (PFA, 4:00)

Ghost World Despite the presence of several sublimely cracked actors (a vulnerable and hilarious Steve Buscemi, a deranged Illeana Douglas) and some of the most abrasive white-trash caricatures since Raising Arizona, Thora Birch owns the show. On the surface, it’s about two girls (the other being an underappreciated Scarlett Johansson) searching for meaning in a rather hopeless environment, but what’s really afoot is an incisive vivisection of domestic junk culture (111 min., 2001). — G.W. Booksigning by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff. (PFA, 6:30)

The Haunting See Saturday. (EC, 5:00)

Arab Film Fesitval The festival’s final day at Shattuck Cinemas features six full-length films and one short. (S, noon)

Tue., October 28

My Hand Outstretched: Films by Robert Beavers Three experimental short films from director Robert Beavers: Early Monthly Segments (1968-70/2002), The Ground (1993/2001), and Pitcher of Colored Light (2007) (total running time 77 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., October 29

Happiness A Ukrainian peasant contends with police, hostile kulaks, and other authorities in this comic revolutionary film by Alexander Medvedkine, which was praised by Sergei Eisenstein for its sense of humor. Piotr Zinoviev and Elena Egorova star (70 min., 1934). (PFA, 7:00)

The New Moscow Russian director Alexander Medvedkine’s 1938 mash-up of county comedy, musical romance, and science fiction tells the story of an ambitious young city planner (80 min.). (PFA, 8:30)

Beyond Elections A look at democracy around the world, and the form of participatory democracy that citizens across the Americas have begun to embrace. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)


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