One Night Stands for November 29

Repertory film listings for Nov. 29-Dec. 4

Reviews by Kelly Vance and Michael Covino

Thu., Nov. 29

Joan Jonas Program 2 Four short films by experimental filmmaker Joan Jonas dating from 1971 to 1989. Total running time 72 min. (PFA, 7:30)

Popeye This film, mercifully, does not go after the literal cartoon atmosphere suggested by the stills of Robin Williams’ Popeye with his bulging latex arms. Instead it creates a magical fairytale ambiance through its almost Dickensian characters, who wander through the lovely ramshackle town of Sweethaven, created from scratch on Malta. Williams is good but Shelly Duvall as Olive Oyl is a delight to watch, while the exaggerated soundtrack with its BOPS! and WHACKS! and SWISHES! stays proportionally scaled to the exaggerations of this beautifully photographed comedy. Deftly directed by Robert Altman. Written by Jules Feiffer (114 min., 1980). (PW, 9:15)

fri., Nov. 30

Wojaczek Lech Majewski’s austere biopic of Communist-era Polish artist Rafal Wojaczek, who killed himself at the age of 26. In Polish with English subtitles (89 min., 1999). (PFA, 7:00)

The Gospel According to Harry A dystopian farce of the vaguely distant future, where the Pacific Ocean has dried up, Los Angeles is covered in sand, and bourgeois concerns still rule the day (88 min., 1992). (PFA, 9:15)

sat., dec. 1

The Gold Rush Believed by many to be Charlie Chaplin’s greatest. Set amid the white wastes of Alaska, this is the comedy inspired by the Donner Party tragedy, in which Chaplin boils his shoes for Thanksgiving dinner and twirls the shoelaces around his fork like spaghetti. With Mack Swain as Big Jim, who gazes ravenously upon little Charlie and sees a gigantic, juicy chicken. And that’s Black Larsen’s log cabin seesawing desperately on the cliff’s edge (83 min., 1925). — M.C. (PFA, 3:00)

Hawks and Sparrows Allegorical tale chronicles the vagabond wanderings of three characters: a melancholy father (the great Neapolitan comic actor Toto), his dimwitted son (Ninetto Davoli), and a talking crow who spouts Marxism and religious philosophy. Then they all get spirited to the 13th century to serve St. Francis. It’s a Pier Paolo Pasolini film, so anything (and nothing) can happen. Toto’s comedic genius gets only modestly showcased. Music by Ennio Morricone (91 min., 1965). — M.C. (PFA, 6:30)

The Living End A desperate yet strangely upbeat celebration of life as lived by two HIV-positive young men. This freewheeling, low-budget, on-the-run crime spree road movie, which is punctuated by much dark humor, was written and directed by Gregg Araki. With Craig Gilmore, Mike Dytri, Mary Woronov, Johanna Went, and Mark Finch (92 min., 1992). (PFA, 8:30)

Labyrinth – Never one to employ one gimmick when two hundred will do, Jim Henson stuffs this Muppet-acious fantasy with enough whirring and belching toys to make the most gadget-happy kid sick. After the rock-vid novelty of David Bowie carousing with a gang of gnomes wears off, we’re left with just another quest story, this time co-written by Monty Python’s Terry Jones with a surfeit of cuteness. Moral: People are more important than things (101 min., 1986). — K.V. (EC, 3:00)

A Christmas Story Nostalgic holiday yarn about a boy in Gary, Indiana and his fervent hope he’ll get a BB gun for Christmas. Directed by Bob Clark from a story by Jean Shepherd, with Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, and Peter Billingsley as Ralphie (93 min., 1983). With Scott Schwartz (Flick) appearing in person. (VL, 11:00 a.m.)

An American Tail Slow-moving, whiney, animated sap. A family of mice immigrates from Europe to NYC at the turn of the century — and finds America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The mice are Jewish, and run into a slew of ethically stereotyped other mice. Somebody should set mice traps for this one, or let the cats pounce on it. Directed by Don Bluth. Story by David Kirschner, Judy Freudberg, and Tony Geiss. Voices by Don DeLuise, John Finnegan, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Plummer, et al. (80 min., 1986). — M.C. (RCE, 10:00 a.m., noon)

sun., dec. 2

Basquiat If you’re only going to see one Lower Manhattan mondo trendo art scene movie (a practice we strongly recommend), this bio of ’80s graffiti-inspired painter Jean Michel Basquiat should probably be it. The movie opens with the artist (winningly portrayed by Jeffrey Wright) living in a cardboard box, and follows his career using every stereotype in existence about bored, decadent artists and their admirers. The racial angle (Basquiat was black) also comes in for its due. Best bets are Michael Wincott as poet Rene Ricard and Benecio Del Toro as a neighborhood type, but you’ll also meet Gary Oldman (as a stand-in for the film’s writer-director, the painter Julian Schnabel), Dennis Hopper, Claire Forlani, Courtney Love, and David Bowie’s slick impersonation of Andy Warhol. Take it with a grain of salt, but take it (108 min., 1996). — K.V. (PFA, 3:00)

The Paper Will Be Blue A portrait of the streets of Bucharest on December 22, 1989: the night Nicolae Ceauescu’s regime came to an end. In Romanian with English subtitles (95 min., 2006). (PFA, 5:15)

12:08 East of Bucharest Romanian comedy takes place on a TV quiz show. Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu (89 min., 2006). (PFA, 7:05)

Labyrinth See Saturday. (EC, 2:00)

An American Tail See Saturday. (RCE, noon)

Tue., dec. 4

Xperimental Eros A collection of experimental pornography films curated by San Francisco filmmaker Noel Lawrence (90 min.). (PFA, 7:30)

Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita — Maria Finitzo examines the high stakes of stem cell research through a look at the life of expert Dr. Jack Kessler (90 min., 2007). (Oakland Museum of California, 6:30)

wed., dec. 5

Chan Is Missing There must be more to Chinatown than this. Director Wayne Wang’s debut feature is a string of fascinating verité-styled bits, offering street-hip putdowns every time a really meaty issue (assimilation, cultural imperialism, Taiwan vs. PRC) pops up. That’s frustrating for audiences who already know the turf Wang’s taxi driver protagonists roam, and who hunger for a full portrait of these hyphenated Americans’ world (see Mean Streets, Cooley High, Zoot Suit) instead of a thumbnail sketch. Still, Chan is fresher, sharper, and more playful than most first efforts, and given its skimpy budget, something of a shoestring coup. Wang seems to be pacing the streets of Chinatown like a tiger in a cage (1982, 80 min.). — K.V. (PDA, 7:30)


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