Leave the computer screen behind and venture into Bay Area theaters this week with silver screen recommendations from our film critic Michael Fox.
Roxie Theater, San Francisco
Aug. 12 - 14, Tickets: $14
In 1996, writer-director Wes Anderson released his feature debut, Bottle Rocket. A perfectly OK little movie, it opened the door for two full decades of self-consciously theatrical dioramas of unhappy children, depressed 20-somethings and miserable adults. Anderson epitomizes one of the worst trends in American movies, namely a self-indulgent fixation with the deep and lasting psychological trauma of growing up in the suburbs.
He may yet outgrow his obsession -- he’s 47, believe it or not -- although his last picture, The Grand Budapest Hotel, reflected his reading list more than any life experience. To commemorate Anderson’s midcareer milestone, Jesse Hawthorne Ficks’ Midnites for Maniacs, Spoke Art and the Roxie team up to serve up his entire oeuvre this Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12-14.
Why am I touting a Wes Anderson marathon, you ask, if I dislike his work so intensely? As a public service, since he does have his fans. And, to be completely candid, in the slim hope that other good people, whilst wading through the cotton candy of his eight features (including the oppressively vapid The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited) and two shorts, will recognize the limited scope of Anderson’s imagination and the banality of his worldview.
If you’re on the prowl for genuinely amusing pratfalls and functional-family entertainment, you can’t top the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s new restorations of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s wonderful slapstick comedies of the 1930s. The Smith Rafael Film Center screens the duo’s short films every Sunday from Aug. 14 through 28, then wraps the series Sept. 4 with a double bill of their features Way Out West and The Flying Deuces. If you live in San Francisco or one of its southern neighbors, and somehow need further incentive to trek with the kids to San Rafael, I highly recommend a visit to Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (just across the bridge).