One-Night Stands for the week of August 22-28, 2007

In this week's rep picks: More Kiarostami at the PFA, plus Soviet space epics and the anticapitalist Star Wars.

Reviews by Michael Covino, Bill Gallo, Melissa Levine, Kelly Vance, and Naomi Wise

Thu., Aug. 23
24 Hours on Craigslist — In many ways, Craigslist the movie is like Craigslist the Web site: genial, nonjudgmental, copious, quirky, human, and utterly decentralized. Also like the Web site, the film opts for breadth instead of depth, choosing to introduce dozens of characters, from dozens of postings, rather than delving deeply into any single one. There’s a man who does a drag act as Ethel Merman and a young Chinese painter who sexualizes the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There’s a rent-a-husband, a gay porn actor, and a “420 nurse” who makes house calls. These are, of course, our friends and neighbors, and the film appreciates them as much as we do. But to what end? 24 Hours‘ breadth reflects the nature of the site, and it gives us a sense of the community’s diversity. But there’s a price, which is drama. With one heartbreaking exception, which isn’t given much notice, it’s all breezy and light, worthy of a warm chuckle but not much else. (82 min., 2005). — M.L. (Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley, 7:30)

ABC Africa — Filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s documentary looks at AIDS in Uganda (85 min., 2001). (PFA, 7:00)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Three episodes of the TV series (total running time unknown). (PW, 9:15)

Five — Five linked films shot on a seashore by Abbas Kiarostami, in tribute to Yasujiro Ozu (74 min., 2004). (PFA, 7:00)

Steal a Pencil for Me — You think your life is complicated? This documentary by Michèle Ohayon tells the story of Jack, a Jewish Amsterdammer who, during WWII, gets swept up by the Nazis and imprisoned in a camp with both his wife and his outside girlfriend — in the same barracks (94 min., 2007). (JCCEB, 7:00)

Fri., Aug. 24

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — Matthew Broderick stars in writer-director John Hughes’ 1986 ode to skipping school, as suburban Chicago teenage playboy Bueller eludes angry principal Jeffrey Jones while having fun with buddies Mia Sara and Alan Ruck (102 min.). (CLC, midnight)

First on the Moon — The Soviets put a man on the Moon before the United States, claims this spoof by director Alexei Fedorchenko. Boris Vlasov and Viktoriya Ilyinskaya star (76 min., 2005). Preceded by a short: Interplanetary Revolution by Robbie Crabtree (9 min., 1924). (PFA, 7:00)

To the Stars by Hard Ways — Russian outer-space adventure features a derelict spaceship, evil humanoids, and fashionable cosmonauts, all directed by Richard Viktorov (118 min., 1982/2001). (PFA, 8:45)

Sat., Aug. 25

American Graffiti — Though actually set in the early ’60s, this film holds the primary responsibility for the ’50s revival. Hilarious, genuine, and unassuming, it catapulted George Lucas into the top rank of young American directors and its cast of near-unknowns into stardom and/or TV. Best of all, the soundtrack is as fine a compilation of period rock as any you’ll ever hear. With Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard (of Happy Days), Cindy Williams (Laverne and Shirley), and local boy Christopher Pray (of KRON-TV kiddie shows) (110 min., 1973). — N.W. (EC, 6:00)

Homework — Abbas Kiarostami focused his 1990 doc on a group of schoolboys, all of whom have complaints about their workload (89 min.). (PFA, 8:30)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

Where Is the Friend’s Home? — A coming-of-age story set in an Iranian village, where a boy discovers he’s taken his friend’s schoolbook home by mistake and sets out to return it — a much more difficult journey than he had imagined. Written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami (85 min., 1987). (PFA, 6:30)

Sun., Aug. 26

American Graffiti — See Sat. (EC, 5:00)

Solaris — That this 1972 film has gained a cult following does not alter its tedium. In one of the most boring movies ever made, a group of scientists on the distant planet Solaris get caught in the repetitive mind-games of the universe. This Soviet exercise in science fiction, based on a novel by Polish sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem, is pretentious, arty, overlong, and unbearably symbolic. Its revolutionary structure consists of umpteen replays of the same scene, each time with some minor alterations —N.W. Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. Shown in the uncut, 167-minute version. (PFA, 6:00)

Mon., Aug. 27

Big — Oppressed fourteen-year-old wishes he was big and, presto, becomes thirty-year-old Tom Hanks. This isn’t a genre but a gimmick, an Oedipal fairy tale for youngsters (they all get to sleep with women their moms’ age, and to shine in the executive world of their dads). Hanks provides an amiable presence, and infuses his adult with a nice childish quality, but it’s not enough. Screenplay — what screenplay? — by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. Directed by Penny Marshall (104 min., 1988). — M.C. (Wente Vineyards Restaurant, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, dusk)

Tue., Aug. 28

Baraka — 70mm visual tone poem in the mode of Koyaanisqatsi and Chronos. Shot in 24 countries (count ’em). Music by Michael Stearns and indigenous musicians. Directed by Ron Fricke (90 min., 1992). (Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, 7:30)

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room — Alex Gibney’s meticulously researched documentary about the Enron scandal is a thoroughly professional, frequently spectacular piece of muckraking. But unless you want to go postal over the bold-faced lies of Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and Andrew Fastow, bring tranquilizers. (2005) — B.G. (GAIA Arts Center, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, 7:00)

Five — See Thu. (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., Aug. 29

Habitat — In a future of ultraharmful sunrays, biologist Tchéky Karyo and his suburban family turn their home into a giant living vegetable organism. Written and directed by Rene Daalder (103 min., 1997). (PFA, 7:30)

O Casamento de Romeu e Julieta — Shakespeare’s tragic teen lovers as Brazilian screwball comedy characters crazy for futebol, directed by Bruno Barreto (90 min., 2005). (LP, 7:00)


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