One Night Stands for the week of February 7-13, 2007

Mixed bag this week at the reps: Brothers Quay, John & Yoko, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Indiefest, and retro-avant-garde.

Reviews by Dave Kehr, Kelly Vance, Gregory Weinkauf, and Naomi Wise

Thu., Feb. 8

King Kong vs. Godzilla — Battle of the Destructo Superstars, circa 1962, as director Ishiro Honda referees the fight between the Big Ape and Ol’ Fire Breath. Starring Tadao Takashima and Kenji Sahara (91 min.). (Cerrito, 9:00)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding — Ah, marriage. How sweet it is to discover, among all the recent wedding movies (Muriel’s, My Best Friend’s, Polish, Monsoon, etc.) that the institution is still inspiring. Très Greek writer and star Nia Vardalos has crafted here a worldly-wise and very funny script, the better to play opposite decidedly non-Greek trophy fiancé John Corbett. He’s easygoing while she’s complicated by her seemingly endless, profoundly nationalistic and rather kooky family. Can they work it out? (95 min., 2002) — G.W. Shown with a short: Murder, My Kitten by Jason Boyce and Dan Gitlin. (Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, 7:30)

Rio Bravo — Much of Howard Hawks’ reputation as a creator of “liberated women” derives from the scripts Leigh Brackett wrote for him. In Rio Bravo, Brackett brings us Feathers, another of the Hawks/Brackett series of strong, intelligent, self-sufficient female characters who broke the usual mold of their genres. In addition, this quintessential Hawks Western modestly, intimately, and almost casually shatters the other cliches of the Western, while creating a new classicism of its own: John Wayne is the strong, stoic, sexist hero who is forced to accept the help of a drunkard (Dean Martin), a cripple (Walter Brennan), a reluctant hotshot kid gunslinger (Ricky Nelson), and the aforementioned dancehall floozy (Angie Dickinson), who proves as good a man as he is (1959). — N.W. (PFA, 7:30)

The Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey — This documentary by Abby Ginzberg traces the life and career of Henderson, a judge active in the civil rights movement (running time unknown). (Ellen Driscoll Theater, Frank Havens School, 325 Highland Ave., Oakland, 7:00)

Fri., Feb. 9

The Love Parade — Maurice Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald star in director Ernst Lubitsch’s Ruritanian romantic fantasy (110 min., 1929). (PFA, 7:00)

Monte Carlo — A wonderfully inventive early sound musical (1930) by Ernst Lubitsch, in which a chorus of “Beyond the Blue Horizon” is begun by the wheels of a train, picked up by a passenger (Jeanette MacDonald), and carried by the peasants in every field the train passes. Great stuff, done up in high Paramount gloss (90 min.). — D.K. (PFA, 9:15)

Sat., Feb. 10

The Cabinet of the Brothers Quay, Program 1 — Highlights include The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Rehearsal for Extinct Anatomies, The Comb, and other animated oddities (67 min. total running time). (PFA, 6:30)

Institute Benjamenta — Timothy and Stephen Quay, the American-bred, London-based fantasy filmmakers whose shorts set new standards for “found weirdness,” turn their imaginations to live actors in their first full-length feature: an impossibly gothic tale of strange goings-on at a school for manservants. It stars Mark Rylance, Alice Krige, Gottfried John, a troupe of mortified faces, and an atelier full of fetishes — most of them centered on deer and forests. Directed by the Brothers Quay (105 min., 1995). — K.V. (PFA, 8:00)

King Kong — Not strictly for kids, but it helps to be about ten years old when viewing this classic spectacle about a giant ape, an island that time forgot, and the beautiful woman (Fay Wray) who soothed the savage spirit. The special effects have held up remarkably well in the years since 1933, and you may be surprised to find the human performances a shade more naturalistic than you remembered them. Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack (100 min.). — K.V. (Cerrito, 6:00)

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

Safety Last — The famous shot of bespectacled comedian Harold Lloyd dangling from a clock tower is the payoff in this 1923 silent, directed by Fred Newmeyer and Sam Taylor (75 min.). Judith Rosenberg on piano. (PFA, 3:00)

Sun., Feb. 11

The Cabinet of the Brothers Quay, Program 2Street of Crocodiles, In Absentia, and The Phantom Museum are among Stephen and Timothy Quay’s animated shorts in this collection (78 min. total running time). (PFA, 6:00)

Iron-Jawed Angels — Hilary Swank, Margo Martindale, and Anjelica Huston star as Suffragettes in this made-for-TV historical drama about the women’s right-to-vote movement. Directed by Katja von Garnier (125 min., 2004). (PW, 2:00)

King Kong — See Sat. (Cerrito, 5:00)

Ninth Annual Bay Area High School Film and Video Festival — Students’ work on display. Artists appear in person (90 min. total running time, plus discussion). (PFA, 12:00, 3:00)

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes — In this Phantom-of-the-Opera-style live-action tale by the Brothers Quay, a diva (Amira Casar) is kidnapped onstage by a mad doctor (Gottfried John) and taken to a desert island, where a piano tuner (Cesar Sarachu) complicates the story (99 min., 2005). (PFA, 7:45)

Mon., Feb. 12

SF Indiefest — Two extremely indie features on tap this evening (total running time unknown). (CA, 7:00, 9:30)

United Nations Association Film Festival — With Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars by Zach Niles & Banker White (80 min.), plus a short: Armenian Lullaby by Irina Patkanian (5 min.). With speakers and a discussion. (PFA, 7:00)

Tue., Feb. 13

Grapefruit — An all-female cast re-enacts the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, directed by Cecilia Dougherty (40 min., 1989). Preceded by shorts: Apotheosis by Ono and Lennon (18 min., 1970) and Looking for Yoko Ono by Gregory Sale with Vikki Dempsey (15 min., 2002-06). (PFA, 7:30)

SF Indiefest — Day two of the fest, with two indie feature films (total running time unknown). (CA, 7:00, 9:30)

Wed., Feb. 14

Commissioned Works — A program of avant-garde shorts from the mid-’70s, curated by James Melchert, who appears in person (61 min., 1976). Preceded by a short: A Tight Thirteen Minutes by Tom Marioni (13 min., 1976). (PFA, 7:30)

The Lady Vanishes — Pure Alfred Hitchcock British-period legerdemain, with a sweet old lady (Dame May Whitty) utterly disappearing from the Trans-Europe Express. Was she real, or a hallucination? Two young people (Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave) search for the lady and find — Nazi spies Fast, witty, and tense, with a bang-up ending, this is the essential and inimitable definition of the British thriller (97 min., 1938). — N.W. With a lecture by Marilyn Fabe. (PFA, 3:00)

SF Indiefest — On the fest’s third day in the East Bay, tow more independent features (total running time unknown). (CA, 7:00, 9:00)

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