Leave the computer screen behind and venture into Bay Area theaters this week with silver screen recommendations from our film critic Michael Fox.
July 15 - 31
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
If you first encountered Stanley Kubrick later in his career, with The Shining, Full Metal Jacket and (heaven forbid) Eyes Wide Shut, you almost certainly sought out the groundbreaking, wildly ambitious films that made his reputation and shook the culture: A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the shockingly subversive black comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. You might not have ventured as far back as Kubrick’s 1950s masterpieces, however. The YBCA series Kubrick in Black and White, programmed in conjunction with the Kubrick exhibition across Mission Street at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, showcases clench-jawed Kirk Douglas in the wrenching World War I tragedy Paths of Glory (July 15 and 17) and square-jawed Sterling Hayden as the brains behind a racetrack heist in The Killing (July 16 and 17). Essential, powerhouse cinema.
Not into all that male energy? Coincidentally, the Castro offers a double bill on July 13 of two of the most sensitive and empathetic portraits of women ever made by male directors not named Wyler or Sirk. Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977) pairs a young Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall in an enigmatic, disturbing riff on the roles that women adopt to get along in a male-oriented society, and the risks and rewards of reinventing one’s self. The same description applies, up to a point, to David Lynch’s twisty and deeply satisfying Mulholland Drive (2001), starring Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. It’s worth noting that both films have open endings, like dreams, in contrast to the gritty early Kubricks.