Now Playing! Bookish Films Pack a Punch at BAMPFA

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Still from 'Fat City.' (Courtesy of BAMPFA)

Welcome to Now Playing, in which our film critic Michael Fox gently points you to the most eminently watchable offerings on Bay Area screens this week.

Still from 'O Amor Natural.'
Still from 'O Amor Natural.' (Courtesy of BAMPFA)

Auteur, Author: Film and Literature

June 1-5
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley

Before you direct me to a 12-step program for alliteration addiction, consider the power of text. Yes, movies are a visual (and frequently aural) medium, but narrative filmmaking begins with a script. Inspired by and in conjunction with this week’s Bay Area Book Festival, the Pacific Film Archive honors the many ways page and screen intersect in this brief yet jam-packed five-day series. The irresistible offerings include Fat City author Leonard Gardner discussing (and showing) John Huston’s knockout 1972 adaptation of the Stockton-set novel with critic and historian David Thomson. Another highlight is a rare screening -- augmented by a conversation among several local writers -- of Heddy Honigmann’s disarmingly subversive 1996 documentary, O Amor Natural, in which older Brazilians recite Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s erotic poems and recall their own love lives. Tickets to screenings are $5-12.

Still from 'Beggars of Life.'
Still from 'Beggars of Life.' (Courtesy of San Francisco Silent Film Festival)


In San Francisco, two vastly entertaining festivals vie for your attention. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, June 2-5 at the Castro Theater, opens with Louise Brooks in Beggars of Life and maintains the momentum with key works by Oscar Micheaux, René Clair, Anthony Asquith and Robert Flaherty. Tickets to the festival screenings are $16-25.

Meanwhile, SF DocFest decamps June 2-16 at the Roxie, Great Star and Vogue with a typically weird and wide-ranging lineup that encompasses Tear the Roof Off: The Untold Story of Parliament Funkadelic and local filmmaker Jason Cohen’s history of Compaq Computer, Silicon Cowboys. Tickets to SF DocFest screenings are $12.

Fortunately, the Warriors and Sharks aren’t playing every day.