One Night Stands for the week of July 4-11, 2007

Oh, a working-class film fest is something to see.

Reviewed by Michael Covino, Kelly Vance, and Naomi Wise

Thu., July 5

The Long Goodbye — Elliot Gould plays Phil Marlowe, or rather, a combination of anti-Marlowe and anti-Gould in this, Robert Altman’s attempt at rigorously parodying Chandler’s original 1953 novel. Marlowe mumbles his lines, figures things out only after the cops already have, tells jokes no one else laughs at, and just generally screws up. Yet because of his sincerity and startling innocence, he emerges as the most likable character in a movie more subtle than it first appears. The photography, particularly in some of the night scenes at Malibu Beach, is among Altman’s best, second perhaps only to his McCabe and Mrs. Miller. With Sterling Hayden as the blocked writer Roger Wade (112 min., 1973). — M.C. (PFA, 7:30)

Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible — A documentary about unlearning racism (running time unknown). (Zocalo Coffeehouse, 645 Bancroft Ave., San Leandro, 7:00)

Pretty in Pink — Writer John Hughes’ latter-day tour of adult wannabe teen suburbia, a morality play with glaring message implants and dialogue that was too self-consciously hip even for The Breakfast Club. Both poor girl Molly Ringwald and rich boy Andrew McCarthy look a little overripe for high school, especially when they’re being pushed out the door by Jon Cryer and Annie Potts as comic reliefs and Harry Dean Stanton as good old dad (96 min., 1986). — K.V. (PW, 9:15)

Fri., July 6

Estacion Libre and Collectiva Zapatista Ramona Film Fest — A program of shorts presented by Estacion Libre, a people-of-color collective, and Collectiva Zapatista Ramona, a pro-migrant group with Zapatista politics (total running time unknown). (AK Press, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, 7:30)

International Working-Class Film Festival — Four short subjects: Maquilapolis, My Bicycle, No Te Rajes, and Estamos Aqui (total running time unknown). (Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, 7:30)

The Lost Boys — Dianne Wiest and her two sons move to the beach boardwalk town of Santa Carla, where teenage vampires are chewing up people left and right. This movie has the sort of artsy production values that let you know right away that the director, Joel (St. Elmo’s Fire) Schumacher, thought he was doing something hip and original. He wasn’t. This is MTV surrealism with the kind of souped-up, noisy editing that just masks incompetence. Occasionally funny, but this horror flick lacks fangs. With Corey Feldman, Jami Gertz, Corey Haim, Jason Patric, and Kiefer Sutherland (97 min., 1987). — M.C. (CLC, midnight)

Night Nurse — Barbara Stanwyck, her face aglow with innocent charm turning into guile, stars as a nursing school graduate who uncovers a sick scheme: Two young girls are being intentionally malnourished while their rich heiress mother gets drunk. The character playing is just as nasty as the plot. William Wellman directed it in 1931, when the title suggested naughtiness to the pre-Code film industry. Still, there’s more overt callousness than sex (73 min.) — K.V. (PFA, 7:00)

Pan’s Labyrinth — Spain 1944: The civil war is over, and Franco’s Falangists have long since subjugated the country. The Maquis, the last remnants of Republican resistance, are fighting a rearguard action in the forested northern hills. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) has been relocated there, to a remote military base commanded by her new stepfather, a brutal autocrat. A persistent dragonfly (perhaps the manifestation of her own incipient madness) guides Ofelia from her bedroom to the center of an overgrown garden maze, where she encounters a faun. The faun persuades Ofelia that she is an orphaned princess and assigns the gravely self-contained child a series of magical tasks. Writer-director Guillermo del Toro has mixed the political and the supernatural before, but unlike 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Pan’s Labyrinth is not just strongly imagined, but superbly integrated and marvelously fluid. It’s also highly resonant. Magic realism leavened with moral seriousness, it’s the story of a brave little girl, lost in a world of make-believe — at once an intuitive anti-fascist and the innocent victim of a monstrous system (2006). — J.H. (Movies That Matter, Neumayer residence, 565 Bellevue St., Oakland, 6:30)

Stella Dallas — King Vidor’s 1937 version of the venerable weepie demonstrates the power of directorial conviction over limp material. Even though Vidor isn’t trying very hard, his dedication to the characters — particularly Barbara Stanwyck’s Stella, an ambitious lower-class woman who ends by sacrificing everything she’s won for her daughter — takes the film beyond the simple pleasures of well-made melodrama (108 min.). —- D.K. (PFA, 8:40)

Thirteenth Annual Brainwash Drive-In/Bike-In/Walk-In Movie Festival — Once again, Shelby Toland’s parking-lot film fest finds indie shorts and features you never knew you wanted to see, and makes them part of your life (total running time unknown). (Alliance for West Oakland Development, 1357 5th St., Oakland, 9:00)

Sat., July 7

The Adventures of Robin Hood — This gorgeous, early-Technicolor adventure yarn stands as the definitive word on entertainment for children and adults alike. It’s the quintessential Robin Hood — and Errol Flynn — movie, and great fun: the swordplay is marvelous, the scenery wonderful, everything predictable in a thoroughly satisfying way, and the dialogue snaps. Olivia de Havilland is Maid Marian, Alan Hale is Little John, Ian Hunter is Richard the Lion-Heart, and Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains play the villains. Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley (102 min., 1938). — M.C. (PW, 6:00)

