One-Night Stands

Repertory film listings for February 5-11, 2009.

Thu., February 5

Awaiting for Men Katy Léna N’Diaye takes a look at
female independence and burgeoning feminism in the red-walled clay city
of Oualata, on the far edge of the Mauritanian desert (56 min., 2007).
Preceded by short: Coffee Colored Children (16 min., 1988).
(PFA, 6:30)

Chief! Filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno’s wry documentary comments
on his native Cameroon and its penchant for titles and figures of petty
authority — too many chiefs (61 min., 1999). (PFA, 8:15)

Friday, February 6

Morocco This is Josef von Sternberg’s second vehicle for
Marlene Dietrich, the one that made her a Hollywood star, and it’s
decidedly less flamboyant than those that followed. Dietrich is a cafe
singer working in North Africa. Gary Cooper is the stoic legionnaire
she meets while singing “What Am I Bid for My Apples?” As always with
Sternberg, the real chemistry is visual, realized here with the help of
photographers Lee Garmes and Lucien Ballard. — K.V. (93 min.,
1930). (PFA, 6:30)

Landscape After Battle A 1970 film by Polish director Andrzej
Wajda. The film is based on the autobiographical stories of poet
Tadeusz Borowski. Borowski survived Auschwitz and the post-war
displaced persons camps, only to commit suicide in 1951 at the age of
29. Screenplay by Wajda and Adrzej Brzozowski (106 min.). (PFA,
8:30)

Sat., February 7

11th Annual Bay Area High School Film and Video Festival A
wide-ranging collection of new films by Bay Area high school students.
The final program was selected by students at Berkeley High School
(total running time 90 min.). (PFA, 1:00 and 3:30)

An American Tragedy Josef von Sternberg directed this 1931
film adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s novel. Phillips Holmes portrays
the ambitious young man who is captivated by the beauty of a wealthy
young debutante on his climb up the social ladder, but is later charged
with the drowning murder of his textile-worker girlfriend (95 min.).
(PFA, 6:30)

Dishonored Marlene Dietrich portrays a streetwalker turned
spy in her third film for Josef von Sternberg, which was based on his
original story. La Dietrich has a chance to pose in some raffish
leather outfits and display her femme fatalism while Sternberg’s
worshipful camera laps up her image. Pretty standard “Mata Hari” plot,
but technically a gem, with photo and sound innovations ahead of their
time. Victor McLaglen, Lew Cody, and Gustav von Seyffertitz co-star (90
min., 1931). – K.V. (PFA, 8:30)

Sun., February 8

The Salvation Hunters Josef von Sternberg, the
Austrian-American director noted for creating Marlene Dietrich’s
American image, wrote, produced, and directed this classic 1925 silent
about three characters — simply called the Boy, the Girl, and the
Child — who flee a cruel “drudgemaster” to the city, where a
white slaver tries to turn the Girl in to a prostitute. With Georgia
Hale, George K. Arthur, and Bruce Guerin (79 min.). (PFA, 2:00)

Cairo Station Hind Rustum and Farid Shawqi are featured in
this 1958 drama that focuses on the lives of the people who are
employed in a Cairo railroad station. Directed by Youssef Chahine (98
min.). (PFA, 5:00)

Until the Violence Stops A documentary on the growth of the
Vagina Monologues stage dramas into an international call for an
end to violence against women and girls. (EC, 2:00)

Tuesday, February 10

Perfumed Nightmare A hilarious, off-beat, personal and
political comedy from the Philippines’ Kidlat Tahimik, whose point of
view seems most similar to that of Les Blank. A jitney driver (played
by Tahimik) who adores Werner Von Braun manages to travel to Paris,
only to discover the truth about the Western technology that’s taking
over his country. Wicked, witty, and thoroughly unique, filmed for only
a few pesos but adept enough to engage F.F. Coppola’s notice, it takes
a mouth-filling abstract concept called “cultural imperialism” and
brings it to life with such cutting intelligence and breezy humor that
even the end-credits tickle (93 min., 1980). — N.W. (PFA,
7:30)

Wed., February 11

Meet Me in St. Louis A nostalgic musical confection from
Vincente Minnelli, in many ways Judy Garland’s most appealing
performance. Same message as The Wizard of Oz: Happiness is to
be found right here at home. (Of course, it helps when home is a
three-story rambling Victorian with a storybook family.) Shot in vivid
Technicolor in 1944, with Margaret O’Brien, Leon Ames, Mary Astor, Tom
Drake, and Marjorie Main (113 min.). — K.V. (PFA, 3:00)

Man of Iron Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble (1977) rode
the cutting edge of the then-resurgent Polish nationalism movement,
while Man of Iron simply brings up the rear. It’s an uneasy mix
of romance and documentary (including some startling, previously
suppressed footage of the bloody 1970 Gdansk shipyard strikes during
which more than 10,000 workers battled government troops) that never
quite comes together; and if it is politically more volatile than
Marble, it’s aesthetically less satisfying. Krystyna Janda, the
fireball heroine of Marble, has been reduced to a secondary role
as wife of a Solidarity leader, while a whiney government radio
reporter, assigned to do a hatchet job on her husband, is the lead.
Iron does contain the suppressed ending of Marble, and
concludes with the historic August 31, ’80 signing of the Gdansk
Charter. Lech Walesa plays himself in several non-documentary scenes
(156 min., 1981). — M.C. (PFA, 7:00)

The Iron Wall A documentary on the history of the Palestinian
struggle against occupation. (Humanist Hall, Oakland, 7:30)

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