One-Night Stands

Repertory film listings for November 6-12, 2008.

Thu., November 6

Little Moth This surreal and exhilarating 2007 drama from Chinese director Peng Tao is populated by scammers, child traffickers, one-armed beggars, and organ sellers (99 min.). (PFA, 6:30)

Oxhide Liu Jiayin’s debut is shot entirely in her family’s home and comprised of exactly 23 fixed-angle shots, one for each year in her life. Her depiction of family life walks the line between nonfiction and art (110 min., 2004). (PFA, 8:30)

Fri., November 7

Naked Island A beautiful and cinematic film shot with a tiny cast and crew on a nearly deserted, windswept island in southwest Japan that exposes the struggles of a family of farmers. Kaneto Shindo directs (93 min., 1960). (PFA, 6:30)

Branded to Kill This is the thriller that caused Japan’s Nikkatsu studios to fire director Seijun Suzuki in 1967 for making “incomprehensible films.” And it is a bit hazy. It’s also B-picture surrealist Suzuki’s tour-de-force, a gangster riff on murder, sex, and fetishism with enough perplexing imagery to baffle an army of shrinks. While ultra-cool hit man Jo Shishido goes about his business of killing, he is beset by a mysterious butterfly-obsessed woman, a dead bird dangling from a car’s rearview mirror, and his own identity crisis, one facet of which is that he is sexually aroused by the smell of boiling rice. Throw in a few glass walls, a blowtorch torture, and some James Bond accoutrements, and you’ve got the ultimate Suzuki freakout. The script is by Hachiro Guryu, but goes off on Suzuki’s free-associating tangents repeatedly. Costarring Mariko Ogawa as Mami and Annu Mari as Misako. Weird and wonderful (98 min., 1967). — K.V. (PFA, 8:30)

Pulp Fiction Dark humor, inspired dialogue, and solid acting make this macabre, often improbable tale of gangsters and grifters work, for the most part. There are scenes in this movie so comically gruesome that you watch with your hands over your eyes, peeking out. It is a testament to writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s talent that you don’t regret it, generally. Particularly outstanding performances delivered by Bruce Willis as an over-the-hill boxer who double-crosses his boss, John Travolta as the sort of half-bright hitman who leaves his gun on the kitchen counter when he goes to the bathroom, and Uma Thurman as a gangster’s bored wife. Also with Harvey Keitel, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, Amanda Plummer, and Christopher Walken. Now, if Tarantino could move beyond the comic-book sadism. … (154 min., 1994). — M.C. (PM, midnight)

North by Northwest Hitchcock’s funniest comedy-thriller, and the most American of his Hollywood films, with its central chase stretching across the wide-open spaces of the rural Midwest as though Hitch had just discovered the USA and was pleased with its sinister potential. Typically, it starts with a case of mistaken identity: an innocent executive (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a spy; typically, he gets involved with a woman (Eva Marie Saint) who may or may not be on the side of the angels; and typically, it’s brilliant filmmaking, with two of the finest, most bizarre thriller sequences ever made. By the end, the executive might as well be a spy — he’s learned all their tricks of the trade. And by the end, Mount Rushmore is exposed for the absurdity it is (136 min., 1959). — N.W. (Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 8:00)

Sat., November 8

Go West During the Bosnian civil war of the early 1990s, a Muslim cellist named Kenan falls in love with a Serbian student, Milan, and the gay couple tries to avoid trouble by having Kenan dress as a woman and pose as Milan’s wife. Directed by Ahmed Imamovic (97 min., 2005). (PFA, 3:00)

Oxhide See Thursday. (PFA, 6:30)

Uniform A mildly disaffected and altogether disconnected youth finds his life change when he dons an abandoned police uniform. Diao Yinan of China directs (94 min., 2003). (PFA, 8:40)

Spellbound “It’s just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis,” admitted Alfred Hitchcock. Despite the participation of Salvador Dali in devising the “dream sequences,” and Ingrid Bergman, cast as a psychiatrist, the film is generally prosaic and talky, as though Hitch’s imagination were frozen by the specter of Freud. Gregory Peck is disastrously flat as the analysand, and the film is mainly of historical interest to Hitchcock buffs (111 min., 1945). — N.W. (EC, 6:00)

Pulp Fiction See Friday. (PM, midnight)

Sun., November 9

Into the Picture Scroll: The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa Sumiko Haneda’s 2004 film examines Japanese scroll painting and the twelve scrolls of the Yamanaka Tokiwa in a revealing new light (100 min.). (PFA, 3:00)

Cage/Cunningham Elliot Caplan’s documentary chronicles the 45-year collaboration and relationship between avant-garde composer John Cage and modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham. The film includes footage of world tours, archival material tracing the beginnings of their careers, as well as interviews with Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Rudolf Nureyev, and others (100 min., 1991). (PFA, 5:30)

Spellbound See Saturday. (EC, 5:00)

Wed., November 12

Fuck Cinema A young man discovers the roadblocks to success in the Chinese film industry, young women line up to audition for a role as a prostitute, and a pirate DVD seller shows off his massive collection in this three-hour documentary deconstruction of filmmaking (170 min., 2006). (PFA, 7:00)

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