The Long Goodbye — Elliot Gould plays Phil Marlowe, or rather, a combination of anti-Marlowe and anti-Gould in this, Robert Altman’s attempt at rigorously parodying Chandler’s original 1953 novel. Marlowe mumbles his lines, figures things out only after the cops already have, tells jokes no one else laughs at, and just generally screws up. Yet because of his sincerity and startling innocence, he emerges as the most likable character in a movie more subtle than it first appears. The photography, particularly in some of the night scenes at Malibu Beach, is among Altman’s best, second perhaps only to his McCabe and Mrs. Miller. With Sterling Hayden as the blocked writer Roger Wade (112 min., 1973). — M.C. (PFA, 5:45)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof, starring Tim Curry as the androgynous Dr. Frank N. Furter, with Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Directed by Jim Sharman (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

Thirteenth Annual Brainwash Drive-In/Bike-In/Walk-In Movie Festival — See Fri. (Alliance for West Oakland Development, 1357 5th St., Oakland, 9:00)

The Wind Will Carry Us — An engineer from the city visits a tiny Kurdish village, ostensibly to observe the funeral rites for a hundred-year-old woman, but instead gets his own life sorted out interacting with the villagers. Just another fable (and not one of his brightest) by Iranian writer and director Abbas Kiarostami, master of the stealth narrative. When the film’s key scene consists of the engineer (Behzad Dourani) reciting poetry to a girl milking a cow in a dark cellar, we know we’re in for a slow evening (118 min., 1999). — K.V. (PFA, 8:00)

Sun., July 8

The Adventures of Robin Hood — See Sat. (PW, 5:00)

Ball of Fire — Barbara Stanwyck as jazz-singer Sugarpuss O’Shea (“she jives by night”) needs a place to hide from the cops. A group of dithery ivory-tower types, including Gary Cooper, are already in hiding, their musty mansion sheltering them from the world. They meet, with hilarious results, in this typically zany Howard Hawks comedy, wherein Sugarpuss learns to think, the professors learn to live, and everybody falls in love one way or another. Written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (111 min., 1941). — N.W. (PFA, 5:00)

Forty Guns — Barbara Stanwyck gallops wildly over the desert, leading a band of forty outlaws, in Sam Fuller’s intensely sexual anti-Western. centering on one of the strongest heroines in film history. Nihilistic, Freudian, violent, and a bit incoherent, abounding in phallic symbolism and Oedipal quaverings, but a total departure from the normal Western, it has to be seen on its own terms (80 min., 1957). — N.W. (Pacific Film Archive, 7:15)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp — Michael Powell’s 1943 British comedy satirizes the stolid British soldier during the Boer War and World War I. It so infuriated Winston Churchill that he attempted to have it banned on several occasions. With Deborah Kerr, Roger Livesey, and Anton Walbrook (163 min.). (Gaia Arts Center, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, 3:00)

Mon., July 9

Shrek — Animated fantasy adventure about a large green ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) has more going for it than you might suspect: decent dialogue, believable characters (except for Eddie Murphy’s sidekick donkey), and marvelous graphics that create a palpable sense of wonder in its story of a quest for true romance. Nice voice talents, too, especially Cameron Diaz (the princess) and John Lithgow (the diminutive Lord Farquaad). Directed with brio by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson (89 min., 2001). — K.V. (Wente Vineyards Event Center, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, dusk)

Tue., July 10

Bus 174 — Jose Padilha’s absorbing, 133-minute documentary mixes raw TV footage and after-the-fact interviews with cops, social scientists, and public officials to deconstruct the afternoon of July 12, 2000, when a homeless 21-year-old gunman named Sandro Rose de Nascimento hijacked a city bus in Rio de Janeiro, took eleven passengers hostage, and became the raving centerpiece of a five-hour drama that played out before millions on Brazilian TV. Padilha’s exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) investigation reveals not just a crazed street kid trapped in a moment of madness, but a society coming apart at the seams, a festering chaos of which young Sandro was one small expression. Whatever your political stripe, this is provocative stuff, and not just for its indictment of Brazil’s official neglect of street kids. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision a similar crisis unfolding in, say, San Francisco, Cleveland, or Denver (150 min., 2002). — B.G. (Gaia Arts Center, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, 7:00)

The Traveler — Abbas Kiarostami’s rarely shown first feature, the story of a rebellious youth and his passion for soccer. Starring Hasan Darabi (74 min., 1974). Preceded by two Kiarostami shorts: So Can I (4 min., 1975) and Two Solutions for One Problem (5 min., 1975). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., July 11

Them! — Didactic-minded viewers may choose to see a Cold War/alien scare allegory in this sci-fi monster movie, but it’s perfectly enjoyable on its own terms as the story of atomic mutant giant ants terrorizing the desert Southwest and Los Angeles. If it’s symbols you’re after, Edmund Gwenn’s professor will do nicely, making the transition from ’40s mad scientist to ’50s academic savior of humanity, a grandfatherly voice of reason in the age of nuclear anxiety. With James Arness, James Whitmore, and Joan Weldon, Directed by Gordon Douglas (94 min., 1954). — K.V. (PFA, 7:30)

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