Home For the Holidays: 5 to Watch
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas for moviegoers, with the year-end onslaught of "prestige" pictures prowling for gold statuettes well underway. To some, the Oscar bait films (along with the usual handful of pandering PG-13 comedies) provide a reprieve from those fraught holiday visits to the ancestral homestead. Consider, though, that most of us discovered movies through our parents. Going to the theater was a family outing; if you grew up in the home-video age, Movie Night on the couch in front of the VCR or DVD was likewise a communal event. (Unless those Orville Redenbacher commercials were a fantasy. Wait -- please don't tell me.) My modest proposal is that rather than going to the movies this season to escape your relatives, you go with them.
A trend-oriented writer made some hay a few years back by arguing that Generation Whatever had coalesced into tribes, which served as surrogate families. Gather your tribe -- or is the correct word now "posse" or "crew?" -- and head down to the Roxie on Friday, December 7, 2012 for Everything Is Terrible! Holiday Special 2012! The Cataclysmic Transformation! Your allergies to exclamation points notwithstanding, this annual touring program of excavated and expurgated home videotapes offers a cathartic cleansing of family/holiday phobias through the recorded-for-posterity celebrations and psychodramas of total strangers. The Everything Is Terrible masterminds promise a stage show with puppets, sing-a-longs and Santa to augment the therapeutic and harrowing-slash-entertaining VHS treats. For more information, visit roxie.com.
Another perennial tradition, one that honors the innovation, technology, craft and art of early motion pictures, is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences show A Century Ago: The Films of 1912. The two-hour program, of pristine archival prints, curated and hosted by AMPAS honcho Randy Haberkamp with piano accompaniment by Michael Mortilla (jetting up from L.A.) and featuring showman Jon Rinaudo with his restored 1909 hand-cranked projector, unspools Monday, December 10, 2012 at San Rafael's lovely and comfy Smith Rafael Film Center. Attendees of previous programs have raved to yours truly, touting the evening as terrifically entertaining exposure to the evolution of film grammar and technique. For more information, visit cafilm.org. Also of note, the Rafael presents a matinee screening of White Christmas (1954) on Sunday, December 9 with historian and visual-effects maven Craig Barron on hand to talk about the widescreen format VistaVision.
Like the Everything Is Terrible enfants terrible, collector and impresario Rick Prelinger traffics in citizen films from the past. But rather than reveling in bad behavior, his seventh annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco show has a historical, architectural and sociological emphasis. This year's collection, presented Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at the Castro, features rallies for China Relief in the '30s and footage of the Western Addition when it was a Japanese-American enclave, as well as a slew of previously unscreened color film and crowd-pleasing shots of that eternal lost treasure, Sutro Baths. If you've never attended a Prelinger show, he openly declares that audience participation is an essential component. For more information visit longnow.org.
Secularists, skeptics, atheists, agnostics, pagans, heretics, cat worshippers and anti-capitalists understandably get cheesed off by the season's religious and commercial aspects. Other Cinema serves that grog-swilling constituency Saturday, December 15, 2012 with Beyond Belief? Incredibly Strange Religion. This jaw-dropping survey of oddball dogma ranges from the 1972 Mormon short Ancient America Speaks to a 16mm chunk of the late Peter Adair's amazing 1967 documentary Holy Ghost People. Along with a multitude of other impassioned invocations, the Other calendar lists "Satanic backward-masking abominations and free red wine." Admission? $6.66. For more information visit www.othercinema.com/calendar/index.html
If your family resides in the Bay Area, or you're hosting your far-flung family's bacchanal this year, the Castro offers the definitive movie-magic, feel-good film: Singin' in the Rain. Equal parts dance musical, romantic comedy and tongue-in-cheek homage to Hollywood history (the plot is driven by the risky, wrenching transition from silent films to talkies), the immortal 1952 showcase (playing Wednesday, December 26, 2012) for the extravagant talents and charm of Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds will even make the Scrooge in your family -- or tribe -- smile. For more information visit castrotheatre.com.
More on Movies
NPR Film | May 17, 2013
The 12th film based on Gene Roddenberry's '60s sci-fi TV show is the second to star a new group of actors as Kirk, Spock and their crew. J.J. Abrams returns as director, and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch plays the memorable villain. By David Edelstein
NPR Film | May 17, 2013
A director's film memoir of her theatrical family is transformed by surprising discoveries about her parents' past -- and her own heritage. Sarah Polley's film becomes a superb meditation on how we dramatize memory. (Recommended) By Bob Mondello
The Do List | May 16, 2013
Cy Musiker and David Wiegand scout the Bay Area for things to do this coming weekend and turn up orange peels, music on a mountain, and much more!
The Bay Bridged | May 16, 2013
Listen to the new Bay Bridged mix of Bay Area psych-rock, featuring Lumerians, Disappearing People, Golden Void, Coo Coo Birds, Barn Owl, and more.
Theater Review | May 15, 2013
The striking National Theatre of Scotland production comes to San Francisco's old Armory in a spectacular and visually stunning dramatization of past and present wars. By Erika Milvy
The amazing tale of two sisters from a poor neighborhood — who play tennis unlike anyone before them and each reach No. 1 in the world — is one we're not likely to see again.
Playing the famous half-Vulcan requires a little meditative depth and a lot of brow-shaving. Heroes villain Zachary Quinto plays Spock in the reboot of the Star Trek franchise, with the blessing of original Spock Leonard Nimoy. Quinto tells NPR about befriending Nimoy, shaping eyebrows and more.
The indie darling returns in a winning collaboration with Noah Baumbach that tracks her developmentally arrested dancer heroine through the transition from protracted adolescence to reluctant adulthood. (Recommended)
Scientist Terry Root, author and activist Terry Tempest Williams and filmmaker Robert Redford all turn up in this documentary on eco-activist Tim DeChristopher, who bid on — and won — mineral rights to a chunk of federal land just to tie them up. He was prosecuted and sentenced to federal prison.
Also on KQED.org this week ...
We Need You!
Volunteer during our current on-air radio fundraising drive. It's a great way to support KQED Radio with your time. You can really make a difference!
Enter the New "ImageMakers" Screening Room
Enjoy films from present and past seasons of KQED's short independent film series, divided into Animation, Comedy, Drama, and Suspense.