One-Night Stands

Repertory film listings for October 30-November 5, 2008.

Thu., October 30

Elegy of Life: Rostropovich, Vichnevskaya A tribute to the musical partnership of husband-and-wife team Mstislav Rostropovich, a composer-conductor, and Galina Vichnevskaya, an opera diva (101 min., 2006). (PFA, 6:30)

Alexandra What’s an old Russian lady doing taking a train with soldiers and riding in a dusty armored car in the middle of nowhere? Visiting her army officer grandson, in Alexander Sokurov’s sly, ultimately very moving antiwar drama, which stars one-time opera diva Galina Vishnevskaya as the babushka, bivouacking in a tent on the front lines in the Caucasus and befriending the local women at the market. She doesn’t like the smell of the inside of a tank — well, who does? Written and directed with his usual ostentatious restraint by Sokurov (Russian Ark, Mother and Son), who for some reason employs two music tracks playing simultaneously (92 min.). — K.V. (PFA, 8:30)

Return of the Living Dead Dan O’Bannon’s horror quickie reaches for maximum splatter sprinkled with laughs, and generally succeeds. Big trouble develops when a gang of punks playing in a graveyard meet an army of chemical-spill zomboids intent on sucking out their very brains. Tries to do for cadavers what Repo Man did for cars while helping itself to whole scenes from Night of the Living Dead without even so much as an apology to George Romero. Fast, cheap fun, heavy on the gore, from sci-fi ace O’Bannon (Dark Star, Alien) who obviously knows his ’60s monster films, too (91 min., 1985). — K.V. (PW, 9:15)

The Real Richmond A film by Kevin Epps in collaboration with the Tent City Peace Movement that explores the myriad social issues affecting the city of Richmond, including lack of education opportunities, unemployment, poverty, and drug abuse. Followed by a roundtable discussion with Epps and various community organizers. (Richmond Art Center, 6:30)

Fri., October 31

The Werewolf of Washington Satirical fantasy written and directed by Milton Moses Ginsberg that attempts to mix Watergate-style political horrors with the more traditional kind. With Dean Stockwell (as a presidential press assistant-turned vampire), Biff Maguire, and Clifton James (90 min., 1973). (PFA, 8:00)

Phantom of the Opera Lon Chaney, in top form and scary makeup, plays a disfigured, half-mad composer hiding in the basement of the Paris Opera House and kidnapping a young singer for love, revenge, and art, in this 1925 silent gothic melodrama. A bit disappointing, in contrast to the better-directed horror films of the era, but Chaney’s eloquent pantomime is riveting (79 min.). — N.W. Live musical accompaniment by Jim Riggs on the Wurlitzer organ. (Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 8:00)

Sat., November 1

Stray Dog A detective’s search for his stolen gun provides a clever structure for Akira Kurosawa’s 1949 trip through the Japanese underworld, one of his earliest successes. Although it superficially resembles the dark American thrillers produced in the postwar period, it is a vehicle for Kurosawa’s vaunted humanism and social concern — themes that seldom violated the Hollywood versions. (122 min.). — D.K. (PFA, 6:30)

Enjo Japanese filmmaker Kon Ichikawa directed this drama about a young man who travels to Kyoto to join a prosperous monastery following the death of his father, a Buddhist priest. What he finds there is not all peace (96 min., 1958). (PFA, 9:00)

Sun., November 2

Rashomon Kurosawa’s great film on the relativity of perception set in 9th-century Japan sounds like it could be dull and self-consciously manipulative — seeing a crime of rape and murder, or possibly suicide reenacted four times from all the participants’ points of view. But it works, partly because of Toshiro Mifune’s compelling comic performance as the bandit, partly because of the surprising ways each successive telling modifies the previous account, so that we find our own sympathies constantly shifting, our own appraisals of the characters constantly undergoing reevaluation (90 min., 1950). — M.C. (PFA, 3:00)

A Full-Up Train In the third installment of director Kon Ichikawa’s black comedy trilogy, a young brewery worker suffers such misfortune at home and on the job that his hair turns white. Soon he’s relegated to the bottom of the social heap. Hiroshi Kawaguchi stars. Written by Natto Wadda and Ichikawa (99 min., 1957). (PFA, 5:00)

Going on 13 Four girls leave childhood behind and stumble toward adulthood in this documentary by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Dawn Valdez. (S, 7:15)

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow Programs three and four of a four-part examination of American apartheid. Don’t Shout Too Soon deals with 1917 through 1940, and Terror and Triumph focuses on 1940 through 1954, ending with the launching of the Civil Rights Movement. (PW, 2:00)

Wed., November 4

In the Real of the Senses: New Lebanese Videos A series of four recent shorts dealing with war in Beirut and the effect on its people (total running time 106 min.). Curated and introduced by Peter Limbrick. (PFA, 7:30)

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